Step-by-step guide to Vietnam visa on arrival

After living in Hanoi for almost 10 months now, I can safely say that I am a pro at obtaining a Vietnamese Visa on Arrival. I’ve received four Vietnamese visas on arrival and still have one to go. At this point, I could go through the whole process with my eyes closed. My first time getting one was in September when I moved to Hanoi. I landed in Hanoi alone at about 11:30pm after roughly 26 hours of travel. I was exhausted, hungry and in a country where I didn’t know a soul. I landed with my fingers crossed that the visa on arrival process would be quick and simple. And thankfully, it was! Before I continue, I think it’s important to note that a Vietnam visa on arrival can only be obtained at the airports in Hanoi, Danang, Nha Trang and Saigon. If you enter Vietnam by bus, train, or boat, a Vietnamese visa on arrival is not an option. After much experience, I am here to fill you in, step-by-step, on how you can also get a Vietnamese visa on arrival seamlessly.


Step 1: Apply for the Visa On Arrival

There are a ton of online websites that you can use to apply for a visa on arrival. I’ve been using during my time in Vietnam and have never had an issue. The process to apply for a visa takes all of 5-minutes, if that. Besides filling out personal information such as name, age, passport number, etc. you will need to decide what type of visa is best for you. Here are your options:

  • One month single entry visa
  • One month multiple entry visa
  • Three month single entry visa
  • Three month multiple entry visa

The visas differ according to length and number of entries. If you know you need to leave Vietnam at some point during your stay, you can choose to get 2 single entry visas or 1 multiple entry visa. This is entirely up to you! Tip: be sure to compare costs and also think about convenience. It may be cheaper to get 2 single entry visas as opposed to 1 multiple entry visa; however, it is more convenient to only go through the process once with a multiple entry visa.

Step 2: Get Passport Photos

When you arrive in Vietnam, you’ll need a recent passport photo in order to get the visa on arrival. If you forget, I believe you can take a passport photo at the airport for a fee. However, it’s easier to have everything ready when you arrive in Vietnam.

Step 3: Bring United States Dollars

When you apply for your visa on arrival online, you will pay a service fee. You also need to pay a stamping fee at the airport. The fee amount depends entirely on what visa you getting. You may pay this fee in Vietnamese Dong; however, I suggest paying in United States Dollars. The fee is stated in United States Dollars. So, when the exchange rate fluctuates, the amount you will have to pay in Vietnamese Dong will change but the United States Dollar fee will always stay the same. Paying in United States Dollars makes it simpler on you so you don’t have to figure out the current exchange rate.

Tip: I once paid in Vietnamese Dong because I didn’t have any Dollars with me. I also didn’t have exact change. I paid the fee and had to ask for my change back. The person working the counter was hoping I didn’t know what I was supposed to pay in Dong and that I would just continue through Immigration. I have heard of this happening to a lot of people so be aware.

Step 4: Fill Out The Application

After you apply, you will receive two separate emails. The first email states that your visa on arrival application is pending. There is also an application attached to this email. Print the application out and fill it in before you land to save time at the airport. The second email will follow a few days later. This email states that your application has either been approved or denied. If approved, this email will have an approval letter attached to it. Print this approval letter and bring it with you.

Step 5: Land And Go To “Visa On Arrival” Counter

Now that you’ve traveled to Vietnam, you’re almost done! Power walk and try to beat the crowds from your flight to the Visa On Arrival counter. DO NOT go through Immigration yet. At the counter, give your approval letter, passport photo, application, and passport to the person working. Now hold tight. I’ve had this process only take 5-minutes and I’ve also had the process take 30-minutes. Once your visa on arrival has been placed in your passport, they will call your name. Collect your passport, pay the stamping fee and NOW go through Immigration.

Five Things…

In conclusion, be sure you have these five things before leaving your house to fly to Vietnam:

  • Passport photo
  • United States Dollars
  • Application
  • Approval Letter
  • Passport


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