Travelling to Vietnam using Visa is convenient for all travelers by air, especially those who are short on time to prepare for their trip or are going to Vietnam on an impromptu decision. Formalities at Vietnam’s international airports are generally smoother than at land borders. For example, crossing overland from Cambodia and China is now relatively stress-free while Crossing the border between Vietnam and Laos can be slow.
Some nationalities need a visa in advance for all visits to Vietnam while some don’t. The standard length of stay for tourist visas is 30 days; for visa-exempt nationalities it is 15 days. Please see “who need visa for Vietnam” for further.
There are many types of visas that you may apply for in order to enter Vietnam, and the purpose of your trip will help determine which type of visa you should apply for:
The tourist visa is the most popular type of visa, and it is fairly easy for all nationalities to obtain. There are basically two types of tourist visas, divided into 30-day single or multiple entry. However, it is fairly easy to obtain a 3 month business visa if you’re planning to spend longer in the country and don’t want to cut your trip short. Note that there will be a price difference according to whether it is a single or multiple entry visa.
Tourist visas may be extended only once for 30 days. Although it would save some money, it can be quite a hassle to do the application on your own, so it is recommended that you spend the extra money and do the process through a tour agency. It should only take two or three days, and is easiest in the bigger cities, such as Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Danang and Hue.
You may request a student visa once you have received admission evidence from a school in Vietnam (pre-departure), but usually student visas are arranged after arrival in Vietnam. You may enter on a tourist visa, enroll in a program of study (language courses apply), then change the status of your visa with immigration. It is best to have a travel agency help with the application process.
A business visa allows entry for the purpose of work. They are usually valid for three to six months. In general, business visas are easy to get, but there may be a significant difference in price versus a tourist visa. Note that a business visa is not a work permit – it only allows entry for the purpose of work. In order to work in Vietnam, you must have a work permit.
If you arrive in Vietnam with a single-entry visa, then decide that you want to travel to a bordering country, and later return to Vietnam, you must have a re-entry visa. Arrange it before you leave Vietnam, otherwise, you will have to go through the entire visa process again. It is best to do this through a travel agent, as you will most likely need help with the paperwork, and they can complete the procedure in a day or two.
Diplomatic and official visa
These visas are granted to those visiting Vietnam on government or diplomatic business, and there is no fee associated with this visa. The applicant for this visa must submit an official letter from the concerned agencies of local government, foreign embassies or consulates accredited to the applicant’s country, international organizations or other accredited organizations based in that country.
The maximum duration for a transit visa is five days. The Department of Immigration will generally issue transit visas only for groups accompanied by a tour guide. The group must have an exact itinerary and a guarantee from a tour agency that is organizing the tour.
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. That is changing as e-visas have been rolled out (for a limited number of nationalities).
Visa on Arrival (VOA)
Visa on Arrival (VOA) is the preferred method for most travelers arriving by air, since it’s cheaper, faster and you don’t have to part with your passport by posting it to an embassy. Online visa agencies email the VOA to you directly.
It can only be used if you are flying into any of Vietnam’s six international airports, not at land crossings.
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 Immigration (vietnamimmigration.com)
- Vietnam Visa Cheap (vietnamvisa.cheap)
- Evisa Vietnam (evisa-vietnam.com)
A pilot e-visa program introduced in early 2017 allows visitors to apply for visas online through the Vietnam Immigration Department. Citizens of 47 countries are eligible, including those from the UK and the USA (though not Australians, Canadians or New Zealanders).
E-visas are single-entry only, valid for 30 days (nonexpendable), and cost US$25. Processing takes three to five days.
Visas via an Embassy or Consulate
You can also obtain visas through Vietnamese embassies and consulates around the world, but fees are normally much higher than using a visa agent and (depending on the country) the process can be slow. In Asia, Vietnamese visas tend to be issued in two to three working days in Cambodia. In Europe and North America, it takes around a week.
At this time, citizens of the following countries do not need to apply in advance for a Vietnamese visa (when arriving by either air or land) for certain lengths of stay. Always double-check visa requirements before you travel as policies change regularly.
- South Korea
The above countries’ visa free entry is valid for a maximum of 15 days
Myanmar and Brunei have a visa free entry for a maximum of 14 days while Philippines’ is 21 days
The following countries have the highest number of visa free entry time periods with a maximum of 30 days:
It’s possible, but not at all practical, for travelers using a visa exemption to extend their stay at the end of the visa-exemption. But this can take up to 10 working days and you need to give up your passport during this time so it’s not a useful option at all.