(for illustration only. Photo: bantinnhadat)

Overseas Vietnamese who have maintained their Vietnamese citizenship are permitted to own unlimited property, according to the latest decree on the Land and Housing Law.

Deputy Minister of Construction Nguyen Tran Nam said that this is a change from the previous decree issued in 2001, which stipulated that only select groups of people of Vietnamese origin could own unlimited property.

The new decree stipulates that overseas Vietnamese eligible to buy houses in Vietnam may also enjoy other privileges, such as the transfer of land-use rights when selling; using credit organisations to mortgage their land-use rights; or leasing out the property.

This change promotes further equality between overseas Vietnamese and Vietnamese citizens living in the country regarding property ownership in Vietnam, said Truong Thi Hoa, a lawyer from the HCM City Bar Association.

Nam said this decree also provides specific guidance about the papers overseas Vietnamese are required to present to prove their eligibility to buy real estate.

"All the requirements are more concrete and transparent than before, which will hopefully pave the way for better implementation of the law at local levels," he said.

One of the major hurdles for overseas Vietnamese that hinders them from purchasing property in Vietnam is the procedure to prove their origin, Luong Bach Van, chairwoman of the Overseas Vietnamese Committee in HCM City, said.

"If they lose relevant papers, which is often the case for people who have lived abroad for a long time, the whole process may come to a standstill. For those who have already prepared the necessary certificates, it still takes at least three months to verify them," she said.

It is estimated that about 70 percent of the 4 million overseas Vietnamese around the world still maintain their original citizenship.

The previous decree on the implementation of the Land and Housing Law restricted unlimited property ownership to selected groups of overseas Vietnamese. The groups included: overseas Vietnamese who made direct investments in the country; those who were recognized as contributing to national development; scientists and cultural experts; those who were invited to work in Vietnam because of their distinct skills; and those who were married to Vietnamese citizens living in Vietnam, according to Nam.

Source: Vietnam+