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How to get a 5 Year Visa Exemption

MauToDan 300x160 How to get a 5 Year Visa Exemption

5 Year Visa Exemption (Mien Thi Thuc)

It used to be that anyone wanting to stay in Vietnam for a long time  could just get a 3 or 6 month tourist/business visa and extend it indefinitely.  Many expats have stayed in Vietnam for years using this method.  However, in the past year there seems to be a concerted effort by the Vietnamese Government to crackdown on “undesirables” which includes “backpackers”,  illegally employed Chinese/non-Vietnamese Asians, and Africans that are accused of propagating drugs and prostitution.

There seems to be two goals for this recent crackdown:

1.) To control (and get an accurate count of) the number of foreigners  in the country by forcing them to the border checks.

2.) To get rid of foreign workers/cheap labor that take jobs away from the local people and money out of the country.

Nowadays, most people entering Vietnam can only obtain 1 month/3 month tourist visa’s which they can at most renew twice from within Vietnam for a maximum 9 month stay in Vietnam.  This is a major issue for retired expats that have chosen to settle in Vietnam and for foreign English teachers without a work permit.  I have heard that it may be possible to get a new tourist Visa once you are out of the country….but it is a risky proposition since there is no guarantee that once you leave…you will be able to get back in.  As such…many people that have lived in Vietnam for years suddenly have to think about possibly having to move somewhere else.

Of course, If you have a work permit, you can stay as long as your permit allows…however work permits are not easy to come by.  If you are employed in Vietnam, it is the responsibility of your employer to obtain a work permit for you.  Many employers are not willing to go through the trouble and expense (about $500) of filing for a work permit, except for their most valued employees.  I am not going to delve into the process of what it takes obtain a work permit since many other expat blogs have already expounded on this issue.   Work permits are only valid for 12 months…so you will have to go through the entire process yearly.

If you or your parents were born in Vietnam or if you are married to a current or former Vietnamese citizen, you do have another option if you wish to stay in Vietnam for an extended period of time…’s called the 5 Year Visa Exemption (Mien Thi Thuc).  In an effort to boost the number of overseas Vietnamese that come to Vietnam and infuse the country with money and investments….in 2007, the Government of Vietnam passed a bill which allows people who meet specific conditions to stay in Vietnam for 5 years (90 days continuous) without being required to have a Visa.  This is akin to having a 3 month multiple entry Tourist Visa that is valid for 5 years.  If you meet the criteria, the cost to obtain a 5 Year Visa Exemption is only $20 for the first certificate and only $10 to renew it thereafter.  For detailed information on how to obtain the exemption certificate go to:

I’m not going to regurgitate all the information on that website, but I will give a brief summary of the steps I took to get my certificate.  If either you or your parents were born in Vietnam you only need to mail the following items to the Vietnam Embassy in San Francisco or Washington D.C.

1.)  Completed copy of the Visa Exemption Application

2. ) U.S. Passport (still valid for at least 6 months) + 1 copy

3.) 2 recent (4 x 6 cm) photos —– notice the size!!  These are NOT the same size as U.S. passport photos.

4.) 1 form (Giay Bao Lanh) filled out by a Vietnamese Citizen vouching for me.  I had my cousin fill out the form and include a copy of  her Vietnamese Passport.

5.) $30 money order ($20 for the certificate, $10 processing fee) – update February 2013!!  According to a couple of readers the fee is now $70…but I would call and make sure before mailing in your application.

6.) A Self-Addressed/Stamped Envelope

If you are a foreigner married to  a current or former Vietnamese citizen or the child of one, you also need to include some sort of proof of relation to your Vietnamese spouse/immediate relative.

It was a relatively painless process.  It only took about a week after the Vietnamese Embassy in the U.S. received my package before I got it back.  Make sure that you send your package via Express Mail to guarantee the quickest service.

The 5 Year Visa Exemption is  great if you regularly travel to Vietnam to vacation or visit relatives and you don’t want to apply for Visas each time.  The only problem is that the certificate states that you can only stay 90 days continuously in the country….which means that you must leave the country at least 4 times each year….or so I thought.  A few people I know with the Visa Exemption have been taking short “vacations” every few months due to the 90 day stipulation.  I, myself had planned on taking a trip to Cambodia via the Moc Bai border crossing to satisfy the 90 day rule…but that was before I found out that there was a way to extend your exemption  from within the country.  Thanks to a user in the “Living in Vietnam forum“, I learned that you can go to the Vietnamese Immigration office in Saigon (161 Nguyen Du) and obtain Form N14/M…..officially called:

Application for visa renewal, replacement or modification, length of stay extension (Don De Nghi Cap, Bo Sung, Sua Doi Thi Thuc, Gia Han Tam Tru(1))


IMG 0488 300x225 How to get a 5 Year Visa Exemption

Form NM/14 Extension Form

When you get to the Immigration office, just walk straight to where the cashier’s are and ask for the above form.  You will have to fill out the form and then sign it.  You also need to get 2 other signatures before you can turn in the application for an extension.   In my case, I just needed the signature of my Aunt because I live in her house, and the signature of the police in the ward where I live.  If you are staying  in a rental property you will most likely need the signature of your landlord.

visa exemption copy 2010 300x241 How to get a 5 Year Visa Exemption

Passport with Stamped Visa Extension (thanks rmanbike)

After you get all your required signatures….go back to the immigration office and turn in your form.  You will need to also hand over your Passport with your application.  You should get a receipt that shows the date that you can pick up your Passport and pay the $10 fee for the application.  It should only take a week for you to get back your passport with a red and blue stamp approving your extension.  I was told that they used to allow extensions for up to 1 year….but recently due to the crackdown on foreigners in Vietnam, the maximum extension allowed is capped at 90 days.  So you will have to repeat this process 4 times a year unless you leave the country before your 90 days are up.

The entire process I described above is from the perspective of a U.S. Citizen applying for a 5 Year Visa Exemption and Extension…however I believe the steps for overseas Vietnamese (Spouses/Children) from other countries  should be similar.  Contact the Vietnamese Embassy in your respective countries to find out the exact steps you may need to obtain the 5 Year Visa Exemption.

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151 comments to How to get a 5 Year Visa Exemption

  • Jon

    Very informative post – indeed when I was researching my options the visa exemption was high on the list – just the 3 month thing was offputting. Then I also read somewhere that it was possible to renew in country but didn’t know whether it was an under the table thing – the precise info you provide on how to do this very useful!

    • odgnut

      Hey Jon….I was lucky I had my Aunt help me figure it all out. When I showed up at the immigration office it was completely packed. I probably would have taken a number and sat down like everyone else instead of going straight to the cashiers and getting the extension form. I don’t even know how I would have asked for the form since I didn’t even know what it was called. My Aunt also knew one of the Cong An that worked there and he told us what signatures we needed and then took us to the front of the line and got my application submitted immediately….or I surely would have spent hours waiting. We spent less than 30 minutes in the Immigration Office. :) Tip: Grab a few extra copies of Form NM/14 while at the Immigration Office so that you can prefill out the info and just submit it every 3 months…that way you don’t have to come back twice.

  • Thanks for a great post! Somehow it still feels like the best option for pretty much everyone that wants to be here for the long term without leaving the country every 3 months is to set up a business. Then you get a temporary residence card for 3 years. That is my way to do it at least. Cheers.

