How to Get Your Vietnam Visa

Getting a Vietnam Visa is More Complicated Than Other Visas

••• Tourist taking snapshots of the Hue Citadel, Vietnam. Image courtesy of Westend61/Getty Images

Visitors going to Vietnam must show a valid Vietnam visa before being allowed into the country. A visa may be requested from a Vietnamese embassy near you, or may be sourced through a reliable travel agency.

Compared to getting visas for other Southeast Asian countries, Vietnam is a tougher nut to crack. The rules and costs vary widely depending on the issuing embassy or consulate.

The Vietnamese consulate in Battambang, Cambodia, may charge about about US$ 35 for a single-entry visa with 2-3 days processing, while the Vietnam embassy in Washington, DC, takes up to 7 days and US$90 to do the same thing.

The information presented here may change without prior notice, so double-check with the nearest Vietnamese embassy before applying for your visa.

For other important Vietnam travel info for first-time visitors, read the following articles:

Visa Exemptions

Most visitors to Vietnam will need a visa to enter the country, with a few exceptions. Citizens from ASEAN countries are permitted to enter without applying for a visa, and other countries have made similar arrangements for their citizens.

  • Citizens of the following countries may stay, visa-free, for no more than 30 days: Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore
  • Citizens of the Philippines may stay, visa-free, for no more than 21 days.
  • Citizens of the following countries may stay, visa-free, for no more than 15 days: Denmark, Finland, Japan, Norway, Russia, South Korea, Sweden
  • Citizens of Brunei may stay, visa-free, for no more than 14 days.

If you are not a citizen of any of these countries, you must apply for a visa at a nearby Vietnamese embassy prior to travel. You may obtain a 30-day or 90-day visitor’s visa. (UPDATE: By June 2016, American tourists may apply for a 12-month, multiple entry visa.

This article will be updated with the details as soon as they are announced.)

In the United States, you may apply at the Vietnamese embassy in Washington, DC if you're on the East Coast, or at the Vietnamese consulate in San Francisco if you're on the West Coast. (For other embassies around the world, look here: select Vietnam embassies.)

Vietnam Visa Exemptions for Vietnamese-Americans

Vietnamese-American citizens or foreigners married to Vietnamese citizens may apply for a 5-Year Visa Exemption, which permits entry and up to 90 days continuous stays even without a visa. The document is valid for five years.

At the Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate in the U.S., you'll be required to present:

  • A completed copy of the Visa Exemption Application
  • Your original passport - valid for six months more after the planned trip, plus a copy
  • Two recent 4 x 6 cm photos
  • 1 form (Giay Bao Lanh) filled out by a Vietnamese Citizen vouching for you
  • Processing fee in money order - call the embassy for the exact fee before you apply
  • Prepaid return envelope, if you want the visa to be returned by mail (use USPS or prepaid return FedEx label)

Downloadable forms and more information can be found at this site:

Vietnam Tourist Visas

Tourist visas are available for a maximum 90-day stay. To get a Vietnam tourist visa from your nearest Vietnam embassy or consulate, download the visa form from the local embassy's website and fill it up.

At the Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate in the U.S., you'll be required to present:

  • Your original passport - valid for six months more after the planned trip, and with vacant pages for the full-page visa stamp
  • One completed visa application form
  • A money order, certified check, or Cashier's check payable to the processing mission. The Embassy asks that you call them to ask for the current fees.
  • Prepaid return envelope, if you want the visa to be returned by mail (use USPS or prepaid return FedEx label)

More details are available on their website: "Visa Application Process", Embassy of Vietnam in Washington, DC.

Extending your Stay in Vietnam

Previously, travelers were permitted to extend their visas while within Vietnamese borders. Not anymore - to apply for an extension, you must leave Vietnam and apply for your extension at a Vietnamese embassy or consulate.

If you are not sure how much time you'll need to travel through Vietnam, apply for a 90-day visa at the outset.

Travelers who enter Vietnam through visa-free access may not enter Vietnam again visa-free unless 30 days have elapsed since their last visa-free visit.

Other Vietnam Visas

Business visas are available for business visitors (if you're investing in a business in Vietnam, or if you're arriving for work). Vietnam business visas are valid for six months and allow multiple entries.

The requirements for a Vietnam business visa are identical to those for the tourist visa, with the addition of a Business Visa Approval Form from your sponsor in Vietnam. You cannot get this form from the Embassy or the Consulate - your sponsor must get it from officials in Vietnam.

Diplomatic and official visas are issued for visitors with government and diplomatic business. Holders of diplomatic and service passports will be granted these visas, which are free of charge.

The requirements for these visas are similar to those for the business visa, with the addition of a note verbale from the concerned agency, foreign mission, or international organization.

Vietnam’s Strict Enforcement of Visa Rules

Jason D. of Vietnam Visa Center warns that the authorities in Vietnam are quite strict about overstaying tourists. “Overstaying your visa is a big problem here,” explains Jason. “Even overstaying your visa by a day will involve a costly fine.

“If someone overstays their visa and tries to exit the country overland, many travelers will be asked to go back to the airport and sort out the issue with the immigration authorities there,” warns Jason. “The immigration officers may be lenient but others may charge anywhere from US$30 - US$60 a day.”

If you’re not sure how long you’ll need to travel around Vietnam, Jason suggests that you get a longer-term visa to begin with. “Getting a three-month visa - multiple or single - would allow travelers plenty of time to get around Vietnam without worrying about overstaying,” he explains.

For fees and tips to help the process along, proceed to the next page.

In the previous page, we took a look at the basic requirements for getting a Vietnam visa. In this page, we'll show you how to speed the process along.

The fees charged for a Vietnam visa vary widely from embassy to embassy; the Washington DC embassy advises that you call them to inquire as to the visa fee at present.

