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Visa guide

by hoiantourguide

If you are traveling to Vietnam, your need to obtain a Vietnam Visa. With the discontinuation of the visa on arrival option, getting an e-visa has become the best option for travelers to Vietnam. While some countries have the privilege of visa exemption, it may not always be the ideal solution due to the limited duration of stay. For citizens of countries that can not get a visa exemption or e-visa, the alternative is to apply for a Visa Invitation Letter through a reputable agency.

Vietnam Visa On Arrival (VOA) stopped

In the past, the main way to obtain a visa for Vietnam was through the Visa on Arrival (VOA) program. This involved applying for an approval letter through a travel agency, which was then used upon arrival to obtain the visa. The VOA program offered options for a one-month or three-month visa, as well as single-entry or multiple-entry visas.

However, it’s important to note that the VOA program has been completely stopped and replaced by the e-visa system.

Apply for a Vietnam visa

When planning to enter Vietnam, it is essential to keep in mind that, regardless of your nationality (excluding Vietnamese passport holders), you will need to obtain a visa. While there are limited visa exemptions available, they apply only to a select few countries and have restrictions on the duration of the visit. It is crucial to be aware of this requirement to avoid a costly mistake.

It is a common error for people to assume that they can enter Vietnam without a visa, but this misconception can lead to significant financial consequences. It is strictly enforced that individuals without a valid visa are not even allowed to board their flight to Vietnam. If caught without a visa, you may be required to change or even cancel your flight, resulting in substantial expenses.

Additionally, the process of applying for a Vietnam visa can take some time, so it is crucial to start the application process early and be prepared. It is important to understand the specific requirements and allow ample time for processing to ensure that you have the necessary visa before your planned departure.

There are 3 ways to get an entry to Vietnam depending on your nationality:

  1. Vietnam visa exemption
  2. Vietnam E-visa
  3. Vietnam Visa invitation letter

1. Vietnam visa exemption

Vietnam offers visa exemption for citizens of certain countries; however, this option is unfortunately limited to only a few countries.

Citizens from Southeast Asian countries can enjoy a visa exemption for up to 30 days.

There are only 11 European countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Russia, Belarus, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland, that are exempted from obtaining a visa for a shorter stay of 15 days in Vietnam.

If you wish to stay longer than the permitted duration or if your country is not included in the visa exemption list, you will need to opt for the e-visa option. This applies to citizens from countries such as Australia, the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium, and New Zealand. These countries are not eligible for the visa exemption.

Additionally, there is a special visa exemption for Phu Quoc Island, where visitors can stay for up to 30 days without a visa. However, if you plan to leave the island and travel to the mainland, you will be required to have a valid Vietnam visa in advance.

2. Vietnam E-visa

The Vietnam e-visa has become the most popular method for obtaining a visa since the discontinuation of visa on arrival services by the Vietnam immigration service. Currently, citizens from 80 countries are eligible to apply for an e-visa. The process is straightforward, and you can apply directly through the official website of the Vietnamese immigration service. The cost of the e-visa is 25 USD.

official Vietnam e-visa website

While there are visa agencies that offer assistance with the application process, it’s important to note that they often utilize the same official website. Choosing to use their services may result in higher fees and longer processing times.

Currently, the Vietnam e-visa is valid for 30 days (1 month), although discussions are underway to extend the validity period to 90 days. Once you have applied for the e-visa, it typically takes 3 to 4 working days to receive it. You will need to print out the e-visa and present it upon your arrival in Vietnam. No additional fees are required upon arrival.

The e-visa can be used at all international airports in Vietnam, as well as several land borders and sea ports, providing convenience and flexibility for you entering the country.

Make sure to make no mistakes in filling out the application form, by reading our Vietnam e-visa guide.

3. Visa invitation letter

For countries that are not eligible for the Vietnam visa exemption or e-visa, the alternative option to travel to Vietnam is by obtaining a visa approval letter. The visa approval letter, also known as the “Vietnam Visa approval letter,” is issued by the Vietnam Immigration Department, which falls under the Vietnam Ministry of Public Security. This document is obtained through a local travel agency and serves as an official permission for travelers to board their flight to Vietnam.

