Unlike travelling to other countries in SE Asia which offer the very straightforward visa on arrival for tourists, the process of organising an entry visa to Vietnam requires a little more planning.
If you intend to arrive at one of the major international airports (Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Danang), a legitimate option to apply for an entry visa is the cheap and simple Vietnam visa on arrival (VOA). This is a common alternative to organising a full visa stamp via a Vietnamese Embassy (applying via a local embassy in your home country is the preferred option, but applying on your travels in a neighbouring country like Thailand is a further option).
However, a VOA is not a valid option for those planning to enter country via a sea port or land border. If the pre-arranged travel itinerary means arriving overland or at any other airport you will need to use the traditional method of getting a visa from an embassy.
The VOA issued via a third-party travel agency has the exact same conditions and limitations as the visa issued by a Vietnamese consulate or embassy.
Letter of approval
In order to get the Vietnam visa on arrival it is first necessary to obtain the relevant “letter of approval”. This paperwork is not issued by the embassy, but a local travel agent or tour operator.
The visa on arrival approval letter received shouldn’t be seen as a full visa. Instead, it is a process of using a locally-based travel agency to obtain the “letter of approval” before arriving in the country. This pre-approval letter along with a passport sized photo and completed application form is then presented at the VOA counter at the designated airport on landing.
After paying the airport’s service fee the passport is returned with the official visa stamp in place. The charge applied at the airport is $25 for the 1 or 3 month single entry visa, or $50 for the 1 or 3 month multiple entry visa.
Also, the airport processing fee is in addition to the service fee charged by the third-party agent to organise the approval letter. This costs in the region of $17-$24 and depends on the agent in question and the type of visa requested.
It is worth noting the 3 month multiple entry visa can be subject to restrictions so it can benefit to check the visa will be issued prior to organising the Indochina tour that requires entry and exit from Vietnam.
Where to get the visa letter?
The “letter of approval” is easily organised online through a specialized agency or a tour operator (such as Vivutravel - which has the ability to provide a speedy service for both the single-entry and multiple-entry visas). They accept the major credit cards to make the entire process simple and straightforward. The entire process is likely to take in the region of 2-3 business days to complete to receive the letter via email, but it is still worth starting the application process early to ensure everything is ready well in advance of the planned travel date.
Only authorised travel agents and tour operators have the ability to issue the Vietnam visa on arrival approval letters. Also, they must be locally based in Vietnam. Use a trustworthy and reputable agent like Vivutravel to ensure the process goes as smooth as possible. A well respected visa agent will make sure the entire complicated process is completed as straightforward as possible.
The approval letter is relatively quick to organise and is sent by email within a period of 2-3 business days as standard, but can be quicker when travelling outside of the major tourist season.
Remember that on arrival at the Vietnam airport; you should have your approval letter to hand, the completed application form, 2 passport photos, and the processing fee ($25-$50 to match the single or multiple entry visa). Rather than making your way to the standard immigration counter, you need to find the relevant visa on arrival counter. This is well signed to make it easier for foreign travellers to find in the airport.
On arriving at the visa counter, you hand over your passport, application form, and photos. However, if you haven’t already completed the application form, this can easily be done at the airport.
1) The entire process of applying for the cheap visa to Vietnam is made to be as straightforward and simple as possible. Most of the agencies abide by a standard process to avoid confusion and will also give detailed information on what to do after arriving at the airport.
2) The visa on arrival can help to save a lot of time and is particularly useful for travellers needing to organise their paperwork quickly.
3) Avoid the hassle of having to send the original passport away, which is the case when applying directly to a local Vietnamese embassy.
1) The Vietnam visa on arrival is only a practical option for travellers arriving by air, so if you are planning to visit Vietnam and cross via a land border or arrive by sea, you aren’t able to apply for this type of visa.
2) The queuing time at the airport has the potential to be long. However, a typical time-frame can be in the region of 15-30 minutes until the official visa stamp is received, but the wait time will vary with the airport and the day/time of arrival.
3) The VOA is typically processed in a batch of 10-15 applicants, which means your name and other information will appear on the approval letter with several other people.
Note: Vietnamvisaprovider.com is Vivutravel's visa website, providing cheap Vietanm visa service. You can just submit your passport information, our visa specialist will do the rest.
HOW TO APPLY CHEAP VIETNAM VISA