Confusingly, Vietnam visas are levied two different fees: the visa fee and the visa processing fee.

The visa fee varies from embassy to embassy, but the visa processing fee is covered by Circular 190, issued 2012, which prescribes the following rates:

  • US$45 for 1-3 month single-entry visa
  • US$65 for 1 month (29 days) multiple-entry visa
  • US$95 for 30 days to 3 months multiple-entry visa
  • US$135 for 6 months or more multiple-entry visa

If applying by mail, enclose a self-addressed postage-paid envelope for your passport's return trip. (The Vietnamese Embassy recommends you use a self-addressed pre-paid FedEx Shipping Label with effective FedEx account number, or a pre-paid US Postal Office service envelope).

Vietnam Visa Tips

Want to get a Vietnam visa faster and cheaper than you can get it in the States? Get it from an embassy at a neighboring Southeast Asian country. If you're entering Vietnam from elsewhere in Southeast Asia, that country's Vietnam embassy may be able to process your visa quicker and more cheaply than you ever could in the U.S. The Vietnamese embassy in Bangkok, Thailand is a popular source of Vietnam visas for many travelers.

Take note: the rules are different from embassy to embassy. While the consulates in the U.S. permit you to apply for longer-term visas, that’s not necessarily true of every Vietnamese embassy or consulate. “Some consulates in Southeast Asia only provide a two-week visa for Vietnam,” says Vietnam Visa Center’s Jason D., “and prices from consulate to consulate vary a great deal.”

Don't start the application process until your travel plans are are sure to push through. The official forms require you to state your ports of arrival and departure, and it's far too much trouble to change this at the last minute.

Allow plenty of time for the embassy to process your visa. Don't file for your visa at the last minute.

Vietnam embassies and consulates are closed on Vietnamese holidays too, so take that into account before visiting.

Visitors to Vietnam must finish an entry/exit form and a customs declaration in duplicate. The yellow copy will be given back to you, and you must keep this safe with your passport. You will be required to present this when you leave.

If you're departing Vietnam overland, get a visa that sticks to your passport, not a loose-leaf visa that is only lightly attached to your documents. The latter visas are often removed by Vietnamese officials when you cross the border, leaving you with no evidence of exiting Vietnam. This has caused trouble for passengers, particularly those making the crossing into Laos.

A knowledgeable Vietnam travel agency may be able to secure a Vietnam visa for you at an additional cost, with minimum headache.

The next page provides a list of Vietnam embassies and consulates in the U.S. and around the world, with particular emphasis on Southeast Asia (for travelers looking to apply for a Vietnam visa before making the short hop across the border).

Vietnam Embassies in North America

Washington DC, United States of America
1233 20th Street, NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20036
Phone: +1-202-8610737; +1-202-8612293
Fax: +1-202-8610694; +1-202-8610917

San Francisco, United States of America (Consulate)
1700 California St., Suite 430 San Francisco, CA 94109, USA
Phone: +1-415-9221577; +1-415-9221707, Fax: +1-415-9221848; +1-415-9221757

Ottawa, Canada
470 Wilbrod Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 6M8
Phone: (1-613) 236 0772
Consular Phone: +1-613-2361398; Fax: +1-613-2360819
Fax: +1-613-2362704

Vietnam Embassies in the Commonwealth

London, United Kingdom
12-14 Victoria Rd., London W8-5rd, UK
Fax: +4420-79376108

Canberra, Australia
6 Timbarra Crescent, O'Malley, ACT 2606, Australia
Phone: +61-2-62866059

Vietnam Embassies in Southeast Asia

Brunei Darussalam
No 9, Spg 148-3 jalan Telanai BA 2312,BSB - Brunei Darussalam
Phone: +673-265-1580, +673-265-1586
Fax: +673-265-1574

Phnom Penh, Cambodia
436 Monivong, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Phone: +855-2372-6273, +855-2372-6274
Fax: +855-2336-2314

Battambang, Cambodia

Road No. 03, Battambang province, Kingdom of Cambodia
Phone: (+855) 536 888 867
Fax: (+855) 536 888 866

Jakarta, Indonesia
No.25 JL.

Teuku Umar, Menteng, Jakarta-Pusat, Indonesia
Phone: +6221-310 0358, +6221-315-6775
Consular: +6221-315-8537
Fax: +6221-314-9615

Vientiane, Laos
Phone: +856-21413409, +856-21414602
Consular: +856-2141 3400
Fax: +856-2141 3379, +856-2141 4601

Luang Prabang, Laos
427-428, That BoSot Village, Luang Prabang, Laos
Tel: +856 71 254748
Fax: +856 71 254746

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
No.4, Persiaran Stonor 50450, Kualar Lumpur, Malaysia
Phone: +603-2148-4534
Consular: +603-2148-4036
Fax: +603-2148-3270

Yangon, Myanmar
70-72 Than Lwin Road, Bahan Township, Yangon
Phone +951-524 656, +951-501 993
Fax: +951-524 285

Manila, Philippines
670 Pablo Ocampo (Vito Cruz) Malate, Manila, Philippines
Phone: +632-525 2837, +632-521-6843
Consular: +632-524-0364
Fax: +632-526-0472

10 Leedon Park St., Singapore 267887
Phone: +65-6462-5936, +65-6462-5938
Fax: +65-6468-9863

Bangkok, Thailand
83/1 Wireless Road, Lumpini, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330
Phone: +66-2-2515836, +66-2-2515837, +66-2-2515838 (extension 112, 115, or
116); +66-2-6508979

Khonkaen, Thailand
65/6 Chatapadung, Khonkaen, Thailand
Phone: +66) 4324 2190
Fax: +66) 4324 1154