Vietnam Citizenship: All You Need To Know

So you’ve fallen in love with Vietnam, and now you’re thinking of making it official citizenship style.

While the journey from bánh mì enthusiast to bona fide citizen is not without its hurdles.

This guide will serve as your friendly GPS through Vietnam’s complex citizenship landscape. Buckle up!

Let’s dive in!


What Does It Mean To Have Vietnamese Citizenship?

Having a basic understanding of Vietnam as a developing dynamic, let’s delve into the benefits accompanying a Vietnamese citizenship:

  1. Ease of Travel: Vietnamese passport holders can enjoy visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to many countries around the globe. This advantage opens an effortless gateway for potential business expansions and leisure explorations
  2. Entrepreneurial Opportunities: Vietnam encourages entrepreneurship. As a citizen, you can establish a business following the local laws without any foreign ownership restrictions. The government also extends attractive tax benefits to rev up the entrepreneurial spirit
  3. Investment Possibilities: Citizenship opens doors to unrestricted property ownership, which non-citizens often find elusive. This advantage could serve as a lucrative investment, given the nation’s booming real estate market
  4. Affordable Living Costs: Compared to Western nations, Vietnam offers a high-quality yet cost-effective living standard. It extends a good healthcare system, affordable housing, and inexpensive food—a promising destination for those aspiring for a peaceful retirement
  5. Cultural Inclusivity: Vietnam takes pride in its rich cultural diversity. Its citizens, irrespective of their origins, enjoy the freedom to uphold their cultural practices and traditions
  6. Education Opportunities: Vietnam emphasizes quality education. As a citizen, your children will have access to the well-organized Vietnamese education system, including affordable higher education options
  7. Social Benefits: Vietnam extends a comprehensive social security system for its citizens. It includes various protection measures covering health, unemployment, retirement, and more
  8. Political Rights: Lastly, as a Vietnamese citizen, you can participate in the democratic process, including rights to vote and stand for elections, actively contributing to the nation’s shaping

In conclusion, Vietnamese citizenship doesn’t merely bestow a passport; it unfolds a world teeming with opportunities, cultural riches, and significant advantages strongly favoring personal and professional growth.

As Vietnam strides forth in its development journey, those who become Vietnamese citizens join a growth-oriented, vibrant, and richly diverse community.

Types Of Vietnamese Citizenship

When residing in Vietnam or seeking the citizenship, understanding the diverse types of Vietnamese citizenship and their associated privileges is imperative. The citizenship types include:

  1. Birth Citizenship
  2. Citizenship by Descent or Jus Sanguinis
  3. Citizenship by Marriage
  4. Naturalized Citizenship
  5. Honorary Citizenship
  6. Dual Citizenship

1. Citizenship By Birth

Historically, Vietnam had adhered to the jus sanguinis principle, which states that a person’s nationality at birth is the same as that of his/her natural parents.

It meant that if one or both parents were Vietnamese citizens, then the child was automatically considered a Vietnamese citizen, regardless of where they were born.

However, the legal landscape concerning citizenship was completely reshaped following the country’s reunification in 1975, with the birthplace now serving as the primary criterion for determining citizenship.

Eligibility Criterion

  1. The applicant must have a legitimate reason for seeking Vietnamese citizenship
  2. They should have been residing in Vietnam for at least 5 continuous years by the filing date
  3. They should be able to demonstrate a basic grasp of the Vietnamese language and understanding of Vietnamese customs, practices, and laws
  4. They should be of good moral character and have no prior criminal record

Documents Required

  1. Application form for Vietnamese citizenship
  2. Proof of identity documents (Passport or ID card)
  3. Evidence of having lived continuously in Vietnam in the past 5 years
  4. Documents pertaining to your knowledge about the Vietnamese language and understanding of Vietnamese customs and laws
  5. Criminal record certificate
  6. Medical certificate
  7. Two 3 cm x 4 cm photos

Application Process

Obtaining Vietnamese citizenship follows a systematic process:

  1. Collate and fill out all necessary application documents
  2. Submit the application form and accompanying documents to the local Justice Department of your city or province
  3. If the application is assessed favorably, it will then be forwarded to the Ministry of Justice
  4. Upon the Ministry of Justice’s approval, your application will be moved to the President of Vietnam to be granted citizenship
  5. The final decision will be relayed through a citizenship certificate, which confirms that the applicant is, indeed, a citizen of Vietnam

Citizenship By Descent Or Jus Sanguinis:

In Vietnam, the nationality law is based on the concept of “jus sanguinis” (right of blood); meaning one’s nationality is dictated by that of one’s parents, rather than the place of their birth. This makes ‘citizenship by descent’ a vital process for Vietnam nationals.

