Does anyone else have complications during the visa check in VN?

By complications, I mean standing there having the officer either ask many questions and/or have periods of long silence (4-7 minutes) where the officer sits and looks around while holding my passport/visa.  Getting through customs is quite similar as well, especially when I have checked baggage with electronics. I've had instances where they wanted me to pay some sort of tax on my company's laptop that I use for work.  I've been to Vietnam 3 times and all 3 times have been similar experiences. After the 2nd time, it was not so dreadful and unpleasant so now I kind of consider this experience as one of the key "experience" to have when visiting Vietnam. I carry a U.S. passport with a proper Vietnam visa, so I am interested to see if anyone else share similar experiences. I've heard the officers look for money within the pages of the passport, which I have never done, so that may be the reason why they are giving me a tough time in hopes I would pay my way out of the inconvenience. Any truth to that? I'm about to leave for the 4th visit next month.

As a Viet Kieu you have a big target on your back at Vietnam customs.  The agents feel that a) all VK are rich and b) they will just pay up and not complain to higher authorities. 

Anecdotally, I brought my iMac into Vietnam in its original but battered box.  The customs officer simply said "New or used?" to which I of course said used and he put it through the X-ray machine and off I went.  On returning to the US, three years later, the computer was checked in the same box with my wife's VK friend's luggage, as she had only one bag of her own.  After a while she came to me and said that customs wanted to collect a fee.  I stuck my face (not Vietnamese of course) into it and firmly told them that it was mine and used, and was not even bought in Vietnam but had been brought in by me from the US and that there was no way I was giving them even one VND.  It still had the old luggage stickers.  Of course they backed off.

The whole thing was just a shakedown.  How can there even be a duty at exit?  I am pretty sure that this was something that they had done many times before to Viet Kieu and that they often got away with it.  I assume you have a US passport but green card holders who are traveling with Viet passports are often timid and afraid, and make easy marks for customs.

I arrived at TNS airport from a contract in the Solomon Islands and had been in transit for 48 hours with little sleep.  Having passed through immigration I collected my suitcase from the carousel and went to be buggered about by customs. There a customs bloke threatened to open my suitcase with a HUGE pair of old croppers, because I was slow and had banana fingers unlocking the combination lock on my suitcase. So I stopped doing that and told him to go right ahead and use his bolt croppers, after which we would go to the nearest luggage shop and he would buy me a new suitcase. He turned his back and walked away.

With immigration in Vietnam I only ever had one problem and when It  was obvious that the bloke was after a bribe I asked him if I could take his photo with my phone as I intended to report him via the British embassy through diplomatic channels to the Vn Foreign Ministry. He told me brusquely to go away.

Upon leaving Afghastlystan recently I was detained momentarily by an immigration officer and I expected a request for money, but actually the guy just wanted my business card so that he could contact me  so that I could help him get a job "anywhere but Afgh".

Yes, VKs are a targwt. A VK relative now visiting VN, when going through Immigration,  was straight out asked, "Don't you have any tea money for me? " He didn't. No problem.

I've been lucky, never once experienced anything but courtesy at TSN Immigration. 

One agent wrote down addresses of places where I could get my visa stamped (he did it without my asking, using his own notebook paper) while advising me not to waste money on visa run to Cambodia. 

Two agents wanted to know whether I enjoyed my trips (I was returning from other countries.) 

One agent asked where I was born and was disappointed when he didn't guess correctly. 

When it was spouse's turn, all agents simply glanced at his visa without asking a single question, some didn't even compare the photo to his face.

Before Customs desk was eliminated, I and all my companions were always waved through.  Anytime we had check luggage, our bags were never tampered, while half of the luggage coming out of the conveyor belts were opened and resealed with Customs tape.

OTOH, I was *always* detained at Immigration and Customs in London, never failed (at least a dozen times so far.)  I was asked the most inane questions at entry AND exit points, none of them had anything to do with my visits  to England -- my residences during the precious 15 years (states and countries) and how I made a living there.   Many times I wanted to turn round and asked the reason for those stupid questions, but I didn't want to face longer interrogation so I held my tongue.  My bags, checked and carry-on both, were always pulled off to be inspected before each flight.  Name an airport -- Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Stansted, Liverpool, Bristol -- my luggage was personally inspected at all of them.

..of course, being a top CIA operative doesn't help here... :unsure

Vette Moto :

I've heard the officers look for money within the pages of the passport, which I have never done, so that may be the reason why they are giving me a tough time in hopes I would pay my way out of the inconvenience. Any truth to that?

That practice has been gone for about 20 years now.  A woman of my acquaintance left some money (I don't know the amount) in her passport, and the agent handed it back to her, "Aunt, don't leave money in the passport, it's against the law."

