Visas on arrival

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The term of visa on arrival (VOA) is a bit of a misnomer in the case of Vietnam as a letter of approval has to be obtained before arrival. This is handled by a growing number of online agencies and the payment term is credit card or Western Union.

The Vietnamese agents obtain from the Vietnam Department of Immigration a letter of approval bearing the traveler’s name, date of birth, date of arrival, nationality and passport number, and then forwards that letter to the traveler (in PDF or JPEG format) by email or fax, usually within three working days.

After landing at one of the international airports (for instance, in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Danang City), travelers will  go to the "Visa upon arrival Counter" and show the letter, fills in an additional arrival form (can be pre-filled before departure) and receive an official stamp (sticker) on the passport. Stamping fee is $25 ($50 for a multiple entry visa) (only USD or VND cash are accepted) plus 2 photos of 4 x 6 cm.

Note that visas on arrival are not valid for border crossings and the official stamp can only be obtained at the three international airports in Vietnam. Therefore, tourists travel to Vietnam by land from Cambodia, Laos or China must do a full visa procedure when they arrive at the border of Vietnam.

A third alternative, 'Visa Code' appears to be another option where online approval is first obtained - with a code, and then tourists will take the passport to the Embassy for the visa to be 'stamped'. The service fee is cheaper at the Embassy in Europe or America. In Asia, the cost is as same as the regular total visa fee, but tourists will not have to take time to go back and forth to the Embassy.

Passengers of Air Asia and some other airlines travelling to Vietnam must present the approval letter at check-in.

Vietnam has moved away from the arrival/departure cards.

Business visas

Valid in three or six months, and allow multiple entries and the right to work. Business visa procedure is now cheaper and easier; however, its price is twice as much as price of tourist visa.

Re-Entry Visas

It’s possible to enter Cambodia or Laos from Vietnam and then re-enter without having to apply for another visa. However, tourists have to apply for a re-entry visa before leaving Vietnam. Without any re-entry visa, tourists will have to go through the whole visa process again. The service of Re-entry visa ($25 fee) will be prepared by a tourist agent in one or two days.

Student Visas

A student visa is usually arranged after tourist’s arrival. It’s acceptable to enter Vietnam by a tourist visa, enroll in a Vietnamese language course and then apply for changing status at the immigration department. In fact, the easiest way to do it is to contact a travel company and ask them help make the application.

Visa Extensions

Tourist-visa extensions officially cost $10, but it is easier to pay more and sort this out through a travel agency. The procedure takes two or three days but tourists can only extend the time for 30 days.

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