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Advice for Getting Your Visa on Arrival in Vietnam


Recently we have been told by our lovely customers that they’ve experienced problems with getting their visas on arrival at the airport. Because we want everyone and anyone visiting Vietnam to have the best experience possible, we want to write a blog to warn our customers what to expect and provide more information on the Vietnam visa process.

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Vietnam is becoming more and more accessible for people from all over the world and it’s easier than ever for you to apply for a visa to visit Vietnam. Visa policies have improved in order to attract more tourists to come to our country. You no longer have to spend hours in an embassy before you travel and the time it takes to pick one up on arrival at the airport is also quicker than ever. Plus, for many people in Europe, you don’t even need a visa, just a stamp, and you can enjoy at least 15 days visa free in Vietnam.

Which countries don’t need a visa to travel in Vietnam?

Passport holders of the following countries below will have:

  • 30 days if you are from Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Kyrgyzstan, Thailand or Laos
  • 21 days if you are from The Philippines
  • 14 days if you’re from Myanmar or Brunei
  • 15 days if you are from Belarus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden or the United Kingdom (British passport holder only).

Therefore, if you are from any of the countries above, and you don’t intend to stay in Vietnam longer than the given number of days, you just need to queue up at the immigration gates in the airport to get your free entry stamp.

So what if you’re not on theses lists? What if you want to have a visa for 1 month or 3 months? What if you want a multiple entry visa? Or what about a business visa? What should you do?

Organising a Visa on Arrival for Vietnam

You can either go to the Vietnamese Embassy in your country to apply for the visa or you can email us at Lily’s Travel Agency to ask for an invitation letter (approval letter). We can help you to issue the invitation letter so you can pick up a visa at the airport.

You pay us for the invitation letter, skipping a trip to the embassy, and then pay the stamping fee at the airport. Please contact us for the invitation letter fee.

The stamping fee is $25 for a single entry visa (both 1 month and 3 month visas) and $50 for a multiple entry visa (both 1 month and 3 month visas).

With more and more people discovering Vietnam, the international airports in Hanoi, Da Nang and Saigon can be pretty busy. So, let us walk you through exactly what to do on arrival at immigration so you know what to expect.

At the arrival hall inside the airport you will see the immigration desks and a Landing Visa Counter. You will likely need to queue up and should make sure you have all your necessary documents ready to hand to the immigration officers.

You will need to give them: your passport (valid for at least 6 months and with at least 2 full pages free for the full page visa), 2 passport photos (4×6 cm), a filled in visa application form and your invitation letter. The latter two must be printed out, not in digital format.

Application forms will be available nearby the counter that you can fill out. Make sure all the information is the same as on the invitation letter. Also, if you do not have passport photos, the Immigration officer can help you to take the photos for the price or $5/person. We advise you to try and have 2 or more on hand to avoid any extra queueing or hassle.

WARNING: Immigration officers deal with 100s of visas and visitors everyday, so sometimes they make mistakes. You need check carefully if you get the right visa (duration, entrance date and valid date). A lot of customers have suffered from their mistakes and have to pay a lot for visa extensions or renewals. This is very stressful, time consuming and costs money! So please be careful and check your visa very, very carefully.

When it is busy at the airport, we also advise that you try and be as calm and patient as possible when interacting with staff. This will make them feel more relaxed too and make the whole process simple and comfortable for everyone involved.

What if you fall in love with our country and want/need to stay longer than your current visa?

You will need to get us to organise a visa extension or travel on visa run.

Vietnam Visa extension

  • If you have the free visa stamp, you can extent for 7-15 days
  • If you have a 1 month visa, you can extend the visa for 15 days to 2 months
  • If you have a 3 months visa, you can extend for 15 days to 1 month

To extend your visa you need to pay the visa extension fee and leave your passport with us for a few days. We will help you to send your passport to the Immigration office to extend it for you. The process takes around 4-5 working days (they don’t work on Saturday and Sunday). The fee depends on your visa and how long you are extending, please get in touch with us to find out about your specific case.

Vietnam Visa Run

If you cannot do the visa extension and you need to stay longer, a visa run is a great choice.

We can help you to issue the invitation letter for 1 month, 3 months or 1 year. You then fly out of the country and come back with your new invitation letter. Normally, if you go out of the country, you need to wait at least 1 month to comeback but with the invitation letter, you can comeback right away and pick up the visa at the airport.

There are plenty of international air routes and budget airlines leaving from Vietnam, most for less than $100 return. We are happy to help arrange these flights on your behalf.

If you cross the border by land, it will be a little bit more complicated. You need your original invitation letter from the Immigration department. You take this with you when you cross the border by land and present it at a Vietnamese embassy in another country (like Laos or Cambodia) or at the land border. You show the original invitation letter to get a new visa and come back to Vietnam. This is sometimes more complicated but often the cheapest way to do a visa run.

We hope you found this information useful and it helps you to arrive in Vietnam quickly and easily! If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch or visit us at our store in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. 

Read more: The best place to visit in Vietnam with family (suitable for outdoor activities)

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