    • odgnut

      Thanks Anders! Can you setup a business in Vietnam without actually having a business? :) And how much does it cost to setup a business in Vietnam? The great thing about the 5 year exemption is that it is so easy to apply for…and relatively cheap to process. It obviously is not much of an option unless you are a Viet Kieu or married to a Viet….so your solution would be much more suitable for most expats coming to Vietnam. Your website is great (!! I learned a lot from it before I arrived in VN.

      BTW…you are the lucky 200th comment on Saigon in a Cup!! You get your choice of a half eaten bag of Kit Kats or a slightly used Poncho!! :)

      • Well, as you surely know there is always a way to do almost anything in Vietnam, but I suggest setting up a small proper business. The easiest for a foreigner is some kind of software development (no VAT) or trading. Those licenses normally run for around $2000 and takes around 45 days. With the current visa situation I realized I would save those $2k in just visa costs during the 3 years and if we add the constant visa runs, it is a huge save. Then you will need to file tax reports every month, but a service will do this very cheaply if it is a small business (around 500k VND/month). Of course it is much better if you actually have the intention to do a little bit of business as well.

        Thanks for the compliment, we are working hard to write more useful articles for expats in Vietnam. And thanks for a nice blog! Haha I will pick the half eaten bag of Kit Kats.

  • [...] you are Viet Kieu (Abroad Vietnamese) and interested in getting a 5 year visa exemption, TD (Saigon in a Cup) gives a very detailed descriptions on how you can obtain this.  This 5 year visa exemption also [...]

  • Mike

    Thank you so much for this post. My wife and I (she is Vietnamese)will be retiring in Bao Loc hopefully next March. My son-in-law lives there and will be very instrumental in doing the correct thing for us. To date I have been pretty naieve knowing that everything would be done for me. Can you think of any other obstacles that I will be faced with? What about medical insurance? Is it available? Thanks again.

    • odgnut

      Hey Mike….I’m trying to figure out the whole health insurance thing myself. I know that there are international health insurance plans available….but they are usually designed for short term travelers/vacationers….and are probably pretty expensive to keep long term. I have also heard of local plans…but am unsure if the local doctors/hospitals even accept them. One thing that does seem clear is that if you have any major health issues….Vietnam is not a good place to have them taken care of. Although extremely cheap by American standards, the quality of care seems to vary dramatically….even at the international hospitals. I have recently read of major misdiagnosis and doctors that are extremely indifferent to their patients. The International SOS Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City has received the best reviews from a lot of expats in Saigon….but they are extremely expensive. Your best bet might be to fly to nearby Bangkok if you have a serious health issue. Sorry I couldn’t give you a better answer….you might try the “Living in Vietnam” forum I have listed in my links on the right sidebar. There is a American expat there named BMT who has lived in Vietnam for over 17 years…..he can probably answer any questions you have about retiring in Vietnam better than I. Good luck on your move!

    • Hi Mike,

      I use Bao Viet insurance for me an my staff, we are quite happy so far but then again we are all young and (pretty) healthy. I normally go to a small clinic on Dien Bien Phu St. when I have some problem and they have been better than my local clinic in Sweden so far when it comes to dealing with ear infections etc. And Bao Viet insurance has covered all meds and all visits without blinking so far. Bao Viet is also really cheap. But as said above, I wouldnt want to be here for something major.

  • Khanh

    odgnut, thanks for taking the time to post this. The information is invaluable. Now I know what to do if I decide to stay in VN for an extended period of time.

  • Chris

    I’d like to reiterate that the requirement to “stamp” the visa exemption every 90 days is a formality that allows the government to keep tabs on foreigners (as is their right). You do *not* have to leave the country for this. You do have to fill out a form with signatures of the person “sponsoring” you and the local police authority. The cost to have these forms processed is 200,000VND. It takes about a week. It’s all done at the immigration office, much like getting the initial exemption, and the process is painless (though annoying). I’m sad to say that the whole process moves along much quicker if you’re white or with a white guy. :(

    If you’re eligible for the visa exemption, it’s really the cheapest and easiest alternative for a long term stay.

    • odgnut

      I think you pretty much summarized exactly what I wrote in my post…..200,000VND is about $10 which is what the stamp shows. And no you DO NOT have to be “white or with a white guy” to have things done quickly. I was in and out in less than 30 minutes….and in the future I don’t even have to show up at all. They are allowing my Aunt to represent me and to do all the paperwork for me in the future. :)

  • Mark

    I have this certificate of visa exemption already.
    I have since left Vietnam but plan to return to visit my wife there.
    What i need to know now is: Do I simply turn up at the airport and get my passport stamped? Or does it need to be stamped beforehand in the country I flew in from?

    thanks muchly.

    • odgnut

      You get your passport and certificate stamped in VN…you only need to show the certificate to the airline where you are flying out of so they know that you don’t require a Visa.

  • Mr. Nguyen

    Greetings, I followed the instruction and guess what happened…no visa exemption. Why? The fee price in your instruction and the is outdated.

    My application was received on April 16, 2010 by the Embassy of Vietnam in Washington D.C. and I called on May 5, 2010 to check the status because it was over 7 “business” days. I was told that the new fee is $40 and it takes 10 “business” days.

    Furthermore, once the officer found out when I will be going to Vietnam he noted that the once the Embassy receive the addition $10…that is when the 10 “business” days to process starts. Unlucky for me…I leave to VN before then…so

    I asked the officer to send back my whole package and he added that the $30 is non-refundable…Unlucky for me again…

    Conclusion: I should have called the Embassy regardless of both sites instruction for the fee process…send either $20 or $30?…neither because it is $40. Sucks to be me…

    • odgnut

      Sorry to hear about that. I also had an issue with my application when I mailed it because there was no mention of the $10 processing fee. Unfortunately the Vietnamese govt doesn’t seem to care to clearly spell out their policies or update them whenever they change. If I were traveling to Vietnam in less than a month’s time…I would definitely not apply for something like a Visa Exemption which requires you to mail in your passport. You can never be sure anything will get done in time…whether it is the VN government or the U.S.

      In my situation…I just Express Mailed the additional fees to the Vietnam Embassy and they immediately mailed me my Visa Exemption after. You could have done that instead of having them mail you back everything and lose the $30…of course overnighting another $10 will probably cost you $20. If you read the other VN Expat blogs you will see the frustration from people trying to attain a work permit in VN. The rules change all the time and the only way people learn is by word of mouth from other expats. Sorry to hear about your misfortune…but you possibly will save someone else from having to go through the same situation.

  • stephen Lyons

    I used the visa exemption until recently,as i am now divorced from my vietnamee wife.I now am back in the uk,however,my 6 year old daughter still resides in Vietnam(vietnamee national),so im wondering if i could use this certificate again

    • odgnut

      That’s a good question Stephen. I honestly don’t know in your particular situation. I would assume that you would probably be good for the remaining duration of your 5 Year Exemption because the record keeping in VN is atrocious.

      Longer term, you might be able to apply for a Temporary (or Permanent) Residency Permit because you are related to a Vietnamese citizen (your daughter)…but I wouldn’t know how to go about doing that. You might have better luck asking John Hoff on his “Final Word” blog….or maybe even Expat.VN. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help. Best of luck to you.

  • To reply to Mike’s question of March 26 and the 2 subsequent follow up comments, I use Vien Dong Pacific for my medical insurance. They are a member of the Pacific Cross group of companies and are also known as Blue Cross Vietnam. I discovered them by visiting a couple of the clinics in town and asking who they would recommend for my insurance.

