Anytime a trip overseas is being planned, there are tons of things to consider and be ready for. There’s plenty of time to worry about all the small stuff, such as what kind of outfits to pack, and whether or not you should bring outlet adapters for your electronics, but the really big, important things should be taken care of as soon as possible, because more time may be required to process and receive certain documents. These more time-consuming affairs include getting any necessary inoculations, getting a passport (or updating the one you have), and getting a visa for your destination, if it requires one.
A visa is basically official permission granted to a person by a country, allowing them to enter, leave, and stay in this country for up to a certain amount of time, and each country has its own rules and regulations regarding these visas. If you’re from the U.S., you’re able to visit most European, many South American, and other countries around the world without a visa, but some require this special permission, and one that does require it, which we are discussing today, is the southeast Asian country Vietnam. If you or someone you know has plans to visit this exotic land in the future, this article will explain everything you need to know about obtaining a visa to Vietnam. For those out there that plan on visiting this, or any other foreign country sometime soon, and are a little intimidated, this course on how to travel with confidence, and this article on knowing what to pack will help out a lot.
How to Get a Vietnam Visa
There are a handful of countries that do not require a visa in order to enter the country of Vietnam, but chances are it will be necessary for you. Vietnam has signed bilateral visa exemption agreements with a few dozen other countries, allowing the citizens of these countries to visit Vietnam for a certain amount of time. Some of these countries include neighboring members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which are Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand, in addition to China, France, Brazil, and several dozen other nations. However, if you’re an American or Canadian citizen wishing to visit Vietnam, either for business or pleasure, you’re going to need a visa. In addition to the necessary documents, you may also want to brush up on the language, and this course on speaking Vietnamese like a native will help you with some functional foreign phrases.
Find an Embassy
The first step in obtaining your Vietnam visa is to find the closest Vietnamese embassy or consulate to you. There are only four scattered throughout the U.S., in Houston, Washington D.C., New York City, and San Francisco, as well as three others in North America, in Mexico City, Ottawa, and Vancouver. If you live in a country that has an embassy or consulate from Vietnam, contact the closest one in order to begin the visa-procuring process. If there is no embassy or consulate in your country, then a Visa on Arrival will be necessary.
Once you’ve gotten the ball rolling by contacting your local embassy/consulate, there are some things that you must have ready for the next step of the visa process.
- Passport: If you didn’t already have a passport for your international voyage, you should get that right now. Not only is it necessary for travels across national borders, it’s necessary for you to get a visa, and it must be valid for one month before leaving Vietnam. You’ll want to check to see if there are any other passport validity requirements before leaving, so you won’t get stranded in a strange place.
- Application Form: First, completely fill out the application online (this site has an application), then print it out, and staple a 2×2 inch color photo of yourself to the form. This course on portrait photography will show you how to the best picture possible of yourself, or someone else, using very simple gear.
- Fees: You didn’t think you were going to get a visa from the government without having to pay a fee, did you? If you’re paying in person at one of the embassies, then you may pay in cash, or however you please, but if you’re applying through the mail, payments may be made in money order, cashier’s check, or certified check, paid out to “The Consulate of Vietnam”. The fee varies depending on how much time you plan to spend in the country, as well as what embassy you work with, but it can be as little as $45.
- Prepaid Envelope: In order to safely and securely get your visa from the embassy, a return envelope is necessary to send in your application packet. These can be easily and cheaply purchased from your local post office, FedEx, or UPS.
After you’ve sent in all of this to the embassy/consulate, five business days are required to process the application, but this may expedited to one to two days if necessary. Keep in mind that this doesn’t include the time it takes for the packet to travel through the mail to reach the embassy, and to get back to you, and don’t forget that business days exclude weekends, as well as American and Vietnamese holidays.
The entire process to procure a visa to visit Vietnam shouldn’t take too long, and isn’t that much of a hassle, but you definitely don’t want to wait until the last second to take care of this. Like we said before, once you know you’re going to be taking a trip of this magnitude, it’s best to start taking care of the biggest, most important things first, with the smaller, unnecessary tasks able to be done as the time gets closer to leave. If you have problems putting things off until the last minute, this course on anti-procrastination will help you eliminate this habit in four weeks.