Vietnam is a beautiful country located in Southeast Asia, known for its stunning natural landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and mouth-watering cuisine. As Vietnam continues to rise in popularity as a tourist destination, many travelers are looking into the different visa options available to visit Vietnam. The top two most popular and convenient Vietnam visa options are the Vietnam visa on arrival and the Vietnam visa exemption.
Vietnam Visa On Arrival
The Vietnam visa on arrival allows eligible travelers to obtain a visa when they arrive at international airports in Vietnam. This is one of the most popular visa options as it offers convenience for travelers. Here’s an overview of everything you need to know about the Vietnam visa on arrival.
What is the Vietnam Visa On Arrival?
The Vietnam visa on arrival, also known as VOA, allows eligible travelers to obtain a visa after arriving at certain international airports in Vietnam. Instead of applying for a visa in advance through a Vietnamese embassy or consulate, you can get approved for a visa on arrival at the airport upon entering Vietnam. This single-entry visa is valid for 30 days.
Citizens from 24 countries are currently eligible to apply for the Vietnam visa on arrival. This includes passport holders from:
- Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden
- Japan, South Korea
- Italy, Germany, France, UK, Spain
- Russia, Belarus
- Southeast Asian countries: Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia
- Middle Eastern countries: UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait
In addition, Vietnamese overseas citizens and stateless persons who reside in the eligible countries above can also apply for VOA.
How to Get the Vietnam Visa On Arrival
The process to get a Vietnam visa on arrival is straightforward:
- Get approval letter: You must apply for an approval letter before departure through a visa on arrival service. Provide necessary documents like passport details. Pay the visa stamping fee.
- Fly to Vietnam: Bring the approval letter, 2 passport photos, completed application form, and payment for the visa stamping fee.
- Obtain visa at airport: Present the above documents at the Visa on Arrival desk after clearing immigration. Get passport stamped with 30-day single-entry visa.
Vietnam Visa On Arrival Fees
The fees for a Vietnam visa on arrival include:
- Approval letter fee: ~$15-25
- Visa stamping fee paid on arrival: ~$25 per person
- Optional express/VIP service fee: ~$10-20 for faster processing
So in total budget ~$50-65 per person for the visa on arrival. Arrive early in case of long queues at the visa desk.
Where to Apply for Vietnam Visa On Arrival?
The Vietnam visa on arrival is available at the following international airports in Vietnam:
- Noi Bai International Airport (HAN) in Hanoi
- Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN) in Ho Chi Minh City
- Da Nang (DAD) and Phu Quoc (PQC) airports
Travelers arriving at any other airports or land borders in Vietnam must get a visa in advance.
Pros of Vietnam Visa On Arrival
Some benefits of applying for the Vietnam visa on arrival include:
- Convenient – Skip embassy visa process and obtain on arrival
- Fast – Get approval letter quickly online before departure
- Flexible – Allows last minute Vietnam trip plans
- Single entry – Ideal for first-time Vietnam visitors
Cons of Vietnam Visa On Arrival
Some downsides to be aware of include:
- Non-eligible nationalities – Citizens from many countries cannot get VOA
- Only certain airports – Not available if entering Vietnam by land or other airports
- Short validity – 30 days only, must leave or extend visa if staying longer
- Queues at airport – Wait times at VOA desk can be long during peak times
So the Vietnam VOA offers a simple and convenient visa option for short first-time trips to Vietnam. But it has limitations on eligibility and validity that travelers should consider.
Vietnam Visa Exemption
Vietnam also offers visa exemptions for passport holders from certain countries. This allows for short visa-free entry into Vietnam. Here are the key things to know about the Vietnam visa exemption.
What is the Vietnam Visa Exemption?
The Vietnam visa exemption program allows citizens of eligible countries to enter Vietnam without a visa for a short stay. This visa waiver permits a stay of up to 15 or 30 days in Vietnam, depending on nationality. You do not have to apply for any approval letters or documents in advance.
Who is Eligible for Vietnam Visa Exemption?
Citizens from the following 24 countries currently qualify for visa exemption to Vietnam:
- Many Southeast Asian countries – Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia
- Scandinavia – Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden
- Other European nations – UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy
- Asia Pacific – Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand
In addition, overseas Vietnamese can enter without a visa.
Vietnam Visa Exemption Validity
The visa exemption validity depends on your nationality:
- 15 days visa-free – For citizens of Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, South Korea, Japan
- 30 days visa-free – For citizens of other eligible countries including Southeast Asia, Europe, and Asia Pacific regions
The exemption is for a single entry within those validity days. Extensions are not possible.
Entry Requirements for Vietnam Visa Exemption
To enter Vietnam without a visa under the exemption program, you’ll need:
- A passport from an eligible country with 6+ months validity
- An outbound ticket from Vietnam within the visa exemption period
No other approval documents are required. Present passport when entering Vietnam to get the visa exemption stamp.
Where Does the Vietnam Visa Exemption Apply?
The visa exemption can be used when entering Vietnam through:
- Any international airport
- Any international land border crossing with Cambodia, Laos, or China
So you can fly into any city or also enter overland if traveling to Vietnam by bus, for example from Cambodia.
