Some legal notes for marriage registration between a Vietnamese and a foreigner in Vietnam

Writer: Phuong Nguyen


Notes for marriage registration between Vietnamese and foreigner

Under Vietnamese laws, is it simple for a foreigner to register marriage to a Vietnamese? The answer is no. For a Vietnamese couple, they just go to a local People’s Committee where one of them has permanently resided to register with a valid certificate on single status. For a marriage between a Vietnamese and a foreigner, the procedure requires more steps, more documents and more time.

By this short article, BLawyers Vietnam’s family lawyers would like to share some notes on this procedure as follows:

1. General provisions pursuant to Vietnamese law

Registering marriage with a foreigner is under Law on Civil Status and Law on Marriage and Family. In which:

1.1 Conditions for registering marriage

Pursuant to the prevailing Law on Marriage and Family, the couple must meet the following conditions:

  1. Reaching the statutory age (20 years old for men and 18 years old for women);
  2. Deciding to enter a marriage relationship voluntarily;
  3. Having full of civil act capacity; and
  4. Not falling into the banned cases by the law. They are: sham marriage; underage marriage, forcing a person into marriage, deceiving a person into marriage; marriage registration while in a marital relationship with another person; and marriage banned by the law based on Vietnamese ethical traditions.

In addition, the foreigner wishing registering marriage to a Vietnamese must comply with the regulations on marriage conditions of his country.

One of frequently asked questions that we received being whether Vietnam allows the same sex marriage registration. However, Vietnamese law does not acknowledge this kind of marriage.

1.2 Documents required

Some necessary documents shall include the followings:

  1. Standard application form for marriage registration. The couple must sign on this application before the witness of the State officer in-charged;
  2. Identity card for the Vietnamese and of passport or other similar documents for the foreigner;
  3. Certificate of marital status. This document confirms that both are currently not in marriage and have no impediment to enter into the proposed marriage;
  4. Health certificates of both applicants showing that they have no mental issue which prevents their act control;
  5. In case where one party got a divorce verdict or a marriage annulment from a competent authority (event oversea or domestic), (s)he needs to submit it; and
  6. Document showing current residence of Vietnam individual.

For documents from oversea, the couple need to legalize them. Then, they also need to translate them into Vietnamese under a certifying procedure in Vietnam.

1.3 Timeline for settling marriage dossier and competent authority

The marriage registration with a foreigner takes about 10 – 15 working days after the in-charge State officer received a valid application dossier from applicants. The assessment of the submitted dossier shall be made at the district-level People’s Committee (the “PC”) where the Vietnamese has permanently resided or temporarily resided.

On the date receiving the marriage certificate per the invite of State authority, both applicants must present at that the PC to sign on the certificate. If anyone is absent, the PC could not issue the certificate. Accordingly, (s)he must send a request letter to re-schedule for receiving the certificate but no later than 60 days. After that, if the parties do not present for receiving it, the PC shall cancel the certificate.

The marriage certificate is valid from the date on which they are documented in the vital records and granted to the partners.

2. Some practical experience

Our family lawyers learned as follows:

  • Though well preparing all legal documents as the law regulated, local authorities might require some additional ones. For example, they could ask our clients to prepare family book and/ or temporary residence registration book of the Vietnamese individual. Or in case a Vietnamese and/ or the foreigner divorced or having their previous spouse died, a divorce decree or death certificate is necessary for marital status; etc.
  • Some authorities of Vietnam could challenge documents from other authorities, i.e. some contents. Hence, the couple should check carefully with relevant authorities to mitigate the risk of being challenged or making documents again.
  • Regarding foreigners, marital status certificate for the registration is the one stating that foreigners meet the marriage conditions or affirming foreigners on ability to satisfy marriage conditions. Accordingly, local officers could challenge this matter if contents of marital status certificate did not show clearly this matter.

In conclusion, marriage registration between Vietnamese and foreigner is complicated. The matter is from requests from local competent authorities. As consequence, the couple should check carefully before engaging.

If you have any questions on this matter, please revert to us at We are happy to hear and support.


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