How to Get a Vietnam Visa

how get vietnam visa

In the beginning, getting a visa to visit Vietnam can seem overly complicated and confusing.  But once you have the system figured out it is really easy.  Don’t let the red tape stop you! Vietnam is an amazing place to travel and has so much to offer any type of traveler.  Whether you want to visit the amazing countryside, cultural heritage sites, or the bustling cities, there is something in Vietnam for you.

Which Visa do You Need?

            Unless you qualify for the visa exemption, you will need to apply for a visa.  There are a few different types of visas depending on your passport, how long you will stay in Vietnam, and where you are arriving.

visa policy vietnam
Vietnam visa policy map.

Vietnam Visa Exemption (aka Visa Free)

            With the visa exemption, certain passport-holders can travel to Vietnam visa-free depending on where you are from.

Who gets visa exempt travel to Vietnam?


European visa exempt entry to Vietnam

If you have a passport from one of the countries listed below, you can visit Vietnam for up to 15 days on the visa exemption:
  • Belarus
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Norway
  • Russia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom


Asian nation’s visa exempt travel to Vietnam

If you have a passport from Brunei, you can visit Vietnam visa-free for up to 14 days.
If you have a passport from Japan and South Korea, you can visit Vietnam visa-free for up to 15 days.

If you have a passport from the Philippines, you can visit visa-free for up to 21 days.

If you have a passport from list below, you can visit visa-free for up to 30 days.
  • Cambodia
  • Indonesia
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Laos
  • Malaysia
  • Myanmar
  • Singapore
  • Thailand

How to gain entry to Vietnam if you are visa exempt?

            When you arrive at the airport in Vietnam, you can go straight to immigration and show them your passport. They may ask to see proof of departure, so have proof of an outgoing departure ready.

!!!Important note about visa exemption!!!

            You can’t just hop across the border and come back to extending your visa. You are not allowed to return for 30 days of departure using visa-free entry. If you want to stay longer, you should apply for the visa on arrival.

gac chuong perfume pagoda vietnam
Gac Chuong temple at the Perfume Pagoda

Vietnam Online Visa (e-Visa)

            The Vietnam e-Visa is the best option if you are only needing a 30-day single-entry visa.

Who can get an e-Visa?

            With the new e-Visa system 81 countries from around the world are eligible for this program.

vietnam evisa eligible countries
Countries eligible for an e-Visa.

How Much Does the e-Visa cost?

25 USD. 

How long does it take to get a Vietnam visa online?

Three working days to process, but, as usual, you should give yourself a little more time in case something happens.  

How to apply for a visa to Vietnam online?

You’ll need to fill out the application form on the official website.
  • To fill out the application form, you will need:
  • A digital passport-style photo. Although the size doesn’t matter, the dimensions should be 2:3. The photo should be a head and shoulders picture taken against a plain background. Don’t wear hats, sunglasses, scarves, etc.
  • A photo of your passport page with your ID picture on it.
  • Where you will enter and exit Vietnam.
  • An address in Vietnam (your arrival hotel address).
  • A passport with at least 6 months validity left and 2 blank pages.

!!!Important tips for applying for the e-visa!!!

You need to print your e-visa and bring it to Vietnam with you.

cat ba vietnam
Cat Ba, Vietnam.

Vietnam Visa on Arrival

            The Visa on Arrival is the most common way to get a visa for Vietnam. You can use this method to get a visa for 30 or 90 days and either single or multiple entry.

            You will need to use this method if you are wanting a visa longer than 30 days.  It should be noted that this method is also only for arrival by air.

            Getting the Visa on Arrival is a two-step process. Before you get to Vietnam, you will need to get an approval letter. Once you arrive at the airport, you will apply and pay for your visa.

Step One: Approval Letter

1. Fill out the application form at an online broker.

You will need to supply:
  • The length and type of visa you want.
  • Your entry and exit dates.
  • Your arrival airport.
  • Your contact details (phone and email).
  • Your passport number and expiration date.
Note: You also need to bring two passport-sized photos (4cm x 6cm) to the airport.

2. Pay the approval letter fee.

The fee can be paid online using a credit card. 

vietnam visa approval letter fees
Approval Letter fees.

3. Print your visa letter!

            In a couple of days, the broker will send you an email with your approval letter attached. Print it and bring it with you to the airport.

!!!Important tips for the Visa on Arrival!!!

  • You need to print your approval letter and bring it to Vietnam with you.
  • You will need to bring 2 passport photos to the airport with you, size 4cm wide by 6cm tall. If you forget, you can get photos taken at the airport (but avoid the hassle and do it ahead of time).
  • Your passport must have at least 6 months validity left on it and 2 blank pages.

Step Two: Visa

1.      Go to the visa counter when you arrive at the airport.

            The visa counter is just before immigration and you will see many other people standing around waiting to get their visas.  When your name is called you will present your passport, two photos, and Approval Letter. 

2. Pay the visa fee.

25 USD - Single Entry 
50 USD - Multiple Entry
You will need to pay the visa fee in USD (you may also be able to pay in Euros).  There is an ATM that dispenses USD in the area if you forget.

truc lam phat tich pagoda ban gioc vietnam
Truc Lam Phat Tich Pagoda in Ban Gioc.

One-Year Vietnam Visa on Arrival

            US Citizens have the option of getting a visa on arrival to stay in Vietnam for up to one year.

How to get the one-year visa?

            Follow the instructions in the Visa on Arrival section above. The only difference will be that you will need to choose the “one year for US Citizens” option and provide an image of your US Passport.

How much does a one-year visa cost?

·       Approval letter: $35
·       Visa stamp: $135

!!!Important note about the one-year visa on arrival!!!

            With the one-year visa you will need to leave Vietnam every 90 days so they can re-verify your passport.  So, plan to go on a short vacation every three months. 

stone village ban gioc vietnam
Stone Village, Ban Gioc.

Vietnam Embassy Visa

Who should get a visa at a Vietnam embassy?

            With all of the visa possibilities above it will be rare that you will need to arrange a visa for Vietnam at an embassy. But if your trip is unusual or your passport is from one of the many countries that require a visa in advance, then you will need to visit or mail in a form to an embassy.

The Vietnam embassy visa is useful if:

  • You want to work or volunteer in Vietnam.
  • You need a multiple entry visa for land borders.
  • You want to stay longer than 90 days (1 year for US citizens)
  • You are from an African country, most of Central America, Caribbean, and Middle East, or one of the many other countries not listed above.

How long does it take to get an embassy visa?

            The time to process your visa application really depends on the embassy you are applying through and the reasoning behind your application.  To be safe, it is advisable to apply at least a month or more in advance of your depart.

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