On 21 June 2012, Sea Law of Vietnam 2012 was passed by the National Assembly. This is the first legal instrument covering all legal matters of seas, islands under sovereignty of Vietnam with 7 chapters, 55 articles containing such contents as follows:

  1. General provision:
    1. Laying stress on sovereignty, sovereignty and jurisdiction rights of Vietnam covered on Hoang Sa and Truong Sa islands.
    2. Peaceful solutions will be raised for disputes related to sea and island matters
    3. Encouraging investment on developing sea economy, international cooperation on sea matters
  2. Regulations regarding Vietnam sea zones and activities in the sea zones of Vietnam:
    1. Specific regulations on determination of baselines, internal water, territorial sea, outer limit of the territorial sea, exclusive economic zone and legal status, sovereignty applicable to such zones.
    2. Right of innocent passage in the territorial sea: passage must be continuous and expeditious, except in case of facing with maritime problems; being rendered by force mature, meeting with an accident or for the purpose of rendering assistance to persons, ships or aircrafts in danger or distress; and being not prejudicial to the peace and security of Vietnam.
    3. Warship and government ships operated for non commercial purposes can access to the internal waters only by prior approval of Vietnam; they have to bare all responsibilities for damages and losses caused.
    4. In the internal water or territorial sea of Vietnam, submarine and other underwater vehicles are required to navigate on the surface and to show their flag except being permitted by Vietnam Government or agreements between Vietnam Government and Government of the flag state.
  3. Civil and criminal jurisdiction in relation to foreign ships
    1. Under capable rights and responsibilities, maritime patrol force is entitled to arrest people and execute investigation activities in relation to all crimes on foreign ships which have just left the internal water and are passing the territorial sea of Vietnam or in some other cases.
    2. The maritime patrol force may levy execution against or arrest the ships for the purpose of civil proceedings to foreign ships stopping in the territorial sea, internal waters or passing the territorial sea after leaving the internal water of Vietnam.