Planning a trip to Vietnam? Don’t forget that most probably you’ll need a visa to visit Vietnam unless you come from one of the visa exempt countries or countries eligible for electronic visas. In this article I will focus only on Vietnam visa on arrival. I will talk about my experience obtaining Vietnam visa on arrival in Ho Chi Minh CIty, how to do it the cheapest way and what you should know before doing it.
But the first question you should ask yourself (or the internet or embassy, or tour agency) – do I need a visa for Vietnam?
Vietnam Visa on Arrival: Step by Step Guide
1. Do You Need a Visa for Vietnam?
I haven’t yet found one best resource, where you could check if you need a visa for Vietnam. But this page on Wikipedia looks decent. You can definitely check with your countries foreign affairs office. For example, we, Latvians, need a visa for Vietnam. While citizens of many other European countries can travel to Vietnam for up to 15 days without visa. Read more about Vietnam visa for Latvian citizens.
Some nationalities can stay in Vietnam for 15, 21, 30 or even 90 days visa-free.
Some can get eVisas that are granted for single entry visits for up to 30 days.
The ones who doesn’t come from visa exempt countries and are not eligible for an eVisa must get Vietnamese visa on arrival or obtain it in advance.
Visa on arrival is granted for single or multiple entries for a maximum stay of 1 or 3 months (in some cases – up to 1 year).
IMPORTANT: You can get visa on arrival only at international airports in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang and Nha Trang.
2. Vietnam Visa on Arrival (or Pre-Arranged Visa)
It’s very easy to get Vietnam visa on arrival. You just need to follow these steps to get one:
- Apply for an invitation letter online;
- Pay for your invitation letter online;
- Fill in the Vietnam visa application form;
- Bring your visa letter and application form with you to the airport and show it at the Immigration desk to get a visa stamp;
- Pay visa stamping fee (in USD);
- Get your visa and proceed to the passport control.
Remember, your passport should have at least six months of validity after your intended date of leaving Vietnam!
I will now go into more detail about the process of getting a Vietnam visa on arrival.
3. Cheap Vietnam Visa Invitation Letter
To be able to get Vietnam visa on arrival (or, as it is also called – a pre-arranged Vietnam visa) at the airport you have to apply for an invitation letter first. There are many local Vietnamese tourism agencies that offer this service. Just type “Vietnam visa invitation letter” in your search engine, and it will show you at least a dozen of pages of search results.
Let me tell you about probably the cheapest way to get Vietnam visa invitation letter.
Which One of the Agencies to Choose?
I and my friends have used Vietnam Visa Pro. They are among the cheapest ones I’ve seen. Another good option is Vietnam-visa.com, a company with more than 10 year experience in this field. Here you can read more about them and the process of obtaining Vietnam visa on arrival.
With Vietnam Visa Pro getting an invitation for a 1-month single or multiple entry Vietnam visa costs 6 USD.
- 3-month single entry visa – 15 USD.
- 3-month multiple entry visa – 20 USD.
That’s what I call a cheap Vietnam visa. Yes, their web page looks outdated but it works!
Don’t forget that you’ll have to pay also visa stamping fee – 25 USD for 1 or 3-month single entry, and 50 USD for 1 or 3 month multiple entry Vietnam visa. So, it all will add up. But that’s the same in all situations. Note, that for some nationalities stamping fee may be different.
Applying for the Invitation Letter
When applying for the invitation letter you’ll have to fill in personal details, passport details and you’ll also need to know, when you are planning to arrive in Vietnam. Remember, you are not allowed to arrive in Vietnam before the specified date. However, you are allowed to arrive in Vietnam later. Visa will be valid for 1 or 3 months (depends on what you’ll choose), starting from the date specified, not from the actual arrival date!
When you have finished filling in your application form, pay for the invitation letter. You can do it on the same web page. You can pay either with your credit / debit card or Paypal.
After paying for your invitation letter you’ll receive an e-mail asking you to forward them payment confirmation.
Usually you’ll get the invitation letter within a few days.
