Lots of travelers struggle to understand the visa situation in Vietnam. Not because it’s difficult or anything… it’s actually piss easy.
The laws constantly change and may change depending on the border agent you meet at the border. This short guide will help clear some of the confusion about the visa situation in Vietnam.
Note: This article is for flying into Vietnam at the three international airports. Check out my Vietnam visa run article for details on a visa run.
You Probably Need a Visa Letter
Most nationalities will need a visa letter to enter Vietnam. Don’t worry they’re easy to get. However, this is a bit of a shock to those of us with powerful passports.
There is no showing up at the border and having them stamp your passport. That’s too easy.
The only exceptions to the visa letter rule are most other ASEAN countries, a few other Asian countries, and some other random European countries.
Passports that do not require a visa letter are:
Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, and Laos get 30 days in the country.
The Philippines get 21 days visa-free.
Myanmar gets 14 days visa-free.
France, Germany, Spain, United Kingdom, Italy, South Korea, Japan, Russia, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Brunei, and Belarus get 15 days visa-free entry.
Double check this before coming over. This stuff changes a lot.
Everything You Need to Bring
I’ll just put the answers you want right here.
You need the following:
- A Vietnam visa-letter for the amount of time you want to stay. You should get this done at least one week beforehand.
- $25-$135 USD depending on what type of visa you purchase. Bring an extra $20 just in case. Make sure your money is not ripped. They make change at the airport.
- 2 passport sized pictures. Again, bring extras in case they don’t accept it.
- A black or blue pen.
- An onward flight ticket (This is for your airline. Sometimes they don’t check, sometimes they do. The Vietnamese customs never check.)
- An already completed application form. (Click here for PDF) This will save you time at the gate.
The stamping fee will generally cost the following, but it may vary depending on nationality:
- 1 or 3 month single entry: $25 USD
- 1 or 3 month multiple entry: $50 USD
- 1 year multiple entry $135 USD
FAQ About Flying to Vietnam
Where can I purchase the Vietnam Visa Letter?
This website worked great for me on two occasions. You can choose other sites, but I can only recommend this one as I have direct experience with it (and no one has paid me to advertise another site).
Just make sure to order like 4 or 5 business days ahead of time. Also, if you’re flying into Vietnam around Tet (Lunar New Year), then purchase the letter before that starts.
Do I need a letter if I already have a visa?
You just walk to the guy in the stamping booth and he’ll stamp you into the country. Easy.
Does the Fast track work?
Some guy will meet you at the gate, fill out your form (or have it already filled out), and make sure your passport is the first one to get stamped.
It will save you some time.
Do I Need an Onward Flight ticket?
Vietnamese border agents will not check it.
Your airline may want to see it though. I’ll write a guide to purchasing onward flight tickets for free.
How long does it take?
It can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 2 hours. Depends on their speed and how fast you are at getting them the letter.
What if I don’t have a passport picture/enough money?
If you have no picture, then you have to wait for an agent to come out and take your picture.
If you have no money, then someone will walk you to the ATM outside.
Both of these will delay your entry into the country.
What happens to my checked bag?
They just put it in a pile near the luggage thing that it was on. No one touched mine, but this doesn’t seem particularly safe.
Well that’s it. Hope you got some value from it. Don’t forget, you can start swiping on Tinder while you wait (I think the airport has WiFi?).