20 Laws Every Expat in Vietnam Needs To Know

By: Sivaraj Pragasm

Every country has its own sets of laws and regulations, and while most of them are there to ensure the country doesn’t descend into chaos, there are some laws that are highly questionable. Vietnam is no exception to this, with some laws that are similar to most other countries in the world, but also a select few that may seem strange to some.

Before we delve into this, take note that Vietnamese society operates on the Confucian concept of ‘Asian values’ and some of these laws run parallel with this ideology. So what may seem strange to an American or European may be very normal to an Asian. With that in mind, let’s move on to the list.

1. Register Yourself!

Whether you’re an expat or just a tourist, as long as you’re a foreign citizen, you are required to register with the local police when you move into a residence. As a tourist, your hotel/hostel usually takes care of this for you. (That is why they ask for your passport.) But for expats who are here for the long haul, your landlord is required to do it. Why? Simply so they know you live in that place and that you’re accounted for.

Also, stay out of trouble. If you’re the only foreigner in the neighbourhood, you’ll stick out like a lighthouse in a dark sea in the middle of the night.

2. Having More Than Two People on a Bike

More than 2 people on a bike

This should be more of a common sense entry than anything, but if you’re walking down the street and see a motorbike with an entire family of four (and their dog) on it, it is illegal. According to Vietnamese law (and common sense), it is illegal to have more than two people sitting on a bike. Plus, you also need a licence to be able to drive or ride a bike on the road, just like in every other country in the world.

3. Stay Away from Funky Balls

Nitrous oxide, or N2O, should only be allowed to be traded and produced for industrial production and not to be licensed for human use, the ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

The ministry said N2O was not included in the list of banned and restricted chemicals for medical use. At the same time, it was yet to receive any registration for drug or medical equipment that required this gas.

Nitrous oxide is capable of inducing feelings of euphoria due to its impact on the neurological system, and so can be used as a recreational stimulant. But overuse may lead to memory or sleep disorders and a tingly sensation at the extremities, among other effects.

At the moment, nitrous oxide is still listed as a chemical regulated by the Ministry of Industry and Trade with practical applications as an anesthesia in medicine among its uses. Violating regulations relating to its production or sale could result in fines of VND12-25 million ($515-1,070).

4. You Actually Need a Work Permit...to Work

law in vietnam

Contrary to popular belief, it’s actually technically illegal to work in Vietnam on a tourist visa. You’ll need a full-fledged work permit if you’re a foreign employee, and the maximum validity of one is two years. The work permit is usually handled by the company that hires you. To aid your application, you’ll need a degree, a letter of referral from a respected company, proven experience in your field and a valid health check.

5. You Need Money for a License to Start a Business

Of course that goes without saying for all businesses, but we’re not just talking about start-up capital here. According to Vietnamese law, you will need at least US$30,000 in the bank before you can get a license to start your own business.

law in vietnam

Now this will be a major issue for start-ups and online retailers who don’t need so much money to begin with, but that’s just the way it is here. Of course, there are some who start their business before registering and then pay once they have that amount sorted out, but this is playing with fire. All it takes is a jealous business rival and you’re in trouble.

When planning your business, it’s highly recommended to make sure you are in contact with a lawyer well-versed with Vietnamese law who can advise you on what to do and, if possible, speak to a CEO in the same field about his/her experience. For more helpful information, check out this site.

6. You Can Buy Property but Not Land

Ever dreamt of buying a nice plot of land to build a house, or a three-storey mansion so you can sit on your verandah sipping wine and reflecting on life? You can’t do it here.

Buying in Vietnam

According to Vietnamese law, you can buy a house but not the land. So you can still live that dream to buy a house, or a mansion, but the land wouldn’t belong to you and you will have to lease it. Land leases in Vietnam last a maximum of 50 years, after which you can renew the lease without the rent being increased. So yes, you can own the property as long as you lease the land but you can’t own the land.

