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How to get a 5 Years Vietnam Visa Exemption?

The entire process I described below is from the perspective of a U.S. Citizen applying for a 5 Year Vietnam Visa Exemption and Extension…

5 year Vietnam Visa Exemption

Who can apply:

  • Vietnamese residing overseas and foreigners who are spouses, children of Vietnamese people residing overseas, or of Vietnamese citizens.
  • Agencies, organizations, and individuals are involved.

Some conditions:

  • The visa exemption certificate is valid for up to 5 years and expires at least 6 months before the expiration of the holder’s passport or international travel document
  • Those entering with visa exemption certificates shall have a temporary residence certificate valid for 6 months, issued by the immigration control units, for each entry. If the remaining validity of the visa exemption certificate is less than 6 months, the duration of the temporary residence certificate shall be granted by the remaining validity of the visa exemption certificate.

Fees for issuance of visa exemption certificates

We’ve heard mixed news about the fees, though one recent data point tells us that a $50 fee was charged to process an expedited visa exemption at the Consulate of Vietnam in San Francisco. I would budget at least $100.

How to apply for Vietnam 5 years exemption

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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 Years 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.

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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 days rule…but that was before I found out that there was a way to extend your exemption from within the country.

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) )

When you get to the Immigration office, just walk straight to where the cashiers 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.

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.

visa Vietnam

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 Vietnam 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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