Marriage to a Vietnamese Citizen
Every country has its own laws that apply to its citizens marrying a person from a different country. Getting married to a Vietnamese citizen with the goal of eventually bringing them to Canada to live is a process with many steps. The Vietnamese government imposes strict requirements on foreigners who marry Vietnamese as an indirect way of discouraging Vietnamese citizens from moving to other countries.
You must demonstrate to Vietnamese officials that they are not currently married to anyone else – either you have never been married or all divorces are finalised – that your identity is proven, and that you have never committed any crimes in Vietnam. This is done by providing various documents including an Affidavit of Single Status to the Vietnamese government either in Vietnam or via a Vietnamese embassy.
If you want to bring your Vietnamese spouse or partner to live in Canada, you must then file a sponsorship application for them to become a permanent resident. If they would like to visit you in Canada while their application is in process, they must also apply for a visitor visa. For more information, please see our family sponsorship page and our visitor visa page.
Vietnamese Marriage Basic Requirements
Getting married in Vietnam is not a hassle and the procedures are straightforward. As long as all the documentation required is ready and the laws are followed, the whole process is easy.
It is important to note that in both Canadian and Vietnamese law, only the civil registration of the marriage is recognized as legal, and only a legal marriage certificate issued can guarantee the Vietnamese spouse’s entry into Canada.
In Vietnam, the legal marriage age is 18, parental consent is required for anyone under 18.
The first step to getting a certificate is application for a Vietnamese wedding at the Registrar’s office. You should take your passport and all of the documents you brought with you from Canada.
The Vietnamese spouse needs to present a Vietnamese Affidavit of Marriage Status as well as her passport, birth certificate, family book and a certificate for permanent or temporary residence, her medical certificate and proof that she is no longer married is also required.
The decision on whether the marriage will be allowed lies with the People’s Committee. The committee has 60 days to make a decision whether to register the marriage or not by consulting the Judicial and Security Service.
If the decision is positive, the Marriage Certificate is then signed by the Chairman of the People’s Committee, registered in the Marriage Register and returned to the bride and groom.
Documents Required of the Canadian Fiance
- Original Affidavit of Marriage Status (valid for 3 months from the date of issue) issued in Canada or by the Canadian Embassy in Vietnam.
- Original valid Canadian passport
- Original birth certificate
- Original death certificate of deceased spouse if widowed
- Original divorce decree or annulment papers if divorced
- Marriage search
- Medical certificate
Documents Required of the Vietnamese Fiance
- Affidavit of Marriage Status
- Copy of ID, family book and a certificate for permanent or temporary residence
- Original birth certificate
- Original death certificate of deceased spouse if widowed
- Original divorce decree/annulment papers if divorced
- Medical Certificate
Canadian citizens need a visa to visit Vietnam. A tourist visa can be obtained from the embassy of Vietnam and is valid for one month from the day you anticipate entering the country.
The visa is usually issued within 5 working days and your Canadian passport should be valid for at least 6 months with two blank pages.
Your stay can be extended if an application is made for one month extension, at no extra cost, once in Vietnam.
Other requirements are as follows;
- Must be a Canadian citizen aged 18 and over
- Must be financially stable to support the Vietnamese wife for a period of 3 years after acquiring permanent residency
- Must support any dependent children for a period of 10 years or until up to the age of 25
- Must have adequate housing where the wife and dependants can live comfortably without government assistance
An affidavit of marital status is required before leaving Canada, it can be obtained at the local Registrar of marriage for $50. It is an important document because it is proof of single status and non-involvement in marriage with another person.
It is valid for 3 months after issuance.
Another procedure to go through that is necessary is undergoing a marriage search in the statistics bureau in the province of residence to certify that another marriage certificate has not been applied in your name from the age of 18 upwards.
Lastly, obtain a medical certificate issued by a credible medical institution, physician or organisation stating that you do not have any sexually diseases or AIDS or mental illnesses that are infectious, hence fit to marry.
Vietnamese Marriage Ceremony
The marriage ceremony to a Vietnamese citizen can legally take place in Vietnam, Canada, or any other country as long as both parties have the necessary visas to enter this country legally. This marriage can then be recognised when applying for a permanent residence or a visitor visa for your Vietnamese spouse. To learn more about ceremony customs, see below.
