I was in Vietnam in the last week of December, 2018. This was my second trip to the country, having visited, again exactly 11 years earlier, the last week of December, 2007.
At that time, as a resident of Dubai, I had applied for my visa at the consulate. Once my Excel sheet itinerary had been scrutinised, and tickets checked, I was issued with a single-entry visa valid for one month.
This time though, I opted for an e-visa. For those not in the know, this is something that Vietnam has just introduced for tourists from a list of 46 countries. If you are among the lucky ones, then opt for it.
The e-visa costs US$ 25. This is more cost effective than applying for a visa on arrival costing US$ 20, which requires an invitation letter at a additional US$ 20 (if I’m not mistaken). For some nationalities, a smoother option would be to apply at your local embassy or consulate. However, I am not sure about that process.
To apply for an e-visa is simple. Just log on to the official website, read the page, then check the box below and click NEXT to be taken to the actual application page. Before you start typing away, you will need to keep a couple of things ready. These are:
1. A jpg of a your recent passport size photograph and,
2. A scan of your passport page(s) that contains your passport number, name, and issue and expiry date. Not both the pages, but just this one page. If you need to crop it, do so before you start the process.
Once you have all these details ready, start filling in, including your first port of entry and expected date of arrival. Do note that it is important that you get this right. If you had punched in ‘Hanoi’ and land in Saigon, it’s would be an issue as the e-visa clearly states your first port of entry.
Then, once all the details have been entered, the website should ask you to make your payment. This is where you punch in your credit or debit card details. On payment confirmation, you should get an email stating that your application has been successfully applied for. Processing takes approximately three working days. Hence, if you apply Monday morning, you can expect to receive your e-visa by Wednesday evening. The visa is valid for a stay of 30 days and is for single entry.
Word of caution. Even though there is a QR code on the e-visa, do carry a printout. I thought otherwise and had to listen to a mouthful from the immigration officer. He was still nice enough to get me a print of the same.
At the immigration itself, simply walk to any of the immigration counters and show them a print of your e-visa. Once he has verified it, he’ll stamp your passport. That’s it. No other paperwork. No frantic calls to the agency that issued you an approval letter. Nothing. Welcome to Vietnam. Or as they say, chào mừng bạn đến Viet Nam.
Note: While this article considers visas for Indian passport holders, please check whether your nationality is eligible for an e-visa. In most cases, you should be eligible for either an e-visa or a visa on arrival (with an approval letter).