Vietnam used to have one of the most confusing tourist visa systems in Southeast Asia, and this guide used to have complicated flowcharts and tables to explain it all…

Luckily, in 2023, things have changed for the better! Rarely has it been so satisfying to me to hit ‘delete’ on an entire blog post and replace it with a much shorter text. Travellers can rejoice in the old visa system in Vietnam finally being a thing of the past.

Let me explain what’s changed and how you can most easily get your valid entry visa for Vietnam.

Option 1: e-Visa

As of August 2023, you can enter Vietnam on an e-visa with a validity of 90 days. Travellers of any nationality can apply for e-visa.

With an e-visa you can:

  • Apply directly online on the Vietnamese government website
  • Stay in Vietnam for up to 90 days
  • Enter Vietnam multiple times using any airport or overland border

You can apply for an e-visa here. (Be sure to switch the site to English in the top menu.) 

The government fee is $25 for a single entry and $50 for a multiple-entry visa. Be sure to get the latter option if you plan to, say, make a side trip to Laos or Cambodia and then circle back to Vietnam and continue your trip there.

There are still some agencies that can help you with traditional visa requests, but this won’t be necessary for an e-visa. You can ignore outdated blogs that may still point you to these visa agencies.

You have to submit an application online, which then gets approved within a couple of working days. Once approved, you can head to Vietnam and show your e-visa to enter the country.

Option 2: Visa exemption

  • Available only to travelers from certain countries
  • Single-entry only
  • Stay in Vietnam up to 45 days (in most cases)

The visa exemption program was introduced to give tourists from specific countries an even easier option for entering Vietnam.

With this option, all you have to do is show up at the border, without prior approval needed. You may be asked to show proof of onward travel, such as your return flight ticket out of Vietnam.

The visa exemption is only available if you have a certain nationality. As of August 2023, there are 25 countries that have this exemption. You can view the full list here. If your nationality isn’t listed on this page above, you cannot enter on a visa exemption and you’ll need to go the e-visa route instead.

Before 2023, the visa exemption gave only 15 days of validity in most cases, but this has now been tripled to 45 days for most of the applicable nationalities.

Option 3: Regular visa from an embassy

  • Visas for up to 3 months, single or multi-entry
  • Apply and collect from a Vietnamese embassy (not online)

This is the traditional way of getting a visa for Vietnam. With the improvements to the e-visa system and visa exemption program, it’s unlikely you’ll still need this, but perhaps you are in some specific circumstances that require you to apply the old-fashioned way (or perhaps you’re visiting Vietnam for reasons that aren’t tourism).

Unless you’re specifically prompted to go down this route, you won’t have to worry about it. But if you need to get a traditional visa, you can usually arrange to pick one up at a Vietnamese embassy in the country you live, or at a Vietnamese embassy in a country you’re travelling. (For example, on past trips I’ve collected my visa in person at the Vietnamese embassy in Laos or Cambodia.) You’ll typically need 2 passport photos and you’ll also need to fill out an application form.

With the introduction of the new e-visa in 2023, however, the process has been made much simpler. The 90 days validity is also a huge upgrade from the 30 days you could typically most easily get in the past, making it easier to plan longer stays in Vietnam, and surely making it more attractive for digital nomads to work from Vietnam.

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