    Their premiums are approx. half those of the Bao Viet group and to date I have had no problems with any claims I have made (although I’ve only made 3 claims). I have been with them now for 12 months.

    I am currently 60 years of age so my premiums are getting up there but I am currently paying US$1,231.00 for maxi care inpatient and US$615.00 for outpatient for a comprehensive cover. I’m in the process of dropping the outpatient because I really only want to be covered for some disaster like a bad accident or serious illness that requires medical evacuation. Now that can be expensive!

    Unfortunately though, after 65 even Blue Cross premiums will be way too expensive so I may be forced to either return to Australia where all of my medical is covered or continue to live here with no cover.

    Does anybody know of an insurer who will cover you for a medical disaster only?


  • CThomas

    Hey all,

    Quick question: Is it still possible to get a third 3-month visa? I originally got a 3-month visa and have extended it once. The original post here said that I should be able to extend/renew again for another 3-months (for a total of 9 months). Is this the case? If so, I’ll renew and extend as I get my WP next month. I hope!

    • odgnut

      I think that’s still the case CT, but things change so quickly in VN that it might be easier/more difficult now. You should just call your local travel agent to find out for sure.

  • SparkyMcSparky

    Does a Viet Kieu visa allow you to work in VN without a work permit?

  • nachos

    what are the requirement to obtain the 5 Year Visa, im a vietkieu myself and i do speak the language, i was born in HCMC back in the days, one of the requirement is a birth certificate which i don’t have, can one get a 5 Year Visa without a birth certificate.

    • odgnut

      There is a list of things they will accept in lieu of a birth certificate, it is clearly listed on the Vietnam Embassy’s web site. My birth certificate was lost when we left in 1975, but my mom had a copy of our “family book” from pre 1975 which they also accepted. You can also have a Vietnamese citizen vouch for you via the form I linked to in the post.

  • Pierre

    Hi Odgnut,

    Thanks for the info.
    I am unemployed and have been using the 6-month and then 3-month visa renewals through an agent. I am not a Viet Kieu, nor married to a Vietnamese.
    Can I extend my visa by going to 161 Nguyen Du and filling this N14/M form signed by me, my hotel, and the police in my district ?

    • odgnut

      Hi Pierre, I don’t know if that form is applicable to regular tourist visa’s. You might try asking “BMT” on the “Living in Vietnam forum”. There is a link on the right sidebar. He has mentioned that there is a way to apply for a residency permit for people in your situation.

  • Kenny

    What happened to that website? Why isn’t it working? I leave to Vietnam in December, do you think they will get me back my passport in time if I send it in to the embassy in the U.S? I’m afraid of not getting it back in time, that would suck!

    • odgnut

      I’ve had the same issue with their web site in the past…it seems to go down pretty regularly. I would just try again later. If you are sending in your passport around this time, it should be plenty of time for you to get it back. Send it via express mail with a self addressed prepaid express envelope enclosed. It took me a little longer than a week to get my passport with the certificate attached mailed back to me.

  • Tom

    Great site and lots of good info :) . I am in the process of applying for the Certificate of Visa Exemption and have a couple questions…

    1. I am attaching my Vietnamese Birth Certificate as proof that I was born in Vietnam. However, the name on my Birth Certificate (Quan) is different from the name on my US Passport (Tom). My Vietnamese name is Quan, but when my parents became US citizens I officially adopted the name Tom. Will there be a problem with this? I emailed the Vietnam Consulate this question a week ago but still waiting for a reply.

    2. The Vietnam Consulate in Washington DC told me to submit my application to their DC address. Can someone with personal experience confirm that I can also mail my application to the SF consulate? (I live in California, so it would be closer for me)

    • Tom

      I finally got a reply back for question #1 from the Vietnamese Consulate in case anyone finds themselves in the same situation:


      OK I guess that makes sense, but so far my parents have not been able to find this paperwork, which is a bit ironic since they were able to miraculously dig out my Vietnamese birth certificate.

      • odgnut

        The VN consulates in the U.S. are very slow in answering emails. It’s much easier to call and talk to someone. I’m pretty sure I read that any paperwork, Visa, etc. that you need you can send to either the SF or WA consulate, but call to make sure.

        Your situation with the name change definitely complicates the whole paperwork process. The Viet govt. is very picky about getting the names correct. Any misspellings or other irregularities (i.e. having a middle name on one form but not another) can really be a cause for headaches.

      • Howard

        Great post with great info.

        @Tom, regarding your name change on the naturalization form, what did you submit regarding paperwork about name change? Did you just include your naturalization certificate?

        While we’re at it, if your passport says that you were born in Vietnam, why did you bother including your birth certificate?

        Also, generally, it’s really enough to have a Vietnamese national vouch for you? (Assuming your passport says you were born in Vietnam.)

        I ask because I think I have similiar issues that Tom has: I have an Anglicized given name along with a Sinocized surname, but at one point (as evidenced on my birth certificate, I had a full Vietnamese name.)

        Does anyone think this will be problematic?

        Thanks in advance.

        • Tom

          @Howard: I couldn’t meet the Birth Certificate requirement because my US Citizenship Certificate didn’t have my Vietnamese name on the back for some reason. I ended up getting a Vietnamese national to fill out the form that odgnut listed above in his instructions. I should’ve done that from the very beginning because it was way easy. If you know somebody — anybody — in Vietnam that can vouch for you, I’d go this route. Good luck!

          • Howard

            Tom, thanks for the information. I have plenty of blood relatives that can vouch for me, but none of them share my surname. I assume this isn’t going to be a problem.

            I can’t imagine all the nomenclature / identity permutations the immigration officials must see everyday -name changes, adoptees, people born in Vietnam but not necessarily to one or two Vietnamese nationals. Sometimes when they ask me questions in Vietnamese I fuck with them and pretend not to understand; once, eleven ten years ago, I was scolded for ostensibly not knowing Vietnamese. Now, with so many more OV returning, there’s no way they can discern who can speak Vietnamese or not.

            Thanks again.

  • Tom

    UPDATE: Here’s a tip that might save someone $40-50… when you submit your passport, make sure it has at least one empty page on it EVEN if you checked on the application that you would like to have the certificate on a separate piece of paper. My first application got rejected for this reason.

    • odgnut

      Thanks for the tip Tom. I also checked that I would like to have my certificate on a separate piece of paper, but they still stuck it inside the passport.

  • Hi everybody,

    I was searching on HOW to get in touch with Expats living in Vietnam for my project on “expat living in vietnam” and am grateful for all the tips about this visa exemption issue.

    I am sure there are lots of stuff I have missed out as well.
    Can anyone help to let me a list of the most frequent issues Expats are facing and where to find answer.

    Any website address, blogs, statistics are welcome. For more info, you can visit the website on project under yourvietnamexpert dot com

    looking forward …

  • Donkey-abroad

    For any of you guys not already aware of it, The New Hanoian forums are an excellent resource for information like this. There has been a lot of discussion on this subject, which pretty much concurs with what’s been said here. It also contains some useful links to the relevant laws written in English.

    And to also answer the question about medical insurance, I use a broker called IF Consulting who have offices in Hanoi and HCMC They represent a large number of different providers and have always been incredibly knowledgeable and helpful when called upon.

  • mike

    I just recently heard about the Family 1 year visa. I’ve heard that it is renewed automatically. Does anyone know anything about this??

