My Experience Applying For A Vietnam E-Visa With A US Passport

I’ll be headed to Vietnam soon thanks to some great business class fares that Qatar Airways published earlier in the year. While I could just do a “direct turn” in Vietnam, I figured I’d spend a couple of nights in Ho Chi Minh City, as it has been about a decade since I last visited.

Last year my entry into Vietnam was a mess. I totally forgot that Vietnam required visas in advance, so I ended up having to pay an arm and a leg to use a last minute emergency visa service.

The great news is that earlier this year Vietnam introduced single entry e-visas for nationals of 40 countries (here are the eligible countries), including the United States. I just went through the process of applying for an e-visa, and figured I’d report back on the process, which was quite easy.

To request an e-visa for Vietnam first visit this page, which has all the basics. The whole process took maybe 10 minutes, and within two days my e-visa was approved (it’s not an instant process).

You’ll want to select the “for foreigners” option, which will bring you to a page explaining what you’ll need.

The only slightly annoying part is that you have to upload a copy of both your passport picture page and a portrait picture. The good news is that neither of these pictures have to be “professional.” I just used my iPhone to take a picture of my passport’s picture page, and then took a portrait picture with my iPhone, and uploaded that. That did the trick.

The rest of the form is easy to fill out, as they just ask for the basics.

The one area of the form that confused me was that I wasn’t sure if I should enter my exact arrival and departure date for requesting when the e-visa should be valid. I could see them giving me issues if the dates didn’t match. However, after entering my exact dates, the next page automatically showed the “valid” dates as being a month around my dates, so it seems that answered my question.

After verifying my information I was given a verification code. It’s very important that you take note of your verification code, as you’ll need it later on.

I was then brought to a separate website where I was asked to pay the $25 visa fee. Note that they don’t take American Express cards, and there’s also a ~$1 fee for paying by credit card.

For what it’s worth, this payment doesn’t seem to qualify as any sort of travel bonus category, as I earned a single point per dollar on my Sapphire Reserve.

Once that was processed I received a payment invoice confirming my payment.

I was told that it typically takes about three days to have your visa approved. My expectation was that I’d receive an email confirming my visa application and the registration code. However, I never received that, and also never received an email confirming that my visa was approved.

So make sure you take a screenshot of your registration code, because you’ll need it in order to get your e-visa later on. It could be I did something wrong during the process, but I find it bizarre that they don’t email you when it’s approved, or send you an email with that code.

After a few days I went to the e-visa search menu to check on the status of my application. There I entered my registration code, email, and date of birth.

That page confirmed that my e-visa had been approved, and gave me a link where I could download and print the one page e-visa.

Bottom line

The process of applying for a Vietnamese e-visa was super easy. It took about 10 minutes, cost $25, and was approved within a couple of days, so that’s a great improvement over the old system. There are a few things to be aware of during the process, but otherwise this is a really user-friendly system they have, in my opinion.

If you’ve applied for a Vietnamese e-visa, what was your experience like?

Comments

  1. Watch your stuff at vietnam airports. The staff there has been known to swipe items even when just going through the metal detectors. Members of their own government have fallen victim to this as well.

  2. Similar experience – easy. Took a photo with my iphone as well and that worked just fine. A lot better than handing my passport over at the Consulate prior to travel as before. One less full page visa in the passport, extending its life a little longer.

  3. I would add, bring a printout of the visa approval. I am sure they could look it up, but they did ask for it when I went through customs at Hanoi airport this year.

  4. Where are you staying in HCMC? I had a great stay at the Park Hyatt! Enjoy Vietnam..I can’t wait to return in December.

  5. @smitty. They do offer multiple entry visas, but unfortunately have to go the old fashioned way (no eVisa).

  6. I just got mine last night for a trip starting next week. The process was exactly as you explained. Rather than take a separate portrait photo I just cropped the photo from my passport and that, along with the passport data page was accepted.

    I have another series of trips beginning in January and need a 3 month multi entry visa for that. Thus far have found the Vietnam Government website to be problematic. I think for that I will use a visa service.

  7. Man, I wish Australia was on the list for eVisa’s. Getting a visa prior to arrival at the Embassy cost $140AUD (~$110USD) and was a bit of a cluster. You can get a VoA at SGN but if you’re coming in on a full plane (or with multiple planes), you will likely be waiting an hour or more just to get the visa and then another hour to clear security.

  8. Hi Ben, just wondering why you are getting a Vietnam visa with your US passport?
    Are you aware German citizens can enter Vietnam visa-free (no fee at all) for up to 14 days?

  9. I went last year and used Vietnam Visa Pro. Things may have changed, but then your evisa was a voucher to get a real visa or something and you had to wait in line at the airport and exchange it and pay something like another $45 stamp fee and there were rumors that this process could take more than an hour. It was my first visit to Vietnam and I didn’t want to deal with it. I don’t remember the details, but for around $40 I paid for my wife and I to use the Visa Pro and they met us at the plane with a sign, dealt quickly with the stamp and drove us to our hotel.

    Hilton Garden Inn Hanoi was great for 10,000 Honors points/night 4th night free. We stayed 10 nights. Free breakfast and self-serve laundry too.

  10. I was highly skeptical when I did this back for my trip in May of this year. I was happy that I saved and PDF printed everything especially that code you mentioned though I remember getting an email, not sure I recall if it was contained there. Smooth process, no issues getting through either as I heard some agents try to haggle for a “cash pay” upon entry.

