Vietnam visa
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Updated 4 months ago

If you are only planning on having a short stay in the country, you can apply online for a tourist visa for Vietnam, preferably at least one month before the scheduled date of departure. Your visa will be valid for the length of stay indicated on the application form; typically this will range from 1-3 months.

If you are planning on working in Vietnam; that is, partaking in any sort of business activity, you are required to obtain a business visa. Typically you will be required to have a sponsor within the country who will complete the formalities on your behalf. It is also possible to enter the country on a tourist visa and have this converted to a business visa when you find employment. To read more about this, see our article Working in Vietnam.

If you are moving to Vietnam for an extended period you might want to look into getting a temporary or permanent residency card. This is more of a process but will avoid the administration of reapplying for visas and having to exit and reenter the country. You can learn more about this here.

Types of visas

Visa can be issued as either single- or multiple-entry. You must state whether you’d like to enter once or multiple times during that period. If you enter Vietnam on a single-entry visa, once you leave Vietnam you will need another visa if you want to return, even if you are still within the dates of validity for the first visa. A multiple-entry visa allows unlimited entries within the timeframe covered by the visa.

To determine whether or not you need a visa, please visit the website for the Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate in the country that issued your passport. To ensure you get the latest and most accurate information, make sure you are on the site of The Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and NOT a commercial site. Many commercial sites by design appear at first glance to be a Vietnamese government site.

If you plan on living in Vietnam as a tourist for over three months, you will have to apply for a new tourist visa, leave the country by the current visa expiry date, and enter again on your new visa.

 Good to know:

If you are a Vietnamese citizen living abroad, or hold a foreign passport and are either the spouse or a child of a Vietnamese citizen or a Vietnamese residing abroad, you are eligible for a visa exemption for stays of six months or less. See the Vietnam Embassy website for more information.

 Important:

If you hold a U.S. passport, you may also apply for either a six-month or one-year visa. Although it is not always made clear, if you have a six-month or one-year tourist visa, you MUST exit and re-enter Vietnam at least once every three months during your stay. Failure to do so could result in fines and/or expulsion from Vietnam.

How to apply for a visa

Typical documents required are your application form, a certified passport copy, and recent photographs. Like with entry to many countries, ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months after the expiry date of your visa.

Instructions for applying are on the Embassy’s or Consulate’s website:

1. You can apply either online or in-person at any Vietnamese Embassy.

2. For the online application:

  • You will need a computer with Adobe Acrobat installed and access to a printer.
  • They allow 15 minutes to fill out the form, so have your passport and dates of travel ready before you begin.
  • A standard passport photo, uploaded to your computer, less than one-year-old; straight face; no hat or glasses; both ears showing; and a white or light background.
  • The online application must be followed by mailing of your passport and fees to the appropriate Embassy along with a post-paid return envelope (tracking recommended; details on the website).

3. When applying in-person, you must fill out the Visa form supplied by the Embassy or Consulate and provide two standard passport photos as well as the applicable fee.

As of 2016, a 30-day, single-entry, e-Visa is available for passport holders from 46 countries. Click here for more information and a list of eligible passports.

In addition to the visas available directly from the Vietnamese government, it is possible to get a Visa-on-Arrival (VOA) from many non-governmental agencies. A VOA is relatively easy to obtain and consists of a letter from the Vietnamese government authorizing the person named within to obtain a visa at one of the international airports in Vietnam. The letter is presented at the airport along with a “stamping fee” in exchange for a visa. If you get a VOA letter via email, be sure to print it out in colour so that the official red-coloured stamp shows in red. Letters printed in black & white may be rejected at the airport.

A word of caution on VOAs

According to the website of the Vietnamese Embassy in Canada, a “visa-on-arrival is a special facility designed for extreme emergency situations, mostly for humanitarian purposes when a traveller does not have enough time to obtain a proper visa through an Embassy. Falsely declaring emergencies to use this facility is a serious abuse and would result in a heavy penalty or denied entry to the country.”

As with any country’s visa, these rules are subject to change. Please call or check the check the website of the Vietnamese Embassy in the country that issued your passport to ensure you have the most up-to-date information.

 Useful links:

Vietnam Visa - Apply online
Embassy of Vietnam in the UK
Embassy of Vietnam in the USA

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.