Upon arrival at the airport in Vietnam, the visa approval letter allows its holder(s) to have their visa stamped onto their passport. It acts as a formal authorization for entry into the country. The visa approval letter is an essential requirement for travelers who do not have the privilege of visa exemption or the option to obtain an e-visa.

While the Vietnam visa exemption and e-visa options are subject to specific countries, discussions are ongoing to expand the list of countries eligible for e-visa applications. However, until any changes are implemented, the visa approval letter remains the primary way for travelers from non-eligible countries to visit Vietnam.

Vietnam visa at the embassy

Previously, it was possible to obtain a Vietnam visa directly at any Vietnamese embassy. However, with the implementation of new regulations, embassies no longer arrange visas and instead direct applicants to apply for an e-visa through the official website. This change means that Vietnamese embassies do not provide visa support or assistance anymore.

If you are unable to obtain an e-visa, the alternative option is to contact a travel agency that can assist you in obtaining a visa invitation letter.

It’s important to note that the role of Vietnamese embassies has shifted, and they no longer facilitate the visa application process. Instead, they redirect applicants to the official e-visa application website or advise them to seek assistance from travel agencies for obtaining a visa invitation letter.

Staying longer than 30 days in Vietnam

While it is possible to stay longer than 30 days in Vietnam, it can be challenging for tourists. Extending visas beyond the initial 30-day period can be difficult and often involves significant costs. Therefore, if you plan to stay in Vietnam for a longer duration, it is highly recommended to leave the country before the 30-day mark and re-enter with a new e-visa.

Fortunately, leaving Vietnam and returning with a new e-visa is permitted. You have the option to fly to neighboring countries such as Thailand or take a bus to Cambodia or Laos. You can then immediately return to Vietnam, even if it’s just a matter of minutes after leaving the other country. This strategy allows you to reset your stay period and continue your travel in Vietnam.

It’s important to note that this method is commonly employed by travelers who wish to stay longer, as extending visas within Vietnam can be complicated and costly. However, always ensure that you adhere to the immigration regulations and requirements of both Vietnam and the neighboring countries involved in your travel plans.

Other types of Vietnam visas

In addition to the standard tourist visa, Vietnam offers several other types of visas that serve specific purposes.

  1. Temporary Residence Card (TRC): The TRC is a type of visa that allows foreign individuals to reside in Vietnam for an extended period, typically beyond 90 days. It is commonly used by those who plan to work, study, or engage in long-term business activities in Vietnam. The TRC is issued by the Immigration Department of Vietnam and requires specific supporting documents and procedures.
  2. Certificate of Visa Exemption: This certificate is granted to individuals who are exempted from obtaining a visa to enter Vietnam for a limited duration. It is usually applicable to Vietnamese citizens living abroad, foreigners with Vietnamese heritage, or individuals eligible for visa exemption agreements between Vietnam and their home country. The Certificate of Visa Exemption must be obtained before traveling to Vietnam and requires supporting documents to prove eligibility.
  3. Working Visa: A working visa, also known as a business visa, is required for individuals planning to work or engage in business activities in Vietnam for an extended period. It is typically obtained through a sponsoring entity or employer in Vietnam and involves specific procedures and documentation, including work permits and work contracts.

As we are travel agency primarily focuses on assisting with tourists, if you are interested in obtaining any of the other mentioned visas, it is highly recommended to seek assistance from a specialized visa agency. They can provide the necessary guidance and support to ensure a smooth and successful visa application process for these specific visa types.

FAQ about Vietnam visas

Do I need a visa to enter Vietnam?

Yes, most travelers need a visa to enter Vietnam. However, there are some exceptions for citizens of certain countries who are eligible for visa exemptions.

How can I apply for a Vietnam visa?

