There are only a few countries whose citizens are able to travel to Vietnam without a visa, with the duration of the stay depending on their nationality. The majority of foreign citizens are required to obtain a visa to enter Vietnam. Travelers from a number of eligible countries are able to apply for a eVisa to visit Vietnam online, which eliminates the need to apply in person from an embassy or consulate.
The Vietnam eVisa is available through a simple application online, which only takes a few minutes to complete with personal and passport information. Applicants receive an approved eVisa via email, and are able to print a copy to present upon arrival in Vietnam and gain entry to the country. An approved eVisa for Vietnam allows a single entry to the country for a maximum stay of 30 days.
Travelers who wish to stay longer in the country are required to obtain a Vietnam visa extension, which involves leaving the country and submitting a new visa application before being able to return. However, certain visitors will be able to change their visa status and extend their stay without leaving Vietnam from July 2020.
Those who wish to renew a Vietnamese visa are able to travel to a neighboring country such as Laos or Cambodia via one of the Vietnam border crossings for visa holders and submit a new eVisa application in order to return to the country.
It is necessary to extend the visa in order to avoid a Vietnam visa overstay penalty, which involves paying a fine for each day of the overstay.
How to Extend a Visa When Visiting Vietnam
Previously, travelers were able to extend a visa in Vietnam at any of the main Immigration Departments in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Da Nang. However, this option is not available at the moment, and those who wish to extend their visa validity are now required to leave the country to renew their Vietnamese visa before they can return. The cost to extend a Vietnam visa is the same as the eVisa application fee.
It is necessary to be outside of Vietnam to submit a new application for an eVisa. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean having to return to your home country in order to do so.
Vietnam shares a long inland border with 3 other Asian countries:
Travelers can make use of the numerous land border checkpoints to cross over and renew their Vietnam visa.
There are 6 different land border checkpoints where travelers can cross from Vietnam to Laos, 5 land border crossings from Vietnam to Cambodia, and 3 main border crossings from Vietnam to China, close to the cities of Lao Cai, Mong Cai, and Dong Dang. There are several major bus routes that can be used to cross into each country.
It takes approximately 24 hours for a Vietnam visa to be renewed once a new application has been submitted, although it can take up to 72 hours for an application to be approved. Therefore, those who plan to extend their Vietnam visa by crossing into a neighboring country should allow at least 3 days for sufficient processing time. The approved eVisa will be sent to the applicant by email. Travelers will then be able to print a copy of the new eVisa to present at border control when re-entering Vietnam.
Changes to Vietnam Visa Extensions 2019
The National Assembly voted to amend Vietnam’s visa extension policy in November 2019. This will allow certain foreign visitors to extend their stay or change their visa status without leaving the country.
This policy will extend to:
- Foreign investors and their families (with proof of their investments)
- Representatives of overseas organizations that make legal investments in Vietnam and their families (with proof of their identity as representatives)
- Foreign workers with job offers in Vietnam
- Foreign workers who have entered Vietnam on an eVisa
It is expected that visitors in these categories will be able to request a Vietnam visa extension in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, and Da Nang, as was the case previously.
While this is good news for some, there has been no word from the government that a Vietnam tourist visa extension will be on offer to all visitors.
The government’s aim seems to be to make it easier for foreign nationals to enter the Vietnamese job market and/or invest in the country by avoiding spending time and money repeating immigration procedures.
The new laws will take effect on July 1st, 2020. Until this time, all foreign nationals, included those listed above, will have to comply with current visa regulations.
After this date, tourists will likely still have to leave Vietnam when their visa expires in order to apply for an extension and re-enter the country. The quickest and easiest way to do that would be to apply for a Vietnam eVisa online.
What Happens If I Overstay my Tourist Visa in Vietnam?
Those who do not renew their Vietnam tourist visa before it expires are required to pay a Vietnam visa overstay penalty for each day they remain in the country past the validity.
If an eVisa holder overstays for less than 3 days, they are able to go directly to the airport and pay the fine to an Immigration Officer. The fine is around 500,000 VND or USD22 per day of the overstay. Once they have paid the fine, travelers will then be granted an exit visa in order to leave the country.
However, those who overstay a Vietnam visa for longer than 3 days are required to present their passport and pay the fine at a local Immigration Office in either Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. This is to avoid any potential delays while paying fines at the airport. The price of overstaying a visa, depending on the amount of time the traveler stays past visa expiry, is as follows:
- Up to 10 days: 1,250,000 VND (US $55)
- Up to 1 month: 4,000,000 VND (US $175)
- Between 1 and 3 months: 10,000,000 VND (US $440)
Those who overstay in Vietnam up to one year past the expiration of their visa are liable to pay a fine of over 16,000,000 VND (USD700), as well as face a forced exit from the country and travel restrictions to return to Vietnam in the future. This penalty also applies to those who have intentionally committed multiple overstay offenses over a period of time.
Travelers who make sure they are aware how long they are permitted to stay and comply with the visa rules should experience no problems. This is the case for the vast majority of visitors to Vietnam.