Since Vietnam opened in 2015, increasingly more foreigners and Viet Kieu have invested or plan to invest in this rapidly growing economy. The country offers some of Asia’s highest rental yields at the same time as property prices have increased by double digits in places like Ho Chi Minh City.
At the same time, more and more overseas Vietnamese wonder how it works from a regulatory point of view when investing in Vietnam real estate. In this article, I explain the definition of a Viet Kieu, what ownership regulations that apply, what the benefits of buying property as a Viet Kieu are, and more.
What is the definition of a Viet Kieu?
Before we get started, we first need to understand the definition of a Viet Kieu. In short, Viet Kieu are overseas Vietnamese people who live outside of Vietnam in a diaspora. We can find the biggest community of Viet Kieu’s in the United States.
Examples of other countries that have Viet Kieu communities are:
- Australia: More than 300,000 Viet Kieu’s as of 2018
- France: More than 350,000 Viet Kieu’s as of 2014
- South Korea: Around 170,000 Viet Kieu’s as of 2019
- Sweden: More than 20,000 Viet Kieu’s as of 2015
Most Viet Kieu have lived outside of Vietnam since they were young, sometimes for decades, often for political or economic reasons.
How can I become certified as a Viet Kieu?
Before you can buy property as a Viet Kieu in Vietnam you have to prove your Vietnamese ancestry.
You can certify your Vietnamese origin with the diplomatic missions of Vietnam abroad, the State Committee of Vietnamese living abroad, or the regional Departments of Justice.
You should do this earliest possible, otherwise, you might face issues and limitations when buying property later. You can also consult with your Vietnamese embassy for up-to-date information and to prepare the documents needed.
As Vietnam has become one of the fastest-growing countries in Asia, offering plenty of opportunities for investors and businesses, many Viet Kieu now return to Vietnam to invest in real estate.
Viet Kieu can enjoy benefits compared to both locals and foreigners, something that I will explain more about later in this article.
Property Ownership Regulations for Viet Kieu in Vietnam
Even if Vietnam opened to foreign investors in 2015, foreigners still have some disadvantages to Vietnamese citizens and Viet Kieu as stricter ownership regulations apply.
- Foreigners can only buy 30% of the units in condominium projects
- Foreigners cannot own more than 10% of the units in landed projects
- Foreigners can generally not receive mortgages at Vietnamese banks
- Foreigners cannot buy land in Vietnam
With that said, a Viet Kieu enjoys the same ownership rights as local Vietnamese citizens. As such, a Viet Kieu is not subject to the above-mentioned requirements for foreigners.
Worth mentioning is that Viet Kieu are still monitored in the sense that the Ministry of Construction has asked provinces and cities to report on homeownership by foreigners and Viet Kieu.
Besides, both foreigners and Viet Kieu have had issues receiving mortgages in their home countries as they’ve not been able to receive property title insurance, which is a requirement from banks in countries like the US and Canada.
What are the benefits of buying property as a Viet Kieu in Vietnam?
Many Viet Kieu have targeted the Vietnamese real estate market since the market opened some years ago. Some want to buy property for personal reasons and some as investments.
There are some clear benefits of buying real estate in Vietnam as a Viet Kieu, not only compared to foreigners as we’ve seen above, but also to locals.
Below I’ve listed some of the general benefits:
1. Viet Kieu Have Higher Disposable Incomes on Average
Viet Kieu enjoys the same ownership rights as local Vietnamese, but have higher disposable incomes on average as they reside, or have resided, in countries like the US, Canada, France, and more.
Salaries are higher in these countries and give Viet Kieu more opportunities and options.
2. Speak the Local Language
This might not come as an evident benefit to some people, but being able to speak the local language can indeed help you along the way and to better understand the local business culture.
3. Better Ownership Rights than Foreigners
As mentioned, the benefit of being a Viet Kieu is that you can buy real estate under the same conditions as Vietnamese citizens. Thus, you won’t have to meet local foreign property ownership quotas of 30% for apartments, which can result in higher prices and lower yields.
A clear benefit is also that you can buy land, something that is beyond the reach of foreigners.
What regulations apply if I’m married to a Viet Kieu?
The same regulations apply as if you’re married to a Vietnamese citizen.
How many Viet Kieu live outside of Vietnam?
According to the World Bank, there are around 5 million Viet Kieu. More than 2 million live in the US.