How to Get a Visa for Vietnam: The Complete Guide

vietnam visa

This article is a complete guide with all the information necessary to apply for a visa for Vietnam (if you need one).

Important update: Since March 15, 2022, to enter Vietnam without having to quarantine, you need a negative SARS-CoV-2 test, travel, or health insurance and must download the PC-COVID app. For more information, read this article.

Do I need a visa for Vietnam?

To enter Vietnam, you will need a visa. Even so, certain exceptions exist:


At the moment, citizens of 23 countries with an ordinary passport can benefit from a 14 to 30-day visa exemption for tourism purposes. In the case of the United Kingdom, you can travel to Vietnam for 15 days without needing to apply for a visa. Citizens of US, Canada or Australia should apply for a Visa.

To benefit from this visa exemption, you have to meet the following requirements:

  1. Hold a passport from one of the 23 exempt countries: You can click here to see the official list from the Ministry of Foreign Relations (remember that your country has to be marked with an X in the Ordinary column).
  2. Have a ticket out of the country: To get the exemption, you need to show the printed ticket for departing the country.
  3. Not have been in Vietnam for 30 days: To obtain the exemption, they will check that you haven’t visited the country during the 30 days prior to your entry into the country.
  4. Have a passport with 6 months’ validity: To obtain the exemption, your passport must be valid for at least the 6 months following your entry into the country as well as must have at least 2 empty pages.

Important: Exemption rules, and visa rules in general, may change at any time, thus we always recommend confirming the information you find online with the Vietnamese Consular Office in your country.

passport stampExample of passport stamp for visa exemption purposes

Phú Quốc Island

Citizens not included on the previous list that only intends to visit Phú Quốc will be allowed to remain on the island for 30 days without requiring a visa, so long as they meet the following requirements:

  1. Hold a passport with 6 months’ validity: To enter Phú Quốc, you will be required to show a passport of any nationality that is valid for at least 6 months following your entry into the country and which has at least 2 empty pages.
  2. Fly directly to the island from another country: To enter Phú Quốc without a visa, you will have to do it from an airport in another country. It’s also possible to arrive from Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi airports, but you will have to pass through immigration at those airports before heading to the domestic flight terminal.
  3. Stay on Phú Quốc for less than 30 days: When you enter Phú Quốc, you will have to present your ticket leaving the island, the date of which must be within the 30 days following your entry.


If you have a layover at one of the international airports in Vietnam, you won’t need a visa as long as you don’t remain in the country for more than 24 hours and don’t leave the international zone of the airport.

Electronic visa or eVisa for Vietnam

Important: Vietnamese government diplomatic missions have alerts on the proliferation of multiple illegal websites, many of which pretend to be official and offer electronic visas and visas on arrival. The visas offered by these portals are often illegal and their validity isn’t guaranteed.

A few examples of these illegal web pages are:

Since February 2017, a pilot project for an electronic tourist visa for Vietnam has been set in motion (Decree 07/2017/ND-CP). The visa is valid for 30 days and only allows a single entry.

The requirements of the following:

  1. Countries: To apply for the eVisa, you have to hold a passport from one of the following countries: Azerbaijan, Argentina, Armenia, Ireland, Poland, Belarus, Bulgaria, Brunei, the Korean Republic, Germany, Chile, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Cuba, Denmark, East Timor, the United States, Hungary, Greece, Italy, Kazakhstan, Russia, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Myanmar, Mongolia, Japan, Panama, Peru, Finland, France, the Philippines, Romania, Spain, Sweden, China (not applicable for electronic passports), Uruguay, Venezuela, Norway and Slovakia. For the updated list of countries, you can click here;
  2. Be outside of Vietnam;
  3. Hold a passport with at least 6 months’ validity.

You can apply for this visa on the websites, or simply use a trustworthy visa agency, such as VisaHQ, which will help you throughout the process.

Visa on Arrival (VOA) for Vietnam

As we highlighted in the previous section, there exist multiple websites that offer visas on arrival or VOA. Nonetheless, according to the statements of official sources, these visas can be illegal and because of this, we recommend that you be cautious before applying for this type of visa.

