I am from the United States and married to a Vietnamese woman. My wife has changed her family name to mine in almost all of her personal papers, except for her passport in which her maiden name was still retained. Should she have the name appeared on her Vietnamese passport changed to my family name? And if doing so, may she face any problems when entering Vietnam?
With the information you provided, your wife is considered a Vietnamese citizen married to a foreigner and wishing to have her family name changed to her spouse’s. As per the Vietnamese Civil Code, an individual has the right to change his/her family name to his/her spouse’s in the marriage and family relations involving foreign elements in accordance with law of the country in which the foreign spouse is a citizen or retrieves his/her family name before the change. In addition, the Civil Status Law also details the scope of civil status change, permitting the change of family name, middle name and first name of individuals in birth registration contents when there are grounds as prescribed by the civil law.
With these two provisions, your wife has an absolute right to change her family name to yours. However, she must complete the procedures for civil status change as specified in Articles 26 thru 28 of the 2014 Law on Civil Status. After having her family name changed on her civil status, she will proceed to revise the information stated in her Vietnamese passport in accordance with Point c, Clause 2, Article 6 of the Ministry of Public Security Circular 29/2016/TT-BCA, guiding the issuance and revision of passports for Vietnamese citizens. In addition, she must submit to the immigration management office of the Public Security Department of the locality where she permanently or temporarily resides or the Vietnam Immigration Department a dossier comprising:
- Her passport, which must have a remaining validity of at least 1 year; and
- Legal papers proving the modification;
Your wife may directly contact relevant agencies for guidance of specific documents to be submitted for proving her eligibility for modification.
However, you must be aware that the name of each Vietnamese citizen must be in Vietnamese or other ethnic minority languages of Vietnam and not include any figure or any symbol other than a letter. Therefore, the immigration management office may request your wife to transcribe phonetically your family name into Vietnamese to comply with the regulations.
In case you and your wife got married in your country, she must carry out procedures for recording your marriage in the marriage registration book in accordance with Article 38 of Decree 126/2014/ND-CP detailing a number of articles of and measures to implement the 2014 Law on Marriage and Family so that competent Vietnamese agencies may recognize her foreign marriage. Such procedure must be completed before requesting for civil status change and passport information modification.
According to the 2015 Civil Code, the change of name of an individual will not change or terminate his/her civil rights and obligations identified with the former one. Therefore, your wife may still enter Vietnam as Vietnamese citizen and will not be obstructed once she has completed all of the above-mentioned procedures.- (VLLF)