Sjay Sjay posted April 13th, 2010 at 12:11 pm to Other. Viewed 58 times. Answered 20 times.

My Vietnamese wife would like to have my surname, also we were forced to select a Vietnamese name for our daughter (the names we chose for her are sandwiched in the middle of the Vietnamese names so her name is rather long and jumbled).

I wish to apply for Australian passports for wife and daughter, and naturally we would all like to have the same family name. I pressume that we would have to change thier names here first, otherwise they will put their existing Vietnamese names on the Australian passports.

Could anyone enlighten me about the process of changing the names of my girls so that we all sound like one family.

Last answered by dulavai about 12 months ago.

Answers (jump to newest answer)

mollor wrote on April 13th, 2010 at 12:46 pm

According to my understanding of the Vietnamese family law it is not possible for your wife to obtain your surname. When I married my wife in Holland the Dutch authorities told me told us that it was not possible due to the Vietnamese family law.

However, obtaining a Australian passport for your wife must already be difficult so if I was you I would not bother with trying to change her name. If you would be able to change.

By the way, it is not needed to give your children Vietnamese names. They initially request that when you apply for the Vietnamese nationality but if you are persistant they will drop that requirement. However, in my personal opinion I think it is good to have one vietnamese name, since some people might have trouble remembering or pronouncing the western name.

My daughter has a name like this:
Western name] [Vietnamese Name] [My surname]

and she has two nationalities.

Vegas wrote on April 13th, 2010 at 4:43 pm
Vegas (elite user)

There's a law stating your kid must have a Vietnamese name? What a ridiculous and offensive impost! How is it any of their business what someone else's kid is named?

Mollor, did you have to pay a bribe to give your own child the name you chose?

Longh wrote on April 13th, 2010 at 8:01 pm
Longh (elite user)

My family has the same thing going on that is going on with Mollor's family.

We just gave birth to my daughter almost 4 months ago. The "authorities" at large requested us to have a viet name, but we insisted that she have a (western name) (Viet name) (My surname).

@ Vegas: It's not a law as far as I know. They try to pull the idea that if the child is going to be a Vietnamese Citizen the child must have a Vietnamese name.

Newman wrote on April 13th, 2010 at 8:06 pm
Newman (elite user)

"WE just gave birth to my daughter..."

Now there's some imagery I just didn't need on a Tuesday evening...

Grant wrote on April 14th, 2010 at 8:08 am
Grant (elite user)


I've seen that rule/law/wishful thinking in writing but stuffed if I can find it now.


mollor wrote on April 14th, 2010 at 9:41 am

In our case my wife and me selected the name as [Western name] [Vietnamese Name] [My surname]. After that we registered her at the Dutch embassy and later with the Vietnamese authorities. The name was no problem for the Vietnamese authorities but of course the process itself is always slow and bureaucratic.

I agree with Longh that the initial requirement for the Vietnamese name probably comes from an "idea" that Vietnamese nationals should have a Vietnamese name.

de2facon wrote on April 14th, 2010 at 9:52 am
de2facon (elite user)

I looked for the statute covering names/surnames but to no avail. As an alternative, I tried to isolate the issue by examining general descriptions of similar requirements in Taiwan, China and Korea.

What I found is quite like the information posted by Longh and Mollor i.e., upon marriage, the wife retains her maiden name for legal and social purposes.

It took me years before I got used to my wife's friends referring to her by her birth last name. Nowadays, it's not a problem. I call her by last name and it seems quite natural. Sometimes I use her maiden name just to be a wise guy!

As for the children, it's a tough call and really depends on each country. However, I think the situation may be one of strong custom rather than an affirmative requirement. Case in point is Taiwan. The applicable statute provides that the child
"shall" have a name that comports with local usage.

The legal differences between shall, must, may and will are very significant. In most cases, shall is closer to may and far from must. As a practical matter, Mollor's point that having a local name is useful is a good one.

Back to the OP: The question was is it possible to proceed with a name change for use on Australian passports for the family?

My only suggestion is to find an experienced attorney or a law firm serving Australian expats companies and knowledgeable in Vietnamese family or immigration laws.

JHuyen wrote on April 14th, 2010 at 10:28 am

I'd never heard that you have to have Vietnamese names for your children. It's not a law. Don't worry about it, just name them the way you want.

clock iconThen Some Time Passed...
Donkey-abroad wrote on January 27th, 2011 at 11:43 am
Donkey-abroad (elite user)

Ok so my Vietnamese wife has just given birth to our son, and when we went to register his birth with the Vietnamese authorities, we butted up against this problem of having to give the child a Vietnamese name. I'm sorry to say that this is in fact the law!



Article 50 Birth Registration Procedures

Point 4 Children may have Vietnamese or foreign names, depending on their parents' selection.