  • Ray

    For extensions, there seems to be one last step to complete the process (that I have just discovered to my cost).
    Once the passport has been stamped with the visa extension, the passport has to be given back to the police in the ward where you live. They then write the details into some manually maintained register. When you make your next application for an extension, this record is checked.
    I didn’t do it on my last extension (I didn’t know it was required) and now the local police refuse to sign the application.
    Now having a scramble.

    • odgnut

      Registering with the police in the ward where you live is unrelated to the Visa Exemption Extension. You are supposed to do that even when you have a regular tourist or business visa. Even the locals have to register with the police whenever they change addresses or stay overnight at another person’s house.

      The registration with your local police is only valid for the length of time your Visa or extension is valid. For example, most tourist Visas are valid for only 1 month, so if someone gets another 1 month Visa they must re-register with the local police who then permits them to stay an additional month.

      As you are now aware, once you get a 90 day extension to your Visa Exemption, you must re-register with the police in your ward which validates your stay for another 90 days. It’s a bit of a pain in the ass but that’s the law.

  • Howard

    My experience with police registration has changed over the last decade and I was wondering if others have experienced similar: back in the day (late 1990s/early 2000s), you couldn’t go anywhere without registering. The cong an would often come to wherever you’re staying and ask for your passport. (I’m talking about private residences.)

    Recently, though, my experience with registration has been quite lax. I haven’t been registered in over three years anywhere except at hotels, and that’s with renting two houses AND staying overnight at friends’ or local relatives’ homes for days or even weeks at a time. This is all in Saigon, Districts 1, 3, 5, and 10. I know the landlords that don’t register me run a risk; but it seems that the cong an in these wards really don’t care. I usually come in on the 90-day OV visa and have renewed without having to register.

    Has anyone else experiened this? If it makes a difference, I’m OV and don’t look or try to “blend in” with the locals.


    • Tom

      I lived in different places in Saigon (districts 1, 3, 10, Binh Tan, Tan Binh, Tan Phu) over a span of two years and was interviewed by a policer officer twice. Generally you will more likely get a police checkup at a private residence or hotel if you stay in the more ghetto areas like Binh Tan.

  • Howard

    okay, can someone who lives near the vietnamese embassy in DC confirm that the embassy does indeed exist within a Logic-Free Zone? i just got my giay mien thi thuc in the mail today. it took about five days from the time i submitted the paperwork until i received it. i called to confirm that it does indeed cost $40 (as mid-march 2011). on the paperwork i requested that the exemption be on a separate document.

    so i open the envelope and i find:

    1. it’s a sticker in my passport, instead of a separate document and
    2. it’s not for five years, but good from march 22, 2011 until september 14, 2014. i have tried adding all kinds of numbers and dates together and that just doesn’t add up to five years.

    i have a call into the consular section, but i was wondering if anyone has also experienced this.


    • odgnut

      Howard, I requested my exemption to be on a separate document also, but as in your case it was also attached inside of my passport. Not sure why they list having it on a separate document as an option if they aren’t going to do it.

      As for the 2nd issue; when does your passport expire? I’m assuming that the exemption is only good until the last date of validity in your passport. So if your passport expires in 2014, they won’t give you an exemption that goes beyond that date. If that’s not the case, then I don’t know.

    • Donkey-abroad

      Howard, Odgnut,

      I can’t comment specifically on your case of the Washington DC embassy as I got my visa waiver in Hanoi. However, I have never heard of a visa waiver being issued as a document separate from your passport; all the ones I have ever seen take up a page in your passport. You will then get a stamp in your passport when you enter Vietnam, saying when you’re allowed to stay until (90days from date of entry). You will then get an exit stamp when you leave.

      As for the validity period, the visa waiver is valid either for 5 years OR until 6 months before your current passport expires. My passport is valid until September 2014, and my visa waiver is valid until March 2014.

      The only two documents I know that are issued separately from the passport (on laminated card type thing) are the Temporary Residences Card (valid for up to 3 years, or less if your work contract is shorter) or Permanent Residence card, which is valid for 5 years (from memory).

      • Howard

        Mea culpa. I was a dumbass about the expiration dates. You guys are right – it is exactly six months to the day prior to the expiration of my passport. (My passport was good for ten years when I got it and I never really think about when it expires.) So the embassy people were right in their math and I was wrong.

        As for the separate document issue, the lady at the visa section said the application PDF was never pulled and changed in order to the reflect the fact that they eventually decided to only issue in-passport sticker documents and not the laminated-card type. Who knows if that’s true but it makes sense. Having a separate a document probably wouldn’t help anyway since I *think* you have to re-apply for all your valid visas when you get a new passport.

        When did the consulates get their act together and also start being nice? Used to be you had to prepare for a scolding whenever you called to ask something.

  • Doyle

    I’m a VK about to move to Vietnam to teach, should I opt for this method or do I have to still do all the document authentication for a work permit? If I go on a three month tourist visa, will it be possible to renew it in the case that my work permit won’t be completed by then?

    • odgnut

      If you’re a VK then you should definitely opt for a 5 year Visa Exemption over a 3 month tourist visa. It’s much cheaper to renew and you don’t have to worry about any new regulations that might limit the number of tourist visas a person can get, like the one the government briefly imposed last year. When you find a teaching position, your employer should help you obtain a work permit, but getting a work permit is expensive and a lot of hassle, so unless you sign a long term teaching contract, many places probably won’t bother to assist you.

  • David

    Im sorry but am I dumb or I dont see where we can get the Visa Exemption Application in step one to fill out to send in.

    Thanks =/

  • Doyle

    I just called them and it seems like the fee is jacked up to 50 dollars now… At first the lady said.. 500 dollars lol.

  • Doyle

    Sorry, to clarify, the consulate in SF wanted 50 dollars but the embassy in DC wanted 40 dollars…

    • odgnut

      Are you sure it’s not $40 with a $10 processing fee on top? It’s strange that the embassy and the consulate would have different fees. They never mentioned the $10 processing fee to me until I sent in my first application and then I had to express mail them another $10.

      • Doyle

        So I should just send them 50 dollars then… I asked the DC why the prices were different and the guy didn’t know…

        • odgnut

          I’m not suggesting that at all, just that it doesn’t make sense for the fees to be different between the consulate and the embassy. You should contact them again to make sure the fees are correct before you send in your application. It’ll be more costly and inconvenient to have to express mail them another check.

          • Doyle

            Ya it doesn’t make sense to me either… I guess that’s Vietnam for ya….but I’ll just send in 50 just to be sure- in the end it’ll be cheaper for me anyways to send it to SF because of my proximity…

  • TnT

    How do I go about having a Vietnamese citizen vouch for me to get this 5 year visa exemption? Does the Vietnamese citizen have to write a formal letter, or is there a form in which the Vietnamese citizen has to fill out? Thanks for any help.

  • TnT


    Great help. Many thanks! One last questions because I’m getting conflicting information. On the website it says that I can get the exemption just by having a Vietnamese citizen vouch for me if I don’t have the other documents such as a birth certificate. When I go to immigration, they tell me that I need a birth certificate. It seems that they are unaware of their own rules. Can you clarify this for me? Can I get the exemption just by having a Viet citizen vouch for me, or do I need someone to vouch for me plus a birth certificate or other documents proving I’m a VK? I’m in Hanoi by the way. I was also told that immigration would make things difficult for me, because all they want in the end is bribe money to make this happen quickly. Thanks again.

    • odgnut

      I didn’t have my birth certificate at all when I applied and there was no issue. I applied before I got to Vietnam, so your situation is more complicated….all paperwork in Vietnam seems to be much more complicated than necessary and as you know sometime requires bribes to facilitate things.

