What you need to know about visas in Vietnam and how to get it

Vietnam has suspended the entry of all foreigners since March 22, 2020, until further notice to limit the spread of COVID-19. The measure will not apply to diplomats, officials, foreign investors, experts, and skilled workers.

The Immigration Department of Vietnam announced automatic visa extensions for foreigners that entered the country on visa waiver programmes, e-visas, or tourist visas since March 1. The measure applies to those who entered Vietnam since March 1, allowing them to leave the country without any penalty or paperwork until March 31, 2021.

Related: It’s official: Vietnam resumes international commercial flights, tickets now available

If you are diplomats, officials, foreign investors, experts, and skilled workers, you will be allowed to quarantine at the company’s factory, the company headquarters, or at a designated hotel/facility. In addition, if they test negative twice, they could be released and self-quarantine at their residence or company headquarters in accordance with local health authorities. 

Budget airline Vietjet Air has reopened international commercial flights connecting Hanoi and HCMC with Thailand, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan starting April 1. Bamboo Airways and Vietnam Airlines also restart direct US flight plan.

Here’s what you need to know about Vietnam’s visas

While pottering around the wild landscapes and beautiful coastlines of Vietnam can bring a sense of inner peace, navigating the country’s visa requirements and regulations before a trip can be a real headache. To take some of the pain out of the planning process, here’s our guide to the entry requirements for Vietnam.

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Residents from a number of countries have visa exemption status for tourist visits to Vietnam.  These generally fall into two categories of either 30- or 15-days exemption. Nationals of neighbouring nations, including Thailand, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia and Singapore, can stay for 30 days without a visa, while a number of European countries, including the UK, Denmark, Finland, France and Germany, as well as Russia and Japan, can travel visa-free for 15 days. The Philippines is the anomaly, which grants visa-free travel to Vietnam for 21 days. For a full list of up-to-date visa-exempt countries, see the Vietnam Foreign Affairs website.

Anyone planning to visit Vietnam from outside these countries, or for longer than the allotted time period, will need to apply for a visa before travelling.

There are three ways to apply for a visa. The first is the traditional method of going to a Vietnamese embassy or consulate in your country of origin and filling out the application form, as well as providing photographs and your passport. You will be provided with your visa before departure. 

The other two options, ‘visa on arrival’ and ‘e-visa’, have a similar process. Visa on arrival involves using an online agent to secure an approval letter, which is then shown – along with a valid passport – at the relevant immigration desk of any international airport in Vietnam. An additional ‘stamping fee’ is then paid to grant entry to the country. The ‘e-visa’ process is newer and more streamlined. You can apply for an e-visa through the government website, then, once approved, simply print it out and present it upon arrival in Vietnam. The additional benefit of the e-visa – alongside not having to queue at the ‘visa on arrival’ desk – is that it’s valid at land borders, not just airports. Vietnam Visa Choice are among the professional outfits offering approval letters for visa on arrivals, while e-visas are available from the Vietnam Immigration website.

Foreigners in Vietnam will be able to get visa online

It is among more than 50 public services to be provided in the portal this year as approved by Vietnamese Prime Minister, reported the Vietnam News Agency.

Among those services, 11 are in the group of administrative procedures related to resident management, including the issuance and re-issuance of ID cards, verification of ID numbers, registration of permanent or temporary stay, birth registration and passport issuance.

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In addition, the newly-approved list comprises 44 essential public services in accordance with the United Nations’ E-Government Development Index, particularly extension of temporary stay and visa issuance for foreigners, vehicle registration plates and change of driver license.

The Government Office will work with relevant agencies and localities to study and improve users’ experience in the direction of developing a mobile version of the public service portal app./.

Before Covid-19 pandemic time, the conventional, single-visit, 30-day visas cost US$25 (prices can fluctuate when applying through embassies). For visa on arrival options, there will be an additional charge for securing the initial approval letter from the agency (usually around US$20). Longer, 90-day visas are also available to tourists, but these can only be applied for through an embassy or as a visa on arrival (e-visas are always 30 days maximum).

When applying for any visa, make sure your passport is valid for at least six months from your planned travel date to Vietnam. To fly on the side of caution, aim to submit photographs that are less than six months old.

Tourist visa extensions officially cost as little as US$10, and have to be organised via agents while in Vietnam. The procedure takes seven-to-ten days and you can only extend the visa for a month (US$40) or two months (US$60) depending on the visa you hold.

You can extend your visa in big cities, but if it’s done in a different city from the one you arrived in (oh the joys of Vietnamese bureaucracy!), it’ll cost you US$50 to US$70. In practice, extensions work most smoothly in HCMC, Hanoi, Danang and Hue.

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It’s also worth noting travellers of any nationality can visit the Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc without a visa for up to 30 days, providing they fly in and out of the airport located on the island (Phu Quoc International Airport) and aren’t arriving from within Vietnam.

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