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Visa Vietnam

A Guide For Getting Your Tourist Or 5-Year Exemption Vietnam Visa

Getting into Vietnam can be complicated. Online resources all say different things. So for your traveling needs, we’ve assembled all the information you need to get a Vietnam visa.

The easiest way to get a visa to Vietnam is to apply for the e-visa, a shortcut given to citizens of 40 countries. Although Vietnam does have a visa on arrival, the process can take anywhere from 45 minutes to several hours waiting at the airport. Too many tourists don’t realize they need to prearrange their visa until it’s too late, so they end up waiting right in front of customs. The best rule of thumb is to get all of your paperwork done beforehand.

Those eligible can easily apply for a 5-year-visa at any of Vietnam’s embassies or consulates. As of May 2016, holders of the 5-year visa are required to get an exit stamp every six months. Previous to this, regulations were set at three months. For all the overseas Vietnamese out there, make sure to take advantage of this visa before you get to Vietnam because it’s not available on arrival. But, no matter what kind of visa you are after, we’ve got a rundown below that outlines all the different prices.

vietnam visa

Table of Contents

Short-term VisasFive-year VisaLinks to every Vietnamese EmbassyNitty Gritty FAQ

Short-term Visas

As of February 2017, Vietnam introduced an online e-visa system for citizens of 40 countries, including America. You apply online and in three days, you’ll receive notice of your status. To apply, go to the dual-language Vietnam E-Visa Web Portal.

For Asian travelers from Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Laos, Indonesia, Japan, and South Korea, you can stay fewer than 15-30 days without needing to get a visa in advance. Europeans from Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, and the United Kingdom can enjoy a free visa exemption for visits less than 15 days.

For those from anywhere else, including America, this section of the article is most important to you. The application may be submitted online, in-person, via mail or email.

Stamping or online visa fee:

  • Single entry: US $25
  • Multiple entries (1-3 months): US $50
  • Multiple entries (3-6 months): US $95
  • Multiple entries (6-12 months): US $135
  • Multiple entries (1-2 years): US $145
  • Multiple entries (2-5 years): US $155

Visa approval document fee for tourist visas (prices depends on each visa agency or embassy). Now, you can avoid this fee entirely if you apply using the e-visa.

  • One-month single entry: US $13 (as of August 29th 2016, there is no longer a US $25 single-entry option for Americans)
  • One-month multiple entry: US $14.50
  • Three-month single entry: US $19.50
  • Three-month multiple entry: US $49
  • Five year Visa

vietnam visa

Five-year Visa

If you or your parents have Vietnamese origins, you can apply for the five year visa. You’re also eligible if you’re married to a Vietnamese national. It’s basically a five year visa which requires you to leave Vietnam every six months (you could actually just cross the border in Cambodia and turn right back around). Most people take this as an opportunity to visit a neighboring country.

In order to get this visa, you usually don’t need much. Although the official website lists many different items, some of us at Vietcetera have actually got a visa with only our passports. All we needed was US $100 (an extra $20 for a quick completion). Keep in mind that the fee can vary so make sure to bring extra money just in case.

It’s also worth noting that if your passport expires before your five years is completed, you’ll have to get a new visa in your renewed passport. You can apply for a five year visa if you have at least one year left on your passport.

For the sake of being careful, we’ve listed the necessary paperwork at the bottom of this article in the FAQ section.

Our friend Tam Minh Le recently went through the process and provided us with a thorough update on the steps required to attain a 5-year visa. See her detailed guide below.

Step 1: Gather the necessary documents and fill out the paperwork.

  • Application form: Complete it online here and print it out
  • 2 passport photos: 4×6 cm (I ended up using photos that were about 3×4 cm), white background, straight face, bare head, no sunglasses
  • Passport: Needs to be valid for at least 1 year, your current Vietnamese visa needs to have at least 7 days remaining (I only had 6 days remaining and had to find a Vietnamese travel agency and pay them US $80 for a one month, single entry visa extension)
  • 1 original document proving you were either born in Vietnam or the child or spouse of a Vietnamese national: Could be a Vietnamese passport, birth certificate or verification of marriage (additional accepted documents listed here). My U.S. birth certificate stated that my parents were born in Vietnam so that was enough proof.

Step 2: Go to your country’s embassy or consulate to get your foreign document verified.

