Do the leg-work, be patient: foreigners on flying back to Vietnam

By Viet Anh   January 17, 2022 | 08:46 pm PT
Foreigners who have managed to return to Vietnam after the partial reopening of commercial flights say they were mentally prepared for the leg-work and waiting it takes.

"I flew from France, transited in Thailand and arrived in HCMC on Jan 5," said a relieved Jerome Ly, a French citizen.

Ly said that he prepared a list of documents and was helped by an agent in HCMC to proceed with the trip. The documents included approval letters from the People's Committee, from Immigration Department, visa/ TRC or approval letter for visa on arrival (VOA), vaccination certificates, PRC test results, hotel and car bookings. He also filled the form on the website for the QR code.

It took less than four weeks for Ly to gather all the documents and he felt the $250 he paid the agent was a reasonable fee.

It was the first time that Ly, a businessman living in Vietnam for three years, had gone out and returned to the country after Covid-19 erupted in early 2020.

"The journey plan was not easy for me," he said. Ly had left the country mid-October, 2021 and kept waiting for a way back before Vietnam announced the partial resumption of commercial flights.

Jerome Ly is on a car coming home in HCMC after landing on January 5, 2022. Photo by Jerome Ly

Jerome Ly is on a car coming home in HCMC after landing on January 5, 2022. Photo by Jerome Ly

Ly was supposed to return to Vietnam early December 2021 on a charter flight, but it got canceled several times. Then he read news that Vietnam and Thailand would resume commercial flights on December 15; so he decided to buy a ticket to Bangkok instead.

When he arrived in Thailand, the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam (CAAV) announced that the resumption of regular commercial flights to certain destinations would begin January 1, 2022. So he stayed on for another two weeks in Bangkok, emailing the carriers every day for updates.

Before boarding, Ly asked for local authorities' quarantine policy and checked the airline's website to make sure.

On arrival, he quarantined at home for three days under supervision of local wards and had a PCR test on the third day.

"Now I have come back to Vietnam and I am very happy about it."

Passengers get off a plane arriving from Cambodia at Tan Son Nhat Airport in HCMC on January 1, 2022, the first regular commercial flight to Vietnam in two years. Photo courtesy of Vietnam Airlines

Passengers get off a plane arriving at the Tan Son Nhat Airport in HCMC from Cambodia, January 1, 2022. It was the first regular commercial flight to Vietnam in two years. Photo courtesy of Vietnam Airlines

From Germany, Lars Jankowfsky and his Thai fiancée arrived in HCMC on a January 13 commercial flight after transiting in Singapore.

With the assistance of his staff in Vietnam, Jankowfsky collected papers including approvals from the People’s Committee and the Department of Immigration, proof of vaccination, PCR test results and health insurance certificate for quarantine at home. The paperwork took around six weeks to complete.

In his previous return trip on a charter flight, Jankowfsky had used an agent to prepare his documents, but not this time.

He had left Vietnam in June 2021 and could not find approval for his fiancée as a skilled worker. Therefore, they celebrated Christmas and New Year with his family in Germany.

He was not sure what would happen after they were tested on arrival in HCMC.

With a negative test result, Jankowfsky and his fiancée were allowed to home quarantine, which he felt was appropriate.

Jankowfsky said he expected Vietnam to loosen regulations in the coming time, allowing foreigners to come in as businesses have a huge need for their services.

‘Do not lie, follow the rules’

Paul Hui, a Canadian, flew from Canada to HCMC on January 9 after transiting in Japan.

For a successful return to Vietnam, foreigners need to make sure they are approved as "essential foreign workers" by the local People's Committee where they are employed, he said.

With this approval, foreigners need to get permission to enter from the immigration agency next. They are then required to call all the major airlines with offices in Vietnam to find flights, and not book flights online via third party sites. He said that he could use approval from the People's Committee that he had obtained for charter flights in 2021.

In addition, Hui said, there has been much confusion about asking for permission to home quarantine "but this is not true." People just need to declare their address on arrival and make sure they stay there as the local medical department contacts them.

"If they cannot find you, well, you are in trouble. The key here is do not lie and follow the rules."

Hui said the home quarantine being reduced to three days was "a big relief". On the third day of quarantine, people can call a private PCR test provider to have the test performed at home and can go out if they result is negative for the virus.

Flying in from the Philippines, Marianne Therese Prado transited in Singapore and arrived at HCMC on January 13th on a commercial flight. She had gone home for Christmas and New Year to see her family after two years of separation.

Marianne Therese Prado is on a flight to Philippines on December 16, 2021. Photo courtesy of Marianne Therese Prado

Marianne Therese Prado on a flight to the Philippines, December 16, 2021. Photo by Marianne Therese Prado

Prado started preparing her documents for travel around a year earlier, even before she was vaccinated. The key part was the re-entry permit to Vietnam arranged by her employer as a foreign expert, she said.

She said people should be prepared for expensive tickets and extra costs that may arise, and keep checking social networks for updated information.

On landing in HCMC, she tested positive for the novel coronavirus and was asked to quarantine at a field hospital.

She said: "I've tried to be mentally prepared for any situation that can happen."

go to top