Getting here and advice about your stay
Your passport should be valid for at least six months from the date of entry to be eligible for the 15 day visa exemption.
If you wish to stay for a period of longer than 15 days and your passport is due to expire in less than one month after the date of expiration of your Vietnamese visa, you may be refused entry into Vietnam.
Make sure your passport is in good condition and not damaged before arriving in Vietnam, as you could be refused entry, resulting in significant cost and a long stay at the airport. See: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/damaged-and-faulty-passports/damaged-and-faulty-passports-policy for further information.
‘British citizen’ passport holders who are travelling for tourism or business until the 30th June 2021, can enter Vietnam without a visa for up to 15 days. If you have a different British nationality, such as you are a ‘British national (overseas)’, you will need a visa in order to enter Vietnam.
For all stays of longer than 15 days, you will need to get a visa before you travel (or if you wish to re-enter Vietnam within 30 days of your departure). You will need a multiple entry visa if you plan to leave Vietnam and re-enter from another country.
If you are travelling for business you are advised to contact relevant Vietnam Government departments in advance, to check if you will need any licenses to carry out your duties.
For visits of up to 30 days, if you have a ‘British Citizen’ passport, you can get an e-visa online before you travel, at: https://evisa.xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn/. However, use of the e-visa is limited to certain entry/exit points which you have to select at the time of application. A regular single entry visa from the nearest Vietnamese Embassy allows more flexibility if you do not have fixed travel plans.
For visits of longer than 30 days, all visitors need to get a visa from their nearest Vietnamese Embassy before travelling.
There are a few other types of visa which you might consider – check for the latest information at the FCO Foreign travel advice pages on gov.uk at: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/vietnam. If you have questions about entry requirements for your specific itinerary, you should contact the Vietnamese Embassy in London at: http://vietnamembassy.org.uk/ or the nearest Immigration Office if you are already in Vietnam.
Do not overstay your Vietnamese visa without permission as you may be delayed from travel until a fine is paid.
Some crossing points that border Cambodia and Laos allow only Cambodian, Vietnamese and Laotian nationals to cross. Before you travel to these points it is important that you check locally.
Yellow fever certificate requirements
You should check the latest information on the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website at: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/country/240/vietnam#Vaccine_recommendations to see if you need a yellow fever certificate.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are valid for entry, airside transit and exit from Vietnam. You will need an exit visa from the Vietnam Immigration Department in order to leave the country if your passport is lost or stolen and your ETD was issued in Vietnam. This process normally takes five working days. Contact the Vietnam Immigration Department directly for further information.
Once you have arrived at your hotel you will need to surrender your passport in order to register your details with local police. Keep your passport in a safe place once the hotel has returned it to you. Do not use your passport as a deposit for renting the room.
You will still need to register even if you are staying in private accommodation. Your host should be able to help you with your registration as soon as you arrive. If you do not register, you may be fined.
Before travelling to Vietnam, check the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s Foreign travel advice pages on gov.uk for the latest country information, local laws and customs, safety advice and up-to-date travel advice. See: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/vietnam.
[Source – FCO Foreign Travel Advice: Vietnam, gov.uk]
Local laws and customs
There are severe penalties for the possession, distribution and manufacturing of drugs. Even if you are caught with a small amount, you could potentially face the death sentence.
In Vietnam, illegal drugs can be much stronger than in Europe and are often spiked. In 2018, a music festival in Hanoi saw seven illegal-drug-related deaths. Severe psychiatric problems have arisen in a number of British nationals due to drug usage. Do not take illegal drugs.
Punishment for crimes, such as sexual offences, can lead to lengthy prison sentences and in some cases the death penalty. The standards of Vietnamese prisons are incredibly poor, reflecting the lack of development in their legal system. If you have not yet been charged, you may still be prevented from leaving the country.
Ensure that you respect religious and cultural sites by honouring local traditions and wearing appropriate clothing.
Same-sex relationships are not criminalised in Vietnam, and the country is mostly tolerant of LGBT travellers. Vietnam’s Civil Code now recognises legal changes to a person’s gender, and in 2015, the ban on same-sex marriages was abolished — although same-sex marriage is neither recognised nor protected. See gov.uk’s information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/lesbian-gay-bisexual-and-transgender-foreign-travel-advice.
Vietnam is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Buying, selling, killing or collecting wild animals and plants is therefore illegal and those caught doing so could receive prison sentences or fines.
Do not take photographs near military installations.
Access to social media can be affected by Vietnamese internet restrictions.
[Source – FCO Foreign travel advice: Vietnam, gov.uk]
Safety and security
Visiting Vietnam tends to be free of trouble; however, in order to keep yourself and your belongings safe, sensible precautions should be taken — especially in big cities and tourist areas.
By law, everyone in Vietnam must carry photographic ID with them at all times. Leave all original documentation in a safe place, but make sure you always carry a photocopy of the personal details from your passport.
Companies have been known to hold back passports against damage claims, therefore do not hand over your passport to any third party. This includes vehicle renting shops and landlords.
It is uncommon to encounter violent thieves in Vietnam, although it can happen, therefore you should take particular care of your belongings in crowded areas and tourist spots as pickpockets and bag snatchers (sometimes on motorbikes) are more likely to operate in these areas. Distribute important belongings over different bags.
Personal attacks have been reported by British nationals in areas popular with tourists and expatriates, particularly in Hanoi. There is a higher burden of proof the victim must demonstrate, compared to the UK, to prove an attack has taken place. Take sensible precautions and women should not walk alone, especially at night.
