Let’s get right to it, if you’re an American, you need a visa to enter Vietnam as a tourist. There are two ways you can go about this, apply for the eVisa or apply for the visa on arrival (referred to herein as VOA). Below, I explain both options and provide a reputable company to do your VOA if you choose to go that route. Please always use the U.S. Department of State’s website for the most up to date country specific visa information.
- Good for 30 days
- Only valid for single entry (meaning you can’t leave Vietnam and come back in on the same visa within the 30 days)
- Cost: $25
- Takes around 3 days to process
The quickest, easiest, and cheapest way to get your Vietnam visa is through the official government website using this link https://www.xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn/. The website says it takes 3 days, but in my experience, it’s taken anywhere from 1 to 4 days. So don’t rely on the 3 day processing time if you’re booking a last minute flight. All you do is fill in the application online, pay the $25, and wait. In the application, you must specify your entry and exit ports however, I don’t think the exit port matters as it doesn’t show up on your actual visa but your entry port will, so get that right (I don’t know what happens if you don’t). You will receive a code via email once you’ve applied which you use to check the status of your visa using this link https://evisa.xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn/tra-cuu-ho-so. You won’t get an email notification when it’s been approved, you just need to keep checking online. Once you have the eVisa, you print it and present it to the immigration officer at the border. It’s that easy. Apply, wait, and print. No extra fee or physical passport photo needed at the airport. The visa will look like this
Visa on Arrival (VOA)
- Good for 30 or 90 days (depending on which visa you choose)
- Valid for single or multiple entry (depending on which visa you choose)
- Cost: Using Vietnam Visa Pro, anywhere from $31 to $190 (depending on how much notice you give and which visa you choose)
- Takes anywhere from 1 hour to 2 working days to process
With the VOA route, you obviously have more options, but the process isn’t as straight forward. First, you apply for what’s called a VOA letter. You get this from a company who will in essence sponsor your entry into the country. There are hundreds of companies you can go through for the letter but there are also hundreds of fraudulent companies. I recommend using Vietnam Visa Pro (this link is them as well: Vietnam Visa Pro). I used them when I was in a pickle and they were lifesavers. They are quick, friendly, and speak English quite well.
What you pay for the VOA letter depends on which type of visa you want. This is their current price table:
The VOA letter will look like this. Your information will be combined with other individuals. Although not ideal, this is completely normal for the letter.
Once you get your VOA letter, you should also be given an entry and exit form. Print this out and fill it in ahead of arriving at the airport to save time. You will need two 4×6 cm passport photos to attach to the form. The entry and exit form looks like this:
When you get to the airport, you’ll need to go to the VOA counter where they will process your application. This is where you’ll need to pay the “stamp fee”. The amount you pay depends on the type of visa you applied for. The table below shows the current prices. Have the exact amount in USD.
After all that, you can finally enter the country.
So, now you can probably see why people go for the eVisa over the VOA. I would only use the VOA if I wanted to stay longer than 30 days, enter multiple times, or if I was in a rush and didn’t have time to wait for the eVisa.