Tourism is on the increase in Vietnam, with an all-time high of 1.59 million visitors in February 2019. This is an over ten per cent increase year on year.
And with so many people visiting Vietnam, it’s essential that travelers understand the visa requirements. And also the different options for organizing the appropriate visa before they arrive. There’s no point planning a trip to see the wonders of Ho-Chi-Minh or Hanoi if you don’t know how to obtain the correct paperwork.
Luckily you’ve come to the right place!
After living in Vietnam since 2016, I can honestly say I’ve accumulated quite a bit of knowledge about the immigration laws and the different visas for Vietnam. So today, let’s have a closer look at the different options, and how to apply for the right Vietnamese visa for your exact.
Let’s dive right in!
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How to Get a Visa for Vietnam in 2019
There are about twenty different types of Vietnamese visa, but the most common ones are tourist, business, student or working visas. However, there are several passport holders that don’t need a visa at all for shorter trips. Let’s talk about that first:
Which countries are visa-exempt?
There are twenty-four countries as of January 2019 that do not require a visa for travel to Vietnam. However, there may be a time limit on how long you can stay before you require one, so you will need to check your home country to see the time for which you will be exempt.
For example, those from the UK will not require a visa for stays of fifteen days or fewer, yet passport holders from Singapore do not need one for stays of under thirty days. Check with your local Vietnam embassy for current information regarding exemptions and requirements.
Vietnam Tourist Visa
Whether you’re planning to stay in the best hotels or venture off the road and practice your camping skills while traveling the country, you may require a tourist visa for your stay in Vietnam. The DL tourist visa is valid for up to 3 months, and again, you will require a passport which is valid for at least six months from the departure date and can be renewed once after your arrival.
You can apply for a single or multiple entry tourist visa, and fees will vary depending on your method of application. Applications are accepted online or at your local Vietnam embassy. You can apply for a one-month single or multiple entry visa, or a three-month single or multiple entry visa. Only those with a US passport can apply for a twelve-month single or multiple entry visa. The processing fees will increase the longer the stay, as will the stamping fees. Stamping fees start from $25.
How To Apply Online
There are various non-official websites that allow you to apply for and pay for your visa online. Although these are the easiest way to apply, many visa agents will state that they are the official visa site for Vietnam when they’re not. Check when you are researching which ones to use because what you don’t want to encounter is a cut-price operator who may be inefficient and potentially unreliable. Instead, search for well-established companies. The Lonely Planet recommends Vietnam Visa Choice, who give reliable time frames and have English speaking support, and Vietnam Visa Center, who offer a two-hour express service for last-minute trips.
Completing the online form: Firstly, you will need to complete the online application form giving personal details, such as your name and nationality, date of birth, passport number and arrival date. Once you have submitted the online form, you will receive an Approval Letter via email. Make sure that you check all the details are correct when you receive your approval letter so that you have the time to have the details changed and corrected if you need to. You will then need to print the letter and ensure you have two passport photos which adhere to the passport photo guidelines. If you don’t have any photos you can have them taken at arrival for a small fee.
How much does it cost?: The prices will vary between different services and time frames, and for different countries. Some online services may offer different prices for different delivery services. For example, a single entry and a multiple entry visa will differ in price, and if you opt for the one-day service, it will be more expensive than a three or five-day service. Ensure that you research companies and services for options and costs, and give yourself plenty of time to organize the paperwork before you leave.
What to do at arrival: When you arrive at one of Vietnam’s international airports, Da Nang, Nha Trang, Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, you will be required to complete an entry form. You should either print one from the company’s website on which you applied for the approval letter with, or pick one up at the airport. Once this is completed, you will need to present this with your approval letter, passport and passport photos and payment for the stamping fee. It will depend on how many others are also applying for a visa on arrival as to how long the process will take at the airport. It could be a simple fifteen-minute process, or longer when busy.
Furthermore, I recommend to bring US dollars for the stamping fee. There are people who claim the visa desk accept Vietnamese Dong, but others who claim they are not. Some people have also said an immigration officer have escorted them to an ATM so they could withdraw money, but this is unreliable. Always bring enough US dollars for the stamping fee!
How To Apply At An embassy
You can apply through your nearest Vietnamese Embassy, and a list of these can be found at a Vietnam Embassy website. This site will also provide you with detailed information about the address of each embassy, the website details for each embassy and how you can apply for a visa in each country. You will need to contact your local embassy before you visit them to ensure you have all the information you need for your application.
Vietnam Business Visa
If you’re planning to work during your stay, you will need a category DN business visa. This is a short stay option for up to 12 months. And with this visa you can enter and remain in Vietnam, and carry out business meetings and conduct business. You must ensure your passport is valid for at least six months from the departure date. And if you apply through the local embassy in your country, you will require a sponsorship letter from a licensed company in Vietnam.
How to apply: To apply for a business visa, you will need to contact the embassy in your home country as e-visas are not yet available for business purposes. You can apply for a business visa on arrival, but this can take up to seven days to be processed, and you will not require a sponsorship letter. Once you have it, if necessary, you can ask for this to be extended by the business you’re working for.
Long-term business visa: If you’re planning to set up a business in Vietnam or will be conducting investment activities, you have the option of applying for a longer visa. Five-year DT investors visas are applicable in this case. You will need to present a company seal certificate, a business or investment certificate, an NA 5 form for the visa request, a valid passport, an NA 16 form and complete a registration form for a temporary stay permit.
Students visiting Vietnam
US students planning an internship in Vietnam will require a single-entry business visa, which will allow them to work or intern for up to ninety days. Interns will need an official acceptance letter from their Vietnamese host company or school, and some proof of payment of tuition fees. Students from other countries should check with their local embassy to understand intern requirements.
Who will approve my visa?
The Vietnam Immigration Department is the official approver of all visa for foreigners. They are also responsible for approving extensions, renewals, and passports for Vietnamese citizens. All online applications will go to the Vietnam Immigration Department for approval, regardless of the travel company or other company you apply through initially. You cannot apply directly to the Vietnam Immigration Department for a visa, which is why you must go through a visa, travel company or the embassy.
Other Important Considerations
Be aware of public holidays in Vietnam, when offices may be closed and your paperwork may be delayed. Check out when they occur, and give yourself plenty of time, so your visa application is not delayed. It’s also worth knowing when the public holidays are for when you are staying in Vietnam because they may affect travel or trips. Children with their own passport will require their own visa, and will pay the same fees as the adult fees. You can only use the travel agent or visa agent on arrival method if you are arriving in Vietnam by air. If you enter the country by cruise or land, you must obtain a full visa through the embassy prior to arrival.
Vietnam is a must-see country with so much to offer, so make sure you spend enough time there. This may mean you require a visa for your stay, but by following the official process, you can apply for the visa you need via the embassy or online. Ensure that you carry out plenty of research into travel or visa agencies if you want them to organize the visa, and check varying costs and time frames. Don’t let the need to acquire a visa stop you from staying the amount of time required to see this wonderful country.
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