    • Howard

      FWIW: I applied (and received) the 5-year a couple weeks ago. I sent the application to the embassy in DC, a postal money order for $40, the form that a Vietnamese citizen (my cousin in Saigon) filled out vouching for me, a photocopy of her national ID card, and my passport.

      I did not send my birth certificate. (My passport states that I was born in Viet Nam.)

      I would think that trying to get the waiver if you are in-country is a pain the ass, for the reasons mentioned above.

      Good luck.

      • tho tan

        hello,I just got my 5 years excemption today.I applied here in Norway,Oslo.The fees is 500 kr. That would be 90 usd dollar ??? The fees are so different from country to country.?

  • Doyle

    Im about to send my citizenship certificate and birth certificate, will they be returning these to me or should I just send them copies (even though the citizenship certificate says not to make copies)

  • TnT

    Ok, they’re making this quite difficult for me. I want to know if anyone can answer this. I was born in Hong Kong, but my parents were born in Vietnam. Am I still eligible for this 5 year visa exemption? On the website it says as long as you are of Vietnamese ethnicity(whatever their definition of this means), and having a Vietnamese citizen vouch for you, then you can get this 5 year visa exemption. God! Dealing with a government in any country is a headache!

  • David

    I have gone to Walgreens, Costco and CVS where they can take passport photos but none of them can make them 4cm x 6cm. Does anyone know how we can get these sizes? Thanks

  • Doyle

    I just had wallet size pictures printed out and cut it myself.
    However, on the application form the box to place the picture is NOT 4 cm by 6cm. It’s definitely smaller, so I trimmed my picture to fit it and left the other picture at 4 cm by 6cm.

  • Dxotica

    Ok, So I read thru this article.I coudlnt really find anything that directly related to me.

    Thanks for this wealth of info by the way. Ok Im Viet Kieu from Australia. I am currently in Sai Gon and i discovered that i can get the visa exempiton but the website is for when u are not in Vietnam. How do i go about getting this exemption i have family here that can vouch for me. Which department in Saigon should i approach and what forms would apply to me and where shall i go.


  • Doyle

    Just got mine in the mail. They also sent back one of the pictures not glued onto the application. Thanks again for this post! A local travel agent claimed that it would cost 200 dollars to complete… no wonder that profession is dying.

  • Howard

    @dxotica, in saigon, you can go to the administrative building on the corner of CMT8 and Nguyen Du in D1. The folks there handle most paperwork dealing with OV and foreigners: driver’s licenses, visa applications, etc. Just go to that corner and ask someone standing around where the entrance is. I think it’s easier if you speak viet when talking to people in that office. But you will also probably need to pay the “administrative premium” when dealing with stuff there.

    Why not try the traveler cafes on PNL? if they quote you an outrageous sum, just bargain.

  • Ng~

    Hello all,
    Like @dxotica I too am already in Vietnam and hoping to not have to leave SE Asia anytime soon. What I’ve been able to cull from the discussion is that visiting the local immigration office (with required documents in hand) is the first step. Does anyone have experience doing this in the backwaters of Nha Trang?

    I’m also wondering if it’s possible to apply for the visa exemption in Thailand or Cambodia even though I’m American vk. Any idea which of the 2 countries has the better choice of embassies? I can’t speak Thai or Khmer and my Vietnamese is embarrassingly slow so I’m hoping for English-speaking or patient bureaucrats. It’s a lot to ask for, nu? :-)
    Thanks in advance.

    • Ng~

      Here’s an update. The Immigration Office at 5 Ly Tu Trong in Nha Trang said that I’d have to go to Saigon to get the exemption.

      254 Nguyen Trai, HCMC it is then!

  • Eddie

    I got my five year visa extension exemption last week, in Saigon. All the info in the post at the top is correct, EXCEPT: they moved from 161 Nguyen Du, to 254 Nguyen Trai. Not sure which District that is.

  • Pietro

    I live in Chau Doc and have a 5 years exemption. Due to the border proximity I think that’s easier for me to go to Cambodia than to come to HCMC to apply for the visa renewal.

    I only wonder if I actually have to sleep one night in Cambodia or if it’s enough to get trough the immigration to Cambodia and once there just come back. Any experience?

    I think I could do so in around 4 hours, less than a bus ride to HCMC.

  • David

    Pietro~ border runs can be in and out. No need to stay for a day.

  • Ng~

    Hi – I was able to get a 5-year exemption a few months back from the Saigon Immigration office. All well and good but I have neglected to renew the visa in time and am now several days late. Does anyone know what the best way of going about correcting this is? If I need to flee across the Cambodian border (in order to return) any idea what the charge would be per day for an overstayed visa? Any information is appreciated.

    • David

      Very late answere but from what I was told, if you over stay your 5 yr visa would become invalid. I have no idea if this is true or not but it was what I was told.

      There are many agents able to take of this for you however. just requires tea money and they will renew your extention like it was never late. cant be too late though, a week is fine Im told.

  • Ky Cleveland

    What if you already have a five year exemption and you need to renew it? Do you have to go through the same amount of paperwork to get it renewed? Any help is appreciated.

  • alohatofu

    I’m in the process of doing it. When I called in to the DC office, they said that the fee is now $70 ($50+20)
    can anyone confirm?

  • lsn

    I can confirm the $70 processing fee at the D.C. embassy. I just obtained my visa exemption this week.

  • 70

    i can also confirm it’s $70. this was two weeks ago. Regular passport photos worked fine for me. They are relatively quick.

  • BIL

    I called the embassy of VN in Ottawa to ask about the fee. two different prices from the “embassy” : 40 USD and 50 CAD????
    what the heck is going on in Vietnamese embassy?? and it seem like they don’t care too much about updating the darn Government website… so I really don’t know how much is it???

  • kevin

    1) Please help!!! Regarding the giay bao lanh, does the relative or someone who vouch for you need to sign that paper and mail the original letter to your USA address or will a scan copy be enough after they fill out such form and sign? I mean if the original is needed that could take forever as the postal carriers from Vietnam to deliver to the USA address usually takes at least 1 week or more.

    2) I went online today to try to fill out the application for such visa exemption and it still says:

    “Issued herewith Decision (Circular) by The Ministry of Finance No. … Dated….
    -First issuance of visa exemption certificate: 20 USD
    -Second issuance of visa exemption certificate: 10 USD”

  • kevin

    I called the dc embassy today aug 8, 2012 and they say that (giay bao lanh) is not needed if you were born in Vietnam. The fee for the 5 year visa exemption is now $70…

    • yoo

      in my passport it says i was born in vietnam.
      So after reading tip at this page i sent my visa exemption application.. But i got a phone from the embassy says it was not enough and they need more paperwork or something?
      i told him that i was a vietnamese born in vietnam as my foreign passport says.
      So do i need a vietnamese relatives to vouch for me?
      what a f”!#!”3 pain in the ass..
      if my foreign passport says i was born in VIETNAM what more do they need, to understand that im vietkieu..

      CAN ANYONE CONFIRM THIS????????????

  • SD

    Thanks for the info I just got mine in Singapore. I was also asked for a phototcopy of my wife’s passport (only the photo page) and ID card. It took one week to process and I paid SGD $30.

