Most travelers will require a visa to enter Vietnam. This blog focuses on acquiring a visa to enter Vietnam as a tourist; all information is referred to Law No. 47/2014/QH13 on entry, exit, transit, and residence status of foreigners in Vietnam. You should not refer to this blog only, and you should always check the latest update from your Vietnam Embassy at home.
When you want to visit Vietnam for any reason, e.g., working, traveling, studying, you will have to apply for a Vietnam visa. As backpackers, you may find it is more complicated to get one compared to that of neighboring countries like Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia, but as the government plans to promote Vietnam tourism to the world, there are more and more adjustment in policy to reduce the bureaucracy involvement, and there are many visa exemption for many nationalities including those from Asia, Europe, and America. The other two options are using visa on arrival and e-visa, saving your time and effort getting one at Vietnam Embassies in your home country.
The issuance of a Vietnam visa is organized by the Vietnam Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Public Security - Immigration Department. There are 21 visa categories in Vietnam (The new Law No. 51/2019/QH14) for many purposes such as politics, foreign relations, business trips, travel, and immigration. As a tourist, you will need to apply for the DL visa that allows you to stay in Vietnam for a maximum of 30 days.
In Vietnam, besides the standard visa that is glued to your passport – called sticker visa, there is also the loose-leaf visa. Loose-leaf visa is a visa that is not glued to your passport; it will be granted separately.
You will be granted a loose-leaf visa when you:
-Have a passport that runs out of blank pages for visa sticker; or
-Have a passport of a country that doesn’t have foreign relations with Vietnam; or
-Have documents in lieu of the passport.
1. Through Vietnam Embassy and Consulate (Law No. 47/2014/QH13, Chapter II, Article 17)
-Go to Vietnam Embassy and Consulate offices in your home country to get the form or download the Visa Application form here.
-Fill the form as instructed.
-Submit the form along with the passport to Vietnam Embassy and Consulate offices by going there or send to them by post.
-After 3 working days, you will receive your application result.
2. Online through E-visa (Decree 07/2017/NĐ-CP)
Go to E-visa Registration Website of Immigration Department and follow the instruction to apply for an electronic visa. The advantages of this method are that you don’t have to go to the embassy or consulate offices, you don’t have to send anything by post, and you don’t have to be apart from your passport.
After finishing your application and paying the e-visa fee, in 2 - 3 working days, your application will be reviewed, and you will need to use a code provided when making the application online to check for your result on the website. If you got approved, follow the instruction and print out your e-visa.
Alternatively, you can also apply for an eVisa to Vietnam with an online service such as Byevisa.com. You will find this web portal more convenient to use than other services, as it's new, modern and offers step-by-step guidance for you to obtain your travel document.
The e-visa is only applied for single entry with a maximum of stay time is 30 days and cannot be extended.
There are only 80 countries that are eligible for this e-visa program. Check the list here.
The e-visa is only applied for people who travel to Vietnam and arrive in Vietnam at the ports that stated below:
At international border gates: Mong Cai/Quang Ninh, Huu Nghi/Lang Son, Lao Cai/Lao Cai, Nam Can/Nghe An, Cau Treo/Ha Tinh, Cha Lo/Quang Binh, Lao Bao/Quang Tri, Bo Y/Kon Tum, Moc Bai/Tay Ninh, Xa Mat/Tay Ninh, Tinh Bien/An Giang, Song Tien/An Giang, Ha Tien/Kien Giang;
At ports: Hon Gai/Quang Ninh, Hai Phong/Hai Phong, Nha Trang/Khanh Hoa, Da Nang/Da Nang, Quy Nhon/Binh Dinh, Vung Tau/Ba Ria - Vung Tau, Ho Chi Minh City/Ho Chi Minh City.
You can be reviewed to be granted a new visa if you are invited/guaranteed by an authority/organization/individual in Vietnam. The invited/guaranteed authority/organization/individual in Vietnam can apply an e-visa on your behalf.
3. Visa on Arrival (Law No. 47/2014/QH13, Chapter II, Article 18)
To get a visa on arrival in Vietnam, you must:
-Come from countries that don’t have agencies with authority to issue Vietnam visa; or
-Have to go through many countries before coming to Vietnam; or
-Come to Vietnam to travel on a program that is organized by an international travel agency in Vietnam.
To apply for a visa on arrival,
Submit passport or documents in place of the passport, and application form with your picture at the immigration counter. Children under 14 can apply for a visa with their parents or guardians if they are sharing the same passport with their parents and guardians.
4. Visa Exemption
To have a visa exemption, you have to have the nationality of a country that has a foreign affair relationship with Vietnam, and your passport must have an over-6-month validation, and your previous entry was at least 30 days ago. You will need to fill in an application form for a visa exemption certificate and pay US$10 to have a document for visa exemption.
