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  • Writer's pictureLeanne Summers

Foreigners Getting Married in Vietnam: Legalities, Documents and Procedures

Destination Wedding at Hyatt Regency Danang

Foreigners getting married in Vietnam must comply with the Law on Family and Marriage to have a legal marriage.  Anyone is able to get married in Vietnam provided at least one person resides in Vietnam, the man is over 20, and the woman is over 18; they are free to marry, capable of making sound decisions, and not related by blood for at least three generations. 


The answer is yes for foreigners asking, “Can I have a legal wedding in Vietnam?” provided they meet the requirements under Vietnamese law.


A marriage is different from a wedding. Marriage is the legal part of being united to a person as a spouse in a legal, consensual, and contractual relationship recognized and sanctioned, and dissolvable only by law.  


The wedding is a cultural and social celebration that acknowledges the marriage and often includes a marriage ceremony.  Destination weddings for foreigners are popular for couples seeking a unique wedding experience. The couple completes the marriage paperwork in their home country and travels to Vietnam for the wedding celebration.


The Law on Family and Marriage and the Civil Code govern marriages in Vietnam. Foreigners are people with foreign national identity documents, such as a passport or identity card.  The marriage application is submitted to the Department of Justice. Foreigners must include documents from their home country verifying they are free to marry and proof of residency status. The Department of Justice and the provincial People’s Committee chairman assess the marriage application, a civil ceremony is held at the Department of Justice, and the marriage certificate is signed and registered. 


Destination weddings in Vietnam are attractive for foreigners because they are inexpensive, the couple is free to celebrate their wedding without family politics, and they are on holiday and able to have a honeymoon simultaneously.  The destination wedding looks and feels the same as a legal wedding, and the couple is able to focus on having fun and enjoying the day.


What is the Law on Marriage in Vietnam?


The law on marriage in Vietnam is in the Law on Family and Marriage and the Civil Code.  The three types of legal marriages in Vietnam are listed below.

  1. A marriage between two Vietnamese nationals who provide the appropriate documentation and comply with the procedures to be issued with a marriage certificate. 

  2. A marriage between a Vietnamese man or woman and a foreign national, where the foreign national has provided evidence they are free to marry and enter the marriage voluntarily. 

  3. A marriage between two foreign nationals where at least one (often both, depending on the provincial competent authority) has residency or temporary residence status in Vietnam.


Who is Eligible to Get Married in Vietnam?

The people eligible to get married in Vietnam are listed below.

  • Heterosexual couple: The woman is over 18 years old, and the man is over 20.

  • Free to marry: The couple must prove they are free to marry. 

  • Sound of mind: Both partners are capable of making free and independent decisions. 

  • Unrelated by blood: The couple has no blood relatives in 3 generations.

  • Living in Vietnam: At least one person is a Vietnamese citizen or has residency or temporary residency in Vietnam.

The people ineligible for marriage in Vietnam are listed below.

  • Adoptive or blended relatives: Adoptive parents and adopted children and stepfathers or stepmothers and their stepchildren. 

  • Same-sex couples: same-sex weddings are permitted but not recognized under the Law on Family and Marriage.


Can Two Foreigners Marry Legally in Vietnam?

Yes. Two foreigners can marry legally in Vietnam. At least one person must live in Vietnam and have residency or temporary residency status under Vietnamese law. The Vietnamese government grants residency or temporary residency status. The couple must follow the legal requirements under the Law on Family and Marriage and the Civil Code to apply for marriage with the Department of Justice. 


The marriage is solemnized by an official at the provincial Department of Justice. The couple must attend the Department of Justice and agree to enter the marriage voluntarily. The couple signs the Vietnamese Marriage Certificate, and the marriage is registered in the marriage registers.  


Foreigners unable to marry legally in Vietnam typically complete the marriage paperwork in their home country and then travel alone or with friends to Vietnam for a destination wedding.  


I have officiated weddings for 13 foreigners living in Vietnam who went through the legal process to have a legal wedding in Vietnam. They told me gathering the paperwork and following the government procedures was interesting, and at times it was frustrating.


Is Same-Sex Marriage Between Two Foreigners Legal in Vietnam?

Same-sex marriage between two foreigners is not legal in Vietnam. Same-sex marriages between people of any nationality are permitted in Vietnam, but they are not recognized under the Law on Marriage and Family.  Same-sex wedding ceremonies were prohibited in Vietnam until 2013. The Vietnamese government issued a decree in September 2013 removing the penalty for people holding public same-sex wedding ceremonies, but the weddings have no legal recognition. 


65% of Vietnamese citizens support same-sex marriage, according to a Pew Research Centre poll in 2023.


Can Tourists Have a Legal Marriage in Vietnam?

No, tourists can’t have a legal marriage in Vietnam because they do not live there. A holiday or tourist visa is not a temporary residency. Tourists are able to have an amazing destination wedding in Vietnam.  


Destination weddings are thriving in Vietnam. I’ve officiated over 455 weddings, and 98% of the couples complete the marriage paperwork in their home country.  