If your Vietnamese spouse has dependent children, this does not affect the Vietnamese Marriage document application.
If you have dependent children, they have no effect on the application to marry a Vietnamese citizen.
How long is the Vietnamese Marriage document valid?
The document is valid for 6 months from the date of issue. If you do not marry your Vietnamese fiancé within 6 months of the issuance of the Vietnamese Marriage document, you must apply again with new supporting documents.
The wedding is an important ceremony in Vietnamese culture.
An engagement ceremony usually takes place half a year or so before the wedding. In the past, most marriages were arranged by the parents or extended family, and while the children wanting to marry or get married were consulted, the final decision was made by the parents.
It was not unusual for the bride and grooms to meet for the first time at the day of their engagement. However, in the last few decades, Vietnamese have ditched the arranged marriages and adopted western culture and now most marry based on love.
Preparations for the traditional Vietnamese wedding begin by first choosing a date and time for the marriage ceremony. This is decided by a Buddhist monk, Spiritual leader, or fortune teller due to the spiritual nature of the occasion. This tradition is different if the family is Catholic.
The wedding is an extensive set of ceremonies, asking permission to receive the bride, receiving the bride at her house, and bringing the bride to the groom’s house. Both Vietnamese and oversea-Vietnamese who desire to have a hybrid wedding where traditional Vietnamese and Western-style wedding customs are merged are allowed to do so.
At the end of the ceremonies, there is a wedding reception for the two families and guests.
Traditional clothes in Vietnam are very diverse depending on the era and occasion, after the Nguyễn Dynasty women began to wear elaborate Áo dài during weddings. The dresses were modeled after the Áo mệnh phụ (royal Áo dài) of Nguyễn Dynasty court ladies.
The style of the Nguyễn Dynasty has remained popular and still is in the modern Vietnamese wedding attire. The difference between the Áo mệnh phụ and the typical Áo dài is the detailed design.
The former is usually embroidered with imperial symbols such as the phoenix and includes an extravagant outer cloak. This gown is made in colours like red or pink, and the bride usually wears a Khăn đống headdress to match.
The groom wears a simpler male equivalent of the dress, often in blue.
Previous to the Nguyễn Dynasty, it is likely that women simply wore fancy, elaborate versions of Áo tứ thân.
Receiving the Bride
Before commencement of the wedding, the groom’s family makes a trip to the bride’s home with a gift of nuts to officially ask for permission to receive the bride.
During this time, the bride’s family can confirm the wedding and further arrangements will proceed.
In forced marriages, sometimes the bride would flee from home so this ceremony was necessary before the actual wedding starts.
On the day of the wedding, the procession of the groom’s family is led in a specific order. The first person is the representative of the groom’s house followed by the groom’s father, the groom, then the rest of his family and close friends follow in that order.
When the procession arrives at the bride’s home, they lights fireworks to alert the bride’s family of their arrival, the family then light their own firecrackers to welcome the groom’s procession. Members of the procession are introduced to the bride’s family, and the bride’s family introduces its members to the procession.
The groom presents his gifts to the bride’s family, and he is given permission to greet the bride, who is finally brought out. The permission ceremony officially begins in front of the bride’s ancestor altar.
The bride and groom burn incense sticks, this symbolises asking for permission from the ancestors to bless them. The couple turns and bows to their parents, give thanks for raising and protecting them. The bride and groom then bow to each other.
A tea and candle ceremony then follows which includes speeches, it is only during a traditional wedding that such a tea ceremony is needed.
The bride and groom, in front of all their guests, serve tea or wine to their parents. Each parent then gives advice about marriage and family to the couple. A candle ceremony will follow, symbolising the joining of the bride and groom and the joining of the two families. The groom’s gift boxes filled with jewellery are opened by the groom’s mother, who then put each piece on the bride for good fortune.
Modern Vietnamese weddings still include the giving of jewellery to the bride but are followed by the exchange of wedding bands between the bride and groom. However, Catholic Vietnamese families wait to exchange wedding bands at the church ceremony.