7. It’s Illegal to Overwork Yourself

According to Vietnam’s Labour Code introduced in 2013, you are officially not allowed to work for one employer for more than 48 hours a week. This amounts to a maximum of 8 hours a day, or if you don’t work everyday, a maximum of 10 hours a day without being paid overtime.

If you are reading this now at 8:00 p.m. on a weekday on your office desktop, there’s a high chance you’re breaking the law. In other words, you should go home now.

8. Yes, the Legal Drinking Age Is 18

Drinking in Vietnam

This entry was made to clear any confusion about the legal drinking age in Vietnam. Yes, it is 18.

9. Know Your Probationary Period

Speaking of work, if you have just taken up a new job, your probationary period cannot exceed 30 days of employment with a position that requires professional or vocational qualifications and 60 days of employment with a position that requires a college-level qualification or above and just six days for all other cases.

You will be paid a minimum of 85 percent of that position’s official wage, so if you’re reading this and realise you’re being shortchanged at your current job, you know what to do!

10. You’re Not Allowed to Gamble

Gambling in Vietnam

Gambling, except in government licensed casinos, is illegal in Vietnam. Anyone found to be in violation of this law is subject to steep fines and/or a severe prison sentence. Access to licensed casinos is restricted to holders of foreign passports.

Alternatively, you could use that money for other not-so-illegal things.

11. Don’t Bring Your Pornography Over

It is illegal to import pornographic materials into Vietnam as pornography itself, including the production, distribution and possession, are all illegal in this country. Enforcement of this law really depends on your luck and the punishment varies between fines and detention. To be on the safe side, it’s better not to be walking around lugging DVDs of the dubious variety. The rationale behind this law is that pornography harms traditional Vietnamese values.

12. You’re Not Allowed to Export Antiques

Fancy that vase that you saw in Da Nang that has been around for about 200 years? Bad news: you can’t bring it back home. Well, not unless you get a permit from the Ministry of Culture. It is illegal to export antiques from Vietnam without a permit, so your best course of action is to speak to the ministry to get further advice on what you can do if you really like that vase and can already picture it in your living room back home.

13. Don’t Do Drugs, Not Even in Vietnam

There seems to be a rather relaxed and nonchalant attitude about drug usage in Vietnam. After all, it’s not uncommon to catch a whiff of marijuana smoke wafting in the neighbourhood. But don’t be fooled – penalties for drug offences in Vietnam are severe!

Drugs in Vietnam

Under the Vietnamese penal code, a person caught in possession of even a small amount of heroin can be sentenced to death. There are actually foreigners in prison now serving life sentences or facing the death penalty for drug trafficking, and Vietnamese authorities have tightened their stand recently against drug-related offences.

14. Prostitution Is Illegal

This might surprise a number of you, but prostitution is actually illegal in Vietnam! It’s very common to see ladies of the night canvassing for customers, though – usually male tourists walking alone – and sometimes you’ll get the occasional shady-looking middle-aged man on a bike asking you if you want a massage. Yes, all those are illegal and chargeable offences.

On a more serious note, the Government is trying to crack down on sex-trafficking, especially when it involves the underaged. Although it will take time to eradicate this due to the numerous syndicates around, it is still a work in progress.

On a side note, I’ve discovered a simple trick to brush away those pesky bikers who keep harassing me for a massage – just yell “I’m gay” and watch them scoot off into the night immediately. You’re welcome.

15. Maternity Leave Entitlements

If you become pregnant, you are entitled to up to six months of maternity leave, with two of these months marked as compulsory. You will get 100 percent of your salary paid during that time and if you are carrying more than one baby, you are entitled to take an extra month of leave per child.

Maternity leave

Imagine having quadruplets – you’re pretty much not going to the office for almost a year.

16. No Drugs, No Weapons, No… Used Car Parts

There exists a list of prohibited items that you should avoid bringing into the country. Some are straightforward like drugs and pornography, like I mentioned earlier, but there are also some other additions to that list, and some are strange.