Eligibility Criterion

Vietnamese citizenship by descent can be claimed by:

  1. Individuals whose parents are both Vietnamese citizens
  2. Individuals born in Vietnam to a Vietnamese parent and a stateless parent
  3. Individuals born in Vietnam to a Vietnamese parent and a foreign parent, if the foreign parent has no agreement on nationality with Vietnam

Documents Required

  1. Application form for Vietnamese citizenship
  2. Birth certificate proving Vietnamese descent
  3. Proof of identification (Vietnamese Identity Card or passport)
  4. Proof of the parents’ identity (passport or identity card)
  5. Documents proving the parents’ Vietnamese nationality (birth certificate, passport, identity card)
  6. Other relevant documents, if applicable (marriage certificate, decision of adoption, decision of child recognition)

Application Process

The process is bureaucratic and requires patience. Here’s a brief walk-through:

  1. Submission of all necessary documents to the Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate in your resident country. Preparation of a dossier containing all necessary documents is critical
  2. The embassy will send the documents to Vietnam’s Ministry of Justice for assessment
  3. Approval or denial of the citizenship application by the President of Vietnam
  4. If approved, the individual will take an oath of allegiance and receive a Vietnamese Citizenship Certificate

It’s important to note that ‘citizenship by descent’ does not automatically confer upon the child upon birth.

Parents need to apply it for their child. Also, holding Vietnamese citizenship means the individual is subject to Vietnam’s laws and regulations, including obligations related to national service.

2. Citizenship By Marriage

In Vietnam, the concept of ‘citizenship by marriage’ dates back to the yesteryears dictated by the edicts of its ancient dynastic rule. It was largely formalized as part of the official law of the land following the post-colonial restructuring of Vietnam’s nationality law in 1988.

The laws have since been updated several times to include non-discriminatory language and more comprehensive human rights protections. Foreigners can acquire Vietnamese citizenship by marrying a Vietnamese national, providing an opportunity for them to firmly establish their life in the country.

Eligibility Criterion

To qualify for Vietnamese nationality through marriage, applicants must:

  1. Be at least 20 years old
  2. Have been married to a Vietnamese citizen for at least two years
  3. Hold at least a cursory understanding of the Vietnamese language
  4. Demonstrate the ability to integrate into Vietnamese society

Documents Required

  1. Birth certificate
  2. Marriage certificate with a Vietnamese national
  3. Proof of language proficiency/understanding of Vietnamese culture
  4. Recommendation letter from local authorities in Vietnam
  5. Statement of no criminal record from home country and in Vietnam
  6. Current residency proof

Application Process

  1. Gather all necessary documents
  2. Complete the application form provided by the Ministry of Justice
  3. Submit the application package to the Provincial Department of Justice in the province city where the Vietnamese spouse is residing
  4. The application will then go through a verification process which usually takes about four months
  5. If successful, the applicant is granted Vietnamese nationality and issued a Vietnamese ID card and passport

In essence, acquiring Vietnamese citizenship through marriage is a meticulous process requiring thorough preparation and patience requiring adherence to stringent protocols.

However, the unparalleled opportunity to immerse oneself in Vietnam’s rich cultural heritage makes this process worthwhile for those prepared to commit to its requirements and embrace Vietnam’s vibrancy fully.

3. Citizenship By Naturalization

Originating from the Latin word ‘natio’ which implies birth, ‘Naturalization’ signifies the legal act by which a non-citizen in a country becomes a citizen. The concept of citizenship by naturalization in Vietnam is deeply rooted in its historical, social and political dynamics.

Part of the socialist republic, Vietnam sets provisions on citizenship in its 1999 Law on Vietnamese Nationality (amended in 2008).

In the larger schema, ‘citizenship by naturalization’ is a path that allows foreigners who have permanently resided in Vietnam to acquire Vietnamese citizenship, granted they satisfy specific eligibility criteria.

