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Vietnam visa guide for US passport holders

| Words by Zoe Crane | ,

Admin before the fun: a visa guide for Americans traveling to Vietnam.

US citizens need to organize a visa before leaving for their vacation to Vietnam. You need to arrange either a visa before travel, or obtain an official approval letter for getting a visa on arrival before leaving the USA. You can submit your application any time within six months of travel.

If you book directly through Insider Journeys then we have a recommended partner who can take care of the process, for a small fee.

Avoid the visa on arrival

We strongly recommend getting a visa prior to travel, rather than applying to get one on arrival. There are a lot of websites offering to pre-book your visa on arrival, but both the Vietnamese embassy and the US State Department have issued a warning against these, as many are not legitimate. As you are dealing with sensitive information such as passport details, it is best to avoid this method. This will also help you avoid the stress of long visa lines upon reaching Vietnam.

Going once…going twice…

When you apply for a visa, it is valid for only one entry into Vietnam. If you are going to another country after Vietnam, and then plan on returning to Vietnam, you will need to apply for a multiple entry visa before you leave the USA.

By mail - Saigon's grand French-colonial post office

Applying in person or by mail

  1. Passport: You will need to send or present your original passport to get a visa. If you do not wish to do this, you can apply for a loose leaf visa instead, in which case you will need to provide a copy of your passport. However if you plan to travel to Laos by land, you cannot use a loose leaf visa, as this will be removed as you leave Vietnam, and Laos' officials require proof of exit from Vietnam.
  2. Application Form: Download the application form and complete and sign it.
  3. Original photo: This should be two inches by two inches. If you are applying for a loose leaf visa, you will need two photos.
  4. Visa Fee: You can pay the fee by Money order, cashier’s check or certified check made payable to “The Embassy of Vietnam”.  There are additional fees on top of the visa fee which need to be paid such as processing and shipping fees, so please check the correct amount with the consulate prior to applying. To do this you can either email vnconsular@vietnamembassy.us or call 202 - 861 - 0737 
  5. Reply paid envelope: If applying by mail you will need to provide a prepaid return envelope from either the United States Postal Service or FedEx. It is recommended that you get one with a tracking number. If there is more than one passport to be returned to the same address, one envelope can be used for all passports.

Visas take five business days to process. This does not include Vietnamese or American public vacations. An expedited visa can be obtained in one or two business days for an additional fee. For more information, contact the consulate’s visa department on (202) 861- 0737 between 9:30am and 12:30pm or between 1:30pm and 5pm Monday to Friday, or email vnconsular@vietnamembassy.us.

To visit the consulate in person, go to 1233 20th Street NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20036 between 9:30am and 12:30pm Monday to Friday. There is also a Consulate General in San Francisco, California and Houston, Texas as well as a Representative Mission to the UN in New York, New York. See the embassy website for contact details.

Visas - the admin before the fun


You will need to have six months validity on your passport from the date you are due to arrive home. Once in Vietnam, all foreign visitors must by law be registered at their place of residency, so your hotel will require you to hand over your passport when you check-in.

Note: All details are correct at time of writing; however we cannot guarantee the accuracy of this information. You will need to check the most up to date information with the US Department of State or the Vietnamese Embassy.