You Asked ( 09-04-2013)

Update: April, 09/2013 - 09:18

Dear Editor,

I am German and have lived in Viet Nam since 2009. My wife is Vietnamese. We own a house and a piece of land in central Quang Nam Province's Hoi An Town.

The house and land are under the name of my wife because our lawyer told us that there is no possibility to put it under my name.

However, I read a report that a resolution from mid-2008 allowed foreigners who are married to a Vietnamese citizen to be eligible to buy a house or land.

I asked my lawyer again yesterday, but he denied this fact and said there is no way.

Please can you tell me what is correct and what is necessary to be eligible for this law?

Rolf Steur

Dear Mr Steur,

Based on our consultation with lawyer Phung Quang Cuong of NH Quang&Associates, we can share with you the following answers:

- Owning houses in Viet Nam:

According to regulations on a foreigner's right to own houses in Viet Nam as stipulated in Resolution No 19/2008/NQ-QH12 dated 03/06/2008 and guiding documents (Decree No 71/2010/ND-CP and Decree No 51/2009/ND-CP), foreigners who get married to Vietnamese citizens are permitted to buy an apartment or condominium unit in a commercial housing development in Viet Nam.

However, there are number of conditions that must be fulfilled if a foreigner wants to buy a house in Viet Nam. As a foreigner, you must:

- Currently be living and working in Viet Nam.

- Be permitted by a relevant Vietnamese agency to reside in the country for at least one year; and not be subject to diplomatic or consular preference and exemption as stipulated by Vietnamese laws.

- Have the following documents proving that you are entitled to buy and own a house in Viet Nam: your passport or equivalent kind of document, issued by a competent authority in your home country; documents proving your marriage, issued by a Vietnamese or foreign competent authority; Vietnamese passport (or the family record book) and personal identity card of your wife.

- Have a residence card or temporary residence card to prove that you are permitted to stay in Viet Nam for more than 12 months, which is issued by the Immigrant Management Department under the Ministry of Public Security.

In accordance with the regulations mentioned above, you are only permitted to own a property for a maximum 50 years from the date of the certificate of house ownership. After this time limit, you must sell the property.

In addition, you must use this for living purposes only, and the apartment must not be leased or become a work place, or be used for any other purpose.

Using your name on the certificate of land use right in Viet Nam:

According to Article 43, Clause 3, Point C Decree No 181/2004/ND-CP on the enforcement of the Land Law, amended and supplemented by Decree No 88/2009/ND-CP, in households where either spouse is a foreigner, only the name of the Vietnamese partner is written on the certificate of land use rights.

In short, you cannot use your name in the certificate of land use right in Viet Nam even if you are married to a Vietnamese citizen.

We hope that all this information will help you to check your documents again and confirm that you fulfill the conditions necessary to apply for the legal ownership of your property.

The Editor