4. Filling in the Vietnam Visa Application Form
Received the invitation letter? The email containing your invitation letter should include a visa application form or a link to it.
Download and print the form, and fill it in.
You’ll have to give personal details (such as name, place and date of birth, nationality, occupation), passport details, purpose of visit, address in Vietnam (you can write down the first hotel you’re planning to stay in), and visa validity (stated in the invitation letter).
The form also contains a table where you need to write down details about your family members – relationship, name, address, date of birth. Even if you are traveling alone. This information will be used in case of emergency.
If you are traveling with your kids (younger than 14 years old), you’ll also have to fill in the table on the second page. Write down name, sex, date of birth of your child / children, and glue a photo (1.6″ x 2.4″ / 4×6 cm).
If you have any questions about the Vietnam visa application form, you can see how to fill in the form here.
5. Don’t Forget About the Passport-Size Photos!
To get Vietnam visa on arrival at the airport you need to bring with you 2 recent passport-size photos.
If you have forgotten about the photos, don’t panic! For a fee of 5 USD the staff at the visa counter will take a photo of you.
Also there you can get a Vietnam visa application form. So, if you have forgotten about that as well, you’ll be fine.
As always preparing everything before your arrival in Vietnam is a way better option – you’ll get your visa faster and you’ll be out of the airport exploring beautiful country sooner!
6. Getting Vietnam Visa on Arrival at the Airport and Paying a Stamping Fee
When you arrive in Vietnam (Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang or Nha Trang airport) go to the visa on arrival counter. You won’t miss it – probably there will be quite a few people.
If you have prepared everything – you have your invitation letter, visa application form, 2 passport-size photos – go to the visa application counter. They will take all these documents and your passport, and tell you to wait.
Wait for your name to be called.
Now you’ll have to pay visa stamping fee.
Note, that for some nationalities stamping fee may be different. But for most they are as following.
Visa Stamping Fees (Vietnam Visa On Arrival Cost):
- 1-month single entry – 25 USD;
- 1-month multiple entry – 50 USD;
- 3-months single entry – 25 USD;
- 3-months multiple entry – 50 USD.
Now, when you have Vietnam visa on arrival glued in your passport, you have to go through passport control.
There they’ll just check your passport and stamp your visa.
The Phu Quoc Specific Visa (Stamp)
If you want to travel to Phu Quoc island only, and you are arriving and departing from Phu Quoc island via cruise ship or plane you don’t have to apply for Vietnam visa online or get visa on arrival.
The Phu Quoc specific Visa is valid for up to 30 days. Those who have the Phu Quoc Visa cannot enter mainland Vietnam. The Phu Quoc Visa is free and there is no application needed as you will receive a stamp in your passport upon arrival.
You must provide proof (return airplane ticket, cruise ship departure date) that you will be leaving Phu Quoc island within 30 days in order to be granted a Visa Exemption Stamp. The onward destination can be any country except Vietnam.
You do not need to fly directly to Phu Quoc in order to be eligible for a 30 day visa exemption. You can transit through one of Vietnam’s international airports en-route to Phu Quoc provided that Phu Quoc is you end destination and that you have a ticket leaving the island to an international destination within 30 days.
Phu Quoc remains the only destination in Vietnam where a visa exemption is available for all nationalities. Source: Phu Quoc Island Guide.
Remember, your passport should have at least six months of validity!
Arriving in Vietnam by Land
You can’t get visa on arrival on an international land border in Vietnam. To be able to cross the border and travel to Vietnam by land you’ll have to apply for Vietnam tourist visa in advance, at an embassy. Tourist visas are valid for either 30 days or 90 days.
Those who are eligible for an e-visa can obtain e-visa and travel to Vietnam overland.
Do you have any more questions about Vietnam visa on arrival? Drop us a message in the comments below!
Author: Una Baufala
Una is a traveler and travel blogger from Latvia. Apart from traveling and exploring new places she loves to read books. And she adores cats. Together with Kaspars they have been traveling – volunteering – working abroad since October 2013. WeAreFromLatvia.com is where she shares her travel experiences.