The new 12-month Vietnam visas for Americans are here!

Americans, Meet Your New Vietnamese Visa

In How-To, Vietnam by Nick8 Comments

In a stroke of genius, the Vietnamese government has finally rolled out sweeping visa policy changes (for Americans) after months of deliberation. Did they deliver?
My fellow Americans, what a time to be alive! The Dark Times of overpriced visas, lies and outright scams just to obtain or renew a Vietnamese tourist visa are now officially over. Our long-awaited 12-month visas are here. Rejoice.

The new visas are part of the reciprocity agreement between the US and Vietnam. Through backroom deals and bribery, the US agreed to supply the Vietnamese military with sweet Yankee tech and armaments, protect Vietnam as China flexes its muscles, and move our precious few remaining factories to their new homes in Southeast Asia.

But Vietnam delivered in a big way. In exchange, Americans can now obtain a shiny new one-year visa four 90-day visas packaged as a 12-month visa.

Stop rolling your eyes. Did you really expect anything more?

Did You Know?
The official name of the new visa type is called the “Two Steps Forward, Two Steps Back Visa.”

Summary of the New Vietnamese Tourist Visa

Here are the new Vietnamese visa rules for Americans, as explained by my travel agent:

  • From now on, all tourist visa applications to Vietnam from US passport holders will be converted to these 12-month visas, split into bundles of 90 day visits.
  • Want to visit for 90 days? You have to get a year visa. Want to visit for a week? You have to get a year visa. That means paying the $135 stamping fee regardless of whether you’re passing through or settling down.
  • If you’re staying long-term, you STILL have to exit and re-enter Vietnam at the end of each 90-day block. Yes, that means you still get to make a Moc Bai border run every 3 months, you lucky son of a bitch.
  • Tourist visa extensions within Vietnam are still UNAVAILABLE unless you’re willing to sell your firstborn.

If this all seems a little moronic to you, you’re not alone. The new visa rules for US citizens are going to create a bizarre world where short-term tourists are better off getting business visas, and long-term residents could benefit from these 12-month tourist visas.

Which Vietnamese Visa Should You Get?

Still don’t know which visa to get? I don’t blame you. For the time being, here are my recommendations:

  • If you’re visiting Vietnam for less than 3 months, it’s most likely cheaper to apply for a 1 or 3 month business visa instead of the new tourist visa.
  • If you’re visiting Vietnam for more than 3 months, it’s probably cheaper to get the new tourist visa. Just be aware that you’ll have to leave after 90 days and come back.
  • If you’re living in Vietnam long-term and don’t mind leaving every 3 months, get the new tourist visa. If you DO mind making border runs, stick with a 12-month business visa, which can be renewed in Vietnam and doesn’t require you to leave periodically.

And there you have it. I hope I’ve cleared up any initial confusion, while I also understand that the new rules are ridiculous and nonsensical in a way only made possible by a third-world bureaucracy.

Thank your lucky stars and stripes that you were born in the greatest country on the planet, the only government with the balls to stand up to Vietnam and negotiate free, fair visa regulations for her citizens. God bless America, and no place else.


  1. Guy

    Decisions, decisions! Ok, here goes. I’ll take one from column A and 2 from column B.

  2. Beth

    So for us we will get the business visa next time. What did you get for 25 dollars? What will you have to do to renew? You really need to share your latest visa experience it is a hoot.

    1. Author

      $25 was the stamping fee for the 3 month business visa I got, after I paid $65 for the invitation letter.

  3. Dominic

    Still reading thro go h your blog, thanks a million for all this information youre putting up about visas etc

  4. Steve

    I’m presently the proud owner of a one year Thai retirement visa and we are not required to exit the country but we do need to make 90 day reports which involve walking in to the immigration office, take a number, have the last 90 day report bar code scanned by the nice immigration officer and they issue you a new bit of paper with a bar code on it which is stapled into your passport. Typical turnaround time is 2-3 minutes if you walk slow. If I exit Thailand within the 90 day period and I have a re-entry permit the 90 day reporting “clock” re-starts on the day I return to Thailand.
    So imagining I have this new shiny 12 month Vietnamese tourist visa (I’m an American) for a minute: If I need to exit Vietnam at day 60 and return a few days later does the 90 day clock “restart” at that time or will I need to exit and re-enter on day 90?

    1. Author

      Hi Steve. So, the government changed the rules for American visas back to just about where they were BEFORE I wrote this post. Now you can get standard length visas again. But as far as I know, friends who also have the same visa as you ‘reset’ the 90-day period when exiting Vietnam, so leaving 5 days after getting your visa and coming back 10 days later resets the time until you have to exit again until 90 days after your re-entry. And you should get unlimited re-entries, it’s just the mandatory period that gets reset.

      I have to re-write this post with new details.

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