This would have allowed for a child of mixed parents' to have an entirely western name, and I know of people whose children do have entirely western names from this time period.

However in 2008



Point 1 Birth registration involving foreign elements

Clause C, If the parents opt to take Vietnamese nationality for their children, the children shall bear Vietnamese names (example: Do Nhat Thanh) or combined names between Vietnamese names and foreign names (example: Do Nhat Randy Thanh) as selected by the parents.

My father-in-law (a well connected lawyer) had gone to register the birth for us when we were informed of this law, and no amount of arguing would get the authorities to budge on this one. We have ended up naming our son (western name)(western name)(Vietnamese name)(my surname). This was acceptable to the authorities.

I just wanted to post this so that others have more time to prepare and decide on the name of their child if they will be in the same situation.

Below are the links to all the laws I just quoted.

Decree 158 in English

Decree 158 in Vietnamese

Circular 01 in English

Circular 01 in Vietnamese

Grant wrote on January 27th, 2011 at 12:09 pm
Grant (elite user)


They do have a sense of humour though.... Do Nhat Randy Thanh.


Vegas wrote on January 27th, 2011 at 12:27 pm
Vegas (elite user)

It's a freaking disgrace, but it is indeed true. I had the same experience as Donkey. You must have a Vietnamese name in the mix somewhere. Initially, the woman who registered ours insisted on the given name being Vietnamese, but she eventually settled on a VN middle name - which was OK, because that's what we were going to go with in the first place.

So, the upshot is that apparently we are in North Korea after all and parents aren't allowed to name their children what they like.

Wonder what would happen if you decided to give your kid all Chinese names or something like that? Betcha they'd let it through...

dawnation wrote on January 28th, 2011 at 10:34 am
dawnation (elite user)

In our case, since I was the "foreign element" and the whole "child follows mother" rule in play - she was given "viet surname, viet middle name, tay first name" - but we received no instructions about naming her. Actually our biggest problem was on where to register her birth -- it is supposed to take place in the mother's que huong in Vietnam, which of course I lack. I suppose one day the laws will take into account the tay wife factor.

Grant wrote on January 28th, 2011 at 11:06 am
Grant (elite user)


'- Birth registration for children with either parent being a foreigner or stateless person permanently residing in Vietnam while the other is Vietnamese citizen residing at home will be carried out at the commune-level People's Committee of the locality where the person being Vietnamese citizen resides.'

Well that's what it says - what they actually do is an entirely different matter.


Vegas wrote on January 28th, 2011 at 12:38 pm
Vegas (elite user)

Two mehs? So these people think it's tops for the govt to instruct you what you can and can't name your kid?

Newman wrote on January 28th, 2011 at 5:41 pm
Newman (elite user)

Just to get a really annoying song in your head for the weekend:

That's not my name
That's not my name
That's not my name
That's not my name

They call me...

Grant wrote on January 28th, 2011 at 9:46 pm
Grant (elite user)


The Ting Tings? Your taste in music has reached a new low.

Discussed this with she who is charge and decided that her Mum's maiden name would be cool (as part of what we decide).

I don't have a problem with it as it gives identity but being ordered too is a bit off. I don't like that either. It should be a choice but it's not. Sooooooooo. Screwed.


Vegas wrote on January 31st, 2011 at 5:18 am
Vegas (elite user)

Zactly. We were going to give our kid a VNese name anyway. But to have some stern-faced Confucian bureaucrat tell you that what you want to call your kid isn't acceptable is pretty hard to swallow.

clock iconThen Some Time Passed...
Zenkarma wrote on June 29th, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Okay . . . since this IS time sensitive for us, I will post this here and on the other thread seeking some sage and timely help.

VN mother Tay father and we have chosen our recently-born daughter's name as:

VN-Word Tay Tay Tay

Ms. Dung at the MOJ would not have it and was firm that it was not a VN "NAME". Seems she was almost waiting for this and relished a requisite lecture to the unwitting. That is, others have been there before us. So . . . when in N. Korea do as the the N. Koreans do?

My embassy tried to help, failed and provided a list of attorneys. (Save me the Tay lectures on Attorney vs MOJ outcomes.)

The law (link below) that was cited by the MOJ official as cited in this thread before (below in <<<< >>>>) states:


1. Birth registration involving foreign elements

a/ If children are born overseas and their births are not yet registered overseas, the provisions of Section 1. Chapter III of Decree No. 158/2005/ ND-CP and the guidance in this Section also apply to birth registration when:

- A child has either parent being a foreigner while the other is a Vietnamese citizen; and his/ her parents have marriage certificates;

- A child returns to reside in the country.

The birth registration for children in this case is carried out at the Justice Sendees of provinces or cities where the children are actually residing.

