How to get a visa to Vietnam
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There are two main ways to apply for a visa to Vietnam, and both have their pros and cons.
1. Apply for a visa online
By far the easiest and least time consuming way is to apply for a visa on arrival. Simply fill in the form, receive your letter, use it at the airport to check in and then show it at the visa application booth in Vietnam.
When booking onward travel to your hotel from the airport, be aware that you’ll have to queue up to get the actual visa, but it generally doesn’t take that long. In the long run, despite having to queue, it saves you an awful lot of time and travel expenses over going to an embassy to sort your visa.
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This company also has Viber and Whatsapp, and are very quick at messaging back with any inquiries and comments. Last time I messaged the owner, he replied in about ten minutes (don’t forget to take into account time differences from your country).
There are two options with this online service – private or group letter. The private option means that only your name is on the letter, to protect your privacy.
If you don’t mind having your name on a list with other people’s then choose the group option. It doesn’t mean that you have to wait for everyone to be there, just that your name will be on other people’s lists too. This is the option I go for when using this service.
There is also the option to jump the queue and have someone there to help with getting the visa at the airport if you require extra assistance.
Make sure you also have two passport sized photos with you, and cash in vnd or usd (they prefer usd if you have it). If you don’t have any cash it’s not really a problem as someone will escort you out to get cash from the atm, but it just adds time to your wait. If doing it this way, by the time you get to the baggage carousel your bags will be gone, so head to lost and found to reclaim them.
All in all a very easy and stress free way of entering the country.
2. Go to your Vietnamese Embassy
Another option for applying for a visa is to go directly to the embassy. There are a few other options if you choose this route.
- Go to the Vietnamese embassy in your country. In the UK this is in London, and so can end up being very time consuming and expensive to travel from where you are to the embassy. It is only open until lunchtime, so you’ll probably need to stay in a hotel the night before.
Take your passport, a Vietnam specific visa photo (when getting them done at a photo shop, make sure you say that it is for Vietnam, as different countries request different sizes), and a self addressed but NOT stamped envelope (use a padded one for extra security). If you have the time to stick around, you can also pick up your passport from the embassy the next working day if you would rather not have it posted. Pay by cash or cheque at the embassy, they don’t accept card.
- Send your passport by post along with the application letter (downloadable from their website), a self-addressed but NOT stamped envelope, a visa photo as above, and a cheque or postal order for the total amount. You won’t have confirmation that they’ve received it, and will get it back in the post when it’s done.
Visa fees differ according to how long your visa is for, and whether it is for single or multiple entries, so check how much it is on their website before you get there.