Most travellers looking to organise a Vietnam vacation will require a visa to enter the country. Tourists who are required to organize a Vietnam visa have the option to apply for a standard visa via a local Vietnamese embassy, a visa on arrival (VOA) or an e-visa. The preferred type of visa will depend on your travel needs.
Here are a few useful points to consider in the process of organising the visa to Vietnam:
Do I need a visa?
For most citizens planning to travel as a tourist to Vietnam there is a requirement to apply for a visa. However, there are exceptions to this rule. For instance, residents of several SE Asian countries can visit Vietnam for up to 30 days without a visa. Also, citizens from several European countries can enter and stay in Vietnam for a period of up to 15 days.
If you believe your country may have short-term exemption from the visa requirements, it is worth checking with your local consulate to see the most up-to-date rules because they change often and vary by country.
There are certain countries such as Australia, Canada, and the United States that are required to apply for a visa to enter Vietnam no matter the intended purpose or length of stay.
Also, there is no requirement to apply for a visa if only making a flight transfer at a local Vietnamese airport. The standard or urgent visa to Vietnam is only a requirement when planning to enter the country and pass through immigration.
What kind of visa?
For the majority of travellers planning a holiday in Vietnam there is only a need to organise a single-entry tourist visa. They can last for a period of 30 or 90 days to match the length of the stay.
However, for travellers looking to book an Indochina tour and visit neighbouring countries like Laos and Cambodia, the multiple-entry tourist visa is necessary. Also, the multiple entry visa is a practical option for those planning to repeat visit Vietnam over a short period of time.
The process to apply for the two different tourist visas is much the same with the exception the multiple-entry visa is slightly more expensive.
Also, it is important to apply for the correct duration for the visa because overstaying in Vietnam without holding the correct paperwork or authority can become a serious issue and lead to a fine and a delay with ongoing travel.
How to apply
Travellers to Vietnam have the option to apply for the visa in many different ways.
Vietnam embassy - A standard way to apply for the Vietnam visa is to connect your local Vietnamese consulate or embassy. This is likely to be the slowest option with the application process taking up to three weeks and the cost for a 30-day single-entry visa in the region of $60-$100 (costs and processing times can vary with the different embassies). However, this option makes sure you have all necessary paperwork in your hands before arriving in Vietnam.
E-Visa - The E-Visa is a relatively recent option to apply for the Vietnam visa. It is available to 40 nationalities from around the world, including the United States of America, United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, Italy, Ireland and France. The E-Visa is only a practical option for a single-entry visa with a maximum stay of up to 30 days. Also, the E-Visa is subject to specific entry/exit points which must be declared at the time of making the application. So, for the travellers that want a more flexible approach to travel and wish to enter the country at any available sea port, land border, or airport, it is more practical to apply for the single entry visa from your local Vietnamese embassy.
Visa on arrival (VOA) - The Vietnam visa on arrival is likely to be the most common option for many travellers planning to visit this country. Prior to travelling to Vietnam it is necessary to organise a “letter of approval” via a locally-based travel agency. This pre-approval letter is sufficient to board the flight to Vietnam and the official visa stamp is provided on arrival in Vietnam.
Note: Travellers can only use the visa on arrival if planning to arrive at a major international airport such as Danang, Ho Chi Minh City, or Hanoi. For those planning to enter Vietnam by seaport or crossing overland from a neighbouring country, it would be necessary to already hold a visa in advance issued by a Vietnamese embassy.
Other Vietnam visas
For the business travellers (if you are intended to work on arrival or investing in a Vietnam based business) there is the option to apply for the Vietnam business visa. They are a multiple-entry type of visa and last for a period of up to six months.
The basic application requirements to obtain Vietnam visa for business are much the same as the tourist visa with the exception of needing to obtain a Business Visa Approval Form from a locally-based Vietnam sponsor. This form is completed by your sponsor who gets the form their local consulate or embassy.
Other useful things to know
Any Vietnam visa is valid from the proposed entry date into the country and runs for its applicable time-frame. Travellers must leave the country on a date before the visa expires.
For children with a separate passport, they will be required to pay the standard visa free that is relevant to adults. However, for any child that is included on a parent’s passport, the child is able to travel free with no further visa fees due.
Irrespective of the method used to apply for the visa, travellers are required to pay a visa fee that is non-refundable even in the event of a visa not being granted.
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