What Documents are Required for a Legal Marriage in Vietnam?

The documents required for a legal marriage in Vietnam are listed below. 

  • The Marriage Registration Dossier, or the Application for Marriage, is available at the Department of Justice or online at the Provincial Public Service Portal. 

  • Two certified copies of each birth certificate.

  • Two certified copies of the couples' passports (and those of two witnesses)

  • Two certified copies of written certification from an approved medical authority that one (or both) parties are sound of mind and have no diseases affecting the ability to choose to marry.

  • Foreigners must obtain proof of marital status at their Embassy or home country and have it certified by the Embassy. Embassies for different nationalities have different requirements for proof of marital status—for example, embassies in Australia issue Certificates of No Impediment to Marry. Vietnamese nationals obtain proof of single status from the local People’s Committee.

  • Divorcees or widowers must provide relevant documents to satisfy the provincial Department of Justice that they are single. Present certified copies of divorce papers or death certificates as appropriate. 

  • Certified copies of the household registration books for where each person resides. 

  • Certified copies of residency or temporary residency cards.


What is the Procedure for Foreigners Getting Married in Vietnam?

The procedure for foreigners getting married in Vietnam is listed below.

  • Get all documents for the Marriage Register Dossier translated into Vietnamese. Get two copies notarized by the Vietnamese Embassy or other qualified Vietnamese notaries. 

  • Lodge the Marriage Registration Dossier at the provincial Department of Justice or online on the Provincial Public Service Portal and pay the application fee.

  • The provincial Department of Justice assesses the Dossier and arranges a meeting with the couple to ensure they voluntarily agree to wed and understand the marriage status. 

  • The Department has 15 days to assess a valid Dossier. 

  • The Department sends the Dossier and submission to the relevant provincial People’s Committee for a decision on the marriage application. The Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee must sign the marriage certificate or return the unsigned certificate, Dossier, and detailed reasons for refusing to sign within five days. 

  •  The Department arranges a civil ceremony within five days of receiving a signed marriage certificate from the Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee.

  • The marriage is solemnized by an official at the provincial Department of Justice. The couple must attend and agree to enter the marriage voluntarily. The couple signs the Marriage Certificate, and the marriage is registered in the Marriage Registers. 


Will a Legal Marriage in Vietnam be Recognized in my Home country?

Yes.  A legal marriage in Vietnam will be recognized in your home country. The Vietnamese Marriage Certificate is the official document evidencing your marriage. Couples are unable to get a new marriage certificate in their home country because a person is permitted to be married in one place at one time. 


Foreigners often complete the marriage paperwork in their home country to ensure they have a marriage certificate in their country. Post-wedding administration, such as changing names on driver's licenses and passports, for example, adds extra complexity using a Vietnamese Marriage Certificate. 


Can I Have a Destination Wedding in Vietnam?

Yes, you can have a destination wedding in Vietnam. A destination wedding in Vietnam means foreigners travel to Vietnam for a holiday that incorporates a wedding and a symbolic marriage ceremony. Couples celebrate their nuptials how they want to celebrate. Vietnam has stunning beaches, high-end resorts, world-class wedding planners and photographers, cuisine for every palette, and a location for any wedding theme. A destination wedding in Vietnam is inexpensive compared to a wedding in the couple’s country of origin, and the couple is able to enjoy a vacation and honeymoon as well. 


Couples choose to elope or have a wedding ceremony following the traditional wedding ceremony rituals from their home country. 


Are Destination Weddings in Vietnam Legal?

No. Destination weddings in Vietnam are not legal unless the foreign couple meets the residency and other requirements of the Law on Family and Marriage. Couples traveling on tourist visas are unable to meet the residency requirements.


Wedding and marriage are used interchangeably, but they represent different concepts.  A wedding is a celebratory event or social ritual that often includes solemnizing the marriage during the wedding ceremony, followed by a dinner and party to mark the occasion.  A marriage is a legal contract between the couple, evidenced by a marriage certificate or license.  Couples opt for symbolic ceremonies and complete the marriage paperwork in their home country.


Destination weddings are a fantastic way for a couple to tie the knot free from familial and cultural expectations and the expense associated with weddings at home.


Why do Couples Have Destination Weddings in Vietnam?

Couples have destination weddings in Vietnam because it is a central location for guests traveling worldwide.  Vietnam is relatively inexpensive compared to weddings in the home country. Couples enjoy a holiday and a wedding for less than a wedding at home.

The weather is sublime and tropical almost year-round. The beaches, mountains, scenery, food, and culture offer unique experiences.


The couples I work with have a family connection to Vietnam, or they visited Vietnam on holiday and fell in love with the country. Expatriates working in neighboring countries enjoy the short plane trip to enjoy their wedding with friends and family on the beach. Couples who love traveling have destination weddings in Vietnam. It’s common for couples to use the money they’ve saved for a traditional wedding at home to take a six-month vacation in Asia and have a destination wedding in Vietnam for the same price. 


What are the procedures for arranging a destination wedding in Vietnam?