Reception for the Bride and Groom’s Family and Friends
After the ceremony at the groom’s house, all of the bride and groom’s family and friends are invited to a reception that traditionally takes place at the groom’s house.
Nowadays, the reception starts immediately after the procession ceremony to the bride’s house, and takes place at any desired location, either at the couple’s house, a restaurant or a hotel banquet hall. It is not until after the reception that the bride is brought to the groom’s house. Most newlyweds go their houses.
The number of guests in attendance at modern-day receptions is large. Elaborate 7 to 10 course meals are served, often starting with cold platters then followed by hot dishes such as seasoned lobster, seafood hot pot, and other Vietnamese and Chinese banquet dishes, ending with dessert or a fruit platter.
Vietnamese Wedding Gifts
Guests often expected to bring gifts, traditionally in the form of money in an envelope. The immediate family usually gives more money to the bride and groom. At one point during the reception, the bride and groom go from table to table thanking guests for their blessings and also collecting the envelopes.
Most couples however leave a box at the sign-in table for guests to drop in their envelopes and cards, something that the older more conservative folk despise. Occasionally, the family and guests’ monetary gifts will cover more than the cost of the wedding and reception.
Vietnamese wedding food is similar to Chinese wedding food in that they both have special symbolism.
They symbolise happiness, longevity, or fertility. The number of courses is also the same as Chinese culture. At a wedding banquet, eight dishes are usually served.
A wedding banquet starts with appetisers such as symbolic “dragon-phoenix” plates or cold plates which consist of various slices of meats, jellyfish, and various types of nuts shaped like dragons and phoenixes, these are served chilled.
In a Vietnamese marriage, the dragon symbolises the male role while the phoenix symbolises the female role.
Bring Gifts Back to Canada
Here are important things to remember when bringing back wedding gifts:
Duty free and tax free allowances/exemptions cannot be shared.
Children are entitled to a personal exemption as long as the goods declared are for the child’s use.
Personal exemptions for one person cannot be combined with someone else or transfer them to another person.
Generally, the goods included in personal exemption must be for personal or household use. Goods brought in for commercial use or for another person, do not qualify as a personal exemption and are subject to full duties.
Goods included in 24 or 48 hour exemption must be with the person on arrival in Canada. Goods claimed in the 7-day exemption may be shipped to your home except for tobacco and alcohol.
Traditional Wedding Food
Roast Suckling Pig
Roasted pork is a symbol of virginity. The groom presents whole roasted pork to the bride’s family at the engagement party and at the wedding ceremony in the morning.
Pigeon is a symbol of peace, it also has tender meat. Quail is offered whole to all guests, symbolising that they will also experience a peaceful life.
Shark Fin Soup
Usually follows the appetisers. Shark fin soup indicates wealth therefore it is very expensive and also considered a delicacy.
Red is the color for happiness in Vietnam culture, red lobster would signify joy and celebration. Also, serving whole lobster indicates wholeness.
Serving sea cucumber with vegetables is a sign of selflessness this dish is served to encourage the couple to avoid conflict and have peace, it is believed sea cucumber sounds like good heart.
Serving fish indicates that the couple is wished a life full of plenty and abundance because fish sounds like plentiful.
Noodles served at the end of the wedding symbolise longevity because noodles are long strands.
Sweet Red Bean Soup
Serving dessert wishes the newlyweds a sweet life. The hot sweet red bean soup should contain lotus seeds and red beans to wish the newlyweds a hundred years of togetherness without conflict.
At the end of the wedding feast, waiters usually pass out take-away boxes to the guests because there is always enough food for everyone and some left overs, this represents abundance. It is acceptable to take some of the food home because Vietnamese believe that it is not good to waste good food.
List of Vietnamese Consulates in Canada
Currency of Vietnam
The official currency in Vietnam is the dong (d), but the US dollar is also widely accepted. In tourist centers, most hotels will accept either, while other businesses may prefer dong.
Travelers checks, debit and credit cards are not very widely accepted, but in the larger city’s like Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi, they are used in hotels, shops and restaurants.
Banknotes come in denominations of 500d, 1000d, 2000d, 5000d, 10,000d, 20,000d, 50,000d, 100,000d, 200,000d and 500,000d.
