Apr 15 2013

Visa on arrival at Saigon, Vietnam

Published by at 11:00 am under Visas


Compared to other Southeast Asian countries, getting into Vietnam is slightly more difficult, requiring most foreign travellers to apply for a visa weeks before visiting. Instead of visiting their nearest Vietnamese embassy, many fliers opt for Vietnam’s visa on arrival. However, the visa on arrival process at Saigon’s Tan Son Nhat can be confusing, especially for first-time visitors — and even if you’re getting one, you’ll need to apply ahead of time.

This is where the magic happens.

This is where the magic happens.

Before any travel, you’ll have to apply for your visa on arrival. Several companies (roughly 23,654,234) offer online services and we’ve used Phat Man Visa and Vietnam Visa without problem. Regardless of who you use (and do shop around because prices can vary) they all purport to offer services to help you apply and secure an entry visa. This part of the process is mostly painless, requiring you to pay them a service fee (extra for an express service for the unorganised) and do little more than send a copy of your passport to the assisting agency and to choose the length of visa you wish to obtain, either one- or three-month single or multiple entry.

Once your application is approved, you will receive a letter, accompanied with a form requiring basic information about you and your visit from the Vietnamese government granting you entry. Before flying you’ll have to gather your documents. Print out a copy of your letter, a copy of the form and one passport photo.

Keep going to the left!

Keep going to the left!

Once you land in Saigon, documents in hand, your adventure truly begins. First, you have to find the visa on arrival desk. Upon exiting the plane, follow the arrows leading to “Arrival.” This will lead you to the immigration visa lines but you do not want to enter these lines yet. Instead, you must go to a small area to the far left of immigration, labelled as “Landing Visa”. Here you will find a window, a handful of booths for the less prepared to fill out forms, and a waiting area of about 20 seats.

Unless you are lucky, you will see what can sometimes be a large line queued in front of the window. This is the first taste some get of standing in line in Vietnam. Although an orderly line may be formed, some will simply bypass the line and walk straight to the window. Nobody on the other side of the glass will call you up. When you finally get to the window, you will hand one of the nice men or women on the other side all of your lovely prepared paper work, your photo and your passport.

This is the shortest I've ever seen the line.

The shortest I’ve ever seen the line.

Take a seat and get comfortable; depending on the length of the line, this process can take anywhere from 15 minutes to over an hour. When your visa has finally been processed they will call your name over the intercom to come back to the window. Once there you will pay your visa fee, which varies depending on the length and type of visa – a three-month multiple entry visa is currently $95. The only accepted currency at this window is United States dollars; no other foreign currency is accepted. After paying the fee you will be given your passport, now complete with your Vietnam visa, and you are free to go through the immigration line, retrieve your luggage and catch an airport taxi into town.

Phat Man Visa
91 Bui Vien, District 1
T: (09) 0831 1294
phatmanvisa.page.tl

Vietnam-visa.com
C7/D6, Cau Giay Urban Area, Tran Thai Tong Road, Hanoi
T: (04) 379 25078
www.vietnam-visa.com

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6 responses so far

6 Responses to “Visa on arrival at Saigon, Vietnam”

  1. Susy Newtonon 15 Apr 2013 at 12:52 pm

    Perfect timing! I’m flying into Ho Chi Minh tomorrow, have gone through Vietnam-visa.com. Have all my documents, so hopefully all will go smoothly – will take a book to read in case I have a long wait!

  2. Markon 15 Apr 2013 at 1:34 pm

    I guess it goes without saying but check you’re given the right passport back. When I was there they mixed up two German passports. One man checked and the other didn’t, by the time the first realized the other had actually cleared immigration and was probably on his way into the city.

  3. Maddyon 16 Apr 2013 at 3:34 am

    Wow! roughly 23,654,234 companies offer online visa services!

  4. chrison 16 Apr 2013 at 5:21 am

    Mark, I like to know how he cleared customs??, did they both have beards or something?
    I see they have changed the location for the ‘ Landing Visa’, ( or added some windows on the left ), but it’s been nearly 3 yrs since I last went through there. Make sure you have your 2 Passport photo’s, ( I don’t know why they ask for 2, they always give one back ).

  5. tiffanyon 16 Apr 2013 at 6:02 pm

    Actually it depends on your country of origin weather you need a pre visa or not.
    If you have a passport from any of the countries below you DO NOT NEED A VISA. You have an entry permit FREE TOURIST VISA for 30days. After the 30 days you can just renew it at any travel office in Vietnam. No problem!

    Argentina
    Albania
    Algeria
    Australia
    Afghanistan
    Angola
    Bangladesh

    Belarus

    Brazil

    Brunei

    Bulgaria

    Cambodia

    Chile

    ChinaCuba
    Czech

    Dominica
    Denmark
    Ecuador

    France
    Finland
    Hungary

    India

    Indonesia

    Iran

    Iraq

    JapanDemocratic People’s Republic of Korea
    Republic of Korea

    Kyrgyzstan

    Laos

    Malaysia

    Mexico

    Moldova

    Mongolia

    Montenegro

    Morocco
    Mozambique
    Myanmar
    Norway
    Nicaragua
    New Zealand
    Pakistan

    Panama

    Paraguay

    Peru

    Philippine

    Rumania

    Russia

    Serbia
    Singapore
    South Africa
    Sweden
    Sri Lanka

    Thailand

    Turkey

    Tunisia

    Ukraine

    Uruguay

    Venezuela

    Slovakia

    Cheers Tif

  6. Max Murtaon 26 Apr 2013 at 6:31 am

    Tiffany, where did you get this list? The only people that I’m aware of being exempt from obtaining a visa before arriving are citizens of ASEAN countries who are staying less than 30 days – except for the Philippines, which for some reason has a 21 day limit – and if you’re a citizen from Brunei, Denmark, Finland, Japan, Norway, Russia, South Korea or Sweden you’re given a two week visa but if you plan on staying longer the process is the same as it is for everyone else.
    For anyone visiting, unless you’re 100% sure you don’t need one, I’d double check before I visit.

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