There are no procedures for arranging a destination wedding in Vietnam unless the foreigners want to marry legally.


Destination weddings range from the couple and a friend choosing a beautiful spot to hold a ceremony and vow exchange, hiring a restaurant for the ceremony and reception, or having a beachside ceremony in a fancy resort or restaurant. Weddings held further away from major cities are more expensive due to travel and logistics.


The procedures for foreigners who want to arrange a larger wedding celebration are listed below.

  • Understand the weather in Vietnam: March and April are the best months to get married in Central Vietnam, such as Hoi An or Danang. The weather is most comfortable in March and April, with temperatures around  30+ degrees Celsius (86 F). October to February is the rainy season, grey and windy. Nha Trang has great weather from January to August, with rain from September to December. The southern region of Ho Chi Minh City, the Mekong Delta, and Phu Quoc is warm year-round. The rainy season is from May to September.  The best time for a destination wedding in Hanoi or Northern Vietnam is March to November. Note the weather is hot.  Winter is cold and miserable.

  • Research suppliers and venues: Vietnam has world-class wedding planners, photographers, celebrants, and venues. Research online to narrow your list of preferred suppliers.

  • Pro Tip: Avoid sending an email with a general question about the price. Be specific about the number of guests, the time of year, the theme of the wedding, and your expectations and budget. Specificity means you eliminate vendors that are outside your budget.

  • Visit Vietnam: Make time to visit Vietnam and handpick your team on the ground before choosing the wedding date or the venue. Schedule calls to interview your potential suppliers and venues if you’re unable to visit. 

  • Choose your suppliers: Secure your suppliers before you set the date. Consider the following vendors and decide if you need them.

  • Wedding planner. Wedding and event planners in Vietnam save money and headaches. They have local knowledge and bring your vision to life within your budget. A destination wedding is fun, and a great planner helps achieve it. Choose reputable planners who demonstrate experience, have positive customer reviews, and are open to your plans.

  • Photographer. Quality photographers are booked months in advance in Vietnam—research online for photographers that suit your style and budget and schedule a meeting. 

  • Wedding celebrant or marriage officiant. Research wedding celebrants with experience and a style that matches yours. An amazing wedding celebrant is calm, flexible, open to all cultures, rituals, and traditions - and fun to be around. Consider asking a friend or family member to officiate if you prefer to keep it simple. 

  • Hair and makeup artists. Couples often fly hair and makeup artists to Vietnam, but it’s unnecessary. Quality hair and makeup artists in Vietnam have experience with all nationalities and skin types. Ask to see customer reviews and photos of their work. 

  • Venue. Meet with the person handling the wedding to ensure you are comfortable with them. Ensure the venue fits the weather and your preferred date. 

  • Entertainment. Research bands, DJs, or performance artists such as face painters, lion dancers, and other entertainers you have in mind for the wedding celebration.  

  • Invite your guests: Couples often pre-plan wedding dates with guests to ensure everyone is able to attend the wedding. Expect around 40% of guests to RSVP that they are attending. Give potential wedding guests as much notice as possible, with twelve months' notice ideal.  

  • Set clear expectations: Ensure guests know what expenses they are responsible for and what the couple pays for. Create a free wedding website if you have a large group of guests. A central reference point for all wedding information saves time answering questions multiple times.  Wedding websites typically include visa information, accommodation options, planned social events, the agenda for the wedding day, and the dress code. 

  • Finalize the ceremony and vows: A destination wedding in Vietnam is an experience to be savored. Ensure your ceremony and wedding vows are finished before arriving in Vietnam to minimize stress and pressure.  


Who Officiates a Destination Wedding in Vietnam?

Anyone is able to officiate a destination wedding in Vietnam. Professional marriage officiants create bespoke symbolic marriage ceremonies and vows for couples in Vietnam. Foreign couples bring a celebrant from their home country or ask a friend to officiate. Some couples elope and exchange vows without a celebrant.

Wedding celebrants in Vietnam understand the culture and the venues and work with the suppliers, making the pre-wedding lead-up seamless. Consider paying the airfare for a friend who is officiating because they need to prepare the ceremony, liaise with the sound technicians, and co-ordinate the ceremony, meaning they’re under pressure on the day. Foreigners getting married in Vietnam are free from traditional constraints, meaning their wedding is unique. 


 


Are you still keen? Let's chat.


Hi. I'm Leanne Summers, a wedding celebrant and writer living in Vietnam. I'm a former corporate lawyer who took life too seriously. I found my sense of humor while traveling through Vietnam. I'm now lucky enough to spend my time wordsmithing wedding ceremonies and officiating weddings for couples who've traveled worldwide to celebrate their marriage in Vietnam.


You can reach me at leanne@weddingcelebrantvietnam.com or drop me a line on FB: @weddingcelebrantvietnam or Insta: @celebrant_weddings_vietnam


Please note: Once upon a time, I was a lawyer, but this is not legal advice. Please do not rely on it as legal advice. It is the situation as I understand it to be at the time of writing. It is a general guide for getting married legally in Vietnam. Have fun!






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