Vietnam Visa Information
The tourism industry is booming in Vietnam and the government has made it a very straightforward and easy process to come visit. While most of us still need to obtain entry permission, more countries are being added to the red carpet list. This section will provide you with information about, and tips on who needs entry permission, when to get the visa, the different ways it can be obtained, and what do if problems arise while in Vietnam.
Do I Need One?
You do not need a Visa for entry if you are from on the ten countries that belong to the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and are staying for 30 days or less. Those countries include Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Singapore, Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, and Laos. Nationals of South Korea, Russia, Japan, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland who stay for 15 days or less are also exempt from visa requirements.
Citizens of all other countries require a visa for entry permission. There are a few ways to obtain the documents you need. Your visa should be obtained before you purchase your flight. This way, should you be denied entry, you are only out $25.00 instead of $1,000.00.
Depending on the organization, you will be able to apply for a 1 month, 3 month, or a 6 month visa, with the option of either multiple or single entry. Note that the process of obtaining a Visa Pre-Approval Letter depends on the kind of visa that you apply for.
Many people choose to fly into Cambodia prior to flying to Vietnam in order to obtain a Visa that allows them to stay in Vietnam longer than 3 months. Flying through Cambodia is the ONLY way of obtaining a travel visa for longer than 6 months right away.
Visa Office of the Consulate General, Vietnam Embassy
Obtaining a visa in your home country or in a foreign country prior to arriving in Vietnam means you need to have access to a Vietnam Embassy or Consulate. Not every country or city has one, and should you be out of luck, skip down to the Visa-On-Arrival (VOA) Section.
Before heading off to your closest Vietnam Embassy, passport in hand, bring two other things: Get 2x2 inch photos printed of yourself and check online to see if you can print out the application document. Fill out that document entirely, attach the requested number of 2x2 inch photos to it, slide it into your passport and go visit your embassy.
You will drop off the filled-out application, photo, and your passport (with at least six months of validity left in it) and be given a receipt and pick-up date. Most places will have the option of expedited service for extra cost, sometimes a quick as same-day if you drop off your application early. When you go back to pick up your Visa double-check that your name is spelled correctly and the dates of entry permission are what you requested.
If you are too busy, do not have access to an embassy, or would just rather do it online, VOA is a very popular way to obtain your Visa. If you search the internet using the terms “Visa on Arrival Vietnam” several options will appear on your results page including online businesses like “myvietnamvisa.com” and “vietnamimpressive.com” to name a couple. These are Vietnam-based companies that will set you up with a process by which you fill out their application and pay for a Visa Pre-Approval Letter. This letter is sent to you via email for you to print out and bring with you to the airport. The Pre-Approval Letter is a form of receipt that the customs agents are aware of your eventual arrival and will be ready to provide you with your Visa and immigration stamp.
VOA does not work for ground transportation into Vietnam. You must be flying into Hanoi, Da Nang, or Ho Chi Minh City for your Pre-Approval Letter to be accepted. Upon arrival and prior to immigration processes, you need to go to a Visa Counter to turn in your Pre-Approval Letter, 2x2 inch photos, and stamping fee for a Visa in your passport.
Cambodia is one of the easiest and cheapest places to arrange your Vietnam Visa. For those of us who need a little bit more control, obtaining a Visa in a country that is not your own, may seem daunting or worrying, but there are people who have gone before you.
The Vietnamese Consulate in Phnom Penh and the Vietnamese Consulate in Sihanoukhville, are two of the quickest places to obtain a Visa for Vietnam.
The Moment of Truth
So you have your gear packed, itinerary perfected, immunization shots up-to-date, bottle of diarrhea relief pills in one hand and your Visa (or Pre-Approval Letter), boarding pass and passport in the other. Walking through the departures lounge to the right check-in counter you are anxious about what will happen on the other side; in a communist country. Relax, enjoy the flight and when your plane lands in Vietnam one of two tasks await:
Your Visa is glued in your passport and you go directly to customs. Smile at the immigration agent and receive a stamp of entry in your passport.
Your Pre-Approval Letter is tucked inside your passport and you go directly to the “Visa” counter where you present your letter, photo, passport, and stamping fee completing the VOA process. Then you go to customs, receive a stamp of entry, and prepare yourself for the next step of your journey.
Extra Tips for Visiting ANY Foreign Country:
Always make extra copies of you photos, passport, and visas (or pre-approval letter). Before you leave home give a copy of these documents to a loved-one, keep one copy buried in your backpack, and another somewhere separate from the real one, and email yourself an electronic version.
Keep contact information for your own country’s embassy in case of loss or theft of your passport. By keeping extra copies they will be able to assist you in contacting the police and getting you a new passport quickly.
In addition to the Vietnam Consulate, many guest houses and travel agencies can provide you with a legitimate Vietnam Visa, but be wary of these since not all of them are legitimate services and you can check in with us for confirmation if you are booking your visa anywhere other than the Vietnam Consulate.