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Vietnam forum

Vietnam visa scam at airports?

Posted by KirstyB on 29/12/2017 at 02:20

Not a question per se, but more a cautionary tale. This could be a case of airline staff incompetency, but it seems more likely that it’s yet another Vietnam visa scam…

What happens: As you check in for your flight, check-in staff are telling passengers who are eligible for 15 days visa free on arrival that they need a visa in advance. They then put you in contact with a travel company that can sort this out and charge up to US$200 for the privilege.

I came across this via this blog post a while ago, https://everythingzany.com/vietnam-visa-scam-using-british-passport/ but yesterday the same thing happened to a friend's niece as she tried to board a Nok Air flight from Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City (she’s British and flying to Vietnam for 4 days, and had a return flight ticket).

It makes me so mad to think that airline staff could be involved in a scam like this and I’m curious to know if anyone else has experienced this at an airport? And also of course, to warn other travellers.

As a young, inexperienced traveller, our friend’s niece was so stressed out by the situation that she ended up paying the exorbitant charge. I know it’s hard in that situation, but the best thing to do if it happens and you know you are eligible for 15-days visa-free stay is to stand your ground and show evidence of the fact (here is the UK info for example https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/vietnam/entry-requirements). If that fails, ask the check-in staff to go away and check for themselves and if that doesn’t work insist on speaking to a supervisor and elevate the situation.

#1 KirstyB has been a member since 27/7/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 152
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Posted by Want2BHappy on 29/12/2017 at 05:17

Well, everything about https://everythingzany.com/vietnam-visa-scam-using-british-passport/ screams April 2015 which was before British Citizens were ever entitled to 15 days visa free. That started later: http://vietnamembassy.org.uk/index.php?action=p&ct=Notice1 so that passenger could not fly in without arranging a visa. That they paid excessively for a visa doesn't change the fact that they turned up at the airport without a visa when they needed one.

So discard that story completely from your mind.

As to your friend's niece, did she meet the requirements for a 15 day visa waiver? She needed a paper proof of her return flight. You say she had this, or at least a flight booking. Also, she would be ineligible if she had been in Vietnam on a previous visa waiver within 30 days. Maybe she had, Maybe she hadn't. You don't say. Was your friends's niece pointed at the same visa agency? Did she pay the same fees? She should have known the visa requirements for entering Vietnam and, as you say, escalated the situation until it was resolved.

#2 Want2BHappy has been a member since 23/2/2013. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 83
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Posted by KirstyB on 2/1/2018 at 21:12

@Want2BHappy - You're right about that post - I see now that although she wrote the post last year, she travelled in April 2015. I believe the 15 day waiver was introduced in July 2015?


I'm still trying to get the whole story from my friend but I believe she did have a print out of her onward ticket and hadn't previously been to Vietnam (ever). I will check about the print out though, as so far as I can work out, that's the only sticking point.


She'd only been in the region a few days and it's her first trip to Asia and I fear that could have exacerbated things - being panicked about a situation and not being confident about the facts...


At the very least, it's a cautionary tale that travellers need a print out of their onward ticket if entering on this type of visa!

#3 KirstyB has been a member since 27/7/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 152
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