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The Ultimate Guide to Vietnam Travel Visa

by Duong Le on October 10.

Travelers from 24 countries are now exempted from Vietnam travel visa. With e-Visas, this number is 80 countries. You can also easily apply for a visa on arrival online or in person at a Vietnamese embassy or consulate. Let’s walk through the basics of Vietnam travel visa, with Maika Tours.

When it comes to planning for a trip abroad, one of the very first things you need to take care of is applying for a travel visa at your destination country. So let Maika Tours help you through the essentials of getting yourself a travel visa for your upcoming trip to Vietnam!

* TIP: Generally, the visa process and associated formalities, is smoother at Vietnam’s international airports than at land borders.

Vietnam Travel Visas – The Basics

Recently, the much-complicated visa situation has changed quite a lot for a number of nationalities to become easier and more convenient. We suggest you to always check the latest regulations to save yourself from unwanted troubles.

First and foremost, are you a traveler from a Western country and having a plan to stay more than 15 days in Vietnam? If so, then you’ll still need a visa, or in some cases, an approval letter from an agent in advance. 

If your visa is less than 15 days, then you may have a chance of an exemption from a Vietnam travel visa.

*TIP: Keep in mind that this only applies for a single visit, not multiple-entry trips.

Below are the visa-exempt countries:

Asia

  • Less than 30 days: Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Kyrgyzstan
  • Less than 21 days: Philippines
  • Less than 15 days: South Korea, Japan
  • Less than 14 days: Myanmar, Brunei

Europe (less than 15 days)

  • Russia, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Belarus 

South America (Less than 90 days) 

  • Chile

* Notes on visa exemptions:

The exemptions listed above for Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Japan, South Korea, and Russia are valid until Dec. 31, 2019.

The exemptions listed above for the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy are valid until June 30, 2021.

Spouses or children of Vietnamese citizens are allowed to stay in the country without a visa for six months and must show papers proving their eligibility.

Types of Vietnam Travel Visas

Vietnam travel visas for tourists are valid for either 30 days or 90 days.

– A single-entry 30-day visa costs $20 USD

– A 90 day multiple-entry visa is priced at $70 USD.

Currently, only United States nationals are able to arrange one-year visas.

Until recently, there have been two methods of applying for a visa: 

  • A Visa on Arrival (VOA) via online visa agents or 
  • Via a Vietnamese embassy or consulate.

Now, you can also apply using e-visas (currently only for a limited number of nationalities).

Vietnam travel visa

Photo Credit: Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Visa on Arrival (VOA)

Visa on Arrival (VOA) is the preferred method for most travelers arriving by air. The reason is because it’s cheaper, faster and you don’t have to part with your passport by posting it to an embassy. The VOA is to be emailed to you directly by the online visa agencies once you apply.

VOA can only be used if you are flying into any of Vietnam’s eight international airports, not at land crossings.

The eight international airports are:

  • Noi Bai (Hanoi)
  • Tan Son Nhat (Ho Chi Minh City)
  • Da Nang
  • Can Tho
  • Phu Bai
  • Phu Quoc
  • Cat Bi
  • Cam Ranh

The process for VOA is straightforward:

  • First, you fill out an online application form and pay the agency fee (around $20 USD);
  • Then you’ll receive an email –  a VOA approval letter signed by Vietnamese immigration;
  • You print out the email and show on arrival, where you pay your visa stamping fee in US dollars – cash only.

*The single-entry stamping fee is $25 USD, a multiple-entry stamping fee is $50 USD.

There are many visa agents, but there are some inefficient cut-priced operators out there. It’s recommended to stick to well-established companies; the following two are professional and efficient:

This is an online support site from native English-speakers, they will also ensure that your visa will be issued within the time specified.

A competent, all-rounder site with helpful staff well briefed on the latest visa situation. Their two-hour express service is highly recommended for your last-minute trips.

  • STA Travel – The Visa Machine (https://statravel.thevisamachine.com/)

An easy, hassle-free site that delivers visas quickly. This site is highly recommended among Australians and New Zealanders!

Read more on 10 Red Flags When Traveling to Vietnam 

Visas via an Embassy or Consulate

If you intend to cross into Vietnam overland from a neighboring country, you’ll need to have already visited a Vietnamese embassy and arranged a tourist visa in your passport. The process can take up to a week, so don’t wait until the last minute to apply.