  • ed

    Hi SD
    did u do the 5 yr visa in singapore or HCM? If i am singaporean and not yet married to Vn, can i apply for it?

    can u advise

  • mapheo

    just received my visa exemption from the vietnamese embassy in washington dc…cost was $70

    also, what is strange is it was issues on 11/15 and expires on 10/16/2016

    this is not 5 years, oh well … also, it took like 4 weeks to complete the process…slow slow slow

  • yoo

    Điều 4. Hồ sơ đề nghị cấp Giấy miễn thị thực:

    1. Hộ chiếu nước ngoài hoặc người chưa được cấp hộ chiếu nước ngoài thì phải có giấy tờ thường trú do nước ngoài cấp (kèm theo bản sao để cơ quan có thẩm quyền lưu hồ sơ).

    2. Một trong những giấy tờ, tài liệu chứng minh là người Việt Nam định cư ở nước ngoài theo quy định của pháp luật Việt Nam hoặc điều ước quốc tế mà Việt Nam là thành viên hoặc các giấy tờ được cấp trước đây dùng để suy đoán về Quốc tịch gốc hoặc gốc Việt Nam. Trường hợp không có giấy tờ chứng minh là người Việt Nam định cư ở nước ngoài, thì đương sự có thể xuất trình giấy bảo lãnh của Hội đoàn của người Việt Nam ở nước đương sự cư trú hoặc công dân Việt Nam bảo đảm đương sự là người Việt Nam định cư ở nước ngoài.

    Người nước ngoài là vợ, chồng, con của người Việt Nam định cư ở nước ngoài hoặc công dân Việt Nam thì phải có giấy tờ chứng minh quan hệ vợ, chồng, con với người Việt Nam định cư ở nước ngoài hoặc công dân Việt Nam (giấy đăng ký kết hôn; giấy khai sinh; giấy xác nhận quan hệ cha, mẹ, con và các giấy tờ có giá trị khác theo quy định của pháp luật Việt Nam).

    3. Trường hợp không có các giấy tờ quy định tại khoản 2 Điều này, đương sự có thể xuất trình giấy tờ do cơ quan có thẩm quyền của nước ngoài cấp nếu trong đó có ghi đương sự là người có quốc tịch gốc hoặc gốc Việt Nam để cơ quan có thẩm quyền của Việt Nam xem xét cấp Giấy miễn thị thực.

    IN part 3= anyone fluent in vietnamese explain for me…
    does this mean that if my foreign passport says i was born in vietnam, i dont need other paper to prove im a origin vietnamese??????

    • David

      From what I remember if you have actual vietnamese document like a pass port, birth certificate , drive rlicense or w/e you dont need further proof. That is enough to get the 5 yr visa.

      Below was a copy paste from a translator.

      1. Foreign passport or the passport has not been issued abroad must have permanent residence papers issued abroad (with a copy to the competent authority records).

      2. One of the papers and documents to prove Vietnam who settled in foreign countries in accordance with Vietnam’s laws or international treaties to which Vietnam is a member or past papers for level speculation original nationality or origin of Vietnam. Where there is no proof that the Vietnam residing abroad, the applicant can provide proof of association guaranteed by Vietnam in the country of residence or citizenship Vietnam secured parties Vietnam is settled abroad.

      Foreigners who are wives, husbands, children of Vietnam residing abroad or citizens of Vietnam, there must be proof of a spousal relationship, the people of Vietnam or overseas Vietnamese citizen South (marriage certificate, birth certificate, certificate of the father or mother, son and other valuable papers in accordance with the laws of Vietnam).

      3. The absence of documents specified in Clause 2 of this Article, the applicant may present documents issued by a competent authority of a foreign country if the applicant stating that the original nationality or origin Vietnam to the competent authorities consider Vietnam visa exemption certificate.

      • David

        after rereading your comment. an above poster mentioned he sent in the package to the Vn embassy and that in the situation they said that a non vietnam passport saying you were born in Vn was not enough and more proof was necessary.

  • David

    As an update with my 5yr visa: I have been able to extend 5×90 days so stayed a total of 1.5 yrs with the 90day entry at 10 usd per extension. price is still 10 usd extension even after the visa price raise. I did this myself at the immigration office. I am not sure if this is normal protocol or not but I have family on the police force. This was never mentioned by me or by them ever the many times i visited even though I know they know I am family.

    After the 5th extension I was told I can not stay any longer and told they will not renew as I have no reason to stay this long. So i left and reentered the next day. I have renewed one time already and will be allowed to renew again. After that is my guess and will update further eventually.

    Please note that I did not renew in Saigon which I assume would be different. I did it in one of the few small cities where tea money is not the norm and you would be fined to offer.

  • David

    I’ve noticed that people dont check this website enough to answer questions or reply very late so I am offering to answer questions in a prompt fashion. I do consider myself a somewhat expert as I have lived in VN for almost 4 years now [with the help of this website]and prob can help in one way or another as I know some contacts in Vn to help what ever situation you may find yourself in.

    In order for me to help, you will need to post the question on this awesome website and than send a message to jackboxaddict on aim or yahoo messenger. I am almost always on messenger. I will not add you as a friend so pls dont request, just send a message that you have a question on vn visa and provide a link to this site and wait for a reply.

  • Linh

    I think nowadays getting a 5-yr visa exemption is faster and easier. I live in HI, I called the VN consulate in SF on Monday June 17th to confirm the fees – it’s $60 including the processing fee.
    On the phone I told the lady my passport stated Saigon was my birth place, and since I still keep my Vietnamese name, so she said I don’t need to send any other paper to prove that I am a Viet Kieu.
    I shipped the package (passport, pics, a copy of online application, and a cashier check along with a stamped return USPS Priority envelop) on Monday afternoon via USPS Priority certified mail. The tracking showed it was delivered on Thursday, and today Monday June 24th I received my passport back with the visa exemption stamped inside valid til 2018. That means they approved, stamped, and shipped it back the same day for me to receive it that fast in HI!

  • lisa

    Hello, I’m also interested in this…I am in HCMC right now and born in Vietnam. But i am Canadian. I am looking for a 5 yr exemption. Does anyone know how i go about doing this? I have not a clue or where to start. Pls advise, thx

  • hohoho

    Can a vk buy a house or apartment in vietnam, if they have the 5 years visa exemption?

  • rodney

    Hi Rodney here, I recently visited Vietnam and fell in love with one of the locals.I am selling my house here in Australia and want to reside in hoi an.I have read most of your blog’s and am a bit confused so I will leave here in about a month. Can you recommend what i should do now? Thanx

  • Ray

    I was warned that some people had had trouble getting this while in Vietnam but I tried anyway. Big mistake. In HCM you need to go to the Immigration Office at 254 Nguyen Trai Street, District 1. It is by far the the most hostile Vietnamese government office I have encountered, ever. Minimal signage in English, few if any of the office personnel speak any foreign language, rather than help they prefer to complain to you at length and quite loudly. It appears that most of the “customers” are agents processing large numbers of passports at a time and presumably greasing the wheels liberally with VND. In the end I got some information but not the necessary forms. By then the one person in the office who hands out forms had left for the day (one hour earlier than everyone else). Lots more documents required in Vietnam than overseas and a trip back to your spouse’s home province to get their family book if you are applying as the spouse of a Vietnamese citizen and resident.

    I’ll be applying overseas and recommend the same to anyone else in the same situation.

  • andy

    Married to a local. So my 5 yr visa was no problems. But getting the marriage certificate was a nightmare.

  • Rick

    Went to 254 Nguyen Trai in HCMC today. If you are married to a VN national it is quite easy and straight forward. Myself, I’m not married but have a VN national son here in VN. I was denied the 5 year exemption.

