Vietnam Visas – How to….

So, do you need one?

Short answer – Probably.

Longer answer – Probably, but maybe not.

So, which is it?

And if that’s not confusing enough, if you do need a visa, where are you going to get it from?

Yep, even that isn’t as straight forward as you’d think it would be.

Oh well, it’s all part of the research, isn’t it?  And research is pretty important for a place like Vietnam.  Do it well, and you will be rewarded on your travels.

So, let’s start with who can travel to Vietnam without a visa.

VISA EXEMPTIONS

If you hold a passport from one of these countries, and your stay is 15 days or less, then you do not require a visa to enter Vietnam.

Japan

South Korea

Denmark

Norway

Sweden

Finland

Russia

Belarus

Germany*

France*

United Kingdom*

Spain*

Italy*

(* Passport holders from these countries are exempted from 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2021.)

To qualify under the 15 day exemption, there’s a few things you need to be aware of.

Firstly, day one is the day you arrive. Whether you arrive at 12.30am, or 11.30pm, that is day one.

The day you leave the country is also counted as part of your 15 days.

So, effectively, you are allowed to stay in Vietnam for up to 14 nights.

Secondly, it is a requirement that you have to be able show proof of onward travel.  In other words, proof of how and when you’ll exit the country.  For example – an airline, or bus, ticket out of Vietnam, dated within the 15 day exemption period.

While you may not always be asked for it, it is still a requirement.

Another important thing to be aware of with visa exempt visits, is the requirement that there must be 30 days or more, between visits.

In other words, you must be out of the country for at least 31 days, before you can return utilising another visa exemption.

There’s nothing stopping you from returning within that time period, but if you do, you will need to organise a paid visa.

The desire for multiple entries into Vietnam is actually quite common, due to both Cambodia and Laos’ proximity, and if this is something that you will require, then a combination of a visa exempt visit, along with any of the paid visa options, can be utilised.

As to which entry would be an exempt visit, it doesn’t really matter, so long as you meet the requirements.

The various paid visa options will be discussed below.

So, the passport you hold dictates that a visa exemption doesn’t apply to you, or, you’re simply planning on staying longer than 15 days?

Ok, a decision needs to be made; Embassy issued visa, E-Visa, or VOA. (visa on arrival)

 

EMBASSY ISSUED VISAS

If you like the sound of an embassy issued visa, you’ll need to contact the Vietnam Embassy or Consulate in your home country to find out the cost, and what they require.  Visa fees vary from country to country, along with the differences in visa types. ie. single or multiple entry, and duration.

Here is a link where you can find a list of Vietnam Embassies all around the world –

Vietnam Embassies

You may also have to post your passport to the Embassy in order to receive the visa stamp, which will obviously add to the overall cost.  You also have the added concern of trusting your postal service with your passport.

Note however, that some Embassies may offer the option of a loose leaf visa, thus removing the need to post your passport.

Once you have your visa in your passport, you are good to go, and upon arrival into Vietnam, proceed directly to Immigration / Passport control.  Your visa will be stamped, and there is nothing more to pay.

visa_blog5
Embassy issued visa.

E-Visa

*Note – please do not confuse e-visa with VOA. (visa on arrival)  They are two very different processes.

e_visa_blog

 

E-Visa is a relatively new system, and now covers a good number of countries.  An e-visa is actually issued by the Vietnam government, and this –

E-visa website

is the only website you should use to apply for your e-visa.

Any other website purporting to issue e-visas, or with ‘e-visa’ in their domain name, is either a VOA site, or an agent acting on your behalf, and charging you handsomely to do so.

Everything you need to know about e-visa is in the link above, but a quick rundown is as follows –

  • It is only good for single entry visits of up to a total of 30 days.
  • The cost is $25USD, plus something like a $1USD payment fee.

You will also find on the above website a list of eligible countries that can use e-visa, which is here –

List of eligible e-visa countries

As well as a list of border crossings that the e-visa can be used at –

List of e-visa border crossings

Note that the time taken to issue an e-visa is quoted as three working days, but please be aware that it can take a little longer than that.  Therefore, it is best if you don’t leave it to the last minute to apply.

If you are travelling at the last minute, or you’ve only just realised you actually need a visa to enter Vietnam and your flight is in a few days, then applying for an urgent VOA approval letter will probably be your best bet.  (See VOA below)

Please also double check all details – name spelling, dates of birth, sex, etc – once your e-visa is emailed to you.  Mistakes can cause issues upon arrival in Vietnam, as well as extra costs to rectify them.

Once you do have your e-visa, print it out and keep it with your passport.  On arrival into Vietnam, head straight to Immigration / Passport control.  There is nothing more to pay.

Please also ensure you hang on to your e-visa while in Vietnam, as you may need to show it when exiting the country.  Because of this, it’s probably a good idea to have a couple of copies.

VISA ON ARRIVAL (VOA)

A third visa option is visa on arrival. (VOA)

But, it is only applicable if you are entering by air at one of the below airports.

HCMC – Tan Son Nhat International Airport

Hanoi – Noi Bai International Airport

Danang – Danang International Airport

Nha Trang – Cam Ranh International Airport

So, what is the advantage of VOA over E-visa?

Where e-visa is only for one month and single entry, VOA has a few more options, which include one month single and multiple entry, as well as three month single and multiple entry.

Cost wise, the visa itself is similar to e-visa, with the one and three month single entry visas attracting a $25USD stamping fee, while the fee for the multiple entry visas are $50USD.

There is, however, an approval letter fee that is also applicable, which will cost you $6USD and upwards, depending on who you use, as well as the visa you require.

So, how does VOA work?

