In April 2013, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs wanted to scrap the visa waiver for those seven countries. It slammed the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism for failing to take advantage of the policy to promote tourism, saying that the policy costs state coffers $50 million annually.

The dispute was only settled when two deputy prime ministers stepped in, and asked the foreign affairs and tourism ministries to continue offering visa waivers for tourists from those countries. The waiver will take effect January 1, 2015 and lasts for five years.

Under a resolution issued this month that outlined several measures aimed at developing the tourism industry, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung also asked the ministries of public security, tourism, and foreign affairs to consider waiving tourist visa requirements for more nationalities and to continue streamlining visa procedures that have been decried as ineffective.

The resolution did not dwell on the specific nationalities. But last August, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Ministry of Transport proposed that the central government waive tourist visa requirements for France, Germany, the UK, Spain, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, India and Canada in a bid to pull in more visitors from those markets.

It also asked agencies concerned to “expand the international tourism market and reduce dependence on several major segmentations” in the wake of a dip in tourism arrivals due to deadly anti-China riots triggered by Beijing’s deployment of a giant oil rig in Vietnamese waters last May.

Currently, citizens of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member countries do not need a visa to enter Vietnam.

Since March 10, foreigners have been able to visit Phu Quoc Island in the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang for up to 30 days without a visa. The visa waiver also applies to foreigners who transit at any airport or seaport in Vietnam on their way to Phu Quoc.

Vietnam received a total of 7.87 million foreign tourist arrivals by the end of this year, up 4 percent from a year ago, according to most recent figures compiled by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism. The country aims to draw up to 8.2 million international arrivals this year.

Thanh Nien News - December 30, 2014


Vietnam extends visa, residency terms for foreigners

Vietnam will begin issuing five-year visas and resident cards to foreign investors starting in January of 2015. In the past, foreign investors could only obtain one year visas and residency cards that lasted three years. The Law on the entry, exit and residence of foreigners in Vietnam will go into effect on January 1, and double the number of visas the country offers to 20. A given type visa may not be changed once the visa holder has entered Vietnam.

The law will also extend the three month visa term offered to overseas Vietnamese to six months.

Foreigners visiting economic zone along the border and special administration and economic zones will no longer require a visa.

People from countries that enjoy a unilateral visa exemption can visit Vietnam an unlimited number of times. However, they can only visit the country at least 30 days after their the preceding visit.

Vietnamese immigration officers at border gates will be able to issue visas to citizens of countries that lack a Vietnamese consular presence, those traveling the region, those who have booked tours with international tourism agencies and those entering Vietnam to visit seriously ill relatives or attend a family funeral.

The law will also grant the Minister of Public Security the authority to approve permanent residency for foreigners.

The procedures for issuing temporary residency cards have reportedly been simplified and extended the permission from three to five years.

According to the General Statistics Office, more than seven million international visitors came to Vietnam in 2014.

Currently, citizens of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member countries do not require visas to enter Vietnam, which waives visas for single-entry visitors (of up to 15 days) from Denmark, Finland, Japan, Norway, Russia, South Korea, and Sweden.

Since March 10, foreigners have been able to visit Phu Quoc Island in the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang for up to 30 days without a visa. The visa waiver also applies to foreigners transiting throuhg any airport or seaport in Vietnam on their way to Phu Quoc.

By Anh Minh - Thanh Nien News - December 31, 2014