  • David

    Lisa – The procedures are stated above. If you still do not know what to do, God help you.

    Hohoho – over the past yr, there is new VNese regulation that allows foreigners to buy houses/apts. From what I remember it was 2 options. one for 100 yrs and the other for 60 or something with an option to extend 50 yrs. It was something along those lines. My suggestion is to not do it. Prices are still very high in VN even though real estate here has been tanking for 3+ yrs already. Renting is a far better and cheaper route. You can find a new modern house fully furnished with 2 bedrooms for like 500usd/month. Cheaper or more expensive depending but still all very nice. As a better reference as Im always bang for buck. I stayed in a one bedroom separated house above the landlord spacious and although not new but still very clean and not damaged for 200usd/month.

    Rodney – WHat is it that you are asking? I can only say tread carefully. To uproot yourself and to sell everything to live in VN with someone you met you fell in love with on a recent visit trip that prob wasnt longer than a couple weeks isnt sound. Love never is but think carefully on what you want to do. If its love, you and she will still be there in a yr or so. WHy not visit a few more times and correspond through email and video chat etc. If you feel the same, awesome.

  • David

    Also right now, there is a crackdown on immigration. It happens every year or so but this seems to be a major one. Im told it will last from now till Dec.

    We have been alerted that the immigration authorities in Vietnam are becoming much more vigilant in checking that foreign workers have registered their current and correct residential address in accordance with Vietnamese Government law (Decree 72 -73).

    You are required to note and take the following action so you are prepared and compliant in the event of an Immigration Department check with your landlord/agent/or hotel, or a visit to your residence. (Immigration visits have generally occurred after 11.00pm).

    Please ensure that your landlord/agent has registered your passport (with a current Visa OR your Temporary Residence Card) with the local police and you have a Residence Book/Certification.

    If you are not registered and do not have a current Residence Book entry, please ensure you complete registration immediately and send a hard copy of either your Residence Book or a scanned /printed photocopy of the Landlord’s Book (“So dang ky tam tru”) to SS Helpdesk (Building 1).

    A fine is generally applied to any person who allows their Visa/Temporary Residence Card to be late in registration with local police and you are responsible for payment of that fine. Re-registration is required whenever your Visa/Temporary Resident Card expires OR if you change residential address. The fine amount directed to those who fail to comply/register late is from VND 10,000,00 and 20,000,000 for landlords; and for tenants is from VND 500,000 – 2,000,000.

    Action required: Please ensure that your landlord has registered your passport (with a current Visa) OR your Temporary Residence Card, with the local police; you have a Residence Book/scanned copy; please bring it with your passport to SS Helpdesk if you want to extend/renewal visa.

    So this means if your visa has expired and it is too late to register you to an address and you will have to leave the country and come back. However I have heard that there is a possibility that you can can get an ‘emergency’ 15 day extension which will give you time to register as living somewhere, and then get the police stamp, and then get a visa.

    Currently only 1 month extensions are only available right now in VN. Not sure on this but I hear this being repeated enough to have credibility.

    You can still get 6 months VN visa in Cambodia if you provide a copy of your job contract + a document mentioning a physical address where you are staying at. With out these, you can still get 3 months at around 170usd.

  • ZJack

    Hi David, I am not a Vietnamese but i did married a Vietnamese woman and visited Vietnam for just 2 times with tourist visa. Now i want to go and settle there with my wife. I live in Bangladesh and really don’t have any idea how to get a spouse visa for Vietnam. Appreciate your help.

  • David

    For those coming to VN for work and need a work visa. If you are here to teach english requirements are native english speaker, university degree and teaching certificate. The school should take care of all paperwork for you and its advised to never give them the real diploma. If its a dodgy school and they wont take care it for you than the cost should be roughly 100usd for 2 years.

    As for other jobs, diploma is not always required but proof of 5 years experience is required. Officially work is only allowed to foreigners if a local can not be found to do the job but this is VN so take it as you will.

    As for getting a married visa, you should contact a VN consolute to get the paperwork going and find out the requirments, cost would be the minimal. Another alternative is to contact ‘my phat visa’, an agent in vn who I highly recommend. Google it. He is the real deal, honest and clear. great English as well. his number is 0908311294or you can find his email from search. Cost would be more obviously and he will request the same paperwork the consolute would require.

  • ZJack

    Hi David, many thanks for the information. I will try all these process and will get back to you soon.

  • ZJack

    Yes I have my marriage certificate from both countries and got the attestation on them as well from both side.

  • Chris

    Can anyone tell me if someone married to a VN, ( also have 5 yr Exemption Visa ), needs a Work permit? My wife assures me it is not required, but I might be teaching at a real school soon, so want to make sure, been here for 3 yrs, teaching for 3 months in a small ‘ city ‘, so the Cong An will know what I’ve been doing.

  • Phong

    Wow thanks for all the info, very useful!

    Now my case: I am now traveling around in Asia and will stay here in Singapore for a couple of weeks. I have a trip planned to HCMC in March. I was born in HCMC in 1978, no birth certificate.
    I now hold a Swiss passport with no mention of my birth place. However, it says on one line “Place of Origin” and it states the town and state in Switzerland where I got naturalized (not sure of the word haha).

    Is this going to pose a problem or will the vouching part from a Vietnamese citizen get rid of this “issue”?

    Also, since I am not planning in flying back to my home country (Switzerland) for a couple of months, will I be able to do all this at the Vietnam embassy in Singapore?

    Thanks in advance!

  • John

    I recently had to apply for 2 of these visas, one for my daughter and then one for myself.

    Both took 14 days processing. $50 AUD. They were both very strait forward to get, took in the documents from the website (daughter, birth cert with mums vietnamese birth cert), then mine later was just the marriage certificate with wifes birth cert and my passpoprt) Was easier as I live in Canberra (Australia) so I just went ot the embassy and dropped it off cameback 14 day picked it up…

    Very curious about the working rules for this visa as may want to stay for bit longer of a period next year for work etc..

  • Chris

    If you had done the Visa’s in VN, they would have only cost about $10 each, ( 210k ), at least that what it cost me last year. ( and the same every 90 days ).
    This doesn’t automatically entitle the holder to a Work permit, that’s another headache altogether. Also if you do have a Work permit, you won’t need a 5yr Visa, you can renew your visa without leaving VN. ( Most work contracts are for 2 yrs these days, maximum for the 1st time ).

  • Judy

    FYI….the Vietnamese Consulate in San Francisco and Washington DC is now charging $70 to process the 5 years Visa Exemption. Their website is still saying $20. Should call them to get the updated fee. I am doing mine today.

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  • […] Look up: 5 Year Visa Exemption Process […]

  • RC

    I have the 5 year visa exemption. I already left the country before the first 90 day stay period. I want to book a flight that leaves 3 days after it needs to be renewed again, but due to a family obligations, can’t be in HCMC to renew it before the deadline($10usd?). Will this cause problems? How much in fines will it be?

  • Chris

    You can renew your visa anytime before the 90 day expiry day, ( they usually insist on 3 -4 days beforehand up here ), I don’t think you will get a fine, as you won’t be in the country, how long will you be away for?, ( or are you already out of the country? ), if for a while , maybe come back on a Visa on arrival , ( online , pay at Airport ), use that until you can renew your VEC.

