I’m An American…How Do I Get a Visa For Vietnam?
So, you’ve decided to go to Vietnam. That’s awesome, because Vietnam is an amazing country.
Now that you’ve made the decision, it’s time to sort out the Vietnamese Tourist Visa. As an American, you are required to get one. If you attempt to enter Vietnam without taking the necessary measures to secure a visa beforehand, you will be denied entry to the country. Needless to say, it’s important to make sure everything is squared away before you arrive.
In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about getting a 30-day, single entry Tourist Visa for Vietnam.
Before we go any further, check your passport and make sure:
- it has at least 6 months validity remaining
- there are two blank pages for visa and entry stamp.
If your passport passed the test, then keep reading to find out the next steps on getting your tourist visa:
There are three ways to get the Vietnam Tourist Visa as an American:
1. Electronic visa or Vietnam E-Visa: This is probably the easiest way to obtain a tourist visa.
An application needs to be filled online and the fee paid ($25). It’s important to remember that you cannot enter the country prior to the arrival date you put on this application. Entry at a later date is fine.
To complete the online application: provide a copy of your passport, digital photo, and an email address for correspondence. Once your application has been successfully submitted, you will immediately receive an electronic visa. Print this out and you are essentially good to go.
You don’t need to stop at the Visa Landing desk as you would have to with options 3 (visa on arrival option) below. Just go straight to the Immigration Check Point where an officer will check your passport and visa and stamp you into the country.
- There is a list of 8 international airports, 13 land ports, and 7 sea ports that Americans holding an e-visa can enter through. The list can be found here. Most Americans fly into Vietnam (as opposed to crossing a border by land or sea) and yes, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, and Da Nang airports are all listed as approved airports.
Note: The process is different if you want to stay longer than 30 days in Vietnam or you want a multiple-entry visa. Apply for a visa on approval or through an embassy to receive a 30-day multi-entry visa, 3-month single/multi-entry visa, 6-month multi-entry visa, or 12-month multi-entry visa.
2. Visa from Embassy or Consulate of Vietnam: This is another option for obtaining a visa ahead of time, although it comes with a bit more hassle than the e-visa. The costs can also vary quite a bit depending on which consulate in which country you decide to go with.
If you are coming straight from the U.S. to Vietnam then you need to get the visa issued in the U.S. There are three Vietnamese Consulates locations that provide this service; Houston, TX; San Francisco, CA; and New York, NY. There is also an embassy in Washington, D.C. You will have to mail in your passport, two passport photos, an application, a cover sheet, and the processing fee of $90. It’s recommended to complete this 1-3 months before your scheduled trip, however visa processing time is stated as just 4-5 days. You can even pay an extra $30 for rushed service and get the visa within 24-48 hours.
Your passport will be mailed back to you with the visa included on a blank page. Upon arrival in Vietnam, proceed straight to the Immigration Check Point.
If you are entering Vietnam from another foreign country, you can also apply from the Vietnamese consulate in that country and wait there while it’s processed. In many cases, this method is cheaper than doing it at home. For example, if you are traveling in Cambodia you have two Vietnam consulate options and one embassy: Sihanoukville, Battambang and Phnom Penh, respectively. The process is similar to that in the U.S. – you will need to provide two passport photos, fill the application, and pay the fee. However, what’s different is the cost. For a 30-day, single entry visa issued from the Vietnamese Consulate/Embassy in Cambodia, expect to pay much less – around $40. Your visa should take 1-2 days to be issued. You can then go and pick your passport up at the consulate/embassy.
3. Pre-Approval for Visa on Arrival: This process happens when authorized businesses or travel agencies arrange a pre-approval for a visa on arrival in Vietnam. This is our least-preferred method of obtaining a visa and it usually works out to be the most expensive. You’ll have to pay a fee to a Visa On Arrival (VOA) agency which can vary between $8 – $10. For this fee, the agency will create an approval letter for you and send it to you. Once you arrive in Vietnam, you will present this letter, plus two passport photos, at the Visa Landing desk. You will also have to pay another $25 to get the actual visa.
Some American travelers reported being charged exceptionally high fees and additional fees upon landing which is why we recommend going with a less complicated and less expensive method. The U.S. Department of State also recommends obtaining the visa directly from a Vietnamese Consulate or Embassy or by following the E-Visa method (see above).
These are the three ways to obtain a Vietnam Tourist Visa as an American. We recommend the e-visa for its ease and efficiency, however feel free to pick the method that works best for you!