First, you need to arrange that approval letter.  And to do that, you need to contact one of the many VOA agents that are out there.  They all do the exact same thing, but as mentioned, it’s their fees that can vary.

For what it’s worth, we use vietnamvisapro.net

Within a few days you will receive your letter by email.  This is not your actual visa, but merely a letter that will enable you to receive your visa when you arrive in Vietnam.

VOA approval letter_blog
VOA Approval letter.

Don’t be concerned if there are other names and details on the approval letter, as it’s common for agents to make visa applications in bulk.  If this does concern you, then most agents will offer a ‘private’ letter, for a small fee.

When you’ve received your approval letter, you will need to print out the whole thing.

You will also be sent a link to an ‘Entry and exit’ form (NA1), which you will also need to print out.  This form needs to be filled in, and, to save time on arrival, it’s a very good idea to do it before you travel.

Entry exit form_blog
Entry / exit form NA1.

So, you now have your approval letter, and your ‘entry and exit’ form.

Do you need anything else?

Yes, you’ll also need one passport sized photo.  As well as the visa stamping fee in USD.

So, now that you have everything you need, what do you do when you actually arrive at the airport in Vietnam?

Unlike having an Embassy issued visa, or an e-visa, you DO NOT head straight to immigration.

When you arrive, you instead make your way to the VOA, or Landing Visa, window, which is before the queues to immigration.

VOA counter_blog
VOA / Landing visa counter

Once there, hand over your passport, the entry and exit form, and the photo, and then take a seat and wait for your name to be called.

You can now sit back and watch the other travellers, who invariably neglected to research, scramble to fill out their form, as well as look dumbfounded when officials ask for the visa stamping fee, which they apparently knew nothing about.

It can actually be quite amusing!

When your name is called out, return to the counter to retrieve your passport, which now has a visa stamp in it, and pay the stamping fee, which, depending on the visa type, will usually be either $25USD or $50USD.

Be sure to check both the stamp, which looks much the same as the Embassy issued one above, as well as the dates specified on it, before you leave the VOA counter.

So, after all that, what are the disadvantages to using VOA?

Only that you’ll have to spend a little time queuing at the VOA counter to organise your visa, before heading to Immigration.  How much time will depend on how many others have turned up at the same time and also require VOA.

It could be anything from 10 minutes to an hour or two, but waiting time is usually closer to the shorter time frame.  And the fact that there are now quite a few that can visit under the visa exemption, as well as the e-visa process now being another option, means that there are now less people using the VOA system.

If you are worried about having to wait too long, most VOA agents offer an expedited service, which essentially, is just someone pushing you to the front of the line.  And for an extra fee, of course.

Up to you if you feel that’s necessary.

Hopefully the whole Vietnam visa thing is a little clearer.

Cheers,

Scott

25 thoughts on “Vietnam Visas – How to….

  1. Hi, thanks for the thourgh info
    E-visa
    Just 1 query on the photo
    Does it need to be the Vietnam passport size 2″×2″
    Or just Australian 35mmx45mm

    Or doesn’t matter …?

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    1. Hi Grant,
      You don’t need to take any photos with you for e-visa. That’s all done on-line when you apply for it. With VOA, (visa on arrival) yes, you do need to take a photo to hand over upon arrival. We’ve always taken standard Australian passport sized photos and had no problem. They don’t seem to be that fussy; you just need something close to that size.
      Scott

      Like

  2. Hi – thank you for your info – I just read it in tripadvisor re the E-Visa (and asked this same question there as well) – just wondering, with the E-Visa it says photo with no glasses however my NZ passport has photo of me wearing glasses! So, do I need to get a separate photo without me wearing glasses OR will my up-to-date passport photo suffice? Cheers Liz

    Like

  3. Hi,
    i have two kids aged 4 and 7. just applying for an e-visa and on my application it has a section asking whether i am accompanying minors and then i have to upload their pictures. question 1, are my kids covered under my visa or do they have to get their own? question 2, if they are covered under my visa ( i am a new zealand citizen) but they are australian should i put them under my husbands (australian passport) e-visa application?

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  4. Thanks for the info around E Visa. We are all set to go with our E Visa’s all sorted. Really appreciate your info you have put up here and also on Trip Advisor. Looking forward to a first time visit to Vietnam. Heading to Hoi An for a few days then Hue then Da Nang. Thanks again. Faye

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  5. Hi Scott, Great information thank you. From your post am assuming that you are unable to apply for 2 x e-visas instead of the VOA as am thinking if this was an option would be cheaper and save the queueing on arrival with the VOA? We are heading to Vietnam in June arriving into HCMC airport and are there for a week before making our way into Cambodia from PhuQuoc and then heading back into Vietnam a week later entering into Da Nang airport. Do you know if it is an option to just purchase the 2 x e-visas, one for the initial entry visa and then a 2nd one with the date for the re-entry? All under 30 days? Otherwise I will just apply for the VOA via the link you have, but thought was worth asking the question as are a family of 5 and imagine the kids will be tired on arrival so any less time waiting around on arrival trying to avoid. Thanks in advance Scott, Dianne

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  6. Hi Dianne,
    I believe it is possible to arrange two e-visas, but l don’t have any first hand experience.
    So, couple of alternatives….
    1. Get a multiple entry VOA. Should cost you around $65 (~$15? for approval letter from Vietnamvisapro.net , plus $50 for stamping fee at the airport)
    2. Get an e-visa for you initial entry, and arrange a VOA for your second entry. Total cost would be ~$57, again, using vietnamvisapro.net
    And using a VOA at Danang should be quicker than at HCMC. Although I’ve got through in 5 minutes at HCMC.
    Hope this helps.
    Cheers,
    Scott

    Like

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