One thing that is important to know about Vietnam is that most people will need a visa of some sort to enter the country. That’s right: Just to enter. I’ve heard that if you don’t have yourself sorted before you even check in to your flight, they won’t let you on the plane. Now, this all depends on what nationality you are, so make sure you look up the rules for where you are from. This was the process for me as a Canadian in Korea. Your process may be different. I’m obviously not a lawyer or an expert on immigration, this is just what the process was like for me.
To begin with, my purpose of going to Vietnam is to settle in for a few years and work. However, I don’t have a job yet, so I couldn’t get a work permit. That will, hopefully, be the subject of another post when I am gainfully employed. In the meantime, I need a visa.
After loads of searching around, it looked like what would work best for my situation was a three month tourist “visa on arrival” (VOA). This would let me (as far as I know!) enter Vietnam and give me time to find work. I went with a single entry option, I don’t plan on travelling out of the country in the first three months anyway.
My research took me to a VOA site that other people had previous success with. I filled out my information and paid for the VOA (total $34USD) with my UK Visa card. I immediately received an email from them saying that my payment was successful and a few hours later a message saying my application was in process. By the next day, I had my letter.
The letter you receive is two pages and your name could be on a list with others. This is, apparently, normal. You want to print this as well as the Vietnamese visa application. You’ll need these documents, along with two passport photos (the company’s email said one, but the application form said two, so I brought two and never got one back, so who really knows) and the stamping fee (it was $25USD for my visa) for when you arrive and head to immigration.
I had to show my letter to the booking counter at Incheon before she would check me in. She didn’t look at the application, just the letter.
At the airport in Hanoi, I had to go to the immigration counters. There are two, side by side. The one on the right is the one you will need first. Give that guy your letter, application, and passport. Don’t give him the money. Then wait. I was there 40 minutes when my name was called. I went to the counter on the left, handed that guy my cash, and was handed my passport with the visa in it. No questions asked, none to be answered. It was a very easy process overall.
Visa’d passport in hand, I walked over to the immigration counters. The officer did look at my passport a long time, looked like he was going to say something, but in the end, handed it back without a word. I was with him all of two minutes and nothing was said.
Welcome to Vietnam!