If you travel to a third country in your visit with visa exemption and come back to Vietnam within 30 days after your exit, you will be granted a visa with validation no more than 15 days to re-enter Vietnam. And this will cost you US$ 5.
You can check the list of Vietnam visa exemption nationalities here.
* US$ 25 for e-visa
* US$ 25 for a single entry (<30 days)
* US$ 50 for multiple entries under 30 days
* US$ 95 for multiple entries from 30 days to 180 days
* US$ 135 for multiple entries from 180 days to 365 days
* US$ 145 for multiple entries from 365 days to 730 days
* US$ 155 for multiple entries from 720 days to 1825 days
* US$ 25 for children under 14 years old (unlimited)
The Vietnam tourist visa is only granted a 30-day temporary stay starting from the day of arrival in Vietnam, and visitors must extend the visa every 30 days to continue staying in the country. (According to the latest update on July 1st, 2020)
You will receive your visa application results within 2 - 3 working days depends on your visa application method.
1. Through the Vietnam Embassy and Consulate: 3 working days
2. Online through E-visa: 2 - 3 working days
3. Visa on Arrival: you will receive the results at the checkpoint.
According to the Law, your application will be rejected:
-if you have an invalid passport or invalid documents in place of the passport. A passport is considered to be valid if its validation is 1-month longer than visa validity. In the case of visa exemption, the validation must be at least 6-month, and your previous visa exemption is at least 30 days before.
-if you are children under 14 without parents or guardians.
-if you have made fraud documents or false statements in your application.
-if you have been expelled from Vietnam within 3 years (from the day the expel decision is in effect).
-if you have been forced to exit Vietnam within 6 months (from the day the forced exit decision is in effect).
-because of natural disasters, epidemics, the potential threat to public health, national security, and public security.
Vietnam Visa Blacklist:
Vietnam Immigration blacklist is the Vietnam Immigration Department's list of foreigners who have been deported or are banned from entering the country. There are some circumstances that can cause a foreigner to fall into the immigration blacklist:
If you got blacklisted, you might face a large amount of fine or even get deported from Vietnam, followed by a ban of entering the country of to 5 years.
The visa extension can be arranged via agents at any immigration-authorized agency in Vietnam. It will cost you US$ 10 if you do it yourself at the immigration office. The process will take about 5 working days so you will need to decide early to have the visa extension by the time your current visa is expired. For convenience, it's better to rely on travel agents to deal with the language barrier.
You cannot have a visa extension if you have already visited Vietnam with the visa exemption, or your last visit to Vietnam with visa exemption was not over 30 days ago.
You can only extend the duration the same as your original visa.
Ho Chi Minh City Immigration Office
333-335-337 Nguyen Trai, District 1, TEL: 028 3920 0365
Hours: 8 AM - 11:30 AM and 1:30 PM - 4 PM, Mondays - Fridays
Hanoi Immigration Office
44 - 46 Tran Phu, Ba Dinh District, TEL: 024 3826 4026
Hours: 8 AM - 11:30 AM and 1:30 PM - 4 PM, Mondays - Fridays
Traditionally, you would need to exit Vietnam and then re-enter the country to change your visa purpose. From July 1st, 2020 foreigners under these categories can change the visa purpose without leaving the country:
- An investor or a member of a foreign organization/company investing in Vietnam; relevant documents must be provided for proof.
- A parent, child, or spouse of a guarantor; legal documents to testify the relationship must be provided.
- A manager/employee invited to work in Vietnam who has a work permit granted.
- A foreigner entering Vietnam under e-visa and then has a work permit granted.
The duty limit in Vietnam is listed as below:
1.5 liters of alcohol over 20% ABV, or 2 liters of alcohol less than 20% ABV, or 3 liters of beer
200 - 250 grams of tobacco or 20 cigarettes
Other properties that have total value over VND 10,000,000
300 grams of gold jewelry
Otherwise, you will have to declare and pay duties to clear customs.
To save money and trouble when applying for a Vietnam visa to travel around Vietnam as a tourist, you will need to decide the following:
(1) how long you are going to stay and which equivalent visa validation to apply for,
(2) whether you are on the exemption list and the exemption expiration is enough for you to travel,
(3) where to apply for your visa – it is faster to apply for e-visa online, and it is the most assurance to go to Vietnam Embassies in your home country, and
(4) pack your bag and make sure your belongings are under the duty limit; otherwise, you will have to pay tax to go through the customs checkpoint.
After getting over the tedious bureaucracy, you can surely enjoy the beautiful scenery and delicious food in Vietnam.
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