5 Year Visa Waiver - Get it outside Vietnam

If you marry a Vietnamese national you are eligible for what is called a 5 Year Visa Waiver. It allows you to have an unlimited number of 90 day visits to Vietnam over the course of 5 years.

I was warned that some people had had trouble getting this while in Vietnam but I tried anyway. Big mistake. In HCM you need to go to the Immigration Office at 254 Nguyen Trai Street, District 1. It is by far the the most hostile Vietnamese government office I have encountered, ever. Minimal signage in English, few if any of the office personnel speak any foreign language, rather than help they prefer to complain to you at length and quite loudly. In the end I got some information but not the necessary forms. By then the one person in the office who hands out forms had left for the day (one hour earlier than everyone else). Lots more documents required in Vietnam than overseas and a trip back to your spouse's home province to get their family book.

I'll be applying overseas and recommend the same to anyone else in the same situation.

I got mine through the VN consulate in Houston, TX. I dropped off the forms and my passport, then came back a few weeks later to pick them up. No hassle.

Guys,

I speak fluent Vietnamese and very familiar with the Vietnamese processes, yet I don't even go to those type of places myself, unless I personally know one of the people there.  And even with that, I only go to see my contact and make contact with only those s/he instructs me to.  Vietnamese officials just don't like to deal with outsiders. 

So, the next time any of you want any business done at such locations, get your Vietnamese families or friends to do it for you.  Only show up when you are absolutely required to.  But most of the time, if the person you send is good enough, your presence will not be necessary.

You must realize that, in Vietnam, there are a lot of things that you will be much better off not doing or knowing.

If you are outside of Vn, its pretty straight forward. I just go buy my ticket, pay for the visa and the travel agent does the rest.

I know about all the hassles with the VN governemnt offices, so I decided to just buy a multiple entry visa, which is good for the remaining life of my passport (about 4 years), and its only $120.

You do not expect much from office staffs in Vietnam!
When they sit in that chairs they think it's the 'throne'!

Wouldn't you rather just pay $120 for a multiple entry visa back home?

The reason for wanting to obtain the 5 year visa exemption is strictly financial.  The longest visa commonly available now to a US citizen is a 3 month visa. Agencies here or in Cambodia charge roughly $120 for that visa for US citizens.  That's $120x4x5=$2400 for 5 years. A couple of years ago there was a 6 month visa, now it's 3 months, who knows when there will only be a 1 month visa and then even if the fees don't increase, which I'm sure they will, the cost would be $100x12x5=$6000 over the course of 5 years.
If you have anything longer than a 3 month visa, congratulations you either work here or aren't a US citizen.

RayG :

The reason for wanting to obtain the 5 year visa exemption is strictly financial.  The longest visa commonly available now to a US citizen is a 3 month visa. Agencies here or in Cambodia charge roughly $120 for that visa for US citizens.  That's $120x4x5=$2400 for 5 years. A couple of years ago there was a 6 month visa, now it's 3 months, who knows when there will only be a 1 month visa and then even if the fees don't increase, which I'm sure they will, the cost would be $100x12x5=$6000 over the course of 5 years.
If you have anything longer than a 3 month visa, congratulations you either work here or aren't a US citizen.

The one I got here in Canada is $120 for unlimited travel to Vietnam for the entire life of my passport.

Its a one off fee,

mikeymyke

Take a look at it and you'll find out it's a VEC, you only got 4 years because that's all the time you have on your passport.

that is wisdom. Thank you. I wish I had read your post years earlier :-)

Budman1 :

mikeymyke

Take a look at it and you'll find out it's a VEC, you only got 4 years because that's all the time you have on your passport.

The most you can have is 4 years 6 months but it all depends when your passport expires minus 6 months.

Now you can have 10-year passport. Hmm wondering if I should renew my passport or let it die.

khanh44 :
Budman1 :

mikeymyke

Take a look at it and you'll find out it's a VEC, you only got 4 years because that's all the time you have on your passport.

The most you can have is 4 years 6 months but it all depends when your passport expires minus 6 months.

Now you can have 10-year passport. Hmm wondering if I should renew my passport or let it die.

When I got mine I had a new ten year passport and they gave me the full 5 years. It was issued in Saigon with no problem or hassle with the paperwork (Remember Wild_1's thoughts above). I'm up for a renewal of the VEC now and I getting a new 10 year passport. Current one still has two years left on it but I'd rather lose the two years and get a new VEC for the full 5 years.

mikeymyke :
RayG :

The reason for wanting to obtain the 5 year visa exemption is strictly financial.  The longest visa commonly available now to a US citizen is a 3 month visa. Agencies here or in Cambodia charge roughly $120 for that visa for US citizens.  That's $120x4x5=$2400 for 5 years. A couple of years ago there was a 6 month visa, now it's 3 months, who knows when there will only be a 1 month visa and then even if the fees don't increase, which I'm sure they will, the cost would be $100x12x5=$6000 over the course of 5 years.
If you have anything longer than a 3 month visa, congratulations you either work here or aren't a US citizen.

The one I got here in Canada is $120 for unlimited travel to Vietnam for the entire life of my passport.

Lucky you.  No such deal for US citizens.