For example, no weapons, ammunition and explosive materials; no military equipment; no reactionary and “depraved” cultural products which could include T-shirts with a beer brand’s logo on it; no fireworks; no second-hand consumer goods (yes, apparently); no second-hand electrical and electronic household appliances; no goods that can cause environmental damage; no second-hand spare parts; no waste and disposable materials; no money amounting to more than US$5,000 without declaration; and, my personal favourite: no children’s toys that can detrimentally influence a child’s personality, education, social order, safety or disturb the peace.

However, you are allowed to bring no more than 400 cigarettes, no more than 100 cigars, no more than 500 grammes of tobacco, no more than 1.5 litres of liquor at 22 percent of volume and above (spirits) and no more than 2 litres of liquor below 22 percent volume (beers and wine). So it’s not all that bad, I guess.

17. Be Careful What You Shoot

For those of you into photography, or just like taking pictures in general, do take note that photography of, or near, military installations is generally prohibited. You might get your camera confiscated and be subjected to some serious questioning. Also, why would you be taking pictures of military installations in the first place?

Shooting in Vietnam

Another big no-no is taking pictures during demonstrations. If you’re taking a picture of a non-state sanctioned event, you’re unwittingly putting yourself into a situation of being part of the demonstration which can get you in serious trouble, especially if you’re a foreigner; we’re looking at potential detention or deportation. So just stay away from demonstrations, let alone take pictures of one.

18. Things to Not Bring on Your Way Out

Now that you know what not to bring in, here’s what you can’t bring out of Vietnam: weapons, ammunition, explosive materials, military techniques equipment and effects; antiques; drugs of all kinds; toxic chemicals; wood, logs, timber, preliminary processed wood of all kinds; rotten materials (why would you even?); wild, or precious, and rare animals and plants; and money amounting to more than US$5,000 without declaring it.

19. Legal Age for Marriage Is…

Twenty for men and eighteen for women. Of course this information was added just in case…

laws in vietnam

20. Don’t Linger Too Close to the Border

Earlier I mentioned that you’re not allowed to hang around near military installations. This law also applies to an area that is close to the border. If you’re planning to visit a village, commune or ward that is close to one, you may need to get permission from the provincial police department. Also always ensure that you have an ID with a photograph of you. This is not a suggestion, it’s an actual law.

So there you have it – 20 Vietnamese laws that every foreigner in this country should know. Always remember to err on the side of caution when dealing with any of these issues. There have been cases where foreigners got detained and their passports confiscated, and prisons in Vietnam aren’t exactly the best environment for one’s physical or mental well-being. So stay safe and stay out of unnecessary trouble.

Banner Image source: chiasemeohay.com


A Day in the Life of KAZE Interior Design Studio in Ho Chi Minh City

By: Katie Kinnon

What is Functional Beauty? Fong-Chan Paw Zeuthen from KAZE Interior Design Studio explains.

Time for Gelato! KAZE Interior Design Studio goes on location.

Collaboration makes it happen; KAZE’s style of brainstorming.

The word KAZE is Japanese for ‘wind’ it represents expansion, growth and freedom of movement. Danish architect Fong-Chan Paw Zeuthen chose this name for her boutique Vietnam based interior design studio when she launched it in 2009 as a reminder to never allow KAZE’s sense of style and knowledge stagnate. The goal of each KAZE designed projects is to have the same sense of movement, lightness, and power as a gust of wind.

KAZE Interior Design Studio

KAZE interior design studio, has been going strong for more than 10 years and it is one of the top interior design studios in Vietnam. The firm has taken on more than 100 high-profile projects across Vietnam and Cambodia. Specialists in development in the fields of Hospitality and F&B, the KAZE team has transformed the style and spirit of major projects such as Le Meridien Cam Ranh Resort & Spa by Marriot, Liberty Central Saigon Citypoint in Ho Chi Minh City and DIAMOND ISLAND PENTHOUSE & VILLAS by Kusto.

KAZE Interior Design Studio

KAZE Interior Design Studio’s Idea of Functional Beauty

Fong-Chan has an unwavering commitment to what she calls her “building for humans” philosophy. This means nothing goes into the space that will not be useful, comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing. It should be a usable space, not simply a pretty picture.

