Travelers struggle with Vietnam’s e-visa procedures

Foreign tourists in Hoi An ancient town in central Vietnam, March 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Dong

Foreign visitors to Vietnam are expressing frustration over difficulties encountered during the country’s e-visa application process. This has led to flight postponements and the need to pay exorbitant fees to intermediaries, four times higher than the official visa cost.

An Australian tourist named Melissa had intended to travel with her family from Bali to Vietnam on December 21 of the previous year. However, despite submitting their e-visa applications ten days prior, only Melissa’s application was approved, while her husband and two children faced rejections due to photo issues. They resubmitted new photos and delayed their trip until December 24. Unfortunately, they received no response from the immigration department by that time. Determined, they still proceeded to the airport on their scheduled day, but were denied entry without visas.

Melissa expressed dissatisfaction with the prolonged processing time, mentioning that she had sent the photos back long ago and, as of March 2023 (three months since the application), had yet to receive any reply.

As an alternative, Melissa’s family returned to Bali and sought assistance from a reliable Vietnamese visa service. They contacted a local who helped them obtain Vietnamese e-visas at a cost exceeding $100 per person, significantly higher than the actual fee of $25.

Lili Stevens, another Australian tourist, shared a similar experience with the e-visa application process in Vietnam. Despite addressing a photo error and resubmitting the required documents, Lili did not receive any response from the immigration department before her scheduled travel date.

Travelers struggle with Vietnam's e-visa procedures

Obtaining a Visa for Vietnam: Challenges and Solutions

Lili, frustrated by the lengthy visa process in Vietnam, decided to seek assistance from a visa brokerage service to secure her travel permit.

According to Lili, Vietnam’s visa procedure is more time-consuming compared to other Asian countries.

Complaints from fellow tourists highlight the complexity and confusion surrounding Vietnam’s official e-visa system.

Presently, Vietnam offers a one-month, single-entry e-visa option to visitors from 80 countries.

To apply for an e-visa, the initial step involves visiting the official website and completing an online application form.

Upon submission, the Vietnam Immigration Department provides applicants with a verification code, followed by a $25 e-visa fee payment.

The advertised processing time for the visa is three working days. Applicants can check their visa application status at by entering their registration code, email, and date of birth.

Pham Ha, CEO of Lux Group specializing in luxury cruises, expressed dissatisfaction with Vietnam’s e-visa website. He highlighted difficulties in remembering the domain name and the limited language options (English and Vietnamese) available to foreign tourists. Additionally, he criticized the website’s unappealing design.

Due to the complicated procedures, many foreign tourists like Melissa and Lili have resorted to using brokerage services to secure e-visas efficiently, albeit at high costs.

An employee at a visa service unit in Hanoi’s Nam Tu Liem District mentioned that numerous foreign tourists have utilized their company’s services due to issues with submitting portrait photos for Vietnamese e-visas.

However, not all foreign visitors encounter obstacles when applying for an e-visa. Enrique, a Spanish tourist, reported a smooth and relatively inexpensive application process for his 16-day visit to Vietnam. His only challenge was a time-consuming immigration process at Tan Son Nhat Airport in HCMC.

Travelers struggle with Vietnam's e-visa procedures


Indian Tourists Share Experiences with Vietnam’s E-Visa Process

Subhadeep Pal, an Indian tourist, expressed that the e-visa application procedure in Vietnam was not excessively time-consuming, despite falling victim to deceptive e-visa websites that boasted superior interfaces compared to the official website.

Similarly, Pritesh Meta from India mentioned encountering fraudulent websites resembling the Vietnamese visa website, but found the genuine one to be relatively straightforward.

Pal further added that they obtained their e-visa within a span of 4-5 days.

Vietnam Expands Visa Waiver and Extends E-Visa Duration

Addressing recent developments, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh announced Vietnam’s intention to waive visas for additional countries while increasing the permitted length of stay for foreign tourists, aiming to accelerate the recovery of the tourism market.

Responding to the prime minister’s directive, the Ministry of Public Security proposed extending the validity of e-visas granted to foreigners entering Vietnam from the current 30 days to a maximum of three months.

This decision has been regarded as a positive step forward, following a year of grievances raised by insiders in the tourism industry and foreign visitors regarding Vietnam’s stringent visa policies. The concerns emerged when Vietnam reopened its borders on March 15 last year after the Covid-19 pandemic.

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