If you’re planning on a single-entry visit to Vietnam for 30 days maximum then applying for the new e-visa is relatively simple.
Before I started travelling last November I’d read that to gain entry into Vietnam I’d need a visa in advance. This would involve purchasing an invitation letter from an authorised visa agency. This would then be produced either at the airport or border and I would purchase a Visa on Arrival (so there are two fees: one for the invitation letter and another for your visa).
I was then told by a traveller at the beginning of the year that a new e-visa application would be available via the Vietnamese government, this would eliminate the need for a visa agency.
The new e-visa application came into effect in February 2017 and is eligible for certain countries and costs $25.00 (non-refundable if application denied). This gives you a single entry visa for 30 days via 8 airports, 13 overland borders and 7 seaports.
Information about extending the e-visa isn’t clear, however, the website states “e-visa holders in Vietnam may be considered to get new visa if being invited/guaranteed by authority/organization/individual in Vietnam in accordance with Law on foreigners’ entry into, exit from, transit through, residence in Vietnam”.
Travellers looking to stay longer than 30 days may want to apply for a longer visa using the existing process.
I found the email support to be somewhat useful if you ask the question in the right way and they email back quite swiftly. The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org or you can use their contact form.
The website itself is basic to say the least and doesn’t have an official feel to it, the email address is with Gmail and one might think they are being led into a scam. I will admit I did think that myself but I’d done as much research as I could given the e-visa application is new. I was concerned about arriving at the airport and being turned away. Thankfully, everything was okay and I would like to share my experience.
How to Apply:
Check your country is eligible here.
Go to https://evisa.xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn/trang-chu-ttdt and click on Foreigner.
Agree to the steps and continue to the next page and complete your personal details.
The date needs to be the date you intend to arrive and I don’t believe you’ll be able to enter before this date. I applied for my e-visa after I booked my flight so I knew the day I was definitely arriving.
Scan and upload your passport page and a passport style photograph.
I emailed the support email to ask if it mattered which checkpoint I entered through as I wasn’t sure if I was going to fly or arrive overland. The answer was vague but seemed to suggest that it wouldn’t be a problem how I entered the country. If in doubt send them an email.
Once completed continue and review the application, then proceed to payment. It’s $25.00 (approximately £20.00) for the visa plus non-sterling transaction fee which for me was £0.59.
When payment is submitted make a note of the reference number. The e-visa will take up to 3 working days and you can check on the website using the reference number.
Once received you can download to your email and print out ready for your trip.
Arriving in Vietnam:
I arrived by flight to Hanoi and after emailing the support email I was advised to head straight to immigration with my printed e-visa. This is exactly what I did and was stamped in with no questions asked and no weird looks to say “what is this piece of paper?”
So, all in all I had a good experience with applying for my e-visa, making payment and actually entering Vietnam. It would be great if Vietnam would adopt the same approach to the Visa on Arrival as per their neighbouring countries, hopefully in the future they will get there.
Have you used the new e-visa system? Please comment on any issues you had or if it was plain sailing…