According to the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, you can apply for a visa on arrival when:

  • You leave from a country in which there does not exist a Vietnamese authority capable of granting visas;
  • You have previously traveled to a large number of countries before entering Vietnam;
  • You are visiting Vietnam on a trip organized by an international agency that operates in Vietnam;
  • You are a foreign crew on board a boat anchored at a maritime port in Vietnam;
  • You are visiting Vietnam to attend the funeral of a relative or to visit a seriously ill family member;
  • You are entering Vietnam to participate in emergency response activities, search activities, rescue activities, disaster or epidemic response activities or for other special purposes at the request of a competent Vietnamese authority.

To apply for this type of visa, you will need:

  1. To meet one of the previous requirements;
  2. A letter of recommendation: Before entering Vietnam, you must request approval to pick up the visa at the border crossing. This approval is issued by the Department of Immigration, the Consular Department or the Department of Foreign Relations of Ho Chi Minh City;
  3. To fill out the application form and submit it along with your passport.

Types of visas and duration

Since 2015, Vietnam has 20 different categories of visas. Below you will find the most common types of visas organized by category:

Tourist visa for Vietnam (DL Visa)

This visa is issued to people who intend to visit Vietnam for tourism purposes and has a maximum validity of 3 months, either with a single entry or multiple entries.

Student visa for Vietnam (DH Visa)

This visa is issued to people traveling to Vietnam to study or carry out an internship. The duration of this visa is up to one year.

Business visa for Vietnam (LV1, LV2, DN, DT Visas)

For people going to Vietnam for business, there are different types of visas depending on the type of organization or company that you are going to work with.

LV1 and LV2 Visas: These are if you are going to work with governmental organizations. Their maximum validity is one year.

DN Visa: This visa is if you are going to work with a non-governmental Vietnamese company. Its maximum validity is one year.

DT Visa: This type of visa is for investors or lawyers operating in Vietnam and its duration is up to a maximum of five years.

Work visa (LD Visa)

This visa is issued to foreigners that are traveling to Vietnam to work. Its maximum duration is two years.

Family member visa (TT and VR Visas)

VR Visa: This visa is issued for visiting family members who live in Vietnam. Its maximum duration is 6 months.

TT Visa: This visa is issued for family members who are dependent on a foreigner who is a Vietnamese resident (who has an LV1, LV2, ĐT, NN1, NN2, DH, PV1, or LĐ Visa). “Dependent family members” refers to spouses and children under the age of 18. The duration of this visa is a maximum of one year.

Documents necessary to apply for a visa

Depending on the type of visa you need, you will be asked to provide various documents. The basic documents for obtaining a Vietnamese visa are the following:

  1. Form filled out electronically: To fill out the form, you have to go to this webpage. Alternatively, you can fill out and print the PDF form that different embassies and consulates offer on their webpage and add a photo to it.
  2. Passport: Your passport must be valid for at least one-month following the validity of the visa for which you are applying, and preferably 6 months longer.
  3. Letter of invitation: Except for tourist visas, you require an official letter of invitation issued by the Department of Immigration (Ministry of Public Safety), the Consular Department, or the Department of Foreign Relations of Ho Chi Minh City (Ministry of Foreign Relations). The requirements for obtaining this letter depend on the type of visa and the organization inviting you to the country.
  4. Plane ticket (tourist visas only): If you are applying for a tourist visa for more than three months, you will be asked for your plane ticket booking out of Vietnam.

How long does it take to get a visa for Vietnam?

Theoretically, to get a visa, it takes 3 business days from the time of the receipt of valid documentation. Even so, the majority of diplomatic missions take 5 business days. In the case of NG1 and NG2 visas, it only takes one day.

It is also possible to apply for the express service (additional costs will apply), which tends to process the visa in 1 or 2 business days.

How much does a Vietnamese visa cost?