As Fong-Chan puts it, “you can tell a lot about how a person runs their company by the way the toilets are kept.” If management only cares about the aesthetics of a company and not the functionality something has gone wrong.

Far from the stark, harsh modernity that can be found in certain ill-designed spaces, KAZE Interior Design Studio’s projects are categorised by beauty, light, warmth and innovation.

But what happens between concept creation and the moment that someone walks into a fully realised KAZE designed space? City Pass Guide acts as interior designer for one day to learn more about the processes, inspirations and, at times, frustrations of being the leading interior design studio in Vietnam.

KAZE Interior Design Studio

Mornings in the Beehive; KAZE Interior Design Studio Gets Ready to Get Creative

When someone walks into KAZE interior design studio in Saigon’s District 2 it is clear to see that the office is a hive of energy where anything and everything can instigate inspiration. Fong-Chan has created a unique environment that is the right balance of easy going and innovative. Interior design books stacked on shelves range from tomes about types of marble used in 15th century Italy to glossy coffee table books filled with new design trends. The volumes propped open suggest the team study hard and the single-use plastic free ethos provides an insight into the environmental focus of KAZE’s design projects.

The open plan office is fairly minimalistic in terms of design with a mix of dark wooden desks and large glass windows that let in lots of natural light. While the monochrome colour scheme enables the raw materials that are scattered around the office to pop.

Desks are covered with brightly coloured fabric samples, varying sizes of intricately detailed tiles and project sketches. It is mind-boggling to imagine how all these snippets of inspiration can possibly turn into a finished project. The different textures, colours, patterns, and shapes are the starting point for the designers to focus their ideas and start putting a design idea into actuality.

KAZE Interior Design Studio

Individuality is the Key to Creativity

Each designer has a different style of working. A junior designer named Duong loves following new trends and finds ways to incorporate them into his work. Maria, a project designer is detail oriented. Part of her morning is typically spent researching ways to use historical styles while maintaining modernity. Other teams members contribute their individual senses of style and focus to create an environment that is always in “creation-mode”. KAZE is a boutique company of only 28-30 employees, this enables Fong-Chan to get to know her team on a personal level and get a sense of their likes, dislikes and work style.

KAZE Interior Design Studio

When Fong-Chan walks into the office she immediately commands the room. Despite having a cute dog following her around, she is a no-nonsense woman. She knows what every single person in the office is working on and exactly what they will be doing next. Like any great mentor, Fong-Chan looks after her team and ensures to regularly spend time with each and every member, going through what they are working on the moment, challenges they are facing and provide guidance on how they can improve. She takes pride in teaching every single member individually and she will push and challenge them until they unlock their potential.

As we walk through the office and take time to speak to the team members, one thing is clear, Fong-Chan’s team finds her to be an inspired leader.

Diving into the Project’s; an Afternoon at KAZE Interior Design Studio

All of KAZE’s projects are created from a story, they are what gives a project meaning. These stories are inspired by the brief from the clients, the space and location of the project as well as real-world experiences the designers have had. Fong-Chan organises annual design trips for the team to experience new things around the world and find new inspiration. Some of their most recent trips include Bangkok, Taiwan, and Milan. Without these trips, designers find inspiration from pictures on a computer and can’t really understand the emotions certain places can evoke or how they can awaken new senses, for example, the sense of achievement earned from reaching a mountain peak or tasting real gelato in Italy for the first time.

KAZE Interior Design Studio

Back in the interior design studio in Ho Chi Minh City, these experiences enable designers to create incredible projects together. In a small company like KAZE, the office feels like a symphony masterpiece, everyone is playing their own instrument but when put together it makes a beautiful finished product. In one corner, the junior designer is sketching out multiple designs to work out the best places for the lighting fixtures to create the right ambiance for the project. On the other side of the room, the project designer is using miniature furniture models to understand the way people would naturally enter a room and where they would want to sit down. Down the small hallway, a headphone clad designer is testing out the acoustics—he is listening to how the noise of ocean waves resonate against wooden walls versus concrete walls. The whole process is fascinating to watch and Fong-Chan is the perfect conductor.

