Most of our members hold Australian passports, one of the more widely accepted visa free passports in the world. But not all countries are happy to grant an instant visa on arrival. Some prefer you to give advance notice, or apply for one outside the country. Vietnam, like many of its neighbours, is one such country. However, much like a few other Asian countries that have previously heavily restricted tourism, it appears there is a change in the wind.

I’m looking for recommendations for the Visa on Arrival service for Vietnam (using an Australian passport). It seems that Vietnam may soon drop visa requirements for Australian tourists. But it hasn’t happened yet. So the option seems to be to use one of the companies that offer the Visa on Arrival service. Experiences anyone?

In the case of Vietnam, the current arrangements can make for an interesting experience. It’s a commercial organisation that performs the service rather than the embassy in many cases. As some of our members report, that can result in an experience that perhaps is more efficient than one offered by embassy’s elsewhere.

I often use “Vietnam Visa Corp” and find them quite good. I have done it a few times by myself but it’s just frustrating sitting on those hard seats at HCMC waiting for your name to be called. Just seems to be a mess of people with no direct to what they are doing and I have waited 1 1/2 hours. To me the $15 is well spent.

If you do decide to go for the visa on arrival system, you might be surprised at how it all seems to work, their ideas of privacy and proper process might differ to what you are used to.

It’s a weird system. You use one of the companies to pre-authorise your visa on arrival… which you still need to fill out more forms, provide a photo, and pay for on arrival. The company will send you confirmation of your pre-authorisation which you present at check-in in Australia. This confirmation will include not only yours… but all other passengers for whom the company is processing pre-authorisations that day. This includes full names and passport numbers of everyone. There is no privacy!

Another thing it appears you need to watch out for is the list of banned agencies who can no longer offer a letter of introduction. The last thing you would want to happen is to be denied boarding because your paperwork is not in order for entry to Vietnam.

If it all seems too hard, the other course of action is to just go for the normal Visa application and send it to the embassy. This may take some time and cost more money, but it does bring a certain piece of mind to the traveller, at the expense of taking up a valuable full page in your passport.

Have you recently visited Vietnam, what was your experience with getting a Visa, our members are keen to hear of your experiences HERE.


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