The cost depends on the type and duration of the visa for which you are applying:

eVisa: 25 USD

VOA (Entry stamp on arrival at the border): 25 USD

For other types of visas, it depends on the diplomatic mission where you apply for it. For example, for tourist visas in US:

  • 1 month single-entry: 100 USD
  • 1 month multiple-entry: 140 USD
  • 3 months single-entry: 150 USD
  • 3 months multiple-entry: 180 USD

Where can I apply for a visa for Vietnam?

Based on the previously mentioned online methods, a Vietnamese visa can be obtained at any embassy or consulate outside the country.

To find your closest Vietnamese diplomatic mission, you can click on the links below for a complete list: Asia-Pacific, Europa, America, the Middle East.

Note: The majority of embassies also allow you to apply for a visa through mail and even through email. Check out the website of the embassy corresponding to your place of residence for more details.

How can I get a visa extension?

Important notice: Currently, the department of immigration is not offering the possibility of extending tourist visas, which means that if you intend to extend your tourist visa, you will have to leave the country and apply for new visa.

In the case of other types of visas in which an organization or company has invited you to the country, you can easily extend your visa with an official letter from the organization sponsoring you justifying the visa extension.

What happens if my visa expires?

If you remain in Vietnam for more days than those stated on your visa, at a minimum you will be fined for every day that you have exceeded your stay in the country, although this may also result in more serious problems, such as deportation and being banned from entering the country for a few years.

If you have just overstayed 1 or 2 days extra, you can go directly to the airport and pay the fine there. If you have exceeded this time period, you will have to apply for an exit visa at the Department of Immigration.

Frequently asked questions

How much does a Vietnam visa extension cost?
As mentioned above, Vietnam currently doesn’t offer any visa extension services for tourist visas. Therefore, we cannot share any costs for that at the moment. The visa extension fee for work visas, on the other hand, is 55 – 115 US dollars.
What is the Approval Letter?
The approval letter is issued by the Immigration Department and allows you to both enter and exit the country during a specific time period. In order to pick up your visa, you need to have the Approval Letter.

When arriving at the airport, your Approval Letter will be checked and the authorities will confirm that it’s in accordance with your travel documents and passport.

How long does it take to get the Approval Letter?
It usually takes two business days to get the Approval Letter. However, there are also express services available. For example, you can receive an approval letter within as little as 4 – 8 hours. But in that case, you need to add a fee of around 20 US dollars. Worth having in mind is that the express service is generally not available on Friday afternoons.
How can I receive my Approval Letter?
The Approval Letter is sent to you by email and you can simply print it after received.
Can I get a visa without an Approval Letter?
No, you cannot get a visa without the approval letter, as this shows that you’re eligible of entering and exiting Vietnam.
Can I enter Vietnam earlier than the date shown in my Approval Letter?
No, you cannot. If you want to arrive earlier, you need to apply for a new visa and pay an extra fee as stipulated by the agency.
How high are the stamping fees in Vietnam?
25 US dollars for single entry visa, from 1 to 3 months single visa
50 US dollars for less than 6 months multiple entry visa
95 US dollars for 6 months multiple entry visa to less than 1 year multiple entry
What are the photo requirements when applying for a visa in Vietnam?
First of all, you need two photos. You should attach/glue one picture on the Entry and Exit form and the second one should be kept for officers to check, if needed. The photos should be same as passport photos and 4×6 cm, preferably not taken more than 6 months ago.
Can I extend my expired passport in Vietnam?
Yes, you can. This can sometimes be done at consulates in Ho Chi Minh City. However, often times people need to go to Hanoi where their countries’ embassies are located.
Can I get a Visa on Arrival (VOA) if travelling by sea or by land?
No, you need to arrive by air in order to get the VOA. You can get the VOA at any of the following airports: Danang Airport (Da Nang), Cam Ranh Airport (Nha Trang), Noi Bai International Airport (Hanoi), Tan Son Nhat International Airport (Ho Chi Minh City).

Do you need help to get your visa for Vietnam?
Click here to see the agencies that we recommend!

Photo Credits: Creative Commons License my sticker book by Peter Grevstad

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