The information below is a preliminary summary prepared in October 2016; details including pricing may change. Be sure to check the government website https://vietnamvisa.govt.vn/ for the current information and email firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions.
You need to obtain a visa in advance to enter Vietnam unless you are traveling on a passport issued by Japan, UK, Germany, France, or a small number of other countries and will be staying in Vietnam for a maximum of 14 days. To verify this statement and to check your requirements for your passport, select your country from the form at the bottom of the page at https://vietnamvisa.govt.vn/requirements/. Your passport must remain valid for six months after your departure date (six months is an airline requirement, Vietnam requires only one month) and have at least one blank page for entry stamping.
You will need to obtain visas to go to Vietnam. In most cases, this is very easy See https://www.informingscience.org/Conferences/InSITE2017/VisaInfo
You can either obtain your visa in advance by presenting your passport to a Vietnamese consulate, typically by mailing your passport to them and hoping for the best, or by having a pre-approval to receive your visa on arrival at Ho Chi Minh City airport, following the instructions below. If you hate standing in line, you can pay extra and take advantage of the fast-track service offered by Buffalo Tours and by the passport office. Buffalo Tours Fast track service costs US $80/passenger and bundles a Visa Approval letter, the visa stamping fee at the airport, luggage pick-up, and escorting you through lines to obtain your visa quicker. The estimated processing time at customs is 10 minutes instead of 30-120 minutes. This fee does not include the transport from the airport to your hotel.
Entry Requirements: Visit the Embassy of Vietnam website for the most current information. If you arrive in Vietnam without an appropriate visa or pre-approval for a visa on arrival, you will be denied entry.
Overview of How to apply for a Visa There are options for obtaining a visa:
1. Apply for a Vietnam visa (Vietnam Visa on Arrival or VOA) online at the website www.vietnamvisa.govt.vn (This is the recommendation of the government). This site provides an approval letter you use to pick up your Visa at the airports in Vietnam. The only problem is that you need to know your arrival and departure date when you apply. Therefore, you need to have airline reservations before you apply or at least an expectation that you can obtain tickets for these days.
2. Or contact local Vietnam Embassy for Visa stamped on your passport before arriving Vietnam.
Pre-approval for Visa on Arrival (VOA): The Government of Vietnam has authorized some businesses and travel agencies to issue VOA letters. Take care because some visitors have reported being charged unexpectedly high fees and additional charges upon landing in Vietnam. The Embassy of Vietnam website warns about websites suspected of fraud, including, http://www.vietnam-embassy.org and http://www.myvietnamvisa.com.
VOA requires Two Fees. There are two fees you will need to pay, the visa service fee and the stamping fee. Buffalo Tours bundle these fees into one that you pay directly to them.
The Visa Service Fee can be paid via a major credit card (VISA, MasterCard, American Express, and Diners Club) online if you apply for your visa at https://vietnamvisa.govt.vn/apply-online/. The fee amount varies based on the level of urgency required for the Visa Approval Letter, from one hour to the normal service of two business days. The non-rush fee (2-business day processing) is currently $17 USD for a one-month visa. Plan ahead and save.
The Stamping Fees is a separate fee that you pay directly at the airport in cash in either Vietnam dong or U.S. dollars. The current fee (which may change for 2017) is $25 for a one Month Single Entry visa. See https://vietnamvisa.govt.vn/vietnam-visa/visa-fees/
1. You also need to bring with you a passport (2”x2”) photo.
2. And you will need to provide a completed form. You can obtain a blank form at the airport, but save time by completing it in advance: https://www.vietnamonline.com/js/ckfinder/userfiles/files/form-on-arrival.pdf
or http://www.myvietnamvisa.com/form-on-arrival.pdf if arriving with family
Only after this VOA service counter stamps the visa into your passport may you proceed to the immigration line. After immigrations stamps your passport, you can pick up your luggage and exit through customs. If you arranged for transfer to your hotel, someone would be waiting for you with your name on a sign outside customs to take you to your hotel. Otherwise, we recommend taking a taxi (see below for details). Be sure to get Vietnamese currency from an ATM (see below). Then walk outside and look for their taxi stand. You can talk with a service agent from that taxi company and pay in advance at the taxi stand.
Fast Track Service. Ho Chi Minh airport offers a Fast Track service that is particularly useful if you hate waiting in line and your flight arrives during a busy time of day. Buffalo Tours bundle the service with the approval letter and visa stamping fee at the airport for a total of $80 USD. The fast track service provides you with a representative who cuts through lines and escorts you to obtain your visa on arrival quicker, speeds you through customs, and assists you in picking up your luggage. The estimate processing time can be 10 minutes instead of 30-120 minutes, depending on the time of day.
If you would like Buffalo Tours to take care of all these arrangements, email Nguyen T Xuan and let her know on what country’s passport you will be traveling and noting that you are a delegate to the InSITE conference. She will email you back details on what information she needs from you and will provide you with a link to their website where you will pay their fee by credit card.
Xuan Nguyen (Ms.)
Mobile: +84 908 877 662
Buffalo Tours Rate - For US nationality - visa for 1 month
Normal process: US $40/passenger The price includes both the approval letter and visa fee at the airport
Fast track service: US $80/passenger for one month single entry The price included: approval letter, visa fee at the airport, pick-up luggage, escort to take the visa quicker. Estimate process in 10 minutes.