Over the past decades, this has been a significant pathway for non-Vietnamese seeking to integrate fully into the Vietnamese community.

Eligibility Criterion

  1. Be at least 20 years of age
  2. Have a clear personal identity, respect the country’s Constitution, the law, and do not compromise national benefits
  3. Understand the Vietnamese language well enough to integrate healthily into the Vietnamese community
  4. Must have resided in Vietnam for three years or more immediately before the date of the application for naturalization

Documents Required

The application process for naturalization requires you to provide several documents, including but not limited to:

  1. A completed application form for Vietnamese nationality
  2. Certification of nationality and origins
  3. A Birth Certificate
  4. Criminal history record
  5. Health Certificate confirming that the applicant is free from mental diseases or other illnesses that could cause loss of cognitive ability or control of behaviors

Application Process

To apply for Vietnamese citizenship, follow this simplified step-by-step process:

  1. Submit the required documents to the Provincial-level Justice Departments in the local area where you have decided to settle
  2. The Provincial-level Justice Departments then forwards these documents to the Ministry of Justice
  3. The Ministry of Justice reviews the application and sends it to higher authorities for approval
  4. On receiving the approval, the Ministry of Justice issues a certificate to the applicant, completing the naturalization process

Obtaining Vietnamese nationality by naturalization is relatively complex and time-consuming. However despite that, for many foreigners living in Vietnam, these challenges are worth overcoming to enjoy the rights, freedoms, and bonds that come with being a Vietnamese citizen.

4. Citizenship By Honor

The concept of acquiring Vietnamese citizenship, particularly citizenship by honor, is rooted in its historical context, reflecting the country’s values of national loyalty, commendable contributions, and timeless honor.

The Honorable Path to Citizenship ‘Citizenship by Honor’ is a concept special to Vietnam, functioning as a legal tenet primarily offered to foreign individuals who have remarkably contributed to the country’s development, prosperity, and international status.

This path to becoming a citizen reflects the Vietnamese people’s respect for those who significantly influence the nation’s stride towards progress and success.

Eligibility Criterion

The Vietnamese government has set particular criteria to become eligible for ‘Citizenship by Honor.’ Applicants must fulfill the following conditions:

  1. Possesses a character that aligns with the interests of Vietnam’s national society and does not pose a threat to national security
  2. Has made significant contributions to the protection and development of Vietnam
  3. Strong endorsement or recommendation by a Vietnamese Ministry, branch or Provincial People’s Committee

Required Documents

The following documentation must accompany the application for citizenship:

  1. A completed application form for Vietnamese citizenship
  2. A valid foreign passport or a valid substitute document
  3. Documents verifying the applicant’s contributions to Vietnam
  4.  A certified document from a Vietnamese Ministry, branch, or Provincial People’s Committee attesting their endorsement
  5. Other relevant documents as per individual cases

Application Process

The application process entails several stages:

  1. Submission of the application with required documents to the Ministry of Justice of Vietnam
  2. After the Ministry of Justice’s initial verification, the documents will be forwarded to the President for final approval
  3. If successful, the applicant will receive an official decision of approval in form of a notice. This process can take a few months or even a year, depending on the complexity of the case

The journey to gain Vietnamese citizenship, especially by honor, reflects not just a change in legal status but is a testament to the individual’s commitment and beneficial contributions to Vietnam and its people.

Although the process may seem daunting, it is a road traveled by many who found significant value in the cultural wealth and dynamic growth opportunities offered by this country.

The Vietnamese government’s structured approach ensures that this process is selective, honoring foreigners who’ve genuinely aided in amplifying Vietnam’s global status.

5. Dual Citizenship

In essence, dual citizenship pertains to the legal status where an individual is a citizen of two countries concurrently. Despite various nations accepting this concept, Vietnam traditionally had a different stance.

In Vietnam, the dual citizenship concept was initially not recognized, which was evident in the Vietnamese Nationality Law of 1998. It stated that Vietnamese citizens could not retain their nationality if they voluntarily acquired a foreign one.

However, with constant global changes influencing national policies, Vietnam amended this law in 2009. It now only revokes the Vietnamese citizenship of individuals who ‘do not bring benefits to the country.’

