2023: Challenges with Vietnam’s e-visa process still frustrate travelers

Foreign visitors to Vietnam are voicing concerns about the country’s complicated e-visa system, which has led to delayed flights and higher visa costs through brokers. An Australian traveler with her family, for example, had to delay the planned trip from Bali and eventually pay a broker four times the official visa fee after struggling with the e-visa application process.

Despite applying ten days in advance, her husband and children had their applications rejected due to issues with their portrait photos. Even after resubmitting new photos, they never received a response and were denied entry to Vietnam without visas. Other tourists have reported similar experiences.

Vietnam currently offers one-month, single-entry e-visas to visitors from 80 countries through an online application system. The official website, however, has been criticized for its difficult-to-remember domain name, limited language options, and unattractive design.

A CEO from a big tourism travel has suggested that these issues have led to many foreign tourists seeking assistance from brokerage services, despite the higher costs. Some visitors have also been fooled by fake e-visa websites with better interfaces.

In an effort to boost tourism, the Vietnamese Prime Minister announced plans to waive visas for more countries and extend foreign tourists’ length of stay. The Ministry of Public Security has proposed increasing the duration of e-visas from the current 30 days to a maximum of three months.

This development has been seen as a welcome change following a year of grievances regarding rigid visa regulations from both tourism sector professionals and international travelers, starting when Vietnam lifted its border restrictions after the Covid-19 crisis on March 15 the previous year.