ATM’s can be found virtually everywhere there is a bank in Vietnam and are available 24 hours.
Currency is issued only in the dong, calculating dollars withdrawals at the daily official rate of exchange.
Unlimited number of withdrawals is possible in a day, but each limited to 2,000,000 dong, with a fee to each withdrawal, of about US$2 and US$5.
Larger withdrawals can be arranged by the bank teller.
Calling Vietnam from Canada
- The exit code for Canada/US is 011
- The country code for Vietnam is 84
- Dial 011 – 84 – area code – local number
Vietnamese Area Codes for Major Towns
|Ho Chi Minh
|Buon Ma Thuot
|Thu Dau Mot
|Phan Rang-Thap Cham
Cellular phone numbers begin with either a 9 or a 1.
Calling Canada from Vietnam
- The country code for Canada is 1
- International dialing code is 00
- Dial 00 – 1 – area code – local number
|403 / 587 (southern Alberta)
587 / 780 (central and northern Alberta)
|236 / 250 / 778 (majority of BC)
236 / 604 / 778 (Metro Vancouver)
|226 / 519 (southwestern Ontario)
249 / 705 (northeastern Ontario)
289 / 365 / 905 (Greater Toronto Area)
343 / 613 (eastern Ontario)
416 / 647 (Toronto)
807 (northwestern Ontario)
|204 / 431
|782 / 902
|418 / 581 (eastern Quebec)
438 / 514 (Montreal)
450 / 579 (Greater Montreal)
819 / 873 (remainder of Quebec)
|Newfoundland and Labrador
|306 / 639
|782 / 902
|Canadian Time Zone
|# of Hours Vietnam is Ahead
|# of Hours Vietnam is Ahead during DST
|Pacific Time (BC, Yukon)
|Mountain Time (Alberta, Northwest Territories, western Nunavut)
|Central Time (Manitoba, central Nunavut, northwestern Ontario)
|Eastern Time (most of Ontario, most of Quebec)
|Atlantic Time (Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, eastern Quebec, PEI)
Emergency Information for Canadians
Consular assistance and further information is available at the following addresses:
Embassy of Canada in Hanoi
31 Hung Vuong Street
Telephone: 84 (4) 3734-5000
View Larger Map
Consulate of Canada in Ho Chi Minh City
9th Floor, the Metropolitan
Telephone: 84 (8) 3827-9899
View Larger Map
For emergency assistance after hours, you can call the Embassy of Canada in Hanoi or the Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City, and follow the instructions. It is not possible to make collect calls from Vietnam. Most post offices have international telephone facilities. Cabins are equipped with a meter, and payment is made after a call. VOIP services are now available at Internet cafés. You may also call the Department in Ottawa at 613-996-8885.
Religion in Vietnam
Religion has a deep influence on Vietnamese and their concept of life. The attitude towards life, death, and the world beyond is rooted deeply in Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism beliefs.
The predominant religion in Vietnam is Buddhism, which is also among the world’s great religions. Buddhism was introduced into Vietnam under the Chinese domination, in the second century B.C. by Chinese and Indian preachers who arrived in Vietnam by sea.
Buddhism became the state religion of Vietnam under the Ly Dynasty circa 1010-1214. Buddhist monks served as counsellors to the king at court. Since the Tran Dynasty (1225-1440), Buddhism has lost the status of a state religion but nevertheless remains the dominant religion in Vietnam.
There are two branches of Buddhism namely Hinayana (Little Vehicle) also called Theravada Buddhism, which is practised in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Burma, and Mahayana (Great Vehicle) Buddhism which is found in China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam.
Most Vietnamese Buddhists belong to the Mahayana branch. The Theravada branch is practised by ethnic Cambodian and Vietnamese communities living in the Mekong Delta.
The majority Vietnamese people regard themselves as Buddhists but not all of them actively participate in Buddhist rituals. For centuries, the Buddhist clergy has not been organized into a hierarchical system.
Each pagoda was independent of others and was entirely administered by local individuals or communities. The first attempt to organize Buddhism on a national scale was by the General Buddhist Association in 1955. Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam was formed in 1964.