Eligibility Criterion

  1. Be 20 years of age or above
  2. Prove that your stay in Vietnam will not endanger national security or harm social order
  3. Be proficient in the Vietnamese language
  4. Have enough knowledge of Vietnam’s history, law, and culture, verified through a government-assigned test
  5. Be legally residing in Vietnam for a minimum of five years
  6. Have a stable job and accommodation in Vietnam

Documents Required

To apply for Vietnamese citizenship, one must prepare the following documents:

  1. Legal documents that validate the potential citizen’s stay in Vietnam
  2. Proof of stable accommodation and employment in Vietnam
  3. Official documents demonstrating the individual’s eligibility, such as age proof, language proficiency certificates, and other documents that ascertains knowledge about Vietnam
  4. Medical certificates that verify the individual’s health conditions

Application Process

  1. Round up all required documents and submit them to the local People’s Committee of the applicant’s residence
  2. The People’s Committee of the town or city will examine the submitted documents
  3. Approved applications will be forwarded to the Ministry of Justice for further inspection
  4. The Ministry of Justice, after utile evaluations, will pass the confirmed applications to the President of Vietnam
  5. Applicants who successfully pass all stages will receive the Presidential approval, confirming their new status as Vietnamese citizens

In today’s globalized era, gaining Vietnamese citizenship can present numerous opportunities. With an understanding of Vietnam’s view on dual citizenship and the essential aspects relating to the acquisition process, individuals worldwide can proceed with this process confidently.

Common Reasons For Citizenship Denial In Vietnam

Invalid Documentation

Providing poor or misleading documentation stands as a chief reason for the rejection of Vietnamese citizenship applications. Incomplete applications, inaccurate information, and non-authenticated documents can lead to immediate denial

Violations of Vietnamese laws

Applicants who have a known history of violating Vietnamese laws will likely face denial. This includes illegal conduct within Vietnam or any criminal activities that oppose the Public Order and Good Moral Standards of Vietnam

Failure to meet residency requirements

Applicants must fulfill the required residency terms, typically involving residing in Vietnam for a consistent period without any significant breaks. The inability to meet these terms is a frequent ground for application denial

Lack of sufficient financial resources

Affording a stable lifestyle in Vietnam is crucial. If applicants cannot provide proof of economic stability, the application is likely to be turned down

Insufficient proficiency in Vietnamese language

Proficiency in the Vietnamese language is a prerequisite in most cases. Failure to showcase this skill, usually confirmed via tests or interviews, can result in denial

Failing in civic and cultural understanding

A decent grasp of Vietnam’s culture, traditions, and civic systems is expected

Giving Up Vietnamese Citizenship

Just as individuals may wish to acquire Vietnamese citizenship, there are also instances where one might want to renounce it. The method of relinquishing Vietnamese citizenship, albeit a complex procedure, it is possible under Vietnamese law.

Under Article 19 of the Vietnamese Nationality Law of 2008, individuals seeking to give up their Vietnamese citizenship must file an application, in person or through a legalized power of attorney; to the President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

This application includes the applicant’s declaration of renouncement, reasons for the renouncement, and documents supporting their reason(s).

Once the application is submitted, the process of renouncing citizenship consists of reviewing the application, evaluating the reasons given, and finally, granting approval or rejection. The President, on government recommendations, may decide for or against the applicant’s renouncement.

The entire process can take a median of between 2-4 months. However, there are specific conditions that must be met:

  1. The applicant must have reached full legal age according to Vietnamese law (18 years)
  2. They must demonstrate unquestionable proof of having or being granted another country’s citizenship after renouncement

Lastly, the renouncement shouldn’t stand as a threat to the country’s interests or a deprivation of obligations to the State.

It’s crucial to understand that the relinquishing of Vietnamese citizenship is a substantial decision involving complexities that revolve around national identity, personal beliefs, and legal consequences.

Proper legal counsel should be sought, comprehending the pros and cons for an informed decision.


Congratulations, you’ve successfully navigated the winding roads of Vietnam’s citizenship laws! With your newfound knowledge, the door to becoming a full-fledged Vietnamese citizen is now wide open.

And remember, a journey of a thousand miles (or in this case, a lot of paperwork) begins with a single step.

Happy Settling!