  • RC

    Thanks for the reply, Chris. I guess I wasn’t clear. Sorry. I meant that I’m still in Vietnam and that my VEC needs a 90 day renewal that’s due on the 30th of this month. But I want to book a flight that leaves 3-4 days after the renewal deadline. I will be stuck in Bac Lieu up till the day my flight leaves. And was wondering what kind of fees or trouble I might have? I hear so many contradicting info. Since I’ll be stuck in Bac Lieu, I was wondering if I can renew it there? Thanks in advance.

  • Chris

    Maybe you could also renew it at Ca Mau, Soc Trang, or Can To , if you could get there? ( Can To for sure ).
    I know from my own experience last year, that being 3 -4 days late cost me 1 mil VND, ( plus your wife/sponsor has to write a letter and attend a meeting with the Cong An ).
    Good luck.

  • RC

    After research, I found the address for the immigration office in Bac Lieu (37B Ba Trieu, Ward 3, Bac Lieu town, Bac Lieu province). And found out that there is an immigration office in all the province capital cities. You can apply, renew, extend for the various visas. Even for the 5 year Visa Exemption. So, that will save a long trip to many people. Thanks again.

  • EFR

    I have a question that I would like an answer to if possible.
    I have a visa exception certificate already.
    I will be staying in Vietnam longer then the 90 days allotted this trip.
    Is it easier for me to travel to the Cambodia/Vietnam border to have a new entry stamp, since it is close to where I am residing in Vietnam. Or do I need to go to an immigration office to have an official extension certificate granted. Just wondering what would be easier with less paper work hassle.

    Thanks in advance

  • Chris

    You do not have to leave VN to get a new entry stamp, there is an extensive thread on VEC’s on ExPat blog .com, covering other types of Visa’s as well, I suggest you read it.

  • RC

    EFR, I was in the same situation. For less hassle, it was easier to just enter Cambodia and then reenter Vietnam that same day. I forgot the Cambodia entry fees, but it was something like $26us. While the process of going to a Vietnam immigration office cost only $10usd. But took hours of waiting for both visits. It takes 3-5 days of processing if you do it that way. So, for less hassle, just leave the country.

  • EFR

    Thanks Chris and RC for your comments
    I now have some options available to me

  • Chris

    RC, do you have a VEC? ( married to a VN? ).

  • Chris

    Ok RC I read your previous posts.
    I have know trouble up here, just get to the office at 7.30, ( except last time the office was unattended for about 20 minutes, ( then the girl came back with her COFFEE ). It’s even open Saturday morning here.

  • Chris

    no chance to correct/edit?????
    No , not know.

  • RC

    Chris: yes, I have a 5 year visa extension. It depends on what immigration office you go to. HCMC office would be about 15-20 minutes. Bac Lieu Province office was usually 15 minutes. But sometimes so much more, depending on holidays. But they all had the 3-5 day processing.

  • Chris

    I got turned away yesterday, ( the greeny was busy ), because I didn’t go back on the EXACT date to pick up my passport, last time I went on the exact day, i was told to come back the next day, bunch of morons. They must be paid extra, or trained to piss off Foreigners???? But if you take your wife in with you, there is never a problem.

  • Mimi

    I am a US citizen born in VN but currently living in Thailand. I want to apply for the 5 year visa exemption. Does anyone know if I can do this at the VN embassy in Bangkok, or do I need to mail my paperwork to the US?

    Also, I am not ethnically Vietnamese, even though I was born there. Do you know of anyone like me who has received the exemption?

    Thanks for your help. Lots of good information here.

  • Chris

    I’ve been on a VEC for the last 3 years, You were born in VN? You have to meet certain criteria to be eligible for the 5 yr Visa Exemption, married to a VN, parent of a VN, sibling of a VN, or a VK. I doubt very much you could apply for this Visa anywhere else than inside VN, also if you are coming to VN, make sure you have the correct Visa , you cannot change from a Tourist Visa to a Business Visa once in VN anymore, and after 90 days you now have to leave and re enter VN to renew it, although on some websites they will say you can pay some ridiculous amount to renew it in VN, but I doubt this would even be a legal Visa????

  • Ray Greiner

    I have VEC issued in Vietnam but investigated getting it outside Vietnam. It’s possible and there are instructions on the San Francisco consulate’s website although only in Vietnamese. I didn’t find such a page on the website for the Vietnamese Embassy in Thailand so they may not offer the service there. You can always call them to ask.

  • Mimi

    I went to the VN Embassy in Bangkok today to ask about this. I could have submitted my application there, but the lady at the counter told me that it takes a long time (a month?), and I can’t be without my passport that long. She suggested I apply in Vietnam. In case other people need to know, they would have also needed some proof that I was living in Thailand, not just passing through. Since I have a work permit, this would have been OK for me, it is just the need to have my passport since I am not in my home country. So, it looks like the embassy in Thailand does process these applications, but they have to send the paperwork somewhere else, so it is not fast. I plan to visit Vietnam in a month or so, so will ask again when I am there, I don’t plan to move to Vietnam at this point, so don’t need to worry about changing from a tourist visa to a business visa. I just want the visa exemption so I can visit without the cost and hassle of getting a visa each time. I don’t know if I will qualify or not, but from my reading of the criteria, I might. I do have a Vietnamese birth certificate and that is one of the qualifying documents.

  • Chris

    You didn’t say you had a VN birth Certificate, why not apply for VN citizenship, why are you messing around with Visa’s?????? All the documents have to be translated and certified, that wouldn’t be that easy in Thailand????

  • Mai

    This is just an update of getting the visa exemption in the US as of Feb 2015. I went to the Vietnamese embassy in DC and the whole process was extremely easy! We were in and out of the embassy within 10 minutes. I used my birth certificate, which shows that I was born in the refugee camp for Vietnamese in Indonesia. I didn’t need my parents’ birth certificate since I have a Vietnamese name and it shows that my parents’ names are also Vietnamese. My husband and I did the application online and used regular passport sized pictures of 2×2. The application and this site says a different size but the instructions from the NY consulate says 2×2. The fee is $70 per visa and we paid with a credit card at the embassy. We actually called and asked about that cause no where on their website says that you can pay with a credit/debit card if you do it in person. We dropped off our documents on Thurs Feb 5th and received our passports with our visas via mail on Mon Feb 9th. We were shocked since the lady who helped us told us it will be 10 business days because my husband is not a Vietnamese descendant and that usually takes longer. They processed everything and shipped our passports back on the every next day that we dropped them off. Extremely fast.

  • Informative post for the working peoples who had some business in Vietnam. They can only extend visa for two times not more than that.

  • Chris

    Providing you actually have a Business Visa???? but then, why haven’t you changed it to a TRC????

  • Ray Greiner

    Just found out that each time you apply for an extension of your stay under your VEC you now have to submit a photo with your N-5.

  • Chris

    Thanks Ray, That wouldn’t surprise me, I renewed my last week, but they never asked for one, but I live rural, a bit stupid though, they have you passport in their hands????

  • Ray Greiner

    Well I was at the Nguyen Du Street office in HCM. Consistency is not a particularly prized trait in government. Everyone coming in on their own behalf appeared to have a photo or was told to get one. Maybe it had to do with the photo business that they had set up elsewhere in the building. None of the big bundles of passports and documents dumped on their desks by the travel agents who didn’t have to wait like we did appeared to have photos attached.

  • Chris

    Sounds like they were having a, ” lets piss off a Foreigner day “, some of them have a bit of an attitude towards us, I think it part of their military training? But I think I will take a photo with me next time though, that might piss them off instead???

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