Bazza139 :

..of course, being a top CIA operative doesn't help here... :unsure

Yeah they didn't take too kindly when I tried to convince them I was mi6 and that was the reason I was in the diplomats queue

Ciambella :

One agent wrote down addresses of places where I could get my visa stamped (he did it without my asking, using his own notebook paper) while advising me not to waste money on visa run to Cambodia.

Wouldn't happen to still have that, would you?

1312j :
Bazza139 :

..of course, being a top CIA operative doesn't help here... :unsure

Yeah they didn't take too kindly when I tried to convince them I was mi6 and that was the reason I was in the diplomats queue

Should have told them that you were a member of DAESH, that would have got you through quickly.

I came last week to HCM for my second time and had no problems at all at immigration.

First time in Dec 2016 I came with my Tecra $1500 laptop and a large checked luggage with a traditional visa. Immigration officer treated me with respect and allowed me to exit.

This trip I came with only a carryon backpack, no laptop, only my smartphone, and got my visa in 10 minutes upon arrival. I presented my passport and the immigration officer treated me with respect and I exited.

1312j :

Wouldn't happen to still have that, would you?

It's Phòng Quản Lý Xuất Nhập Cảnh, 196 Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai, P6, Q3
We haven't needed a stamp from that office yet since our visa has been reset every time we went on a trip out of the country.

I've been thru Tân Sơn Nhất immigration a dozen times, never stopped, never inspected bags. I guess I look like someone not to mess with.  :mad:

I almost messed up at US immigration last summer though. I am a US citizen with US passport, yet I am wary of the agents, they always look you over. When he simply said "Welcome Home" I was so confused I didn't know what to say. I've been living in Vietnam for a couple years, I was only going to the states to see family for 3 weeks. A reverse vacation. I'll be prepared next time. The agent was the nicest guy too.

That is the sadness in finding people with integrity do exist...    :o

Dammit!!!    :mad:

Blows all your beliefs away      :blink:

They now ask me for my flight boarding pass from the last leg of my journey to Vietnam. Usually Taipei. I got a look at the computer screen. Its running xp and slow, maybe that is the general delay, waiting to connect to immigration server.
Never been asked for money myself directly  but asked my wife once leaving vietnam.  We gave the guy about 40k in little bills. End of issue. Sent bags on no inspection. 2 to 3 dollars.

gobot :

I've been thru Tân Sơn Nhất immigration a dozen times, never stopped, never inspected bags. I guess I look like someone not to mess with.  :mad:

I almost messed up at US immigration last summer though. I am a US citizen with US passport, yet I am wary of the agents, they always look you over. When he simply said "Welcome Home" I was so confused I didn't know what to say. I've been living in Vietnam for a couple years, I was only going to the states to see family for 3 weeks. A reverse vacation. I'll be prepared next time. The agent was the nicest guy too.

Last gime I arrived in the US, the immigration guy said "Happy Birthday Sir" (it was my birthday) and "what time did you start drinking?". I replied that I had my first drink on the flight after take-off from London and had been imbibing steadily since then. He asked me if I had anyone meeting me and I said that there was someone waiting for me outside arrivals. His final words as he handed me back my (UK) passport were: "Welcome to America and take care"

At around 04:30 in my friends house as we were steadily getting down a bottle of Bourbon there was a tremendous racket at the front door and upon opening it we found a girl of about 19 sobbing hysterically and covered in blood. She said had been beaten up by her boyfriend and locked in a room from which she had escaped through a window.She was terrified that her boyfriend would kill her.

My friend called 911 and two BFO huge policemen arrived armed to the teeth with handguns, a shot gun, tasers, batons.

They interviewed the girl and one of the policeman turned to me and asked "Sir, whats your part in all this?"

I responded that I had arrived a few hours earlier from UK and had never met the girl or seen her before she banged on my friends door.

Ahh, said the policeman "welcome to America"   :lol:

Your memoir gets longer and longer!

It's certain to be a hoot and a best seller. Get ready to retire.

Interesting thread
I will be visiting HCMC soon and wonder if they will give me any grief at customs. I am a 6’1” 250 pound white American from Texas. Do they only try and shake down VK, or also maybe me

Make sure your exit visa is stamped its a big scam at the moment. If they don't stamp your passport next time you arrive you will be sent to a room where you will be asked to pay a fine of $300 US. Its happened to my sister in law twice they took every dollar she had & left her in tears. By the way the room was full of victims.

Texan71 :

Interesting thread
I will be visiting HCMC soon and wonder if they will give me any grief at customs. I am a 6’1” 250 pound white American from Texas. Do they only try and shake down VK, or also maybe me

Maybe, maybe not but your physical attributes will make it difficult for you to mingle with the crowd so be prepared for people staring at you.

@Perko54
Thank you for that info

Maybe, maybe not but your physical attributes will make it difficult for you to mingle with the crowd so be prepared for people staring

Thank you
Is that a good thing or not good thing?
I don’t want to feel like I’m being sized up. It’s my first time to Vietnam for travel and hope is good experience that I would like to return again.
I bought a 1 year Visa from the Vietnam Consulate here in Houston
Hope it wasn’t a waste...the 30 day Visa was just slightly less....made more sense for the 1 year.

