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6 Things to Know When Picking Up a Vietnam Visa on Arrival

The Vietnam visa on arrival (VOA) is a quick and efficient method to organize a cheap visa to Vietnam for the leisure or business trip. Traditionally, there was a need to apply for the Vietnam visa at a local Vietnamese embassy or consulate, but today the tourist has plenty of options and greater flexibility in the way the visa is obtained.

For travellers that are looking for an alternative solution to applying via a local embassy, the visa on arrival is a great option for a variety of reasons, such as its quick application process, cheap cost, and ease in organising online from home.


However, there are a few requirements that must be met to apply for the VOA and outlined in this Vietnam visa guide, including:

1) Travel by air
A standard requirement of the Vietnam visa on arrival is that the tourist intends to travel by air and arrive at one of the major international airports (Hanoi, Nha Trang, Ho Chi Minh City, or Danang). It is not an applicable entry method for tourists looking to arrive via water/sea entry or border/overland crossing. The official visa stamp is only provided on arrival at the chosen Vietnam international airport.

2) Organize the visa approval letter
Before travelling to Vietnam it is necessary to apply for the visa approval letter beforehand. This letter is enough to enter Vietnam without holding a full visa and makes it possible to complete the visa application after arriving at the chosen international airport.

Even though you won't be travelling with a full visa, the visa approval letter is still accepted to board a flight to Vietnam and shows that you intend to organize the full visa stamp after arriving at the destination airport. Without the approval letter, you will not be able to board your flight to Vietnam.

How to organize?
The process of applying for a visa approval letter is complete in a few simple steps:

Find a trustworthy travel agent or tour operator (such as VivuTravel) and complete the online application form with all pertinent information. This includes the applicant's information (full name, contact details, date of birth, gender, passport expiry date, and passport number) and visa information (purpose of visit, arrival airport, visa duration, and visa type).

Pay the quoted service fee to the third-party agent via bank transfer, credit card, PayPal, etc.

Wait 2-3 days for the visa approval letter to arrive by email. This must be printed out and taken on the flight to Vietnam.

At the airport (Hanoi, Nha Trang, Ho Chi Minh City, or Danang), the immigration authorities will check the details to make sure they match your other travel documents, including your passport. In the event that everything is accepted, you will get the official visa stamp on your passport.

3) Passport valid period
Travellers to Vietnam must make sure that their passport is valid for a period of at least 6 months beyond the arrival date in the country. Even if you do successfully organise the visa on arrival letter with a passport that is just short of 6 months, there is still a high risk of not received the official visa stamp after arriving in Vietnam after presenting your documentation to the immigration officer at the airport.

So, for this reason it is highly recommended that a passport has the full 6 months or more remaining before planning to travel.

4) Visa procedures at Vietnam airports
The actual procedure to get the visa stamping on arrival at the chosen Vietnam airport is relatively quick and straightforward. In most cases the queuing time at the airport is in the region of 15-30 minutes, but at busy times of the day, the wait may extend for up to 60 minutes.

For travellers intending to arrive at Hanoi airport the process to apply for the Vietnam visa on arrival is pretty straightforward. Simply make your way to the Customs Clearance area after arriving at the airport, which is relatively close to Baggage Claims and Customs.

For travellers that arrive at Ho Chi Minh City airport, it is simply a process of making your way to the Immigration Area.

Once there, you just need to submit your entry/exit application form, approval letter, original passport, and 2 passport size photos. Beyond the small fee paid to the travel agent to organize the letter of approval, there is also a stamping fee payable at the airport. This fee must be paid by cash in VND or USD.

5) Visa extension
Many tourists travelling to Vietnam believe the process to extend the existing visa is relatively straightforward if planning to stay in the country a little longer. However, the option to extend the visa isn't always a simple process and can be quite time-consuming and costly. Also, there is always the risk of the visa extension rules being changed at any given moment, which can have an impact on the travel plans.

For this reason, anyone travelling to Vietnam with the flexible travel plans that may extend beyond the standard 1 month visa will find it beneficial to apply for a 3 month visa instead. This means that any eventuality is covered in the event of finding more to do in Vietnam than originally expected.

6) Mistakes to avoid
There are a few mistakes that tourists to Vietnam need to avoid in the process of making the application for the approval letter, including:

Organise beforehand: even though this visa to Vietnam is called a visa on arrival, there is still work to be done before you leave home. You will need to organise the letter of approval before attempting to board your flight to Vietnam.

Typing mistakes: it is essential to carefully complete the online application form to avoid the basic typing/spelling mistakes. Any mistakes can have a negative impact on the ability to get the official visa stamp after arriving in the country. Carefully check information like the travellers full name, date of birth and passport number are correct. 

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