Vietnam Visa Online
Some nationalities need a visa in advance for all visits, some don’t. As of January 2019, citizens from 24 countries actually have a visa exemption for 15 days. If your visit to Vietnam is brief, you may not need to bother with a visa at all! However, the list of exemptions can change, so check with the official authorities in your country before you go.
Those whose country is not in the list of exemptions, until recently, there have been two methods for you to apply for Vietnam visa online: a Visa on Arrival (VOA) via online visa agents; or an e-visa.
Regardless of which method you use, your passport must have at least six month’s worth of validity left to receive a visa for Vietnam.
Vietnam E-Visa System
Now, citizens from 80 countries (including the United States, Canada, and European Union) can apply online for an e-visa. As usual when applying for a travel visa, this has to be done before you land in Vietnam. Without proof you’ll be allowed into Vietnam upon arrival, your airline probably won’t even allow you to board the plane.
List of 80 countries can apply for vietnam e-visa
To apply for your e-visa to Vietnam, you can click here:
Vietnam implemented an e-visa system on February 1, 2017. Although a little buggy at first, the new system has greatly simplified the process of getting a visa for Vietnam.
You’ll need a scan/digital photo of your passport as well as a recent, digital photo (4 x 6 cm) of yourself on a neutral background (no hats or glasses). After uploading images, you’ll pay the US $25 fee online. Three days later, if all goes well, you’ll receive an email with your e-visa attached. Print this and bring it with you to Vietnam!
However, tourists who want to apply for Vietnam e-visa should also take note on these issues:
- There have been reports of visitors being deported due to incorrect details (such as wrong date of birth or misspelt names) on the online application form. If you do apply for an e-visa, double-check that all the information you provide is 100% accurate.
- Many fake e-visa websites have popped up. These fraudulent sites claim to be official but are actually involved with identity-theft rings. Ensure you are applying on the official government e-visa website (the domain ends with gov.vn); don’t trust search engine results or the ads at the top.
Vietnam Visa on Arrival
Before the e-visa system was rolled out, the most common way for travelers to get a visa for Vietnam was to first apply online for a Visa Approval Letter through a third-party processing agency. This is still an option if you are having trouble applying for an e-visa.
The Visa Approval Letter is not to be confused with an e-visa; these official letters are issued by private companies rather than the Vietnamese government and do not guarantee entry into the country.
The visa on arrival only works for arriving in one of the major international airports: Saigon (HCMC), Hanoi, Nha Trang, Da Nang etc. If crossing overland into Vietnam from a neighboring country, you must have already arranged a visa either online or from an embassy.
The process of obtaining a visa on arrival for Vietnam is as follows:
Step 1: Apply for an Approval Letter Online
Travel agencies charge around US $20 (payable via credit card) to process your online application; processing time usually takes 2–3 working days, or you can pay more for rush service.
Applying for a stay longer than the standard 30-day visa requires more time (7-10 working days) to process. On rare occasions, the government may ask for more information such as a scan of your passport. The travel agency handles all communication with you, but a request for more information will certainly delay your approval processing. Err on the side of caution—start apply for Vietnam visa well in advance of your flight date.
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:
Vietnam Visa Choice (www.vietnamvisachoice.com): Online support from native English-speakers. This agency also guarantees your visa will be issued within the time specified.
Vietnam Visa Center (www.vietnamvisacenter.org): Competent all-rounder with helpful staff well briefed on the latest visa situation. Offers a two-hour express service for last-minute trips.
Step 2: Print Your Approval Letter
Once approved, the travel agency will email you an image file of the scanned approval letter which must be printed clearly and legibly. Print a couple of copies just to be safe.
Don’t be surprised if you see lots of other travelers’ names on your approval letter—it’s normal for your name to just be included on a list of approvals for that day!
Step 3: Book your flight
If you haven’t already booked your flight to Vietnam, do so after receiving your visa approval letter. Flights can be booked without proof of visa, however, you’ll need to show proof of a visa or the printed approval letter before being allowed to board your flight.
Step 4: Arrive in Vietnam
Upon arrival, you should approach the visa-on-arrival window to request the visa application form. They may ask for your passport, Visa Approval Letter, and passport photo(s) to expedite processing as you complete the visa paperwork in the waiting area. Write down essential information such as your passport number, issue date, and expiration date before handing it over.
Two passport photos are officially required, but the office may only ask for one; these should loosely conform to the official size of 4 x 6 centimeters. If you do not have photos that meet the requirements, some airports have kiosks where you can take them for a small fee.
You will take a seat to complete the short-but-confusing application form then present it at the window. Once your name is called, you’ll receive your passport with a one-page, Vietnam visa sticker inside. Depending on the queue, the entire process takes around 20 minutes.
Step 5: Pay the Visa Fee
You will have to pay a visa-on-arrival fee when presenting your paperwork. For a 30-day, single-entry visa on arrival, the fee is typically US $25; paying the exact amount with U.S. dollars is preferred, otherwise you may be issued change in the local currency (subject to a bad exchange rate). This is separate from the fee paid to an agency for the approval letter.
After paying at the window, a visa will then be added to your passport and you are allowed to enter Vietnam.
Thanks to the advantage of Technology, foreign tourists who want to apply for Vietnam visa now no longer have to directly contact Vietnamese embassies and consulates around the world, which is normally more costly and time-consuming.
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