The traditional method of applying for a visa via a Vietnamese embassy isn’t always the most practical way for all foreign travellers. The embassy way has a few issues that travellers prefer to avoid, such as having to travel to the embassy or sending original documents (passport) through the post.
The most favored Vietnam visa method when traveling by air is to apply for the visa on arrival via a third-party travel agent. The visa on arrival is a very convenient option and makes the entire application process as straightforward as possible. In fact, everything is done online within a matter of days. In most cases, the applicant will receive their visa approval letter within about 2-3 days, which is issued by the Immigration Department.
The visa approval letter is sent by email and is enough to board a flight to Vietnam with the official visa picked up on arrival at the preferred Vietnam international airport (Hanoi, Nha Trang, Ho Chi Minh City, or Danang).
Here is the simple process to apply for the Vietnam visa on arrival:
Step 1: Find a trusted and reliable third-party agent or tour operator to help organize the letter of approval. This is simply a process of filling out an application form with the appropriate information, including the applicant’s info and visa info.
Step 2: Carefully review the completed application form to make sure the information given is 100% accurate. If everything appears to be correct, you will then need to pay the agent a service fee.
Step 3: After a wait of 2-3 days, the agent will forward on the visa approval letter issued by the Immigration Department. This is sent via email which will need to be printed out and taken on the flight to Vietnam. Even though it is not a full visa at this stage, it is enough to board a flight with the intention of arriving at one of Vietnam’s international airports.
Step 4: On arrival in Vietnam it is necessary to make your way to the relevant immigration or visa on arrival desk to get the proper visa stamp on your passport. Once there, simply show your letter of approval in order to get the visa stamp. Also, there is a further fee to pay at the airport, which amounts to $25 for the single-entry visa or $50 for the multi-entry visa.
Even though this process may seem a little confusing at first, the option to apply for the visa on arrival does work out to be considerably cheaper and is easily arranged with the preferred visa agent. Plus, the application process of the visa on arrival will take a lot less effort compared to applying via a local Vietnamese embassy.
Important note: the Vietnam visa on arrival is only a practical option for travelers that intend to enter the country via one of the major international airports. If you intend to arrive in Vietnam using a land-border crossing or seaport you will need to organize a visa in advance via an embassy or apply for the e-visa.
Other options to apply for a Vietnam visa
Vietnamese embassy or consulate
Tourist to Vietnam can obtain a visa by contacting a local Vietnamese embassy or consulate, but the waiting time and fees are not as attractive as the visa on arrival option. In North America or Europe, this visa will likely take about a week to organize, while the process in Asia is often quicker, and may take 2-3 days to organize.
The e-visa program is the latest option to apply for the cheap visa to Vietnam. Introduced in early 2017, this kind of visa is applied online using the Vietnam Immigration Department. It gives the option for citizens from 40 countries to apply for the tourist visa, including passport holders from the USA and the UK, although citizens from New Zealand, Canada, and Australia are excluded.
The e-visa is intended for the tourist that needs a single-entry visa only with a validity period of up to 30 days (non-extendable) and it costs $25. The processing time is in the region of 3-5 days.
Similar to other visas, it is essential to complete the online application form with 100% accuracy to avoid issues with the immigration department on arrival in the country.
Any travellers planning to visit Vietnam must make sure their passport has at least 6 months remaining after arriving in Vietnam.
The majority of travellers to Vietnam will need to organize a visa in advance or visa on arrival, some don’t. The standard visa-exemption period is in the region of 15-30 days, but even the travellers with the exempt status will need to apply for a full visa if intending to stay in the country longer than the visa-free period.
At the present time, the citizens from the following countries get to enjoy visa-free travel for a limited period:
Brunei and Myanmar get visa-free travel for up to 14 days
• Finland, Germany, Japan, Norway, Denmark, Belarus, Sweden, Russia, Spain, South Korea, Italy, France, and the UK get visa-free travel for up to 15 days
• Philippines get visa-free travel for up to 21 days
• Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Laos, Indonesia and Cambodia get visa-free travel for up to 30 days.
Single or multi-entry visa
The type of visa to Vietnam that is applied for will depend on the travel itinerary. A single-entry visa is perfectly acceptable for the travel plans that take place solely within the borders of Vietnam. However, for the travellers looking to organize the Indochina tours and take in the sights of Laos and Cambodia, a multi-entry visa gives the option to leave and re-enter Vietnam as you wish provided this takes place within the time-frame of the visa.