Vietnam was one of the most incredible countries i’ve had the opportunity to visit. However, obtaining my Vietnam visa ended up being a bit of a nightmare! I applied for an e-Visa 6 days before my flight and it still hadn’t processed in time!** In the end, I had to apply for a Visa on Arrival and pay a chunk for urgent processing. I’ve put this guide together to explain the three ways to get a visa in the hopes that it helps future travellers.
**My fault! I applied on the Friday before my Wednesday flight, not leaving enough time for it to be processed.
Vietnam Visa Exemptions
Some countries are exempt from needing a visa to enter Vietnam. As of 2021, there are 24 countries that do not require a visa up to a period of time. This includes UK passport holders, who can visit for up to 15 days visa free. If you intend to stay longer, you will need one of their 1 or 3 month visas. For other countries, like the United States and Australia, visas are required regardless of how long you stay.
For a full list of Vietnam visa exemptions
Note: A period of at least 30 days is required between two visa-free visits.
Types of Vietnam Visas
You have the choice between single or multiple entry tourist visas which vary from one to three months validity.
- One month single entry
- One month multiple entry
- Three months single entry
- Three months multiple entry
The three ways to get a Vietnam visa:
- Vietnam Visa on Arrival
- E-Visa (Online visa)
- Embassy Visa
Vietnam Visa on Arrival
Visa on Arrival (V.O.A) is for air travel only!
This process entails getting a pre-approved visa letter through a travel agency in Vietnam. The approval letter is then brought with you, where you’ll pick up the actual visa stamp in an international airport in Vietnam.
Complete an online application for the approval letter and pay a processing fee. This can take anywhere from a few hours to 5 working days, depending on the status of visa processing you chose. I.E. The urgent processing will cost considerably more than the standard 3-5 day processing.
Once you’ve received your approval letter via email, print a hard copy! Prepare 2 passport sized photos to be attached to this printed approval letter.
Upon arrival at an international airport in Vietnam, you’ll need to have:
- Your printed approval letter
- 2 passport sized photos
- Passport – that’s valid for at least 6 months
- Stamping fee – 25 USD (single entry visa)/ 50 USD (multiple entry visa)
Once in Vietnam, follow signs for Visa On Arrival and hand your documents/passport in at the counter. You’ll have to wait a while for it to be processed – likely in a queue of other travellers. When you’re called forward, pay your stamping fee, collect your passport (with your new Vietnam visa inside) and head to immigration.
This can be a lengthy process. It took around 90 minutes for me – not ideal after a long flight with lay overs.
Things to note for V.O.A:
- Air Travel only – For land or sea entry, you must have a full visa ahead of arriving into the country.
- There’s no official website for V.O.A – you’ll need to use one of the many private agencies online.
- Cash only – the stamping fee in Vietnam is payable in cash only; preferably USD. No cards are accepted and you’ll need to find an ATM if you arrive without cash. I can’t stress enough: BRING CASH WITH YOU!
- Passport valid for 6 months – this is the case for all visas into Vietnam.
Tip: change currency ahead of time to have US Dollars with you. The preferred currency for stamping fees is USD, but it’s also useful to have it whilst out there!
Price of V.O.A
I’ve compiled together a table of the sorts of prices you can expect to pay. The service fees will largely depend on the type of processing time you choose. The ones below are typical for standard processing times (3-5 working days). However expect to pay more if you need it urgently processed, with a turn around of several hours.
|Visa Type||Service Fees||Stamping Fees|
|Single entry – 1 month||18 USD||25 USD|
|Multiple entry – 1 month||23 USD||50 USD|
|Single entry – 3 month||28 USD||25 USD|
|Multiple entry – 3 month||43 USD||50 USD|
Vietnam’s e-Visa is probably the easiest and cheapest way to obtain a visa. Available to citizens of 80 countries, the entire process is done online and takes three working days. It costs $25 USD.
The e-Visa is valid for 30 days and single entry only!! If you’re looking for multiple entry, or a 90-day visa, you’ll need to go via the embassy or Visa on Arrival.
Vietnam e-Visa Requirements
- Passport – must be valid for at least 6 months
- Photo of your full passport data page – this is the page where you photo and information is included. It’ll need to be in .jpg format!
- Passport photo
- Your entry and exit dates AND points of entry. This can be done via air, land and sea. Check out this list of every port you can use to enter and exit Vietnam from (airports, landports and seaports).
- Credit/debit card
- Temporary address in Vietnam
- An email address
Check out the official Vietnam e-visa website to start your application.
The process is fairly straightforward. Upload all passport images and fill in any required information, before making the $25USD payment. After this, you’ll receive a registration code – SAVE THIS NUMBER!!! Once you’ve applied, it’ll take a few days before your visa is released.
To download your Vietnam e-Visa, you’ll need to enter your registration code, email and DoB to gain access to a pdf file. Print two copies of this! One is for the border, whilst the other is good to keep with you during your travels.
Upon arrival in Vietnam, take your printed e-Visa and passport straight to immigration. You won’t need to follow signs to Visa on Arrival.
You can apply for a visa at the Embassy of Vietnam in your current living country. Costs will vary depending on the type of visa you choose. Give yourself plenty of time as it can take up to 5 days for it to be processed.
You’ll need to bring the required documents below:
- Visa application form – fill this out ahead of time
- Valid passport – must be valid for 6 months minimum
- Self-addressed envelope
- Visa fee – in your local currency
Fill these documents out ahead of time and arrive early at the embassy to avoid queues. Once your forms are handed in, you’ll be sent to a payment counter. It will be ready for collection in 3-5 days.
This method of visa application probably suits those who live near the embassy!
The main perk of obtaining a visa this way, is the hassle it saves once in Vietnam. Having it in your passport before you arrive will allow you to skip queues at V.O.A and let you head straight to immigration. There was nothing worse then spending hours at the airport dealing with my visa after such a long flight.
Again, if your arrive into Vietnam via land or sea, you MUST have your visa already: via an embassy or e-Visa.
My two biggest tips would be:
- Be organised and apply for your visa well in advance! You will need to note your date AND point of entry when applying – the visa will only be valid from this date. Getting it a few weeks in advance won’t hurt and will save any last minute stress!!!
- Bring cash – in Vietnamese Dong AND USD. You may have heard of the phrase ‘Cash is King’ in Asia and this is not wrong. When I arrived in Vietnam, the one ATM on our side of immigration was out of order. Luckily I had cash but other travellers were stuck and had to wait for security to bring them to another ATM in the airport. Not ideal after a. long flight.
Hope this helps anyone looking to apply for a Vietnam visa! Enjoy your time in this beautiful country.
Happy Travels x
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