Burning joss paper in inappropriate places shall be administratively handled in Vietnam

On November 12, 2013, the Government of Vietnam issued the Decree No. 158/2013/NĐ-CP on penalties for administrative violations pertaining to culture, sports, tourism and advertising. According to this Decree, burning joss paper in inappropriate places shall be administratively handled.

đốt vàng mã, Nghị định 158/2013/NĐ-CP

Specifically, the current law does not prohibit burning joss paper at private residences, but there are regulations on administrative sanctions for the act of burning joss paper in contravention of regulations when attending festivals. This is considered a violation of regulations on cultural lifestyle specified in Clause 1 Article 15 of the Decree No. 158/2013/NĐ-CP of the Vietnam’s Government (amended by Clause 19 Article 2 of the Decree No. 28/2017/NĐ-CP) as follows:

Warnings or fines of from VND 200,000 to 500,000 VND for burning incense or joss paper not in accordance with regulations of festival organizing board, historic site management board; throw, drop money into wells, ponds; profane or desecrate that affect the solemn atmosphere; litter causing environmental insanitation in the festival or historic site.

Besides, there are other acts that are considered as violations against regulations on culture and lifestyles such as taking advantage of superstitious activities such as séance, fortune telling, etc. to earn illegal profits, or hanging the national flag at the festival area lower or at less formal places than festival flags. These 02 acts shall be imposed a fine ranging from VND 3,000,000 to VND 5,000,000 (Clause 2 Article 15 of the Decree No. 158/2013/NĐ-CP). Moreover, a fine ranging from VND 5,000,000 to VND 10,000,000 shall be imposed for restoring the traditions that negatively affect the health, dignity of people and Vietnam’s cultural traditions (Clause 3 Article 15 of the Decree No. 158/2013/NĐ-CP).

Competence to sanction administrative violations:

Chairman of the commune-level People's Committee, Inspectors of culture, sports and tourism or soldiers of the People's Public Security on duty.

More details at the Decree No. 158/2013/NĐ-CP of the Vietnam’s Government, effective from January 01, 2014.

Phuong Thanh


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