Confucianism is more of a social philosophy than a religion. It has no church, no clergy, or Bible. It’s basically a code of social behaviour that man ought to observe so as to live in harmony with society and attain happiness in life. Death is not a major concern, rather the most important thing is the world beyond, and spiritual feelings in this religion.
Confucius, or Kung Fu-tzo (551-479 B.C.), is the founder of this religion, and he stressed the improvement of the moral self as the basic duty of the individual as well as the statesman.
The principle behind is that in order to rule the world, one must rule one’s country; in order to rule the country, one must rule one’s family; and in order to rule the family, one must have self-control.
In conclusion, the improvement of the moral self is the cornerstone of Confucianism. Confucius believed that man is born with an essentially good nature which becomes corrupted as he interacts with society.
In order to improve his moral self and regain that original good nature with which he was born, man must practice the five cardinal virtues of benevolence, propriety, loyalty, intellect, and trustworthiness.
In order to keep harmony in the nation and happiness in the family, man must observe the three basic relationships between sovereign and subject, that is father and son, and husband and wife.
On a national level the basic virtue is loyalty to the sovereign, and on the family level, the basic virtue is filial piety. The ritual expression of filial piety is ancestor worship.
Confucianism was introduced into Vietnam as early as the first century, this was the time when Chinese domination was felt.
Two Chinese governors at that time, Hsi Kwang and Jen Yen, were most instrumental in its introduction. It was until after Vietnam achieved independence that Chinese influence and Confucianism became important in Vietnam.
Because of a political philosophy that was favourable for the monarchy, Confucianism was promoted and supported by the government. In 1253 the Institute for National Studies was founded by the king to teach the classical books of Confucius. Under the Le dynasty, studies of the Confucian doctrine attained their apogee. With the French conquest and the influence of Western philosophies, Confucianism began to decline.
However, Confucianism still influences the thinking and behaviour of Vietnamese people from all walks of life.
Another religion with a deep impact on the way of life of the Vietnamese is Taoism. Lao Tse (600-500 B.C.), is the founder of Taoism, he advocated a philosophy of harmony between man and man and between man and nature.
To achieve this state of harmony, all forms of confrontation or violence should be avoided. The virtues of simplicity, patience, and self-contentment must be observed.
According to the teachings, if man avoids strife and cravings, he can reach harmony with himself, other people, and the universe. Reason and knowledge alone cannot lead man to the right path (Tao), only by inward probing and quiet meditation.
In essence, Taoism is more of a religious philosophy than a religion. However, the followers of Lao Tse transformed it into a religion with church and a clergy involved in the communication with deities, spirits, and the dead.
Taoist clergymen claimed they could cure illness, alleviate misfortune, and predict the future. Taoism was introduced into Vietnam during the Chinese domination period.
By the time Vietnam got its independence, it had become one of the main religious faiths of the Vietnamese. Under King Ly Nhan Ton (1072-1127), recruitment of officials consisted of essays on the “three religions.”
Under the succeeding dynasties, Taoism became a source of inspiration for poets and writers. From the end of the Tran dynasty, Taoism began to turn to mysticism and polytheism. It was this mystic aspect of Taoism that appealed to the commoners in Vietnam.
Despite Christianity being a dominant religion in other parts of the world, it does not play a major role in the culture of Vietnam.
It was introduced into Vietnam rather late, in the second half of the sixteenth century, by Portuguese, Spanish and French European missionaries.
The first missionary, Ignatio, came to Vietnam in 1533. In the first half of the seventeenth century, the Jesuits came to Vietnam and founded in Hoi-An the Cochinchina’s mission. In 1626, Alexandre de Rhodes was chosen to head the Jesuit mission in North Vietnam. He published a catechism book in Latin and Vietnamese in 1650 and the first Vietnamese, Portuguese and Latin dictionary in 1651 in Rome. Christianity began to develop rapidly thereafter.
Today, the Christians population in Vietnam is about 3 million, most of them Catholics. Although they represented a small percentage of the population, the Catholics played an important role in the political life of Vietnam during the last three decades prior to the fall of Saigon in 1975.
