How to get a Visa on Arrival for Vietnam
Unlike most countries in South East Asia which offer easy visa on arrival for most travelers, getting into Vietnam requires a bit more planning as you are required to obtain a visa before you travel. Traditionally, to get a Vietnam visa in your passport you had to visit a local embassy or send your passport away to apply for a Vietnam visa before entering the country. Luckily, it’s now possible to apply for a Vietnam visa online and collect it at the airport on arrival in Vietnam, like a visa on arrival for Vietnam.
Even though it’s called a Visa on Arrival for Vietnam, or VOA, it’s important to note the visa must be applied for in advance online before you travel to Vietnam and is not valid if you are arriving overland, only if you are flying into to either Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) or Da Nang airport.
If you plan to arrive in Vietnam at any other airport or at a land border then you will need to get a visa from an embassy in the traditional way – applying in your home country is best or applying in a neighbouring country like Thailand is convenient.
To get a Visa on Arrival for Vietnam you will first need to obtain a “visa on arrival approval letter” these are not issued from the embassy but from an agent. You then take this approval letter with you and when you arrive at the airport you get the visa sticker in your passport.
The Vietnam visa on arrival costs US$25 for single entry and $50 for multiple entry which you pay at the airport when you arrive and the visa agent usually also charges a processing fee.
Only visa agents can issue these visa on arrival approval letters and I’ve heard horror stories so it’s really important that instead of using the cheapest service you use a reputable and trustworthy agent. I used iVisa (and have used them for other visa’s too, they were really helpful with applying for the Indian visa and made the whole complicated process alot simpler.)
iVisa charge $30 service fee to process a Vietnam Visa Approval Letter that allows you to get a pre-approved visa on arrival in Vietnam. The whole process was really straightforward and my approval letter was emailed to me within 12 hours. Click here to get your Vietnam visa the quick and easy way with iVisa here.
Remember to take your approval letter, $25 or $50 (depending on if you want single or multiple entry) and 2 passport photos with you for when you arrive at the airport in your hand luggage – not your checking in luggage. Instead of heading for the normal immigration counters, go to the counter for the visa on arrival – it’s usually well sign posted at the airports in Vietnam and its easy to see where you need to go to get the visa.
Once you get to the counter, hand over your passport and photos and you’ll be given a simple form to fill out. Fill out the forms and wait for your name to be called and then pay the money and pick up your passport with your new visa inside but be prepared that sometimes there are quite long queues and the process can feel a bit chaotic.
Once you have your visa on arrival for Vietnam then head back to the regular immigration counters with everyone else, collect you luggage and then enjoy your visit to Vietnam. Your visa is valid for 30 days from the date of entry.
Update July 2015: Citizens of UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain are now allowed to stay 15 days without a visa and so no longer have to apply for a visa before arriving in Vietnam if your visit is not over 15 days. See more here. If you want to stay longer, you’ll need to apply for the visa as normal.
Update for US Citizens: As of 25 Aug 2016, 1 month, 3 month and 6 month Visas for Vietnam are not available any more, only a 1 year visa. The fee for the 1 year Vietnam Visa for US citizens is $135 plus the fee for the process approval letter is $35.
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