Visas can be the bane of every traveller's lot, but if you're headed to Vietnam, things are now a little easier.
Business travellers typically apply for their visa at an embassy or consulate, while tourists are often directed by travel agencies to purchase 'approval letters' in order to then pay for a Visa on Arrival (VoA) in Vietnam.
However, there's a third option which is quicker and hassle-free: a single-entry, 30-day e-Visa directly through the Vietnam Government's website. It covers a range of activities including business travel, conferences and holidays, costs US$25 and can be approved in days.
The Australian Government's Smartraveller website has a link to the Vietnam e-Visa application page (so you know you're not dealing with some third-party website charging inflated prices) as well as details on alternate ways to apply for a visa if your travel needs are more complex, usually through a Vietnam embassy or consulate.
Vietnam e-Visa: eligibility
There are currently 80 countries whose citizens are able to apply for a Vietnam e-Visa, Australia being one of them. Travellers can use the e-Visa at 33 international checkpoints in Vietnam that accept the e-Visa for processing, including all the major airports.
The e-Visa is single-entry only and can be valid for a maximum of 30 days. It costs US$25 (A$37) per application and takes roughly three working days to process.
If you need more than 30 days in Vietnam or a multi-entry visa, then this option won't be for you – see your nearest embassy instead.
How to apply for a Vietnam e-Visa
To be sure you're going to the official government website and not a copycat, start from the e-Visa link provided by Australia's Smartraveller website. We've got it here for your convenience too. On this screen, choose 'Electronic Visa'.
Next, ensure you read all the information carefully and choose 'For Foreigners'. The following page has more details on the process, including having a photo of your passport page and a simple portrait photo of yourself.
Once you've ticked the checkbox, you'll be on the application form itself. The first section is uploading your photos. The rest of the form is fairly straightforward. There are some rather interesting options under 'purpose of entry', but it's best to stick with 'business activities' or 'tourism' depending on your trip.
After reviewing your application form, it's time to pay the application fee. The payment website is secure and accepts international Mastercard and Visa cards. The $25USD fee will actually be charged in Vietnamese Dong. A US$1 'payment fee' will be added at the end.
You'll be given an application code and a link to check the status of your application.
A few days later, you should get an email titled "E-visa Vietnam Announcement Result". Enter your details again on the "Check application status" page. If approved, there will be a link to your e-Visa confirmation in PDF format.
Be sure to print out this A4 e-Visa, as you'll need to present it to immigration in Vietnam along with your passport for easy entry.
Frequently asked questions
1) If the e-Visa is refused or not used, will my payment be refunded? No, the e-Visa fee is not refunded under any circumstances.
2) Do I need to enter Vietnam exactly on the date specified in the e-Visa? No, the validity period of the e-Visa begins on your nominated date (you can set it to be before your actual arrival, to be safe). You can enter Vietnam anytime within that period.
3) What if my travel changes and I need to enter Vietnam before or after my e-Visa validity period? You will need to complete a new e-Visa application and pay the fee again. The previous e-Visa will be cancelled once the new one is issued.