There are two religious sects, Cao Dai and Hoa Hao, which have recently been established in Vietnam. They are however confined to the rural sectors of the Southern Delta region. Their influence on the Vietnamese culture is insignificant.
Caodaism is a blend of different beliefs, including the teaching of Buddha, Jesus, Confucius, Lao-Tse, and Victor Hugo. It was founded in 1919 by Le Van Trung who established a priestly hierarchy modeled along Roman Catholic lines. The seat of Caodaism is in Tay Ninh, about 60 miles from Saigon. Caodaism followers are estimated at about one million.
Hoa Hao is a reformed Buddhist sect of the Theravada branch. It was founded in 1939 by Huynh Phu So, who was later killed by the communists. This religious sect is concentrated in the Mekong Delta with a membership estimated at about two million.
Romantic, Historic and Scenic Places in Vietnam
One of the most popular destinations in Vietnam, and a UNESCO World Heritage, Ha Long Bay is both mystical and magnificent, an incredible feat of nature that almost never fails to impress.
Ha Long Bay has very many cliffs which make the scenery spectacular. A huge bay, dotted with nearly 2,000 mostly uninhabited limestone cliffs, the breathtaking scenery is very similar to that of the Andaman coast of Thailand, Vang Vieng in Laos and Guilin in China.
Muin Ne Beach
Mui Ne is a kilometre long of sweeping bay boasting a huge range of guesthouse and resorts, with the actual village set at the far northern end of the bay.
Accommodation and hotel industry, heavily influenced by its proximity to Saigon which is a mere four hours away, has developed fast in recent years and now offers some outstanding mid-range resort options, and while the options for budget travellers have gone down somewhat, there are still affordable resorts for tourists and honeymooners.
The beach has yellow sand which is semi-fine. While the central stretch of the beach through to the northern end is poorer quality and dominated by the fishing industry, the southern stretch is better suited for swimming, sun-busking, wind and kite surfing.
Nha Trang has two parts, one is the smaller Danang which is a bustling Vietnamese city with access to a beautiful beach. The other is a Western resort town enclosing several blocks of hotels, tourist shops, bars and international restaurants.
The city is indisputably beautiful, bordered by mountains, with the beach tracing an impressive long swoop along a bay dotted with islands. Topiary and modern sculpture dot the immaculately manicured foreshore.
Nha Trang offers plenty to keep tourists occupied, from island-hopping boat trips and scuba diving, to mud baths and historic sites. But the main attraction for most visitors is lounging around on deckchairs at a beachfront bar and drinking cocktails in comfort.
Dalat is a famous resort destination for Vietnamese couples getting married or honeymooning. 10 or so wedding parties in a single day is not an unfamiliar site here.
Many of the local scenic spots, like the Valley of Love and Lake of Sighs, are popular with couples. There are also some picturesque temples and hillsides lined with the ageing weekend homes of French colonials. Emperor Bao Dai, the last in Vietnam, had three large homes here, one of which is now the Sofitel Hotel, the other two can be visited on tours.
Phu Quoc Island
This tropical paradise, floats in the warm turquoise waters in the Gulf of Thailand, 50 km from the Vietnamese mainland and a 50 minute flight from Ho Chi Minh City.
Visitors can experience the culture of Vietnam at the local market in the morning, relax on a remote and Map of Phu Quoc stunning beach in the afternoon, enjoy a delicious dinner and drinks at one of the restaurants and enjoy accommodation at the variety of hotels and resorts on this superb island getaway.
Open year round with a peak season from November to March, Phu Quoc is becoming well known for stunning beaches, untouched natural environment, the easy going and relaxed atmosphere, friendly locals, and fantastic scuba diving and snorkelling.
The majority of Phu Quoc Island is dedicated to National Park and protected marine environment, providing a memorable experience, with plenty of exciting activities and places to visit.
Sponsoring Your Vietnamese Spouse to Come to Canada
Immigroup will review your completed spousal sponsorship application.. Immigroup will make sure you have not made any mistakes on your application or in gathering the documentation of your relationship. We will assess your sponsorship letter and give you peace of mind that you are submitting an application with a very good chance of success. Don’t lose sleep at night worrying about whether you’ve done enough. Call us at 1-866-760-2623 for a review.