To apply for a Vietnam visa, the most recommended method is to apply for an e-visa directly on the official website of the Vietnamese Immigration Service. This option is available for many countries. However, if your country is not eligible for an e-visa, you can still apply for a Visa Invitation Letter through a trusted travel agency. The agency will assist you in obtaining the necessary documentation for your visa application.

What is a Vietnam e-visa?

A Vietnam e-visa is an electronic visa that allows travelers to enter Vietnam for tourism, business, or transit purposes. It can be applied for online through the official website of the Vietnamese Immigration Department.

Can I get a visa on arrival in Vietnam?

No, the visa on arrival service in Vietnam has been temporarily suspended. Travelers are advised to apply for an e-visa instead.

How long does it take to get a Vietnam e-visa?

The processing time for a Vietnam e-visa is typically 3 to 5 working days. However, it is recommended to apply well in advance to avoid any last-minute delays.

What are the requirements for a Vietnam e-visa?

To apply for a Vietnam e-visa, you need a valid passport with at least six months of validity remaining, a digital passport-sized photo, and payment for the visa fee. Also you need to be in the list of 80 countries that are able to apply for an e-visa.

How long is a Vietnam e-visa valid for?

A Vietnam e-visa is valid for a single entry and allows a stay of up to 30 days in Vietnam.

Can I extend my stay in Vietnam with an e-visa?

No, it is not possible to extend your stay in Vietnam with an e-visa. If you wish to stay longer, you will need to exit the country and reapply for a new visa.

Are there any countries eligible for visa exemptions in Vietnam?

Yes, citizens of certain countries are eligible for visa exemptions, allowing them to enter and stay in Vietnam for a specified period without a visa. The duration of the visa exemption varies depending on the nationality.

Can I apply for a visa exemption in Vietnam?

No, visa exemptions are granted based on the traveler’s nationality. If your country is eligible for a visa exemption, you can enter Vietnam without applying for a visa in advance.

What is a Visa Invitation Letter for Vietnam?

A Visa Invitation Letter is a document issued by a local travel agency in Vietnam, which allows travelers from certain countries to board a flight and obtain a visa on arrival in Vietnam.

How can I obtain a Visa Invitation Letter for Vietnam?

To obtain a Visa Invitation Letter, you will need to contact a reliable travel agency in Vietnam and provide them with the necessary information and documents.

Is a Visa Invitation Letter the same as a visa?

No, a Visa Invitation Letter is not the same as a visa. It is a supporting document that allows you to obtain a visa on arrival at the airport immigration office in Vietnam.

Can I use a Visa Invitation Letter for multiple entries?

The validity and conditions of a Visa Invitation Letter may vary. Some Visa Invitation Letters may be valid for single entry, while others may allow multiple entries. It depends on the specific arrangement with the travel agency.

How long does it take to get a Visa Invitation Letter?

The processing time for a Visa Invitation Letter can vary depending on the travel agency and the specific circumstances. It is recommended to contact the agency in advance to inquire about the processing time.

Can I apply for a visa extension in Vietnam?

Yes, it is possible to apply for a visa extension in Vietnam if you wish to stay longer. You will need to contact the nearest Immigration Department or hire a visa extension service to assist you with the process. However, many travelers find it hard and uncertain to extend their stay in Vietnam. Therefore, the most common and recommended approach is to exit the country and re-enter with a new visa. This allows for a fresh visa and avoids potential complications associated with the extension process.

Should I get a visa exemption or E-visa?

If you are from a European country eligible for a 15-day visa exemption in Vietnam but plan to stay longer than the permitted duration, it is highly recommended to apply for an e-visa instead. An e-visa allows for a longer stay of up to 30 days, providing more flexibility and avoiding any potential issues with overstaying your visa exemption period.

What is the difference between a Vietnam e-visa and visa on arrival?

Visa on arrival has stopped and replaced by Vietnam e-visa. The main difference was that a Visa on arrival required assistance from a travel agency to obtain a letter of approval and involved additional steps at the airport. With an e-visa, you can apply directly online at the Vietnam Immigration Service without the need for agencies or extra fees. It is a simpler and more convenient option.

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