How to get a Vietnam Visa in 2020

A vietnamese passport sticker in a passport

By: Justin Del Boulter | Updated on 18/1/2020

Currently (Jan-Feb 2020), the government is debating possible changes to the Vietnam Visa options. For the time being only 30 day multi entry Visas are available. It may be to your best interest to wait until after this period to apply for a visa. With that being said, the following information may no longer apply after this period.

For search engine reasons, I left this following text in this post. I’ll make changes when I know the details. Hopefully, shortly after the Tet Holiday. 

There is a ton of in depth resources on this topic. However, I’ve found that a lot of it is convoluted and packed full of information you probably don’t need to know. So, to clear things up a bit, here is a straight forward, no bullshit guide to getting a Vietnam Visa. 

 

Before heading to Vietnam you may or may not need to apply for a Visa. For some Southeast Asian citizens, the French, Chileans, and a few others, there are exceptions allowing citizens of these countries to visit ranging from 15 to 90 days without a visa. Citizens of each country are treated a bit differently. Here is a good resource to see if you are required to have a visa. 

A single path trail leading into the distance

Vietnam Visa requirements
& things to consider before applying

  • Your passport cannot expire within 30 days of the visa expiration date.
  • You’ll need one blank page (2 for E-visas) in your passport for the visa sticker, and enough space for stamps. 
  • Decide if you wish to ride into Laos or Cambodia. A multi-entry visa will likely be the most affordable option to reenter Vietnam.
  • Will you be entering Vietnam by air or land? Not all visa applications are created equal. 
  • How long do you plan to stay? Aside from the 1 year business visa available to US Citizens, all visas require you to leave the country every 90 or less. Also, a few nationalities are limited on length of stay. You’re Visa agent will give you the details. 
  • If you wish to get a Vietnamese Drivers License you’ll need a visa that is 3 months or greater. 
  • During the Lunar New Year, AKA Tet holiday, most visa services will be closed for the week, including Vietnamese government offices. The Tet Holiday floats around the end of January. Plan accordingly. 
A rice house among rice terraced hills

The 3 Vietnam Visa Options

There are 3 types of Visa applications for Vietnam. Each have their pros and cons. Here’s the breakdown.

1: Visa On Arrival (VOA): Available to citizens from 150 major countries

The application is simple, and compared to an E- Visa you have a wider range of options in terms of lengths of stay and number of entries. The downside of a VOA is that it is only good for arrival by air. Also, the service fee can be a bit pricey.

There are plenty of websites offering VOA services, where you can apply for a visa approval letter, that will later be used to get your official visa sticker on arrival. You simply fill out the application form, pay the service fee, then wait for the approval letter. Then, once you arrive at the airport you show the immigration officer your approval letter, pay the additional visa sticker fee (“stamping fee”), then get a fancy sticker in your passport (like the photo above). 

Here is a website that I have used in the past with good results. However, I have found their prices to be relatively high. These days I use a very trusty local agent that is a fraction of the price. You can fill out and submit this form to get a quote from her. She will then walk you through the process and get you set up in a jiff! She can also help with visa extensions.  

2: Apply at the nearest Vietnamese Consulate: Available to pretty much everyone

This process takes a lot longer than the others, and requires you to send off your passport to receive a visa sticker. If you mail in your application and passport this process can take up to 3 weeks. If you submit the application in person you could have the visa within 3 – 5 days. However, lengths may vary depending on the consulate.

This method is good for arrival by land and air, and has the full range of options in terms of lengths of stay and multiple entries. Also, it is cheaper than the VOA option. Here is a link to the Vietnamese Government website that provides all the needed information, such as requirements, consulate locations etc, and a step by step guide to apply.

3: E- Visa: Available to citizens from 80 countries

If you are a citizen of one of the 80 eligible counties, an E-visa is a very simple application that can be done through this Vietnamese Government website. The E-Visa is good for land and air entry. However, it is limited to 30 days, and does not permit multiple entries. Also, it can not be extended. 

To “extend” an E-visa you will have to run to the Cambodian and re-enter Vietnam on a new visa. In prior years you could run to the border of Laos. However Laos no longer does VOA at the border entries for many citizens. If you’re in Hanoi, and want to do a border run, make sure to figure out the Laos Visa situation prior to arriving. If you need to do a border run in Ho Chi Minh City you can contact my agent, Amanda, via WhatApp at +84-931-328-029. Tell her sent you, and that you need help extending your visa. If you have any more questions about the E-Visa, check this page out.

A motorbike Parked on a bamboo raft crossing a river

I hope this quick read helped clear things up and get you on the right path to applying for your Visa. However, I am a mere mortal, and am not an expert on Visas. However, my agent friend Amanda is a badass that can help you with any VOA question you have. Simply fill out this form, and she will get back to you ASAP. Until next time, love, peace, and engine grease.

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