Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was still possible to obtain a visa upon arrival in Vietnam. Nowadays, this is no longer possible. The Visa On Arrival, or VOA, is no longer granted. Now you must always apply for your Vietnam visa before departure.
Phasing out of the Visa On Arrival
The application procedure of the Visa on Arrival for Vietnam (VOA) was never officially waived. Before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, many tourists and business travellers used a VOA. As part of the zero tolerance COVID-19 policy, Vietnam closed its borders completely in 2020. On 15 March 2022, the borders were reopened and Vietnam restarted issuing visas for holidays and business trips, but only through the online application procedure of the e-visa and the embassies. It was expected that the VOAs were going to be issued as well, but that did not happen.
There is still a lot of information to be found online about the old Visa On Arrival. If you read somewhere that you can still apply for a VOA for Vietnam, this information is outdated.
Read more about the new procedure here
Halong Bay in Vietnam, – a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Different Vietnam visas
Since the implementation of the visa requirement, Vietnam has issued three types of visas:
- Digital e-visa (electronic visa) - to be applied for online.
- Traditional paper visa – to be applied for at the Embassy of Vietnam.
- Visa On Arrival (VOA) - to be applied for upon arrival in Vietnam.
The main advantage of the e-visa is that it can easily be applied for online with a digital form. You therefore do not have to visit an embassy, which is required for obtaining a traditional paper visa. You also do not have to get in line at a visa counter upon arrival, which was required for obtaining the old VOA.
Paper visas only hold advantages for specific target groups, for example for travellers who do not have a business or tourist travel purpose, who want to stay in Vietnam longer than 90 days, or who do not meet the requirements of the e-visa. The main advantage of the e-visa was that it had a very short delivery time. Although it did require an approval letter to be arranged before departure, however even in case of emergencies this often took no longer than a couple of hours.Apply for your Vietnam e-visa here
How did the Visa On Arrival for Vietnam work?
The Visa On Arrival could be obtained upon arrival in Vietnam at a special visa counter, but this applied only to travellers who had already arranged for an approval letter before departure. This made the procedure of the VOA a lot more complicated than the name would suspect. The application procedure of the approval letter had the same purpose as the application procedure of the e-visa, namely screening travellers before departure and preventing unwanted travellers to enter Vietnam.
Applying for an approval letter
An approval letter could be obtained online, for example via a visa agency. This agency would then submit the order to a local agency in Vietnam. An employee of this local visa agency then had to take the application to an immigration office in Vietnam, where the approval letter was issued. A scan of the approval letter then was sent to the traveller via the local office and the UK-based office. The traveller had to take the approval letter with them to Vietnam and exchange it for an actual Visa On Arrival at the visa counter. This also required payment of the stamping fee upon arrival.
The cost of the Visa On Arrival
The cost of the Visa On Arrival consisted of the cost of the approval letter, the remuneration for the UK and Vietnamese visa agency, and the stamping fee upon arrival for the issuance of the actual visa. In comparison, the cost of the Vietnam e-visa is paid for entirely in advance.
Problems with VOAs
The Visa On Arrival often caused problems. The line at the visa counter in Vietnam was typically very long. It also occurred that an approval letter was found not to be valid after arrival, leading to fines and deportations. TO reduce this risk, several embassies in Vietnam recommended using the e-visa before the VOA was phased out. This visa was introduced in 2018 and has now completely replaced the VOA.
Apply for an e-visa now
The electronic visa is suitable for holidays and business trips in Vietnam with a duration of up to 90 days. This visas can easily be applied for with an online form. Upon arrival, you do not have to pay a stamping fee or other additional costs.
Apply for your Vietnam e-visa now
e-Visa.co.uk is a commercial and professional visa agency, and supports travellers in obtaining, among others, the Vietnam visa. e-Visa.co.uk acts as an intermediary and is in no way part of any government. You can also apply for a visa directly with the immigration service (640,352 VND per visa, via evisa.xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn). However, not with our level of support. If you submit your application via e-Visa.co.uk, our support centre is available to you 24/7. In addition, we manually check your application and all the documents you provide before submitting it to the immigration authorities on your behalf. If we suspect any errors or omissions while doing so, we will personally contact you to ensure that your application can still be processed quickly and correctly. To use our services, you pay us 640,352 VND in consular fees, which we pay to the immigration service on your behalf, as well as £34.12 in service fees as compensation for our services, including VAT. Our services have saved many travellers from major problems during their trip. Should an application be rejected despite our support and verification, we will refund the full purchase price (unless an application for a previous Vietnam visa was rejected for the same traveller). Read more about our services here.