A Guide to the United States’ History of Recognition, Diplomatic, and Consular Relations, by Country, since 1776: Vietnam


Relations between citizens of the United States and residents of what is today the Socialist Republic of Vietnam began during the 19th century, when that region was a colony of the French Empire. For decades interactions were primarily of a commercial nature, with a few other areas of non-official contact. Formal relations began only after Vietnam gained its independence from France following World War II.

Modern Flag of Vietnam


U.S. Recognition of Vietnamese Independence, 1950.

The United States recognized the State of Viet Nam on February 7, 1950, when the U.S. Department of State made an announcement to that effect. Vietnam previously had been part of Indochina as a Protectorate of France and had become an independent state as part of the French Union in 1949. The State of Viet Nam incorporated all of the territory of contemporary Vietnam.

Consular Presence

Establishment of Consular Relations, 1907.

The United States established its first full consular post in the French colony of Indochina in the city of Saigon on December 9, 1907. There had been a commercial agent in this city since 1889.

Establishment of Additional Consular Posts, 1947-57.

The United States established additional consulates as follows: Hanoi (1947); Hue (1957).

Diplomatic Relations

Establishment of Diplomatic Relations, 1950.

Diplomatic relations were established on February 17, 1950, when the Consulate General at Saigon was raised to Legation status with Edmund A. Gullion as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.

Elevation of U.S. Legation to Embassy Status, 1952.

The United States Legation in Saigon was raised to Embassy status on June 24, 1952, when Ambassador Donald R. Heath received confirmation of his appointment from the United States Senate. This followed a joint announcement by the Governments of the United States and Vietnam to this effect on June 6, 1952.

Diplomatic Relations and the North-South Division of Vietnam, 1955.

As a result of the First Indochina War and the Geneva Conference of 1954 that marked its conclusion, the territory of the State of Vietnam became divided along the 17th parallel, with separate regimes in the North and South. The United States was not a signatory to the Geneva Accords and so did not recognize the Government of North Vietnam. The United States maintained its Embassy in Saigon and conducted diplomatic relations solely with the Government of South Vietnam, which in 1955 reorganized itself as the Republic of Vietnam.

Relations Interrupted, 1975.

The United States closed the Embassy in Saigon and evacuated all Embassy personnel on April 29, 1975, just prior to the surrender of South Vietnam to North Vietnamese forces.

U.S. Liaison Office Opened, 1995.

The United States opened a Liaison Office in Hanoi on January 28, 1995.

Relations Resumed, 1995.

The United States and Vietnam reestablished diplomatic relations on August 5, 1995 during Secretary of State Warren Christopher's visit to Vietnam, when he and Vietnam's Foreign Minister signed documents agreeing to do so and to open embassies in Hanoi and Washington. Christopher announced that L. Desaix Anderson would serve as the Chargé d'Affaires a.i. pending the nomination and confirmation of the Ambassador. The opening of Embassy Hanoi took place on August 6.


  • Department of State Country Fact Sheet: Vietnam
  • Department of State Country Information Vietnam