Hi, i've used an agent to get a visa on arrival for Vietnam, and have been sent the emailed document to print out and present on arrival in Hanoi airport (from BKK).
I'm very confused now, as i've read contradicting info here and on other sites about whether this is a legitimate way of getting a visa. Some people have said a visa on arrival does not exist. I'm setting off in 7 days, and i just want to make 100percent sure with the travelfish experts that i will be able to enter Vietnam with this pre-arranged visa.
Please set me straight once and for all. Thanks in advance, Mel.
#1 mellimoon has been a member since 13/3/2007. Posts: 11
I read the same conflicting information and was equally confused. In the end, I rolled the dice and did the pre-arranged visa and it worked wonderfully. I was even a bit more worried when both credit cards I tried to charge it on (from the US) called me with a Fraud Alert warning.
Here's the part that still threw me at Hanoi Airport - You get off the plane and walk into the Immigration portion of the terminal and it's two huge rooms that sort of connect at a corner, each with about 10 immigration lines. I followed everyone on my plane and just got in the back of the slow-moving lines, which all the locals and all the foreigners have to use. After 30 minutes (of standing in probably the slowest moving line of 20 or so lines) I was next up to talk to the agent and a security guard noticed I was holding the prearranged visa print-out instead of a proper visa. She told me I first had to go to a special area at the back of the other big room and pay the stamping fee and get the visa sticker there first, before going through the main line.
So she directed me to the right place, which is clearly marked in English "Pre-arranged visa processing" or whatever, and I handed them my paperwork, passport, and US$25. About 5 minutes later they handed me back everything, now with a visa stamp in my passport. Then I was literally about the only person still to see an agent, and I went right up and about 30 seconds later I was sent through to baggage claim.
It might have mentioned extra step in the back of the room on the email and paperwork, but if it did I ignored it, so you'll be sure to head there first and you'll be fine.
I used the service when flying into HCMC last year and it went fine. Just make sure to bring the approval letter, passport photos and US $25. And also in HCMC I waited in line for the regular checkpoint before being directed back to the "visa on arrival" station.
Anyway, don't worry, it's perfectly legitimate.
We used the same service last Aug and it worked out just great. You will be fine. If there's any changes, some regular posters will keep you posted out here. Have a great trip!
#4 lexkssnbrg has been a member since 5/5/2009. Posts: 53
when you get into the terminal in Hanoi you will clearly see the visa on arrival window, it is an office with serving windows both ends, you have to first go to the far end and hand in your documents, then go back to the first window where you pay and collect your visa, no problems at all. I assume your e mailed documents have your names on them to allow you entry, if so then it's all ok. As rawjer said, get your visa first before joining any immigration lines, it is easy to spot in the corner.
#5 roynolan has been a member since 29/1/2009. Posts: 48
Thanks guys, yeah the forms are named and stamped so it sounds like it's all good. Thanks for the reassurances and advice!
#6 mellimoon has been a member since 13/3/2007. Posts: 11
Just a note here on VOA. It's definitely legitimate.
Make sure you take the entire form that the agent sends you including the front page. One man at HCMC had only brought the sheet with his name on it and he ended up having to get the front page sent via email from his home. They just wouldn't process it without it.
I did VOA last August and waited 20mins at Saigon. Last Friday, I did the same and ended up waiting 2hours and 10 mins. Not good. It was the same for about another 60 people. Not the first time I've heard about a long wait either.
And make sure your paperwork has the correct dates on it. One woman had the following Monday's date on it. Another man had no money to pay for the visa..... saw it all while hanging around. The photo isn't a big issue...they will take your picture if you haven't got one.
#7 69bertie has been a member since 22/12/2009. Posts: 90
From personal experience, the Nobai Airport/ Hanoi operation is much more efficient and speedier than the one at Tan Son Nhat Airport/HCMC. I have been lucky with all 3 of my VOA's (no waiting), but the Hanoi operation is more user-friendly.
I use this agency for my VOA Approval Letter: