Foreign tourists wait for official guidelines on new Vietnam visa policy

By Hoang Phong, Tu Nguyen   August 4, 2023 | 11:29 pm PT
Foreign tourists wait for official guidelines on new Vietnam visa policy
Foreign tourists on a pedestrian street in downtown Hue, March 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Vo Thanh
Though the government approved the extension of tourist visas effective from August 15, many foreigners said they "are waiting day by day" for official guidelines on the new policy.

"We are waiting for information about the whole process. What will be the procedure of applying on the online tool? What will be the prices for the single entry and multiple entry three- month visas? Will the list of countries that can apply for e-visas be expanded?" German Eric Warnken told VnExpress International.

"We would also like to know how many times a year you can apply for and receive an e-visa."

The National Assembly on June 24 approved extending tourist visas from 30 to 90 days and prolonging visa-free periods for selected countries to 45 days, all beginning August 15.

As of Friday, the website of the Vietnam Immigration Portal did not have any new announcements related to the change in visa policy.

Sharman from the U.K. plans to visit Vietnam for a month and learned about the new visa extension policy through the media. However, when she asked for details from foreigners living in Vietnam, she received the same answer "not sure."

Under the current policy, Sharman is only able to enter Vietnam for up to 15 days without applying for a visa as U.K. was one of 25 countries Vietnam already offered visa waivers to.

If Sharman wishes to stay longer in Vietnam, Sharman must leave Vietnam and then reenter, which is a popular option for many foreign tourists, who move to neighboring countries Thailand and Cambodia and then return to Vietnam to continue traveling.

Under the new visa policy, Sharman can stay up to 45 days and can be considered for visa issuance and temporary residence extension.

A representative of HCMC-based travel firm Top Ten Travel which provides visa service for foreigners said it received many questions such as: "Should I apply for a visa now or wait for August 15?"

Many travel firms specializing in the inbound market have been "waiting day by day" for an official guideline about the new visa extension policy from authorities.

Pham Ha, CEO of Lux Group, which specializes in organizing luxury cruise tours, said his partners appreciated Vietnamese government’s recent efforts to ease visa requirements but wouldn’t completely believe it without seeing official documentation from the authorities.

"Foreign partners also need to know early to plan for the peak international tourism season from October to April," Ha said.

Nguyen Thanh Son, deputy director of BenThanh Tourist's international center, said that his company had sent notices to a number of partners in important markets such as Romania, the Netherlands, Germany, France and the U.S., informing them of Vietnam's new visa policy.

However, the company had not yet received official documentation on certain aspects of the new visa policies, such as which countries the new e-visa period extension to 90 days would be applied to, and which countries would reap the benefits of the increase in the duration of unilateral visa-free stays to 45 days.

Only after obtaining detailed instructions, his company can work with partners to design new tourism products and boost marketing activities to major tourism markets, Son added.

Vietnam received 6.6 million foreign arrivals in the first seven months this year, equivalent to 83% of the full year's 8-million target, according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism.

Many long-haul travelers from Europe and America are making plans for long holidays in Vietnam following the visa extension, according to a report from online travel platform Agoda.

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