I am a foreigner married to a Vietnamese woman and currently living in Vietnam. We have a five-year-old son. He will go to school next year, so we want to change his name which we hope will help him in everyday life and study in the country. What are possible legal effects of the change and the procedures for legalizing it?
According to Article 28.3 of the 2015 Civil Code, the change of a person’s name will neither change nor terminate the civil rights and obligations which have been established under his/her former name. So, the change of your family members’ names will not change their civil rights and obligations under Vietnamese law. However, in order to complete the procedures for changing a personal name in Vietnam, you have to meet the following conditions:
As per the 2014 Law on Civil Status, the change of the family name, middle name and/or given name of a person in his/her birth registration must comply with the civil law. Specifically, in the following cases a person may change his/her name:
• His/her name causes confusion or affects his/her family feelings, honor, lawful rights or interests;
• His/her adoptive parents request the change of his/her name or he/she wishes or his/her biological parents request the restoration of the name given by them when he/she is no longer adopted;
• His/her biological parents request or he/she requests the change of his/her name upon the identification of his/her parents;
• He/she was lost from his/her family since his/her childhood and now wishes to change his/her name after discovering the origin of his/her bloodline;
• He/she wishes to change his/her name to comply with the law of the country of which his/her spouse is a citizen, in case of an inter-country marriage and family relationship, or wishes to restore his/her name before the marriage;
• He/she is a sexually reassigned or transgendered person and wishes to change his/her name;
• Other cases specified by the law on civil status.
If the reason for the change of your son’s name falls into one of the above cases, you may request the competent state agency to recognize such change. Such reason must be clearly stated in the declaration form for preparing the request dossier.
As prescribed by law, the change of the family, middle or given name of an under-18 person must be consented by his/her parents. So, you and your spouse have to express your consent in the declaration form. Your son’s consent is not required because he is only five years old while it is required by law that the change of the name of a person aged full nine years or older must be consented by such person.
You may carry out the procedures for changing your son’s name at the district-level People’s Committee of the locality where his civil status has been registered or where your family is living.
First of all, you have to submit a written declaration made according to a set form and related documents to the civil status registry office (the declaration form is provided on the Ministry of Justice’s portal).
Within three working days after receiving all the required documents, if finding the change of your son’s name and modification of his civil status registration grounded and compliant with the civil law and relevant regulations, a legal affairs and civil status officer will record the change in the civil status registration book which you will have to sign for certification, then the officer will report such to the commune-level People’s Committee for providing an excerpt of the civil status registration book.
In case the change of the name and modification of the civil status registration are related to your son’s birth certificate and your marriage certificate, the officer will record the name change and civil status registration modification in such certificates. In case verification is required, the time limit for completing the procedures may be extended for another three working days.- (VLLF)