RayG :
mikeymyke :
RayG :

The reason for wanting to obtain the 5 year visa exemption is strictly financial.  The longest visa commonly available now to a US citizen is a 3 month visa. Agencies here or in Cambodia charge roughly $120 for that visa for US citizens.  That's $120x4x5=$2400 for 5 years. A couple of years ago there was a 6 month visa, now it's 3 months, who knows when there will only be a 1 month visa and then even if the fees don't increase, which I'm sure they will, the cost would be $100x12x5=$6000 over the course of 5 years.
If you have anything longer than a 3 month visa, congratulations you either work here or aren't a US citizen.

The one I got here in Canada is $120 for unlimited travel to Vietnam for the entire life of my passport.

Lucky you.  No such deal for US citizens.

He doesn't have a 4 year visa. He has a VEC, huge difference..

Budman1 :

He doesn't have a 4 year visa. He has a VEC, huge difference..

If VEC stands for Visa Exemption Certificate then that is exactly what this is about.  It's good for 5 years if your passport is valid for at least 5 yrs and 6 months, otherwise the length of validity of your passport less 6 months.

uhm his passport is good for 10 years. So it more than covers the time when the VEC expires.

khanh44 :

uhm his passport is good for 10 years. So it more than covers the time when the VEC expires.

Well I guess that's one of life's many mysteries and probably important only to him. Maybe he means he has 4 years left.  Here's the exact language of the regulation:

'Giấy miễn thị thực có giá trị đến 5 năm và ngắn hơn thời hạn còn giá trị của hộ chiếu hoặc giấy tờ thường trú do nước ngoài cấp ít nhất 6 thán"

I apologize for use of a language other than English but this is a quote.

the VEC itself I imagine once you got it shouldn't be hard to renew every 5 years or so. It's still cumbersome because the VEC is essentially a multiple entry visa every 90 days for the duration of the VEC.

I'm going to attempt to get something better when I'm in Vietnam so I don't have to deal with this 90 day business.

khanh44 :

the VEC itself I imagine once you got it shouldn't be hard to renew every 5 years or so. It's still cumbersome because the VEC is essentially a multiple entry visa every 90 days for the duration of the VEC.

I'm going to attempt to get something better when I'm in Vietnam so I don't have to deal with this 90 day business.

I'm told by people who have them that extending your stay is not usually a problem. They have been able to get multiple 3 month extensions back-to-back with a only a $10 fee each time, a couple of photos and an  extension form stamped by your local police.  I did read that one man had to leave after 2 -1/2 years and go to Cambodia for the day

I believe that a relative or someone you know can actually get the extension for you and you don't need to personally front up... Could be misinformed, but I believe one person was doing this way in Saigon.

Khanh, I already told you!  Get 5 Vietnamese wives and they will grant automatic citizenship.  They might even worship you.  You will never have to worry about checking in with anyone.  Hell, a lot of people will be checking with you...  Yeah?

Ray and Citsym, it all depends on your relationships with your respective immigration and ward police offices, even the border run. 

I went to get my first extension on my own, my immigration office charged me 620.000 Dongs and took 4 days.   On my next extension, along with that of my dad, I sent a Vietnamese friend, who went to school with one of the guys there; they cost 380.000 Dongs and took 1 day.

Hi Mike where did you get that Visa. I was quoted 1200.00 for a 3 year from a Vietnamese travel agent in Nha Trang.

Cheers

Ian Thomas

scramblin8man :

Hi Mike where did you get that Visa. I was quoted 1200.00 for a 3 year from a Vietnamese travel agent in Nha Trang.

Cheers

Ian Thomas

I just went to my travel agency in Canada, and they said for $120, they will get me a multiple entry visa , (or VEC), that will allow me to enter Vietnam multiple times for the life of my passport minus 6 months.  I wish I had known about it before because I was paying $80 every year for just a single entry visa.

I don't know if this is only for Canadians because one US poster here says he can't get one.

mikeymyke :
scramblin8man :

Hi Mike where did you get that Visa. I was quoted 1200.00 for a 3 year from a Vietnamese travel agent in Nha Trang.

Cheers

Ian Thomas

I just went to my travel agency in Canada, and they said for $120, they will get me a multiple entry visa , (or VEC), that will allow me to enter Vietnam multiple times for the life of my passport minus 6 months.  I wish I had known about it before because I was paying $80 every year for just a single entry visa.

I don't know if this is only for Canadians because one US poster here says he can't get one.

I just called the Vietnamese embassy in New York to find out the current fee for the 5 year visa exemption certificate.  They said it was USD$70.  Applicants can fill out the form online, print it out, sign it, and submit with the other required documents. As far as I know the Vietnamese government regulation applies worldwide but the fee might vary somewhat from country to country if it is paid in local currency. It's for everyone who qualifies, Americans too.

In Vietnam there are more documents required and based on my experience I would strongly suggest for spouses anyway to go through an agent.  expat.vn quoted me USD$200 and I'm looking around to see if there's a better deal.

Mike just to clarify the details - are you married to a Vietnamese? and how long can you stay in Vietnam each time you go?

Hi, If you have a Vietnamese wife residing in Vietnam, you should apply for a Permanent Residence Card. You may stay, work and do business in VN without any trouble. It is valid for your lifetime if you do not break the Vietnamese laws.

Thank you - I am not married at this point - but looking to live full time in Vietnam.

To apply for PR and just to clarify : even if you have a Vietnamese wife, she must have a Hou Kou book showing that she has an address with HER own house/apartment to sponsor you as spouse. It CANNOT be the 'family book' of her parents' house. Also, have you contributed in Vietnam 'socially'? We got shown the door by the officer and we are looking to secure our own place to call our own!

New topic