The Vietnamese visa process

I arrived in Vietnam yesterday and of course soon I will tell you more about that. But first, I wanted to share some information on the internet about what to expect when you arrive in Vietnam.
I will just tell you about my experience with getting the visa, and this concerns a one month single entry visa. I arrived at the airport in Ho Chi Minh City. And I believe (have been told, but have not confirmed) that this process is only applicable when you arrive in one of the major international airports.

First, there are some things you have to arrange beforehand.
I did not know this. They call it a Visa On Arrival, which usually means you can just get it at the airport. And you can, but you need some documents first.

But, you need some sort of letter that says you can enter the country. You have to pay for this letter so I suspect it’s just a way to get more money out of tourists, because there is really no other use for the letter.
There are several sites offering this paid service, just google. I won’t tell you where I got it, because I wouldn’t recommend the website. I paid for a 4 hour service (I was not informed about the visa process in Vietnam) and I received the letter within 8 hours. Actually, I am going to share with you where this was: I’m still trying to get a partial refund.

So, do this at least two (working) days in advance and make sure you have a printer available to you.

Also, and this I didn’t do… Print out this form and fill it out. It will make your process go faster.

Thirdly, make sure you have 25 US dollars with you, to pay for the visa. It has to be in dollars. Why some countries insist on using a currency that is not their own is beyond me.

When you arrive, you will see two things, none of which is information about what to do next. There is a very small window with the words “landing visa” and long lines at the passport control. You have to get the visa first.
So you stand in line at the window. I had to do this two times, because the first time they just gave me the form, of which I told you to print it beforehand. So if you do that, you only have to get in line once. You just hand in all the documents and then they tell you (quite brusquely, I might add) to sit and wait. They will (try) to call your name. At least, they had to say mine twice, because I have a difficult name to pronounce in English. You go up to the cashier window and pay the $25. Then they give you your passport and you’re all set!

On a lot of websites it says you need two ID pictures and two copies of your passport. I only needed one picture and no copy of my passport. Although when I got the form they took my passport, so it was good that I had my copy so I could fill out my passport details. Just to be sure, I guess it couldn’t hurt to be prepared and bring these things anyway.

Good luck, and have fun on your trip to Vietnam!

2 thoughts on “The Vietnamese visa process”

  1. Oh boy, that sounds terrible! Especially that you had to wait THAT LONG for entering the darn country.
    About the currency issue, when a country doens’t have a very strong/stable currency, they sometimes prefer to use USD or EUR, since they are stronger and also quite stable. Nowadays USDs are an investment for all non-US citizens as it will go stronger and stronger, so if you buy a lot of them now and exchange them in a couple of years… You’ll be rich ;-)


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