Arguments about hotel, restaurant or taxi bills have been known to turn abusive. Before you arrive you should research different places to stay, and to further avoid disputes, ensure you are knowledgeable about the level of service available and the prices you may be charged.
It can be a long and difficult process reporting a crime to the police, consider taking someone who can assist with translation. Make sure you are confident when signing documents as most will be written in Vietnamese.
Incomplete police investigations following traffic accidents can prevent foreign nationals from leaving Vietnam. It can take some time for these processes to be finalised and can often end in foreign nationals being asked if they will settle out of court. If you are a British citizen facing this situation, you should seek professional legal advice and representation.
Adventure tourism in rural and mountainous areas can be dangerous and remote, therefore it may be difficult for rescue services to reach you if you have been in an accident. During the rainy season, risk is significantly increased due to flooding, which can cause landslides. Safety standards are lower than in the UK — make sure you have a reputable guide and do not stray from marked paths.
Illegal tour guides operate in Vietnam, offering activities prohibited by local regulations. You should avoid any guide you know to be illegal. Guides are required in some areas so you should make sure that your travel insurance fully covers any planned activities.
Travelling close to military installations is restricted and there are parts of Vietnam that are relatively inaccessible. In order to visit a village, commune or ward that is near a border, permission from the provincial police department may be required. Contact the relevant local authority for more information.
Mainly in central Vietnam and along the Laos border, there is a danger of unexploded landmines. Be vigilant as these areas are usually unmarked.
Ensure that any activities involving firearms are carried out under the supervision of a reputable guide and be aware that these activities are undertaken at your own risk — there have been reports of hearing loss from leisure activities involving firearms.
There have been a number of motorbike accidents in Vietnam involving British nationals, with some leading to serious injury or even fatalities. Make sure you are an experienced motorcycle rider and understand the roads in Vietnam. Ensure your travel insurance covers your activities.
There is poor compliance with local road regulations. You should be prepared for the unexpected and ensure that your speed is kept down. If you are a passenger on a motorbike, be aware that it is illegal to not wear a helmet, and make sure you take out comprehensive medical insurance.
It is possible that you could face criminal charges or have to pay compensation to the injured party should you become involved in a traffic accident. If you are involved in an accident or subject to an investigation, ensure that you fully co-operate with the police and inform the British Embassy Hanoi or the British Consulate General Ho Chi Minh City.
British visitors who intend to drive cars or ride motorbikes in Vietnam — as of 28th March 2019 — must present their UK domestic driver’s licence and a UK-issued International Driver’s Permit. If you are a long-term UK resident of Vietnam you can qualify for a Vietnamese driving licence as long as you are in possession of a diplomatic ID, temporary residence card/residence card valid for at least three months and a valid UK driving licence/UK-issued International Driver’s Permit. You can apply for a Vietnamese driving licence at the local offices of the Department of Public Works and Transportation.
Vietnamese Law states that you must have third-party insurance.
When hiring a vehicle, never use your passport as a deposit, and never use your passport in place of a fine for a traffic offence.
Larger metered taxi firms are usually reliable. Different operators and meters set different prices, and meters should start at around 8,000 to 20,000 VND. You can ask your hotel or a restaurant to book a taxi for you. Make sure your driver identifies who they are before you begin your journey.
There are regular reports of taxi journeys in and around tourist hotspots being overcharged, especially in the Old Quarter of Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi Airports. Make sure you check published taxi fares and, if possible, book a taxi or order one from an online app.
Buses and coaches are poorly maintained and crashes do happen, especially at night. When travelling by bus, always make sure you have your personal belongings and passport hidden as thefts can occur. Be aware of buses or coaches claiming to be hotel transfers as many are bogus.
Travel by train is usually safe in Vietnam, although remain vigilant on overnight trains.
Safety regulations vary in Vietnam. Check the safety records, registration and certification of personnel with your tour guide before getting on a boat. Make sure you have a full safety briefing. Take extra care when travelling overnight to Halong Bay, boats have sunk without warning. Tourist boats have also been known to catch fire.
Piracy is very rare in Vietnam. All incidents, however, should be reported to the coastal and flag state authorities. See: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/sea-river-and-piracy-safety, for more information.
Vietnam’s political system is single party and does not tolerate dissent. Recently, there have been a number of protests that have become violent or have been suppressed violently by the authorities. It is advised that you avoid all protests.
It is relatively difficult to provide prompt consular assistance in areas that are outside Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City as Vietnam’s large size means that some areas have poorly-developed infrastructure and infrequent flights.
[Source – FCO Foreign travel advice: Vietnam, gov.uk]
You should visit your GP or health provider a minimum of eight weeks prior to travelling to Vietnam to assess any health risks specific to you or the country itself, and to allow time for any necessary vaccinations.
You can also receive useful information, advice and guidance from the NHS via the FitForTravel website at: https://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/destinations or the NHS Choices website at: https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/healthcare-abroad/.
Some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be of an alternative legal status and regulations surrounding their usage may vary in other countries. If it is necessary for you to travel with either prescription or over-the-counter medication, you should consult the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) or TravelHealthPro at: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/factsheet/43/medicines-abroad.
Further up-to-date details – for instance, on healthcare in rural areas, hospital requirements and insect-borne diseases in Vietnam – can be found on the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s Foreign travel advice pages at: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/vietnam.
If you need emergency medical assistance in Vietnam, dial 115 and ask for an ambulance, and contact your insurance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
FCO Foreign travel advice
For up-to-the-minute advice please visit the foreign travel advice pages on the gov.uk website: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/vietnam.
Make sure you have comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel, as well as accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
[Source – FCO Foreign travel advice: Vietnam, gov.uk]
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