House ownership for overseas Vietnamese

July 3rd, 2022
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Real Estate

Many overseas Vietnamese want to own a house in Vietnam, and it is very easy to do. The legal framework is complete and in place[1].


Before the effective date of the Law on Residential Housing (ie, before July 1, 2015), the possibility for an overseas Vietnamese to own a house was fairly limited. An overseas Vietnamese had to have resided in Vietnam for three (3) months or more and must have been in one of the following categories: (a) person with Vietnamese nationality; (b) person of Vietnamese origin in the following categories: a person returning for direct investment in Vietnam under the law on investment; a person whose work has contributed to the country; a scientist, cultural activist or person with special skills needed by a Vietnamese body or organization, and who was working in Vietnam; or a person whose husband or wife was a Vietnamese citizen living in Vietnam. Obviously, very few people qualified.

However, a person of Vietnamese origin not in a category mentioned in (b) above was nevertheless entitled to own one separate house or one apartment in residential development in Vietnam, provided that she had a valid visa exemption certificate and had resided in Vietnam for three (3) months or more.

That changed with the Law on Residential Housing 2015. The requirements mentioned above no longer apply.

Several questions relating to house ownership for overseas Vietnamese

1. Are overseas Vietnamese entitled to own a residential house?

Yes. They can do so in the same way as a Vietnamese citizen. All that is required is a valid Vietnamese or foreigner passport affixed with a visa and entry stamp. An overseas Vietnamese must, of course, have documents that certify her Vietnamese nationality or Vietnamese origin, eg, Vietnamese birth certificate, Vietnamese birth certificate of one parent[2], etc.

There is no residency requirement.

2. How can an overseas Vietnamese own a residential house or apartment?

She may do/so in one of the following ways[3]: (i) purchase or hire-purchase from the developer of a commercial residential housing project (it can be an apartment or a house); or (ii) receive a residential house or apartment from an individual owner through purchase, gift or inheritance.

3. Are there any limits on the type, number or other terms of ownership of a residential house that an overseas Vietnamese is entitled to own?

To be explicit, she may own villas and town-houses with attached land, and also apartments and condominiums. There is no limit on the number of houses or apartments/condos that an overseas Vietnamese may own.

Overseas Vietnamese, like other Vietnamese, can own a residential house or an apartment on the same, stable indefinite basis as other Vietnamese.

4. Will a certificate be issued to an overseas Vietnamese which recognizes her ownership of the house and her land use rights in the land on which the house is built?

Yes. There is only one type of certificate, and it is uniformly used throughout the country. It is a Certificate of Land Use Rights, Ownership of Residential House and Other Assets Attached to Land (“LURC”). The LURC is the same for Vietnamese citizens, foreigners and overseas Vietnamese.

The LURC recognizes the private ownership of a separate house (a villa or a town-house with underlying land) and related private land use rights of an overseas Vietnamese in the same way as it recognizes those of a Vietnamese. It also recognizes her ownership of a condo/apartment and the common use of land use rights that an overseas Vietnamese shares with other owners of a condo/apartment building.

Moreover, the term of the land use rights of the land on which the house is attached is the same as the ownership term of the house. It is stable and long term.

5. Can overseas Vietnamese “purchase” land and build a residential house and own such house and land?

Yes, they can do so, but there are some limitations. An overseas Vietnamese is entitled to own a residential house by way of “purchase”[4] of the land lot and can then build a residence on the land. To do so. The land lot must fall within a commercial residential housing project which sells residential land lots to purchasers who construct a residence themselves. That is, an overseas Vietnamese is not allowed to buy bare land (even residentially zoned land) outside of a commercial residential housing project and then to build a house on it.

After a house is built and after the application dossier is submitted, a LURC will be issued. The LURC recognizes the overseas Vietnamese’s private ownership of both the house and the related private land use rights.

6. Can an overseas Vietnamese sell or rent out her own house? Is it required that an overseas Vietnamese be present at the time of sale/rental?

After she has obtained the LURC, an overseas Vietnamese can sell or rent her house to any person or entity eligible to own/rent a house.

An overseas Vietnamese need not be physically present to do so. She can give a power of attorney to another person.

7. Can an overseas Vietnamese mortgage her own house?

Yes. The law entitles an overseas Vietnamese to mortgage her house to a licensed credit institution located in Vietnam.

8. Can an overseas Vietnamese leave her own house to her heirs?

Yes, provided the heirs are eligible to own a house in Vietnam.

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