Fong-Chan explains to us that KAZE has a “design language” and everyone needs to be able to speak it. This helps the KAZE team effectively communicate, brainstorm and develop ideas with each other as well as to understand all the ideas going on in Fong-Chan ’s head. For those who don’t speak the ‘language’ Fong-Chan spends her time managing their expectations, sometimes this can be with clients who don’t really know what they want and sometimes this can be with her own team who haven’t quite come to grips with their part of the project story.

Collaboration, Creation and Coffee in Saigon’s District 2

Every Tuesday and Thursday the KAZE team gather for a coffee break to socialise and discuss their ideas. Fong-Chan explains that there is a real buzz in the office during these meetings. Everyone suddenly goes from working quietly at their desks to talking loudly in groups, getting excited about project ideas and working out how their concepts can be developed. This collaborative effort helps to solve problems and generate new ideas.

KAZE’s Friday afternoon workshops are a fascinating way to experience the ins and outs of what happens during a design process. Each member picks a designer or design topic and delivers a presentation on it, detailing the history, inspiration, and work behind it. The workshops encourage the team to learn new things, try new ideas in their work and delve into a new world of design they may never have realised existed.

KAZE Interior Design Studio

Hometime

Burning the midnight oil is not a strange concept at KAZE, although it may not quite be midnight, many of the team stay after hours to develop their design knowledge and experience to improve their work. They work hard to ensure their part of the project is just right. They all dedicated and strive for perfection. A passion for design is the beating heart of KAZE, as one of the top interior design studios in Vietnam, it is clear to see that only those who work hard and are passionate about their ideas achieve success in this demanding profession.

KAZE Interior Design Studio

Image source: KAZE Interior Design Studio


Gateway Thao Dien: Raising the Bar for Luxury

By: Aleksandr Smechov

Gateway Thao Dien is Ho Chi Minh City’s answer to high-end, exclusive living

Investors may be surprised by the level of commitment Gateway Thao Dien has shown. It seems delays and misinformation are common complaints for anyone investing in property in Ho Chi Minh City. Luckily, Gateway Thao Dien has delivered on its word, and even provided added value for its investors - something rarely seen in the local real estate market. There are four ways Gateway Thao Dien has kept its commitment to its demanding home buyers.

On Point and On Time

To date, Gateway Thao Dien has reached all of its milestones on time. Construction has been carried out in a timely manner. From the beginning of October, the status of the project has been going along smoothly: Tower A (The Aspen) and Tower B (The Madison) are expected to complete level 20 and 22, respectively, this November. This means the projects is on track for its expected completion of date of the last quarter of 2017.

World-Class Partners

Backing Gateway Thao Dien are a number of highly reputable contractors and suppliers. These companies all have outstanding track records, and were carefully chosen for their professionalism. Gateway Thao Dien put much effort into acquiring the support of these partners - and buyers can clearly see the results in the quality of the residential complexes, the timely execution, and the customer support given throughout.

Cofico: Since 1975, Cofico has been renowned as one of the leading contractors for both civil and industrial projects in Vietnam. Honored to be appointed as the main contractor for Gateway Thao Dien, the team at Cofico is making every endeavor to satisfy the developer’s requirements for progress, quality and safety. The company’s brand name will act as a guarantor for the construction quality of the project.

Mace: In charge of construction management and supervision of the Gateway Thao Dien project, the Mace Group is a global consulting and construction firm employing 4,600 people across 70 countries. Their management and supervisory team are actively ensuring that the high quality products selected by Gateway Thao Dien are given the proper level of treatment during installation.

Searefico: This company is responsible for providing Gateway Thao Dien with integrated mechanical and electric solutions, as well as equipping the project with modern, high quality products and utilities. Lifts have been installed from world-renowned Swiss elevator company, Schneider; Daikin air-conditioners and Mitsubishi generators have also been added to ensure quality airflow and uninterrupted power. Using Building Information Modeling (BIM), SEAREFICO helps minimise problems in the construction process, ensuring quality installation and quicker progress.

