What You Need to Know Before Applying for a Tourism Visa to Vietnam
When Americans start thinking about their next trip abroad the first thing on their mind probably isn't getting a visa.
United States passports allow Americans to go to 184 countries and territories without applying for a visa in advance.
Unfortunately, Vietnam isn't one of them.
While applying for a visa may sound daunting, there are two easy ways for Americans and other foreign nationals to apply.
The positives and negatives of each will be explained. I have personally tried both of these methods and have first hand experience going through the entire process.
Top Pick: Applying through the online visa application website
The website is in English and has easy to understand instructions.
Then you will be moved to this page where you need to agree that you carefully read the instructions.
The next page requires you to fill out some basic information. Make sure to have your passport information available.
Special attention for Americans: The dates go in day/month/year. If you do not write it in the correct order your visa may be rejected.
Finally you are required to pay $25.93 for the visa and online processing fee. All major American credit cards are accepted.
The fee is in US dollars so you do not need to worry about a foreign transaction fee.
Your evisa should arrive in less than 3 business days. Use the registration code you received to check the website or simply wait for them to email you your visa.
Sometimes you are able to see if you were approved faster by checking the online portal.
After receiving your visa print out two copies. You will need one to enter Vietnam and a second copy is always wise to have.
Make sure to bring a physical copy of the evisa with you when you enter Vietnam. They likely will not even let you on the plane unless you have it with you.
Having the visa on your cell phone will not suffice.
By going through the online system you will not be required to receive a tourism visa sticker for your passport.
Simply head to the immigration queue and show them a print out copy of your evisa. They will stamp your passport and then your journey can begin!
The biggest downside to the online portal application is that that it only works for single-entry tourism visas. If you plan on coming in and out of Vietnam you will need reapply each time you plan on entering the country.
Second Pick: Using a visa agency company
As an alternative to the online portal foreigners are able to apply for a Vietnam visa through licensed agencies. Agencies allow international travelers to apply for single and multiple entry tourism visas. Additionally, some also allow for Americans to apply for a one year business visa.
On my second trip to Vietnam I thought I'd give it a try to see the differences.
In the end, applying through a visa agency for a single entry visa is more time, more money, and more hassle.
You will end up paying an additional fee for the visa agency company and the materials required add on an additional cost as well.
The positive of working through an accredited Vietnam visa agency is that they will double check your information to ensure everything is right before it heads to the Vietnamese authorities.
This could potentially save you time and money if you make an error on your application.
There are countless Vietnam visa agencies out there. The one I previously used and would recommend is MyVietnamVisa.
The website walks you through the instructions very clearly and the English is generally pretty good. (This is not always the case when it comes to tourism websites in Asia.)
After landing in Vietnam you will be required to wait in line and receive a visa sticker for your passport. It will cover an entire page.
You must have USD or VND hard currency available to pay the processing fee for the visa they will give you. The price varies depending on which visa you are receiving. They do not accept credit cards. You cannot pay the fee in advance through the visa agency company.
If you do not travel internationally often then having the visa in your passport may be a nice souvenir. However, the cost is that you are required to wait in a processing line that may require waiting an hour or more.
If you are looking for a single entry tourism visa use the online application portal. It's fast, easy, and the most cost efficient method. Visa companies help provide reassurance but at the cost of a longer, more expensive process. Visa companies are the best choice if you are looking for a multiple entry tourism visa or business visa.
About the author:
Alexander is a recent graduate from Portland State University in the United States where he received his undergraduate degree in political science. He is currently pursuing his graduate degree in international relations at Peking University in Beijing, China.
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