I’m just doing the typical tourist adventure...some time in HCM, Hanoi, Ha Long Bay
Not sure why the stares at me

Texan71 :

Not sure why the stares at me

People stare at subjects that are unfamiliar to them.  The American rule and admonition of "Do not stare" doesn't exist in every culture. 

My spouse was stared at in the beginning, but since he has become a familiar face in the area, no one pays special attention to him anymore.  They also no longer see him as someone who doesn't speak Vietnamese, so they call out whenever he wanders by, "Chú! Chú cần gì?" (Uncle! What do you need?) the same way they would call out to me.  His Vietnamese at this point is halfway decent in understanding but still very limited in responding, so it's often a one-way conversation.  In places where he spends more than a few minutes at a time (coffee shops, pastry shops, bookstores, restaurants), no one bothers him. 

The local behaviour is different in neighbourhoods with 99% - 100% Vietnamese than in tourist and expat areas. 
 
Note on the "uncle":  We're honorary aunt and uncle to every adult (55 and under) and honorary grandparents to all young children.

I think I would like hem ("alley") life. So far have only lived in high rises on busy streets. Disconnected in a box. Hems are like villages in the city. Everyone knows each other. And yeah they stare at outsiders but that doesn't bother me.

My wife's family house is in a warren of narrow hems in D8. Two motorbikes bump handlebars to pass. Doors on houses are always open. Imagine walking through a hotel corridor with all the rooms open and full of people coming and going. Kids of all ages, ladies selling food, old people watching, vendors on bicycles calling out, stray cats. Riding a motorbike, you have to be careful not to run over a kid, day-old rice laid out on mats, and flip-flops.

Unfortunately this hem is not a romantic place. D8 is poor Saigon. Her family knows few neighbors and worry about criminals. There have been thefts and drug use. I don't know that many men actually work. Then there are the cockfights, gambling, and occasional karaoke (so loud) that draw huge crowds. Oh yeah, roosters and crying babies.

I'm pretty sure there are better hems.

Sorry - strayed :offtopic: again.

Yah
Thank you for your explanation
Staring in America tends to mean someone wants to start some trouble...but at same time I’m just a normal guy looking to enjoy the culture and scenery Vietnam has to offer.

gobot :

I think I would like hem ("alley") life. So far have only lived in high rises on busy streets. Disconnected in a box. Hems are like villages in the city. Everyone knows each other. And yeah they stare at outsiders but that doesn't bother me.

My wife's family house is in a warren of narrow hems in D8. Two motorbikes bump handlebars to pass. Doors on houses are always open. Imagine walking through a hotel corridor with all the rooms open and full of people coming and going. Kids of all ages, ladies selling food, old people watching, vendors on bicycles calling out, stray cats. Riding a motorbike, you have to be careful not to run over a kid, day-old rice laid out on mats, and flip-flops.

Unfortunately this hem is not a romantic place. D8 is poor Saigon. Her family knows few neighbors and worry about criminals. There have been thefts and drug use. I don't know that many men actually work. Then there are the cockfights, gambling, and occasional karaoke (so loud) that draw huge crowds. Oh yeah, roosters and crying babies.

I'm pretty sure there are better hems.

Sorry - strayed :offtopic: again.

Still off topic ... we lived in Q8 - good house tower. Nice apartment block not a good area. Local cop called in to tell me to be careful as the streets around the block were not safe for foreigners.

Hi! I'm from Sweden and during the last 8 years I've been visiting Viet Nam 19 times. Most of the times I arrived to Noi Bai airport after transfer in Hong Kong, the last years with VOA and I never had any problems. Once I even had a Kenwood/Audio Pro ministereo equipment in an extra baggage!

Yeap, i got stopped by custom with different reasons almost every time passing thru them,  last time i passed them dont know why i was accused of being over stayed in vietnam,  then i told them i still have 2 months left on my visa,  the man in green checked again and found another problem claiming my visa is fake,  i told them i got this visa by crossing the boarder from cambodia,  then i think he got pissed and straight to the point "do you have any money on you?".

Uffe Pettersson :

Once I even had a Kenwood/Audio Pro ministereo equipment in an extra baggage!

It's Bose in our check luggage the last time, and a bottle of 25 YO Highland Park.  At least some of Bose products are available in Saigon, while Highland Park 25 cannot be found in most of Asia for love or money. 

I was so astonishingly happy when all suitcases came off the conveyor belt without a sign of being opened and checked.

:offtopic:  ETA:  Correction on the statement re: the availability of Highland Park 25.  Just found a website indicating that's it's available at publishing date in Hanoi and Da Nang for 15.4M.  That's more than my rent.

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