Visas and permits

An introduction on travel to Vietnam

Visas and permits

The bad news is that most people who plan to visit Vietnam are going to need an entry visa to enter the country. The good news is that Vietnam is one of the countries that makes it very easy to obtain a visa.

54 countries  have signed a bilateral or unilateral visa exemption agreement with Vietnam. However, most countries that are part of the visa exemption agreement still require travelers to have a ‘special’ passport: an official passport is issued specifically to people who need to travel on official state business; a diplomatic passport is issued to diplomats and consuls when they are posted or assigned overseas.

You will still need a visa to visit Vietnam if:

  • your citizenship is part of the visa exemption agreement, but Vietnam does not accept entrance with an ordinary passport and you do not hold an official or diplomatic passport
  • your country is not part of the visa exemption agreement

Other countries that don't require a visa 

Visitors from the following countries do not need a visa of any sort, and can enter with just their ordinary passport and return ticket, and may stay for the allotted days:

  • 14 days: Brunei
  • 15 days: Denmark, Finland, Japan, Norway, Russia, South Korea, Sweden
  • 21 days: Philippines
  • 30 days: Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand

Note that citizens of the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Belarus and Italy also don't require a visa of their visit of up to 15 days, until the 30th June 2017. This visa is only valid for one trip to the country and includes the date of entry and of exit.

If you’re planning a trip for longer than 15 days, or plan to leave the country and re-enter within this time period, you will need a visa. To re-enter the country under visa exemption again, the second visit must be more than 30 days after the last date of departure.

Holders of the APEC business card are granted visa free access to Vietnam for no more than 60 days.

It is also possible to travel without a visa to Phu Quoc island without a visa for up to 30 days.  

If you do not see your country of citizenship on either list, you will need to be issued a visa. However, it is important to note that whether you require a visit or not, your passport needs to be valid for at least six months and have at least one empty page free.

Visa exemption for Vietnamese residing overseas: The maximum period of exemption is five years, and must be six months shorter than the validity of your passport. The maximum duration of time allowed for a stay in Vietnam is 90 days each visit.

Arriving in Vietnam 

You will be issued an arrival/departure card upon entry to Vietnam. Visitors must retain the departure portion and present it to immigration when leaving the country.

All foreigners are required to register their place of residence with the local police within 24 hours of arrival. If you are staying at a hotel, this is done as part of the normal check-in process. You will be required to provide your passport to the hotel.

Becoming an expat

If it is a dream of yours to become an expatriate of Vietnam, it may easier than you think to make this dream a reality - but not without a lot of paperwork.

Keep in mind that any of the important documents that you are requested to submit may need to be in Vietnamese. In that case, paperwork that is not in Vietnamese will need to get translated by a Vietnamese translation office, and stamped to certify the validity of the document. When a copied version is required, you will have to get the copy certified by a Vietnamese government agency. Make sure you are clear on if you need to present your documents in Vietnamese, or if any other language is suitable.

Further reading

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