For U.S. citizens in Vietnam the address is: 4 Le Duan, Ben Nghe, Quan 1, Ho Chi Minh

Cost: US $50

Timing: For a notarial service, you’ll have to make an appointment online ahead of time. The earliest appointment slots are usually four weekdays out. Once you arrive at the U.S. Consulate, the whole procedure takes less than an hour and is relatively painless.

Step 3: Go to the Vietnam Office of External Relations to get the verified birth certificate authenticated and translated to Vietnamese.

Address: 184 Bis 1, Pasteur, Ben Nghe, Quan 1, Ho Chí Minh

Cost: VND 210,000

Timing: about 1 week

Go up the stairs and into the glass office immediately to your right. There should be a tray on one of the counters for you to drop your verified foreign document in. Then, sit in one of the seats against the wall and wait for them to call your name. It shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes.

Step 4: Go to the Vietnamese Department of Immigration to submit your application and documents.

Vietnamese name for department: Cục Quản lý Xuất nhập cảnh TP. HCM

Address: 333-337 Nguyen Trai, Nguyen Cu Trinh, Quan 1, Ho Chi Minh

Cost: US $10

Timing: Exactly 7 days

When you enter the building, go straight to counter 14 (no need to take a number and wait). Hand them your application and documents and they should know what to do. After that, go towards the payment counter and wait on a nearby chair until they call your name to pay either US $10 or the equivalent VND. The whole process should take less than 30 minutes and was pretty straightforward. 

In 7 days, return to the building and go straight to the counter indicated on your receipt, hand them the receipt in exchange for your passport, and enjoy your shiny new 5-Year Visa Exemption!

Alternatively: There are people lurking around the Vietnamese Department of Immigration who will offer to take care of everything for you for US $150. Because I was cheap and thought I could save money by doing it on my own, I refused help and ended up spending a lot more time and money than anticipated (because I needed my visa extended due to it being short by one day). In the end, I had to take hours off of work over a series of weeks to sort out everything and only saved $0.79.

Moral of the story: Don’t be cheap. You can just pay someone to run around Ho Chi Minh City for you and deal with the bureaucracy. Unless you were born in Vietnam, in which case it will only cost you US $10 and about an hour total of your time.

Here is the official government website for reference: http://mienthithucvk.mofa.gov.vn

UK: http://www.vietnamembassy.org.uk/
Australia: http://vietnamembassy.org.au/
South Africa: http://www.vietnam.co.za/
Canada: http://vietem-ca.com/
Ireland: http://vietnamembassy.ie/

Find your Vietnamese embassy: http://www.vietnameseembassy.org/

FAQ

How do I get a visa at the nearest Vietnam Embassy/Consulate:

General information

The application can be submitted in-person, via mail or email.

The normal processing time is five business days after the date on the application receipt. Express service is available upon request (additional processing fee required).
Since March 14th, 2014, all the application forms must be completed online and be printed in black and white with a high-quality printer. Click here for an online form or visit: http://visa.mofa.gov.vn

How to apply:

Via Online (the easiest, fastest, and cheapest option):

As of February 2017, Vietnam introduced an online e-visa system. Apply online and in three days, you’ll receive notice of your status. To apply, go to the dual-language Vietnam E-Visa Web Portal.

Via Email
You need to contact the nearest Vietnam Embassy to ask for the visa fee and payment method. You then scan and send your full application to the email address of the Vietnam Embassy of your country.

A full application includes:

  • Scanned copy of your passport picture page
  • Visa application form (completed online, saved as PDF file and attached to the email)
  • One color picture taken within twelve months of the date of applying
  • Evidence of payment (transfer receipt, bank statement, screenshot)
  • Visa approval document issued by the Immigration Department (Ministry of Public Security), the Consular Department, or the Department of External Relations of Ho Chi Minh City (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Visa collection: you may need to collect the visa by visiting the nearest Embassy or have your visa mailed to your address.

Via Mail

You need to contact the nearest Vietnam Embassy to ask for the visa fee and payment method. You then send your application via mail to the Embassy.

  • A full application includes:
  • Original valid passport
  • Visa application form (completed online, saved as PDF file and attached to the email)
  • One (1) colour picture taken within twelve (12) months of the application date.
  • Evidence of payment (transfer receipt, bank statement, screenshot) or cash
  • Visa approval letter issued by the Immigration Department (Ministry of Public Security), the Consular Department, or the Department of External Relations of Ho Chi Minh City (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Your mailing address

Visa collection: Your passport with a stamped visa will be mailed to your home address

In person

Arrive at the Embassy during working hours with your materials in-hand.

