Visitors from the following countries do not need a visa and can stay for the following number of days.
- 14 days: Brunei, Myanmar
- 15 days: Belarus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Norway, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Russia (from 1 July 2015)
- 21 days: Philippines
- 30 days: Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia
All other nationalities need a visa in advance to visit Vietnam. You can apply for a visa online.
To boost tourism, the Vietnamese government has made Phu Quoc Island a visa-free zone. If you travel there by plane via Ho Chi Minh City or by boat, you do not need to apply for a visa beforehand. This applies regardless of your nationality. Visitors have 15 days to stay on the island. Those wishing to travel to other countries can apply for a proper Vietnamese visa at the local immigration office. All passports must be valid for at least 45 days upon arrival in Phu Quoc.
The visa can be applied for at most Vietnamese embassies and consulates or online. The cost of applying for a visa depends on your nationality and the embassy or consulate where you apply. Check with the Vietnamese embassy or consulate in your country of residence. If there is no Vietnamese embassy or consulate in your country, a popular alternative is to apply at the Vietnamese embassy in Bangkok.
Some Vietnamese embassies offer a “While you wait” service (May 2008), where a single-entry visa can be applied for within 15 minutes. This service costs 92 USD, but approval is immediate. You must bring a valid passport, photo ID and cash (credit cards are not accepted).
Embassies are reluctant to publish a fee structure as the relatively high cost of visas is a source of embarrassment, revenue and disincentive to tourists (EU and US). The decline in the number of Western tourists has been partly offset by the abolition of visa fees for some nationalities (but not for former Vietnamese), which has allowed neighbouring countries to fill the gap, although visa exemption for neighbouring countries is part of Vietnam’s commitment to exempt its ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) citizens from visa requirements.
Foreign citizens of Vietnamese origin can apply for a visa waiver, which allows multiple entries for 3 months at a time and is valid for the duration of the passport’s validity.
An increasingly popular alternative is a visa on arrival, which is not only much cheaper but also reduces the need to send passports to the Vietnamese embassy in the country of origin.
Visa fees for Vietnam
In April 2014, a 30-day single-entry visa issued by the Consulate General of Vietnam in Vancouver, Canada, cost 100 CAD. The same visa cost about 115 euros (plus postage) at the Vietnamese Consulate in Turin, Italy. At the Consulate General of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in Sydney, Australia, the visa cost $95 in Sept 2014.
Visa on arrival in Vietnam
The term “Visa on Arrival” (VOA) is somewhat misleading in the case of Vietnam, as a letter of approval must be obtained prior to arrival. This type of visa is processed by a growing number of online agencies for costs ranging from USD 14 to 21 (2016), depending on the agency and the number of people applying together. Most agencies accept payments by credit card, some – by Western Union.
The official in Vietnam obtains an approval letter from the immigration office with the visitor’s name, date of birth, date of arrival, nationality and passport number and sends this letter (in PDF or JPEG format) to the visitor by email or fax, usually within three working days. It is common to receive the letter together with some other information about the applicant’s passport (passport number, date of birth, name, etc.). You can share your personal information with up to 10 to 30 other applicants on the same letter(s). For those who are concerned about privacy or security, it is advisable to first check if the agencies offer the possibility to obtain a separate or private approval letter (private visa on arrival) on their website. Very few online agencies have this option. Another solution is to apply for a standard visa through the embassies in order to maintain the confidentiality of your personal data.
After landing at one of the international airports (Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Nha Trang, Vinh or Phu Quoc), the visitor goes to the “Visa on Arrival” counter, presents the letter, fills out an additional arrival form (which can be pre-filled before departure), pays the stamp fee and receives an official stamp (sticker) in his passport. The stamp fee is 25 USD (50 USD for a multiple entry visa) (2016). Only USD are accepted (no other currencies or credit cards) and tickets must be in new condition or they will be rejected. A passport photo is also required. Some agencies state that two photos are required, but usually only one is needed.
Please note that Visas on Arrival are not valid for border crossings and the official stamp is only available at the three international airports. Visitors arriving by land from Cambodia, Laos or China must therefore be in possession of a full visa on arrival at the border.
Passengers of most, if not all, airlines flying to Vietnam must present the approval letter at check-in, otherwise check-in will be denied.
Arrival/departure cards are not used in Vietnam.
Depending on the current status of SARS, bird flu, you may be subject to a “health check”. However, there is no check, but another form to fill out and of course another fee. If you can get a handful of dong, it only costs 2,000 dong per person, but they charge 2 USD for the same “service” if you only have greenbacks!