Pros of Vietnam Visa Exemption
Vietnam’s visa exemption program offers these advantages:
- Easy and fast entry – No visa paperwork required in advance
- Available nationwide – Can enter by any airport or land border
- Budget friendly – No visa fees to pay
- Short visits – Ideal for quick Vietnam trips under 30 days
Cons of Vietnam Visa Exemption
Some limitations to note about the visa exemption:
- Restricted validity – Only 15 or 30 days stay permitted
- Ineligibility – Not available for all nationalities
- No extensions – Must exit Vietnam before exemption expires
- Single entry – Does not permit re-entry or multiple visits
So the visa exemption is great for short first-time visits to Vietnam. But longer stays or multiple visits will require getting an actual visa.
Vietnam Visa – Visa On Arrival vs Visa Exemption
When considering the top two Vietnam visa options – visa on arrival vs visa exemption – here is a comparison for travelers to keep in mind:
The VOA is available to passport holders from select countries, while the visa exemption has a different list of eligible nationalities. Not all nationalities can use both entry options.
The VOA allows 30 days in Vietnam. The visa exemption can be 15 or 30 days depending on the country.
Entry Condition Exemptions
The VOA requires pre-approval while the visa exemption has no approval formalities. You can simply arrive with your passport to receive the visa waiver.
The VOA is only available at certain major international airports. The visa exemption works when entering by any airport, land border or seaport.
The VOA requires paying fees upfront for approval letter and visa stamping. The visa exemption is free.
The VOA permits a single 30-day stay. The exemption allows a single entry for 15/30 days. Neither can be extended or converted to a longer visa.
When planning a trip to Vietnam, here are some tips to select the best visa option for your situation:
Check Your Eligibility
First see if you qualify for the VOA or visa exemption based on your nationality. This will dictate which (if any) options are available to you.
Consider Your Entry Point
If flying into major airports like Hanoi/Saigon, the VOA is convenient. For other entry points, the visa exemption may be better.
Assess Your Length of Stay
The VOA allows a longer 30-day stay, so works well for extensive Vietnam vacations. The exemption is best for quick 1-2 week trips.
Factor in Processing Time and Costs
The VOA requires applying, paying fees, and processing the approval letter in advance. The exemption simply requires bringing your passport.
Determine Your Plans for Re-entry
Both options allow a single entry. If you plan to exit and return during your Vietnam trip, you’ll need to get an actual visa.
Be Aware of Cutoff Dates
Apply for your VOA approval in advance – at least 5 days before departure is recommended. The exemption has no application cutoff dates to worry about.
By considering these key factors – entry eligibility, arrival location, trip duration, costs, re-entry needs and application timelines – you can determine if the Vietnam visa on arrival or Vietnam visa exemption is the optimal choice for your upcoming Vietnam visit.
FAQs About Vietnam Visas
What is the cheapest way to get a Vietnam visa?
The most budget friendly option is the Vietnam visa exemption program, which allows free entry for 30 days for eligible passport holders. Alternatively, you may be able to get a discounted Vietnam e-visa by applying directly through the Vietnamese Immigration Department website without any third party visa services involved. This is cheaper than using visa agencies.
How early should I apply for a Vietnam visa on arrival approval letter?
It’s recommended to complete your VOA approval letter application at least 5 days before departure, for safe allowance of processing time. Some agencies can process urgent requests in 2-3 days for an additional fee. Avoid applying at the last minute in case of any delays.
Can I get a Vietnam visa on arrival for land travel?
No, the Vietnam VOA is only available when entering by air at major airports – Hanoi, Saigon, Danang or Phu Quoc. For land border crossings you will need to get a regular pre-arranged visa before arrival.
How long can I stay in Vietnam on the visa exemption program?
The visa exemption duration depends on your nationality. It allows entry for either 15 or 30 days – for example, 30 days for UK, US, Canada, Australia and 15 days for Scandinavia, Japan, Korea. Check eligibility to confirm the duration you qualify for.
Can I extend my Vietnam visa exemption or VOA?
Unfortunately, no. Both the VOA and the visa exemption program allow only a single entry for a fixed duration of either 15/30 days. They cannot be extended further in Vietnam. You must exit Vietnam before the expiration date and re-enter with a new visa or exemption for any continued stay.
Vietnam has emerged as a must-visit destination, enticing travelers with its spectacular scenery, fascinating history and culture, mouthwatering cuisine, and affordability. The Vietnam visa on arrival and Vietnam visa exemption offer two convenient and popular methods for easy entry for short first-time visits to Vietnam.
The visa on arrival is available for select nationalities arriving at major airports, while the visa exemption allows more nationalities to enter Vietnam visa-free by any means for 15-30 days. Both offer speed and convenience compared to regular pre-arranged visas.
Carefully review if you qualify for these Vietnam visa options and verify the requirements match your plans. With some advance planning, you can enjoy a streamlined visa process and unlock the amazing experiences Vietnam has to offer. Have an incredible trip!