To travel to Vietnam, you need to have either a visa, a temporary residence card or a permanent residence card. The only exception is if you are qualified for some form of a visa exemption.
There are 20 different categories of visas, of which some can be converted to temporary residence cards if you are qualified to get a temporary residence card. The vast majority of foreigners in Vietnam stay on either one month tourist visas, three month business visas or temporary residence cards.
Temporary residence cards
Temporary residence cards (TRC) act as both proof of identity and as a visa in order to travel within, and in and out of Vietnam. A TRC is valid from one to five years, depending on the validity of your passport, the business license of the company sponsor, the work contract and the work permit. A residence card is not a work permit, a foreigner can stay in Vietnam with a residence card but is not allowed to work if they do not hold a valid work permit.
Permanent residence cards
A permanent residence card (PRC) sounds like the perfect solution for foreigners who intend to reside in Vietnam for a long period of time, however the requirements are rather limiting for most as it is intended for people “who fight for the freedom and independence of Vietnam and contribute to building and protecting the Vietnamese fatherland”.
Nationals of certain countries may visit Vietnam without a visa for a limited period of time. Citizens of Japan, South Korea, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and United Kingdom can stay up to 15 days without a visa. Citizens of Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Laos and Indonesia can stay for up to 30 days without a visa.
If you have a Vietnamese spouse, child (from 18 years old), parent or used to be a Vietnamese citizen, you can apply for a 5-year visa exemption. If your application is successful you can enter Vietnam for an unlimited amount of 90-day periods during five years.
Frequently asked questions
How to apply for a Vietnamese visa?
Before your arrival to Vietnam, you can apply for visa on arrival letter. With this letter, you can get an actual visa at any Vietnamese embassy or Vietnamese border check, for example any airport. When your visa expires, you can often extend it without leaving Vietnam.
How do I know if I am qualified for a temporary residence card?
You can apply for a temporary residence card if you fall into one of the categories below:
- Owner or co-owner of a company limited in Vietnam.
- Foreigner holding a Vietnamese work permit.
- Family members of people who have been granted a temporary residence card.
- Member of the board or investor of a joint-stock company in Vietnam.
- Foreign lawyer who have been licensed by the Ministry of Justice to practice law in Vietnam.
- Professionals, students, trainees, experts working or studying in national programs and projects approved by the governments.
- Marrying a Vietnamese citizen.