Embassies will close the office for national holidays in Vietnam as well as holidays in the local country. During that time, you won’t be able to get your passport back!

Unfortunately, the processing times, procedures, and visa fees vary inconsistently from place to place, depending upon which embassy handles your application. Americans have the option to apply in either Washington DC or San Francisco. You can also apply for a Vietnam visa in countries around Southeast Asia, however, they all have their own procedures and restrictions.

For example, in Asia, Vietnam travel visas tend to be issued in two to three working days in Cambodia. 

In Europe and North America, this process takes longer, around a week.

Vietnam travel visa

E-visas

In early 2007, applying for Vietnam travel visa was made much easier and more convenient when a pilot e-visa program was introduced. This allowed visitors to apply for visas online through the Vietnam Immigration Department. 

The eligible are citizens of 40 countries, including those from the UK and the USA ( Australians, Canadians or New Zealanders excluded).

Please note that Vietnam e-visas are single-entry only, and are valid for 30 days (non-extendable), pricing at $25 USD. Processing takes three to five days.

Here’s a simple guide on how to apply for Vietnam’s e-Visa:

Step 1: These are the materials requires:

  • One 4×6 passport photo in .jpg format with a white background, without glasses
  • One photo in .jpg format of your passport data page
  • Passport, valid for at least six months
  • Your temporary address in Vietnam and points of entry and exit 
  • Debit or credit card for payment 

Step 2: Access www.immigration.gov.vn and go to ‘E-visa Issuance’ then click on the link for ‘Outside Vietnam foreigners’.  

Step 3: Upload your .jpg images (passport data page and passport photo) and fill out the required fields on the form completely. Submit your form. 

Step 4: Pay the e-Visa fee of $25 USD. Copy down the document code provided.  

Step 5: Within three working days you should receive news of your e-Visa application via email. If not, you can also run a search for your e-Visa at this link (https://evisa.xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn/tra-cuu-thi-thuc

Step 6: Use your document code to locate your e-Visa online. Download and print the e-Visa in two copies for extra safety. 

*TIP: We recommend printing two copies for extra safety. 

*TIP: Although convenient, this e-visa system has not been efficiently implemented and is still undergoing improvements. 

Many visitors find it quite troublesome since the official website is glitchy, leading it to crash quite often. 

Several cases have also been reported, where visa applications have been disappeared and photos have been rejected due to not being picture-perfect.

Moreover, there have also been reports of visitors being deported due to incorrect details, e.g incorrect date of birth or misspelled names on the online application form.

If you do apply for an e-visa, we suggest that you take extra care when double-checking your information on the application form to avoid any unnecessary hassle later on during your trip.

Access this link https://evisa.xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn to apply for your Vietnam e-visa.

Vietnam’s e-Visa is now available to nationals of 80 countries

Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Chile, China (including Hong Kong and Macau passports), Denmark, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Philippines, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Salomon Islands, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Timor Leste, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, and Western Samoa.

Multiple-Entry Visas

You can enter Cambodia or Laos from Vietnam and then re-enter Vietnam,  without having to apply for another visa.

However, this requires you to hold a multiple-entry visa before you leave Vietnam.

Please remember that single-entry visas can no longer be changed to multiple-entry visas inside Vietnam.

Visa Extensions

Officially, tourist visa extensions ranges from $10 USD, and also have to be organised via agents. This procedure takes around seven to ten days.

More specifically, you can only extend the visa for 30 ($40 USD) or 60 ($60 USD) days, depending on the visa you hold.

Furthermore, extending your visa in a different city from your arrival destination can cost you $50 USD – $70 USD.

In practice, extensions work the most smoothly in the big cities, namely Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Danang, and Hue.

It’s possible, but not recommended at all, for travelers using a visa exemption to extend their stay at the end of the visa-exemption (around $35 USD). This lengthy procedure can take up to 10 working days, and also requires you to give up your passport during this time so we advise this only as your last resort.

References:

  1. Vietnam Visas and Customs – Retrieved on October 10th, 2019.
  2. Frequently ask/answer for Vietnam visa – Retrieved on October 10th, 2019.
  3. Vietnam E-visa –  Retrieved on October 10th, 2019.
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