If you travel though Vietnam for less than 15 days and you carry a German, French, British, Italian or Spanish passport, you don’t need a visa. You go through customs without visiting the immigration office.
For any other nationalities and lengths of stay longer than 15 days there are a few simple steps you need to prepare in order to get a visa on arrival. Of course you can apply for a visa upfront in another country but not all of us live in cities with an embassy.
So here are the steps to be taken when applying for a visa on arrival:
- To enter Vietnam you need an approval letter, this letter can be issued by any of the agencies available online, their service is simple cheap and reliable and they even got emergency processing in 30 min (you can do it in the airport if you forgot).
- The inconvenience of this is that you always need to mention upfront through which airport/border will you be entering the country; you need to print the letter although I forgot and showed them the email on my phone and it was completely fine.
- Passport and 2 passport size photos
- 25$ in cash or the equivalent in VND (for one month single entry), not possible to pay by card over there.
I used Vietnam Visa Center for my letter, and everything went smoothly with them, you can enter the country within a month time frame according to the letter you receive so not strictly on the date you initially mentioned.
- The customs office and the immigration are not properly marked (at least not in Saigon) so you may risk queuing wrongfully which will lead you to start the whole thing over (happened to me of course :))..maybe ask someone first…
- Get to the immigration queue, fill in the form, hand in all of the above along with the form and have a seat as they will call you in a few minutes when the visa is ready.
- Be aware that if you miss anything the customs officers don’t have the knowledge or the patience to explain you so they will just say no, try to find out online (like there was girl who needed an approval letter and they said it takes days, but there was actually an emergency service as well just that no officer informed her about it)
As a final note, I’ve got a couple of Italian friends who entered Vietnam from Cambodia on land and although they didn’t need a visa they had to pay 50$ each, else they couldn’t enter, so know your visa requirements upfront before letting corruption ruin your trip/budget…still need to ask them which border was that, so I can maybe come back with some details.