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It is illegal for exchanging change?

I am living near a famous pagoda in Hue. Over a month to the Lunar New Year, I realize that the need for exchanging change is increasing. The denominations are 1.000 dongs, 2.000 dongs và 5.000 dongs and the difference is 10 – 20% depending on the denomination.

Having some acquaintances working for banks, I store a large amount of change. On this occasion, I plan to exchange new change to earn the difference.

Please kindly advice me if exchanging change is a law violation. If it is a violation, which agency shall handle and what penalties are applied for this violation? Looking forward to being adviced soon.

FDVN’s opinion:

Sincerely thank you for your concerning our legal consulting service. We are glad to give you our advice for your question.

[1]. Yearly, in Lunar New Year occasion, the need for exchanging new change with the low denomination is increasing. However, change is used for worship instead of circulation that leads to wastefulness in printing, issuing, tallying, sorting, transporting, preserving, recovering, handling this amount of change.

Therefore, in recent year, the State Bank of Vietnam has issued a policy of not issuing new change with denomination lower than 10,000 dongs on Tet holiday. However, circulated change is still provided to serve the economy.


In reality, exchanging new change to earn difference still occurs publicly. Recently, in Directive No. 34/CT-TTG dated on December 28, 2018, of Prime Minister about strengthening measures to ensure the joyful, safe and economical Lunar New Year 2019, the State Bank of Vietnam has been assigned to be responsible for sponsoring and cooperating with Ministries, Departments and local government in “Strengthening inspection and timely handling violations in buying, selling foreign currencies, gold, and services of exchanging change with small denomination which is in contravention of law provisions.”

According to law provisions, it’s illegal and prohibited to exchange change to earn difference and exchange change, not in par value and/or denomination. Thus, individuals, organizations exchanging shall be penalized for administrative violation. In details, according to point a clause 5, article 30, Decree No. 96/2014/ND-CP regarding penalties for administrative violation against currency and banking legal and regulations: “The fines of VND 20,000,000 – 40,000,000 shall be applied to any of the following violations:

  1. a) Carrying out currency exchange against the related laws;”

Therefore, as you mentioned above, exchanging change to earn a difference and exchanging change, not in par value and/or denomination are all illegal and shall be penalized for administrative violation.

[2]. The State Bank of Vietnam shall be the first agency handling this incident due to its function in regulating and providing cash for the economy, handling the violation in currency.

In addition, there are central agencies, as well as local agencies such as the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism; Police offices, People’s Committees,… handling the violations, too. Therefore, when discovering acts of exchanging change, the above agencies have the function of handling violations.

Above are the advice of FDVN Limited Law Firm base on studying law provisions and theories. We hope that our opinions would be useful.

Legal Expert: Mai Quoc Viet

FDVN Law Company

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