Is the Visa and Residency Process Difficult For Vietnam?

Is the Visa and Residency Process Difficult For Vietnam?

Hello: I am interested in moving to Vietnam. I am looking for info on gaining my visa and residency for the country. Is the process difficult?

What is the best way to get my move to Vietnam started?



Wendy Justice - Vietnam Correspondent

Dear Arnold,

Thanks so much for your question.

It sounds as if you already know that you'll need to obtain a visa for Vietnam. How long that visa is valid for depends on your nationality. At this time, most nationalities can apply for either a one-month or a three-month tourist visa. If you are a U.S. citizen, then you can obtain a one-year, multiple-entry visa. The one-year visa still requires that you leave the country at least once every 90 days. A one-month or three-month visa can be extended from within Vietnam, though it may cost less to leave the country and return with a new visa. Getting a visa is not complicated at all, but make sure that your passport has at least six months validity remaining on it or you'll be denied entry (18 months if you are getting the one-year visa).

Vietnam does not offer any type of long-term residency or retirement visa, but it is possible to get a one-year business visa once you are in Vietnam through an agent who specializes in visas. If you're a U.S. citizen, the only advantage to doing it this way is to avoid the requirement of leaving and re-entering the country every 90 days.

Whether you apply for a one-month, three-month, or 12-month visa, I suggest applying for a visa approval letter instead of going directly through the Vietnamese embassy. It's faster, less expensive, and requires less paperwork. You will have to pay a nominal fee for the approval letter, and pay a stamping fee at the immigration counter at the airport. The stamping fee is US$25 for a single-entry, one-month or three-month visa or US$135 for a multiple entry visa of any duration. You will need to pay that fee in U.S. dollars or Vietnamese dong regardless of your nationality.

The agent here who I rely on for my visa needs is Laijenny Tran, and you can contact her through her website: She knows the visa laws very well and has a very loyal following of expats who live in the country.

Once you are in Vietnam, there are more options for staying long-term, but these must generally be arranged from within Vietnam and not from your home country. Again, Ms. Tran or another reputable visa agent can assist with this.

Also, consider what belongings you want to bring with you. It can be complicated to ship parcels from abroad, as they often get held up in customs, sometimes for months, and you may be assessed high duties. Everything here is less expensive than "back home," so bring the important things in your luggage, and replace the items that you left behind when you move here. You can easily buy furniture, clothes, books, vehicles, and other necessities in Vietnam and save yourself the headache of dealing with customs.

There is a Vietnam Report that is currently in production and will be showing up in International Living's bookstore soon. It has detailed information about moving to and living in Vietnam. Here's the link: If you subscribe to our daily postcards, you'll hear about it when it becomes available.

Best of luck with your move. Vietnam is a lovely country - I'm sure you will love it.


Wendy Justice

Vietnam CorrespondentInternational Living

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