    Stayed at both Renaissance and Park Hyatt, both amazing options. Loved the Renaissance breakfast buffet and afternoon coffee/snacks. Didn’t have globalist until now to enjoy the buffet but it looked glorious.

  11. The really interesting part is when you want to take advantage of Vietnam’s visa waiver for visiting Phu Quoc island. At least when I went in May, it’s totally allowed, but it seemed like immigration staff had no idea how to process me on entry. If you plan on doing this, I’d advise going straight to the immigration assistance counter (don’t even bother getting in the passport control line) and having a very simple, concise printout with your dates and flight numbers to prove you’re only transiting through and you’re not spending any time in HCMC or Hanoi, etc.

    At SGN, an airport employee eventually escorted me through the checkpoint, I got my entry stamp, and he walked me out of the airport and over to the domestic terminal for my flight to Phu Quoc. I figured since I had a stamp, the return would be easy, so I made the mistake of getting right into the passport control line line. The immigration official seemed completely flustered when he opened my passport and saw no visa. I was whisked away and spent a very nervous 20 minutes or so inside a roped-off area before I was cleared to proceed. I was happy to save the money but the process of taking advantage of the waiver was about as confusing as possible. Anyone have better luck than me? Did I miss something obvious?

  12. ‘Tis a pity Australia is not on the list. Had to use an agent, and say goodbye to my passport for a couple of weeks to get my last visa. If you stay in Saigon – I strongly recommend you stay at the Intercontinental Asiana (my review and trip reports: http://wp.me/p99oNJ-T ). The Park Hyatt is tempting, but I think in terms of service the Asiana is better.

  13. I’m lucky we Singaporeans do not need visa for Vietnam if were visiting up to 30 days. I stayed at the majestic hotel in HCM. Not part of any chain but I do recommend the really nice and awesome service given at Majestic

  14. This recently changed, I got dinged with the 1 year multi-entry visa as being the only visa available to Americans. $135 out of pocket.

  15. Hi Ben, yes – I agree with PW – pretty sure your German passport would have got you in for 15 days Visa free? I think Germany currently has a similar exemption to the U.K. (although the UK’s runs out at the end of June 2018).

  16. Visa processing has become much easier over the last years. Been living in Saigon for the last 4 years. Would recommend to stay at Hotel des Arts – nicer than the PH and still walking distance from all central attractions. Many good restaurants (The Deck in Thao Dien for a unique experience by the river, Shri on top of Centec Tower, Qui for good cocktails on a Thursday/ Friday night, Cafe Runam on Pasteur for best Coffee in town – or the Workshop Coffee, Propaganda for a good Vn inspired food experience, L Usine, Sorae for best sushi, etc) – let me know when you re in town. Lots to see and do.

  17. I am traveling next week. I got my approval letter for $15 and will get Visa on arrival at the airport for $25. Your way was less expensive, had I known this was an option, I would have got an e-visa.

  18. I just used a visa service and it was even easier for me, absolutely no problems, although just like you, they didn’t notify me by email either.

  19. The process was super easy. Remember to print out the PDF. Also they look at at exit immigration to stamp you out. PH HCMC is worth a stay.

  20. Just went to Vietnam on my German passport 2 months ago and can confirm I had no issues getting in without prior visa/eVisa as long as you stay less than 15 days.

  21. Much easier and legit process than a couple years ago with those somewhat sketchy third party websites you had to use.

  22. Richard is right. You’ll need the e-Visa for exit as well. I folded it, and kept it paper-clipped in my passport.

    But it was super easy an no problems for entry or exit in HCMC.

  23. I avoided going to Vietnam previously because the visa process was a pain and seemed super shady, and some have pointed out. I have choices and I chose to spend my money where they made it easy. Now that this e-visa is in place I will totally start planning a trip to Vietnam in the next year or two.

  24. I got an eVisa in a similar way, and went to Da Nang, Vietnam in August this year. The customs process was very quick and painless; the officer didn’t speak a lick of English, looked at my passport and printed out visa, stamped me, and I was on my way. Very easy.

  25. I also booked the Qatar Airways Sale flight. Later I saw that Germans may enter visafree for 15 days, if 30 days leavning Vietnam the last time passed. Between my Qatar Airways flights were only 8 days, so I flew LUX-LHR-DOH-SGN-DOH-GRU-EZE in 54 hours. On return I entered Vietnam. Nevertheless, every time I was asked at the CheckIn for a Vietnam visa, after comment that Germans do not need a visa and I want to stay anyway in the transit area, I passed all areas.

  26. i applied 2 days ago, and it is still in “processing”.

    do i need to bring another photo or anything besides the printed out e-visa (and my passport, of course)?

    and thank you for telling me to make sure i keep it handy for exiting the country as well!

  27. Entry into Vietnam is a little confusing: I’ve been doing some research and acquiring a visa seems to be a two-step process: 1) a pre-approved visa with a letter stating such and 2) final approval given either at the airport or directly from the consulate/embassy.

    The latter involves sending them a copy (or original!) passport to the embassy with an $80 check, return mailing label, and additional passport size photos. They would then send back an approval letter. Is the e-visa process mentioned here the final stop to entering the country, or is there something else one must deal with/pay for upon arrival? Thank you!

  28. What order do you put your name in??? Is it last name followed by given names (like in the photo example of SPECIMEN MARTIN) or is it First name, middle name, last name like it asks for in the PNR section????

    Confused now,

    I assume it should follow the format of SPECIMEN (surname) then MARTIN (given name).

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