Arup: Known for their intelligent, sustainable structural design, among other high-quality services, Arup is an international firm with 13,000 staff across 42 countries. They have been responsible for some of the world’s most famous structures. They have assisted Gateway Thao Dien with the tower blocks’ structural design, as well as the project’s penthouse floors. Gateway Thao Dien is one of the tallest residential buildings in HCMC, and Arup ensures all the buyers this will be one of the safest places to stay, in terms of structure.

Eurowindow: High-end windows are supplied by Eurowindow. The high-tempered glass is soundproofed up to 40bB, with powder-coated aluminum frames. Complying with AAMA2604 standards, Eurowindow will offer a 20 year warranty for all of its products.

A Surprise Upgrade

Buyers will be delighted to know Gateway Thao Dien’s developers have upgraded many of the appliances that were initially agreed upon. In particular, most bathroom appliances from Kohler and Toto have been promoted to Duravit and Hansgrohe. Teka kitchen appliances have been upgraded to the German Bosch brand. Digital door locks have been changed from Samsung/Yale to Häfele from Germany. Entrance and internal doors will be provided by Sunwood, with the same specifications as for their Marina One project, one of the most luxurious multi-purpose high-rises being built in Singapore.

Steep Rise in Property Value

Metro Line 1 (Ben Thanh to Suoi Tien) is the first metro line in HCMC, with a total span 19.7km and a budget of US$2.49 billion. After the development of Line 1’s master plan, numerous projects began to spring up in the vicinity of the train line. As Line 1’s construction nears completion, property values will rise for anything in the line’s vicinity - that includes Gateway Thao Dien, which is right by the metro.

Contact information:

Website: www.gatewaythaodien.com.vn

Hotline: +84 9 3205 7979

Addresss: Gateway Thao Dien Sales Gallery, 53 - 55 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, D3


How to Buy a House or Land in Vietnam?

By: City Pass Guide

Foreigners who are living in Vietnam may purchase houses for the expressed purpose of dwelling in it. By Vietnamese law, land is a national good, so you can only own the structure built on a property, not the land that it is on. You can enjoy a “land use right” for up to 50 years. This duration can be renewed. Also note that if you’re married to a Vietnamese citizen or a Việt kiều, you will have the same ownership rights as Vietnamese citizens.

Seek professional advice to ensure that all steps are properly taken to ensure a troublefree property transfer.

Alternatively, according to Vietnam’s Housing Law, every foreigner who has a Vietnamese visa stamp on their passport can buy a property in Vietnam. However, if you enjoy diplomatic or consular immunities and privileges, this does not apply.

Besides individuals, foreign companies, branches, representative offices of foreign companies, foreign investment funds and branches of foreign banks that are operating in Vietnam are also entitled to purchase property of residential projects.


A serviced apartment in Diamond Island Luxury Residences

What are the limits of foreigners’ rights on residential property in Vietnam?

The law states that foreign individuals and entities may only buy, receive or inherit apartments and houses in commercial projects and not in areas that limit or ban foreigners.

Although the limit of one property per foreigner has been repelled, the new Housing Law sets a limit on the proportion of foreigners who may live in a determined area: the total number of units owned by all foreign buyers must not exceed 30% of the units in one apartment building, or 250 landed property units in one ward.

The duration of the tenure is supposed to be equal to the land use right owned by the developer, most likely 50 years, with an option to extend the land use right at the end of it. The exact conditions for the extension are still unclear and will be detailed in further regulations.


Crescent Residences in D7, HCMC

An expatriate may lease his/her property for any purpose that is not banned by law, but he/she must inform the provincial house management agency before leasing the property. In this case, he/she is subject to Vietnam’s property taxes. If you are an overseas Vietnamese or if you are married to a Vietnamese citizen, you are entitled to a freehold tenure on the property.

