Can two foreigners have a legal wedding in Vietnam?
Two foreigners can legally marry in Vietnam as long as
They are a man and a woman
At least one person has Residency or Temporary Residency in Vietnam status in Vietnam. To obtain this status, permission must be granted by the Vietnamese government. At least one of the people getting married must live in Vietnam and have government approval to live here under the law. Then the couple must follow the legal requirements under Vietnamese law to obtain a Vietnamese Marriage Certificate.
Temporary residency doesn't include a tourist or holiday visa.
Please don’t let it put you off. The process of getting government approval to have a legal wedding in Vietnam is lengthy and frustrating and the paperwork kills a couple of trees. Most foreigners who live here simply go home and go through the process there before returning to have their wedding ceremony and reception party in Vietnam. The Vietnamese wedding is the one with all the bells and whistles and the date they consider to be their real wedding.
The process for gaining government approval is a little easier if a foreigner wants to marry a Vietnamese National, however, it can still have you pulling your hair out.
Is same-sex marriage between two foreigners legal in Vietnam?
Same-sex marriages are not recognised in Vietnam under the Law on Marriage and Family, 2014. Same-sex couples can have a marriage ceremony (and in Vietnam, couples call them "commitment ceremonies".) They aren't recognised as legal marriages in Vietnam, so it's unlikely the marriage will be recognised in your home country.
How do two foreigners get married legally in Vietnam?
1. Visit your Embassy here in Vietnam. The Embassy of the country that issued your Passport has the most up-to-date information on the requirements for foreigners to marry in Vietnam, under Vietnamese law.
2. They will give you a list of paperwork that must ultimately be lodged with the Vietnamese District Justice Office at the District Peoples Committee where the person holding the Residency resides. The couple must lodge the paperwork in person.
Here’s a summary of what needs to be supplied to the District Justice Office under the law, though requirements in the various districts will vary. More information is required in different districts.
Marriage Registration Dossiers (which can be obtained at the District Justice Office)
A certified copy of Birth Certificates
A certified copy of the couples' Passports (and those of two witnesses)
Written certification from an approved authority that one (or both) parties are sound of mind and mentally competent to marry.
Affidavit of Single Status (which can be obtained at your Embassy).
If you’ve been divorced or widowed you must provide relevant documents to satisfy the District Ministry of Justice you are single. Get your Divorce papers or Death Certificate ready.
Certificate of Non-Impediment to Marry. (Again, obtained at your Embassy or government department in your home country.)
Document from your home country that no Marriage Licence or Marriage Certificate exists in that country.
3. Get all documents that aren’t written in Vietnamese translated and notarized by the Vietnamese Embassy and other qualified Vietnamese notaries.
4. Take all the paperwork to the District Ministry of Justice Office. They will assess it and arrange a meeting with the couple to ensure they are serious about getting married.
5. Provided all is in order, the District Ministry of Justice Office is required to provide an answer to your application within 25 days.
6. If the District Ministry of Justice Office approves your application, there is one more step.
7. The Head of the Provincial Peoples Committee must sign your Marriage Certificate. Which also takes time.
8. Once the Head of the Peoples Committee signs your Marriage Certificate, you are free to wed in five days.
I have officiated weddings for 13 foreign couples based in Vietnam who went through the legal process to have a legal wedding in Vietnam. The application takes approximately 3 - 12 months. It makes for fun stories once it's done, but all the couples told me it's time-consuming and frustrating.
Why have a wedding in Vietnam if it's not a legal wedding?
Destination weddings in Vietnam are growing in popularity every year. As the world gets smaller, Vietnam is an attractive central point for people to travel for a wedding. It’s relatively inexpensive compared to the banquet hall soirees at home. The weather is sublime and tropical almost year-round. The beaches, mountains, scenery, food, and culture assault all the senses (in a great way!).
Being able to enjoy a holiday and a wedding for less than a one-day wedding at home is not to be sneezed at. Going through a little bit of leg work so you are legally married at home is a small price to pay. Some couples use that as an opportunity to celebrate with friends and family who can’t otherwise make it to the wedding. The pros outweigh the cons! And we all love the upside!
Are you still keen? Let's chat.
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. You should always start with your local Embassy and go from there. I am writing this as a general guide for getting married legally in Vietnam. It will be time-consuming and at times challenging and not for the faint of heart. Have fun!
Hi. I'm Leanne, Australian-born and now based in Hoi An, Vietnam. A former corporate lawyer bereft of a sense of humour, I found it again while travelling through Vietnam. I'm now lucky enough to spend my time wordsmithing wedding ceremonies and officiating weddings for couples who've travelled from all over the world to celebrate their marriage in Vietnam.
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop me a line on FB: @weddingcelebrantvietnam or Insta: @celebrant_weddings_vietnam