A full application includes:

  • Original valid passport
  • Visa application form (completed online, saved as PDF file and attached to the email)
  • One (1) colour picture taken within twelve (12) months of the date of applying
  • Visa application fee in cash
  • Visa approval document issued by the Immigration Department (Ministry of Public Security), the Consular Department, or the Department of External Relations of Ho Chi Minh City (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Visa collection: you’ll receive a receipt, which states the date your visa is ready for collection.

2. How do I get a Visa on Arrival (VOA)

General information

This is an alternative way to get a visa for your trip to Vietnam. This visa is the same as a visa obtained before arrival. You can get a visa stamp when arriving at either Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, or Danang International Airports.

You can check before applying whether your country is eligible for VOA or not here.

How to apply for a VOA:

In order to get your VOA, you must obtain an official Letter of Approval for picking up the visa at the border checkpoint issued by the Immigration Department, the Consular Department, or the Department of External Affairs of Ho Chi Minh City. There are many Vietnamese agents offering the service of issuing Letter of Approval. The fee charged from those agents ranged upwards from $10, depending on the type of visa.

Information required by VOA agents:

Your full name (as shown on your passport)

  • Gender
  • Nationality
  • Date of Birth
  • Passport Number
  • Passport Expiration Date
  • Type of Visa and the validity
  • Date of Arrival
  • Airport of Arrival

Reputable Visa Agents

http://www.vietnamvisago.com/
http://polviet.com/index.php?page=visaen
http://www.vietnamvoa.com/
http://www.myvietnamvisa.com/
http://vietnamvisapro.com/
https://vietnamvisa.govt.vn/

After filling out all the required information, you will be asked to make a payment online. Remember that the agent’s fee is just for processing the Letter of Approval. It’s separate from the government-issued fee. You will still need to pay the stamping fee at the airport.

It usually takes the agent two or three business days after the payment before you will receive the Letter of Approval. The letter will have your name on it (most of the time, you will see other people’s names as well because the agent makes bulk applications). The agent will also send you an “Application for a Vietnamese Visa” (N1 Form), which is a two-page document. This form is available upon arrival but you will usually have to queue to obtain it.

A Letter of Approval looks like this:

Vietnam Visa

Procedure after receiving Letter of Approval

  • Make sure all information is correct: Your name, nationality, entry/exit date, validity (single or multiple)
  • Print out the entire Letter of Approval as you will need it to board the plane and to obtain your visa when you arrive at the airport.
  • Download and fill out the Application for a Vietnamese Visa in advance
  • After landing, go to the VISA ON ARRIVAL/LANDING VISA counter to submit your documents (your passport, completed N1 Form, the entire Letter of Approval and ONE passport size photo). Your name will be called when your visa is ready. You then need to pay the visa stamping fee in cash (check the fee below) to take your passport back.

3. How do I get a 5-year visa exemption?

5-year visa exemption certificate:

5-year visa exemption certificate:

Who can apply:

  • Vietnamese residing overseas and foreigners who are spouses, children of Vietnamese people residing overseas, or of Vietnamese citizens.
  • Agencies, organizations, and individuals involved.

Some conditions:

  • The visa exemption certificate is **valid for up to 5 years and expires at least 6 months before the expiration of the holder’s passport** or international travel document
  • Those entering with visa exemption certificates shall have a temporary residence certificate valid for 6 months, issued by the immigration control units, for each entry. If the remaining validity of the visa exemption certificate is less than 6 months, the duration of the temporary residence certificate shall be granted by the remaining validity of the visa exemption certificate.

Fees for issuance of visa exemption certificates

We’ve heard mixed news about the fees, though one recent data point tells us that a $50 fee was charged to process an expedited visa exemption at the Consulate of Vietnam in San Francisco. I would budget at least $100.

How to apply

A full application includes:

  • The Visa Exemption Application form
  • U.S. Passport (valid for at least 6 months), one black and white photocopy of your passport name, and photo page.
  • 2 color photos of yourself (4 x 6 cm)
  • Vouching form (Giay Bao Lanh). This is a **form from a Vietnamese citizen that would vouch for you**. Unfortunately, the form is in Vietnamese.
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