[UPDATE 2019] Best Way To Get a Visa for Vietnam

Nga Do
Visiting Vietnam is an excellent option for people looking for a new experience. From Spectacular scenery, majestic terraced fields in Northern, delicious cuisine to sunny beaches and vibrant cultural attractions, Vietnam is a rewarding destination.

Before traveling, it is important to know the Vietnam visa requirements. These things will help you navigate the process.

"Do I Need a Visa for Vietnam?"

Most visitors will need a visa to enter Vietnam. People in many African countries and parts of Asia are exempt from Vietnam visa requirements. Citizens of North American and European countries will need to obtain a visa.

Why? Visas are required by most countries for citizens of other countries to enter. Some governments require visitors to obtain a visa prior to arriving, while others issue visas to people upon arrival. Vietnam visa requirements are actually a combination of these two approaches. Visitors must apply in advance for a visa approval letter, and then obtain the official visa stamp in their passports upon arrival in the country. Fortunately, the application for a visa approval letter can be completed and submitted online.

Before arriving at any of Vietnam’s borders, choose one of the ways of getting a visa for Vietnam below and check its requirements. I’m sure there is one that fits your plans perfectly.

[UPDATE 2019] Best Way To Get a Visa for Vietnam
Photo by Vietnamese Government

I. List of countries exempt from the visa to enter Vietnam

(* Passport holders from these countries are exempted from 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2021.) To qualify for a visa 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 the visa-free days.

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 days 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.

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

II. How many types of tourist visas in 2019?

Vietnam offers 4 types of tourist visas in 2019:


- Single entry for $25/ 1 person (you can enter and exit Vietnam only one time)


– multiple entries for $ 50 / 1 person (you can enter and exit Vietnam multiple times)
– you need to buy an approval letter

3. VISA FOR 3 MONTHS (90 days)

– Single entry for $ 25/ 1 person (you can enter and exit Vietnam only one time)
– You need to buy an approval letter

4. VISA FOR 3 MONTHS (85 – 87 days)

– Multiple entry for $ 50 / 1 person (you can enter and exit Vietnam multiple times)
– You need to buy an approval letter

5. VISA FOR 1 YEAR (US citizens)

– For $ 135 / 1 person (customer need to exit Vietnam after each 3 months during valid time of visa in 1 year)

III. 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.

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.

IV. E-Visa

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

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.

E-visa started on February 1, 2017, and is valid for 30 days (single entry).

Vietnam launched e-visa in February 1, 2017 for visitors from 46 countries (6 countries were added from December 2, 2017). Foreign tourists to Vietnam can have their visas emailed. E-visa will be issued by the immigration authority via digital transactions for foreigners wanting to enter Vietnam. It can be used once and is valid for no longer than 30 days.

This method is also done fully online and does not require an agency to produce an approval letter, as you deal directly with the Vietnam immigration.

It works on https://evisa.xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn/web/guest/trang-chu-ttdt 

At the website, fill the form and attach a photo and an image of your passport page. Pay the fee and after 3 working days you will get an answer from them saying if your application was approved or denied. If positive, you will receive an email with a digital code that allows you to print the Vietnam e-Visa.

The cost is $25USD, plus something like a $1USD payment fee.

Despite seeming easy, this process has lots of restrictions for a traveler to be able to apply. You must fit in all these requirements below to submit an application:

- The Vietnam e-visa is only available to passport holders of 46 selected countries.
- It only allows entries for Tourism. Business visas are not available on e-visa.
- It does not allow multiple entries (only single entry visa is supported)
- It has only 1 month validity (if planning longer stays try the other options)

V. 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

VI. Frequently Asked Questions:

1. It is legal to obtain a Visa on arrival?

Yes, applying a Visa on arrival is legal and authenticated procedure that is used by many visitors who are going to Vietnam. Immigration office at Vietnamese international airports receive these visas, and they accept them. In 2014 there was a problem with Air France, they did not accept visa for some time. The problem was already removed, and the company already accept these online visas. To be 100% sure that the airline accept the invitation letter (online visa)? Contact the air company!

2. When can I come to Vietnam and leave there?

You can enter Vietnam a couple of days later upon you get an approval letter. It is not possible to enter Vietnam before you have the approval letter. Visa will be valid for the type of visa that you requested (1 or 3 months). During this period, you can leave Vietnam in any time.

For example:

– I have a visa for one month, but after 10 days I can leave Vietnam.
– I have a visa for three months, but after 45 days I decide to leave Vietnam.

3. I take my children when traveling to Vietnam, need the approval letter?

If you are traveling to Vietnam with the children, you have to apply for approval letter. If you flying on one passport, you will not pay fee for granting visas at the airport in Vietnam.

4. I am only going through the Vietnam airport, do I need a visa?

If you stay only a few hours at the airport in Vietnam, then continue going to another country, you do not need a Vietnam visa, but you need to stay in transit zone. If you have to leave this zone to pick up the luggage, please contact the appropriate personnel at the airport. If you leave the airport for a few hours already, it is necessary to have a Vietnam visa.

5. If I arrive by land from the neighboring countries, can I use a visa on arrival?

No, visa on arrival can be used only when you arrive by plane to Vietnam. If you travel by motorbike or by bus from Laos, Cambodia, China to Vietnam, you need to visit relevant Embassy in these countries to get Vietnam visa

6. How long does the execution of the approval letter to Vietnam take?

Process takes you usually 2-3 days, sometimes it can be done in just 2 working day, you can read the information on the websites of companies. If you pay more, the visa agent will deal this letter urgently, just in a matter of hours. Do not hesitate to look at the prices listed on websites.

7. I see there are different prices of the approval letter on many websites, why?

The approval letter for visa on arrivals – there are many online travel agencies from Vietnam selling the approval letter. The price can be different because cost for this approval letter is nowhere legally fixed, it may be $ 8 but also $ 30.

8. Can you extend your Vietnam Visa?

With most types of Vietnam visa, you can apply for a visa extension while in the country. This is easiest in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh city, but you can also apply in Hue and Da Nang.

The most efficient way is to find a trusted travel agent in the city and let them handle the legwork for you.

A visa extension can take up to 10 days and during that time you will have to give up your passport. Since you need a passport to check into hotels, you will be stuck in one place while your passport is being processed.

If you entered the country visa-free, you’ll need to get a Vietnam visa renewal. Again, check with a travel agent in one of Vietnam’s major cities to help you arrange this.

Hopefully the whole Vietnam visa thing is a little clearer!

We are here to help you prepare for a great visit. For further assistance, you can contact us at info@vietnamtypicaltours.com or through our hotline at  +84 984 326 723.

We guarantee to bring you the best support of travel services in Vietnam.

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