If you bought it, you could of course decide to live in the house but also lease it or pass it through inheritance to someone else without any difficulties. To lease it, you will need an administrative authorisation from the Housing Department of the People’s Committee where your property is located.

Can foreign-invested enterprises purchase residential properties in Vietnam?

Foreign-invested enterprises that operate in Vietnam under the investment law but are not engaged in real estate, can purchase residential houses for their employees. They must possess investment certificates or written certifications of investment activities as appropriate to investment forms specified by the investment law granted by a competent Vietnamese state agency. They can buy properties to house their employees, but are not able to use them for leasing or other purposes.

HCMC properties
Housing in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: GettyImage

What are the steps to purchase a house in Vietnam?

1. Once you have chosen the property, you will have to sign a reservation agreement.

This legally links the buyer and seller and may include paying a deposit to the seller. Examine closely the reservation agreement before paying the deposit. It prescribes that if the buyer changes his mind, he will lose the deposit, and if the seller changes his mind, he will have to pay twice. You’re well advised to notarise this document to protect your interest.

2. Due diligence is the next step.

You will check the reliability of the seller by examining their ID or registration certificate along with the property’s certificates (for example the ownership certificate). You should also ask for a bank guarantee or insurance to ensure the seller is trustworthy.

3. Once due diligence has been satisfied by both parties, they confirm their engagement and interest by signing the housing contract.

An annex related to facilities that go with the apartment is advised. Make sure the agreement is signed by all related parties and if not, then by the representative who is mandated by the related persons. The contract on residential house purchase and sale must be in Vietnamese, so you will need a Vietnamese translator to help examine its content. Although many developers provide a bilingual version of the contract for a better understanding by all parties involved, only the Vietnamese version is valid under Vietnamese regulations. To help you with the complications involved with the contract, we list some details to look for before signing:

- Is it stated that the seller has the ownership certificate of the apartment and does he give a guarantee over this ownership?
- Is the apartment also a security for a loan?
- What are the responsibilities of the seller in case of dispute over the apartment ownership due to his fault?
- Methods used for payment?
- What are the responsibilities for tax and fees?
- What is the delivery time?

4. Paying taxes and fees.

Normally, if there is no other agreement between parties, the buyer pays the registration fee and the seller pays income tax. The payment shall be made at the tax department of the district where the house is located.

5. The last step is to apply for an ownership certificate.

Both parties can agree on how to handle issuance of the new certificate, although it is most likely that a buyer will have to take it up.


The Foreign Investor Guide to Real Estate in HCMC

By: Eric Le Dreau

Are you a foreign investor and want to know about real estate laws in HCMC? Confused by the new Property Law? Indochina Legal clears up the confusion:

One of the most notable changes introduced by Vietnam’s new 2014 property law and its regulations is the revision of the right for overseas Vietnamese, foreign individuals and organisations to own residential houses, as follows:

Overseas Vietnamese (or Viet Kieus) can now own residential houses in the same way as Vietnamese citizens without further residency requirements or any limitations on the type or quantity of houses, or the terms of ownership. They must hold a valid passport with an entry verification stamp marked by the Vietnamese Immigration Department (VID) and a document evidencing their Vietnamese origin.

Foreign individuals have the right to own residential houses, subject to certain restrictions as compared to Vietnamese citizens and Viet Kieus. In order to own houses, a foreigner is required to have a valid passport with an entry verification stamp marked by the VID and cannot fall under diplomatic or consulate preferences and immunities. Requirements of residency, investment in Vietnam, work permit, social contribution and/or marriage to a local Vietnamese is not necessary for residential housing ownership. However, as to ownership duration, foreigners married to Vietnamese citizens or to Viet Kieus are entitled to an indefinite term, whereas foreigners who are not can only own residential housing for a period of 50 years. This can be extended for another 50 years, subject to approval by the provincial People’s Committee where the house is located. Unlike other foreigners, those who are married to Vietnamese citizens are also exempt from notifying the housing administration authority at the district level prior to leasing their houses to others. Apart from that, the new legal framework grants foreigners the same rights of Vietnamese in the cases of subleases, mortgages, etc. of residential housing.

real estate in hcmc

Photo by: Manh Hai

Foreign organisations are allowed to own houses provided that (i) ownership term shall not exceed the period stated in their investment certificates issued by Vietnamese competent authorities, including any extensions; (ii) use of the houses is for residential purposes only, for their personnel; and (iii) lease-out of the houses is not permitted.