Upon birth registration, birth registrants shall pledge that such children's births have not been registered overseas, and at the same time produce such children's passports (if any); if the children have no birth certifications or other papers evidencing their births, birth registrants shall make written commitments on the children's births. The children's citizenship is determined as follows:

- If children bear foreign passports, their citizenship will be foreign citizenship (as stated in the passports);

- If children do not bear foreign passports, their citizenship will be determined under (written) agreement of their fathers and/or mothers: in case of absence of the parents" agreement on selection of citizenship for their children (for the reason that the father and mother cannot contact each other).

The children's citizenship will be Vietnamese as the citizenship of the fathers or the mothers being Vietnamese citizens.

The "notes" column of the birth registration books must be inscribed with "the child was born overseas, and birth registration was not carried out overseas."

b/ In case of birth registration for children born in Vietnam whose fathers or mothers are Vietnamese citizens while the others are foreigners, if the fathers and/or mothers opt to take Vietnamese citizenship for their children, the written agreement of the fathers and mothers is also required under the Law on Vietnamese Nationality; in case of absence of parents' agreement on selection of citizenship for their children (for the reason that the father and mother cannot contact each other), the children shall bear the Vietnamese citizenship like the citizenship of their fathers or mothers being Vietnamese citizens.

<<< If the parents opt to take Vietnamese nationality for their children, the children shall bear Vietnamese names (example: Do Nhat Thanh) or combined names between Vietnamese names and foreign names (example: Do Nhat Randy Thanh) as selected by the parents.>>>>

Would appreciate any help you might lend.


Zenkarma wrote on July 5th, 2013 at 1:36 pm

I am double-posting here to provide pertinent info. for future VN/Tay parents. You will find other useful info. on this thread too:

In short: If you (a) choose a name for your child that is on the government-approved Vietnamese name list and (b) the name has an approved meaning then you will likely not have to jump through all the extra hoops we went through to keep our daughter's original name (on the hospital birth record). If you have a more obscure VN name and you want to keep it, you need to be prepared for a battle with the MoJ. If you lose the battle, your embassy may allow you to do a name change at the time you apply for your child's report of birth abroad. YMMV.
- - -
We now have, as of today July 5, a birth certificate with her name on it exactly as we had bestowed upon her birth. That is, we made no changes. The MoJ initially refused our application stating the name we gave our daughter was a Vietnamese "word" but not a Vietnamese "name". We were determined and the counsel from gillinhanoi and help from Grant was golden and we never gave up.

The MoJ's opposition to our daughter's name was that she would be singled out and not fit into VN culture. My VN wife scheduled meetings with higher MoJ officials and we made clear we were committed to keeping the name we had chosen at her birth. The senior officer showed my wife a document just issued from the MoJ (apparently slated to become law) that essentially states: "Parents must give their child (a) VN name and (b) one that means something." And this latter point is the one that appears to have been our sticking point. The officials were not interested in tea money. Perhaps this has something to do with the recent phenomena of VN parents giving their kids western names per this article provided by TBBle:

We did have a plan B. We would add in an additional name on the VN birth certificate and then drop it when we applied for her American passport. With some embassies that may not be necessary if they accept the hospital's birth notice (with the original name you gave your child.) But obviously it is smart to check this in advance.

In terms of procedure for US Citizens: The US Embassy will allow you to apply for a name change when you get the Consular Report of Birth Abroad. Then, all other U.S. documents will bear the name that was issued in the Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA). You will need to fill out an affidavit to do a name change. Fee for this affidavit is $50.

-You must obtain a Vietnamese Birth Certificate for your child (perhaps different with other embassies) before you apply for a U.S. CRBA. The Vietnamese Birth Certificate is considered as primary evidence of birth of your daughter for the Consular Officers to review your application.

-You can give your child as many names as you want on the US CRBA.

Your mileage may vary but this is the process we have been through and we now have the name we originally chose without the government's intervention. Hope this helps future parents.

clock iconThen Some Time Passed...
dulavai wrote on June 3rd, 2019 at 1:58 am

We had our 2nd daughter last month and we are facing this situation.
1st daughter was born and registered in Japan and was as smooth as it could be.
1st daughter has "Foreign 1 - Foreign 2 - VN Name" , 3 words and the whole "Foreign 2 - VN Name" is first name, to avoid middle name, first name sequence complexity.

Now, as the 2nd daughter is born here, and we want is to be similarly,
"Foreign 1 - Foreign 2 - VN Name" >> where the "Foreign 2 - VN Name" is first name...

I am looking for 2 info...
1/ Is this possible... or do I have to break the name into "last / middle / first"
2/ I am getting rumor of a new law in 2019 that allows only Family name to be foreign. Does anyone know if this is true?

Thanks in Advance

Please Sign In,  or Sign Up to post an answer.
The New Hanoian

The New Hanoian Ltd is registered with Companies House in the United Kingdom. Started in 2006 it remains the premier source for English-language information about living in Hanoi, and other major cities in Vietnam.