Vietnam Visa On Arrival – everything you need to know

Ben Thanh Market Ben Thanh Market

The whole idea of a Vietnam Visa On Arrival approval letter seems a little strange to me. Having to apply and send money to a website you don’t know is legit, to get emailed an approval letter that must be presented at your arrival airports Visa On Arrival office (with more money) before you get your visa is a real leap of faith, especially for the inexperienced traveller. Given Vietnam was the first country we went to when we left Australia, we were about as inexperienced as you can get. But this is the process we went through and it worked out perfectly.

What is a Vietnam Visa On Arrival

As the name suggests, a Vietnam Visa On Arrival is simply when you’re issued with your visa when you arrive by plane, as opposed to organising it before you leave your country. You can go through your local Vietnamese embassy to ensure you have a visa before you leave your country if you prefer, but it’s more expensive, you’ll need to send your passport away and it takes more time. The bonus is you can just walk through customs on arrival without having to head to the Visa On Arrival office, and if you are arriving by land or sea, you have to get a visa this way before arriving anyway.

However if you’re arriving in Vietnam by plane, you’re better off organising a Visa On Arrival approval letter and getting your visa at your destination airport. It’s cheap, fast and the process is really very simple. I’ve heard stories of people waiting an hour to get their visa issued when they arrive, but within 20 minutes of collecting our backpacks we had our Vietnam visa and were in a tuk tuk on our way to the hotel.

How do I organise a Visa On Arrival approval letter?

Travelling with baby at airport

Travelling with baby at airport

There are heaps of agencies who can sort this out for you, just type ‘Vietnam Visa On Arrival’ into Google and you’ll get pages of results. However some are dodgy, and will take your money without organising your approval letter, but the truth is they are few and far between. We used to get our approval letter and had no problems at all. All you need to do is:

  1. Fill out the online application form
  2. Pay the service fee
  3. Wait for your approval letter to arrive via email (2 working days)
  4. Print it out and take it with you on the plane

How much is the service fee?

The fees differ depending on which agency you go through to get your approval letter, but they are all roughly the same. If one agency is offering prices that seem to good to be true, they probably are.

The services are calculated based on how long you wish to stay in Vietnam, whether you wish to come and go, how many people you’re travelling with and how urgently you need it. If you don’t need it urgently, you’ll still receive your letter in two days, but if you’ve waited until the day before, or even the day of your departure, you’ll pay an additional fee.

For, the fees are as follows (per person):

1 US$21.00 US$34.00 US$34.00 Unsure
2 US$18.25 US$30.25 US$23.25 Unsure
3-5 US$17.25 US$28.25 US$22.25 Unsure
6-9 US$15.25 US$25.25 US$19.25 Unsure
10+ US$14.00 US$22.00 US$17.00 Unsure
Urgent (1 day) add US$10.00 add US$10.00 add US$10.00 add US$10.00
Stamping Fee US$25.00 US$25.00 US$50.00 US$50.00

These service fees cover all work involved in reviewing your information, turning it into a visa application, submitting it to the Vietnam Immigration Department, and sending you the approval letter so you’ll be able to collect your Vietnam Visa On Arrival.

What is a ‘Stamping Fee’?

Ho Chi Minh City Traffic

Ho Chi Minh City Traffic

When you arrive in Vietnam, you’ll need to take your approval letter, passport, a completed visa application form (available on the agency’s website, and a link should be sent to you with your approval letter), a passport photo and the stamping fee. This fee is collected by the Immigration Officers at the Visa On Arrival desk, and are compulsory.

It’s highly recommended you pay the Immigration Officers in either US dollars or Vietnamese Dong, with US dollars preferred. We did see a lady paying with Australian dollars when we got our Vietnam Visa On Arrival, but we paid with US dollars and I recommend you do the same…just in case!

Is this really the way to go to get your Vietnam visa?

If you’re arriving in Vietnam by air into the following airports, I highly recommend you organise an approval letter then get your Visa On Arrival.

  • Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi
  • Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City
  • Da Nang International Airport in Da Nang City

The service is exactly the same as if you’ve organised it through a Vietnamese Embassy, it’s obviously very convenient as you can organise it from the comfort of your own home, and it can be issued in as little as four hours if you need one fast.

Vietnam is a wonderful country with amazing places to see (Hoi An was a favourite of ours), the food is unbelievable and it’s ridiculously affordable. It’s impossible not to have a great time. Enjoy…

*Please note, should you use the link to within this article, we will be paid a small commission. It won’t cost you any extra and it will enable us to keep this website up and running!

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