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Buying Properties in Vietnam as Expats

Buying-Properties-in-Vietnam-as-Expats-original-cover Ho Chi Minh City

Whether you intend to invest in real estate or purchase a car for your settlement in Vietnam, there are certain restrictions that you should bear in mind. It is crucial to acknowledge your rights and obligations before conducting any transaction here. Some specific products have their own restrictions. Our comprehensive guide will show you must-know information about buying properties in Vietnam as expats.

Buying Antiques in Vietnam as Expats

You are into antiques and plan to open an antique store? Unfortunately, only Vietnamese citizens can run this type of business. If you simply want to collect these precious items for personal purposes, you may purchase them. However, keep in mind that there are 9 categories of vestiges and antiques that you cannot carry abroad.

You can find the list of the above mentioned 9 categories in Article 3, Circular No. 19/2012/TT-BVHTTDL.

It is also illegal for foreign citizens in Vietnam to export antiques without a permit. The permit is to make sure that the artifacts are not among national treasure or rare items that need federal protection.

Check out Places to Buy Antiques in Ho Chi Minh City

Buying Cars in Vietnam as Expats

According to Circular No. 15/2014/TT- BCA, when purchasing cars, you must prepare the following documents:

  • For those working in diplomatic missions, consulates, representative offices of international organizations, you must present a Diplomatic Identity Card or Official Identity Card (still valid) and submit a letter of recommendation from the Department of State Reception or Department of Foreign Affairs.
  • For those working and living in Vietnam, you must present a valid Passport or other documents valid for passport replacement, permanent residence card, temporary residence card of one year or more, a work permit according to regulations, and a letter of recommendation from competent Vietnamese organizations and agencies.

Read more on How to Get a Work Permit in Vietnam

Buying Real Estate in Vietnam as Expats

When it comes to buying properties in Vietnam as expats, purchasing real estate is the most intricate issue. Thanks to the enactment of Law on Housing in 2015, it is much less challenging than it used to be. There are certain requirements you need to meet when buying houses or lands in Vietnam.

Must-know Issues when Buying Real Estate in Vietnam as Expats

a. Collective Proprietorship in Vietnam

According to the Constitution of Vietnam, the land is of collective proprietorship by all Vietnamese and governed by the state, which means private ownership of land is not permitted. Citizens can obtain land use rights and housing ownership. However, foreigners can only own houses and do not have land use rights.

b. The “Pink” Book in Vietnam

The powerful document that proves your land use rights or housing ownership is the Certificate of land use rights, the ownership of residential houses or assets attached to land (LURC). A LURC, locally known as the “pink” book, is issued by the People’s Committees or a natural resources and environment agency. It must follow a statutory form and usually contains the following key information:

  • Form of land use right
  • Land use purpose
  • Land use duration
  • Land payment method.

Buying Properties in Vietnam as Expats pb

This certificate is called the “pink” book due to its color

c. Ownership Limitations in Vietnam

According to Circular No. 19/2016/TT-BXD, the number of houses that foreign entities (foreign individuals and organizations) can own is stipulated as follows:

  • Foreign entities can hold a maximum of 30% of the units in condominiums in a given ward/commune.
  • As for individual houses, including villas and adjoining houses, foreign entities can own no more than 250 houses in a given ward/commune.
  • Regarding individual houses for sale or lease-purchase under commercial housing projects, foreign entities cannot own more than 10% of the properties.
  • Besides, the Law on Housing also restricts the length of time that foreign individuals can own their houses:
  • The foreign individuals are eligible for the housing ownership as agreed in agreements on housing sale, lease purchase, gifting, or inheritance for no more than 50 years, from which they are granted the Certificate.
  • An extension may be granted as prescribed in the regulations of the Government.

Options of Buying Real Estate in Vietnam as Expats

a. Establish a 100% foreign-owned company in Vietnam

This method allows you to purchase properties in the name of the company. Once you have registered a foreign-owned company in Vietnam, you will obtain an Investment Certificate with 10 years of validity. When your company holds an agreement on buying or leasing properties in Vietnam, it will be valid until the expiration of the document mentioned above.

b. Set up a joint venture company

You can collaborate with a Vietnamese citizen to form a joint venture in Vietnam. Since this company is considered locally owned, it can buy:

  • Households;
  • Buildings for sale, lease, or lease-purchase;
  • All or part of a real estate project to construct buildings for sale, lease, or lease-purchase.
  • When the company ceases to exist, its ownership of property will also end.

c. Buy Houses in Vietnam as a Foreign Individual

Expats can buy houses without having a company, but as mentioned above, your housing ownership cannot last for more than 50 years for the first contract, and you have to ask for an extension permit later.

Requirements for Buying Houses in Vietnam as Expats

The Decree 99/2015/ND-CP specifies the criteria for foreign entities to purchase houses:

Organizations: Organizations must have an Investment Registration Certificate or relevant certificates issued by competent Vietnamese authorities upon the lease-purchase contract.

Individuals: Foreigners living in Vietnam must satisfy the following two conditions:

- Have a valid passport with a stamp of entry verification by the immigration authority of Vietnam;
- Not subject to diplomatic privileges and immunities.

Depending on your purpose, the location of your property will vary. Estate agents frequently tell you the advantages of the area, so you should do careful research about the land and ask neighbors for authentic information. You may also want to spend some time around the area to experience yourself.

Check out top-rated hotels in Vietnam major cities:



In large cities like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh, there are various expat areas where French, Korean, Japanese, or British residents gather, where you can find yourself more at home.

The outskirts of big cities or coastal villas in tourist cities offer many options ranging from riverside apartments to lake view houses where you can find some investment opportunities, or find yourself closer to nature and the local lifestyle.

Buying Properties in Vietnam as Expats original dn

The price of properties in Da Nang has skyrocketed in recent years

Buying Properties in Vietnam as Expats original hcm

Ho Chi Minh is now packed with new apartment projects and luxury residential areas like District 2 or District 7

Buying Properties in Vietnam as Expats original hn

Hanoi housing scene is a mix of ancient structures and modern apartments

Conclusion on Buying Properties in Vietnam as Expats

Though regulations on buying properties in Vietnam as expats are more flexible than before, the complicated process is likely to challenge your patience. To avoid unwanted consequences, you should seek legal advice in advance since the professionals know the procedures like the back of their hands.


© Written by Uyen Ho for



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