It is worth noting that foreign organisations and individuals shall not collectively own more than 30% of the total number of apartments in an apartment building or not more than 250 separate houses in an area where population is equivalent to that of a ward. In addition, house ownership beyond real estate projects (e.g. a villa built by individuals) is not allowed. For national defense and public security purposes, foreign individuals and organisations cannot own houses in certain areas. With respect to these limitations, the local Department of Construction will publish on their official website the projects where foreigners cannot own houses, detailed numbers of apartments or separate houses eligible for foreign ownership, and the number of houses where foreign ownership has been recorded. To our understanding, the database is not yet completely developed for all cities and provinces in Vietnam. Meanwhile, payment for purchase or lease of residential houses shall be made via credit institutions operated in Vietnam. So far there has been no specific instruction on foreign exchange control for relevant inbound and outbound foreign funding of residential housing.

Despite certain remaining limitations, the NHL has provided a more open approach to ownership of residential housing for foreigners. The hope is that these changes will ultimately defreeze the real estate market and create a new wave of foreign investment in Vietnam.

Website: www.indochinalegal.com


Buying Property in Vietnam

By: City Pass Guide

Vietnam property ownership for expats is a dilemma that has been here as long as the expats themselves. You come to Vietnam, fall in love with the country and settle down. But where will you live? Is it going to be rental property forever? You don’t intend on leaving so why not buy? It may surprise quite a few to realise that it is not as fraught with danger as you may think. It is certainly easier than in Thailand, and there is a lot less chance of you losing your hard earned money.

Vietnam Property Law Changes

The government changed the rules in July 2015, enabling foreigners to buy their dream home here, provided they match a few criteria. Anyone buying property here now has a lease of 50 years, with the ability to sell-on and transfer the lease.

Conic Residental Building in Binh Chanh (Photo by Đức-Huy)

According to the new law, foreigners and foreign entities will only be allowed to buy or take ownership of apartments and houses in commercial projects. They will still not be allowed to buy in areas that limit or ban foreigners. A maximum of 30% of apartments within a given block and 250 houses in a given ward will be available to expats. The 50 year lease will be able to be extended in the future, although details of exactly how this will be done will change over time.

People may think that not being able to buy the land and only the building upon it is unfair, but this is the same for the local population. The government maintains ownership of the land here. Since the announcement, a property market that was already heating up has really opened up and enabled foreigners to join the Vietnam property ladder. The country already had a strong economy and a very strong and vibrant middle class.

These new rules also apply to long term Vietnamese who, living abroad, have kept up their Vietnamese citizenship. With 4.2 million Vietnamese living overseas and about 30,000 high earning foreign executives working and living here (CNBC), the potential for local real estate companies is huge.

Big Changes for Ho Chi Minh City

The drive to modernise the city has meant that developments are springing up everywhere. The new prestigious tower being built in District 1 by Vinhomes is seen as a symbol of the future. At 461 metres, the Landmark 81 tower will be the tallest building in Southeast Asia.

Photo by Vinhomes 

Vietnam’s economy has a steady growth rate of over 5-7% per year. Almost 42,000 apartments were launched in 2015 with a record 36,000 of them being sold (Vietnambreakingnews.com). Vietnam does certainly look like a great place in which to invest. In Ho Chi Minh City, The top end properties are priced at $3,000 to $5,000 per square metre. This is way below the $9,375 per square metre you would have to cough up in Bangkok (Financial Times). And yet, rental yields here are 1.5-2.5% higher than those in Bangkok, Hong Kong and even Singapore, according to VinaCapital.


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