International Travel

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Country Information

Vietnam

Vietnam
Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Exercise normal precautions in Vietnam.

Exercise normal precautions in Vietnam. 

Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.

If you decide to travel to Vietnam:

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Embassy Messages
Alerts
Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:


Must have six months’ validity remaining

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:


One visa page required for entry stamp

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:


Yes

VACCINATIONS:


Not required

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:


None. However, Vietnamese Dong in excess of VND 150,000,000 or foreign currency in excess of 5,000 U.S. dollars or equivalent must be declared.

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:


None. However, Vietnamese Dong in excess of VND 150,000,000 or foreign currency in excess of 5,000 U.S. dollars or equivalent must be declared.

ALL /
ALL /
Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Hanoi - Consular Annex
170 Ngoc Khanh
Ba Dinh District
Hanoi, Vietnam
Telephone:
 
From outside Vietnam: +84-24-3850-5000
From the U.S.: 011-84-24-3850-5000
From landline within Hanoi: 3850-5000
From mobile or landline within Vietnam: 024-3850-5000

Emergency: 
From outside Vietnam: +84-24-3850-5000 or +84-24-3850-5105
From the U.S.: 011-84-24-3850-5000
From landline within Hanoi: 3850-5000 or 3850-5105
From mobile or landline within Vietnam: 024-3850-5000 or 024-3850-5105
Fax: (+84-24) 3850-5010
Email: 

Consulates

U.S. Consulate General Ho Chi Minh City
4 Le Duan, District 1
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Telephone:
From outside Vietnam: +84-28-3520-4200
From the U.S.: 011-84-28-3520-4200
From landline within Ho Chi Minh City: 3520-4200
From mobile or landline within Vietnam: 028-3520-4200

Emergency:
From outside Vietnam: +84-28-3520-4200
From the U.S.: 011-84-28-3520-4200
From landline within Ho Chi Minh City: 3520-4200
From mobile or landline within Vietnam: 028-3520-4200
Fax: (+84-8) 3520-4244
Email: Contact Us Here

EMERGENCY TELEPHONE NUMBERS WITHIN VIETNAM

Police: 113
Fire brigade: 114
Ambulance: 115

Destination Description

Tourist facilities can be basic in rural areas but are increasingly well-established in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and several beach and mountain resorts. Read the Department of State Fact Sheet on Vietnam for additional information on U.S. - Vietnam relations.

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

Entry Requirements: You must have a valid passport and a visa (or pre-approval for a visa on arrival) to enter Vietnam. Your passport must be valid for six months beyond your planned stay, and you must have at least one blank visa page. Visit the Embassy of Vietnam website for the most current information. If you arrive in Vietnam without an appropriate visa (which could be an e-visa) or pre-approval for a visa on arrival, you will be denied entry.

Visas: When you apply for a visa to enter Vietnam, be sure to request the visa category that corresponds to your purpose of travel. Please refer to Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for information detailing Visa Categories and Descriptions. If you plan to work in Vietnam, you must obtain a work permit before applying for your visa. If you change the purpose of your visit after you have received your visa, you must obtain a new visa outside of Vietnam appropriate for your new activities before beginning those activities. Please consult the Embassy of Vietnam website for more information.

If you plan to travel from Vietnam to Laos by land, you should request that an adhesive visa be affixed to your passport instead of a detachable one. Lao immigration officials require proof that travelers have departed Vietnam, something that can only be shown with an adhesive visa. Vietnamese officials remove detachable visas from passports when travelers depart Vietnam, leaving travelers with no proof of their Vietnam departure. This situation can result in Lao officials requiring travelers to return to Vietnam.

If your U.S. passport is lost or stolen in Vietnam, you will need both a replacement passport and a replacement Vietnamese visa in order to arrive AND depart Vietnam. The U.S. Embassy in Hanoi and the Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City can usually issue you a limited validity replacement passport in as little as one business day for emergency purposes; however, the Vietnamese government requires three to five working days to issue a replacement visa. The U.S. Embassy and the Consulate General cannot expedite the replacement of your Vietnamese visa.

Pre-approval for Visa on Arrival: All U.S. citizens must have a visa to enter Vietnam. The Government of Vietnam has authorized some businesses and travel agencies to arrange for pre-approval for a “visa on arrival” at the airport. However, some American citizens have reported being charged unexpectedly high fees and additional charges upon landing in Vietnam. The Government of Vietnam and the U.S. Department of State recommend that travelers obtain a visa directly from an embassy or consulate of Vietnam prior to arrival.

E-visa: U.S. citizens can apply online for a single entry E-visa on the Vietnam Immigration website. The E-visa is valid for a maximum of 30 days for the purpose of tourism. An E-visa is usually processed within three working days after the Vietnam Immigration Department receives the completed application and E-visa fee. E-visa holders must present the printed E-visa and valid passport at the port of entry. Prior to making travel arrangements with an E-visa it is advisable to review the List of Ports of Entry that allow for foreigners to enter and exit Vietnam by E-visa. When applying for an E-visa, carefully review and follow the E-visa application steps.

Certificate of Visa Exemption: Vietnamese nationals residing abroad indefinitely, their spouses, and their children may apply for a Certificate of Visa Exemption. The certificate has a maximum validity of five years, during which time the holder can enter Vietnam and stay for up to six months without applying for a visa. More information can be found on the Vietnam Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Vietnam.

Immunization information for travelers can be found on the Centers for Disease and Control’s website.

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.

Safety and Security

The Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens overseas always maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness while traveling internationally. Please visit www.travel.state.gov for up-to-date information.

Messages regarding weather-related events are posted on the Embassy/Consulate website.

Small-scale, peaceful protests occasionally occur in Vietnam’s major cities, but large-scale demonstrations are rare. You should avoid large gatherings, as they can become violent with little or no warning.

The Government of Vietnam may not allow or authorize travel to certain areas of the country that are deemed sensitive. Check with local authorities before visiting border areas to see if you need to obtain a travel permit issued by local authorities. U.S. citizens have been detained after traveling in areas close to the Vietnamese borders with China, Cambodia, and Laos. These areas are not always marked, and there are no warnings about prohibited travel.

Safety standards in Vietnam are not at the same level as those in the United States and vary greatly from company to company and province to province. This is especially true in regards to fire codes. Travelers should be aware that many buildings, including hotels, shops and restaurants, have limited or no safety equipment or emergency exits. Ground and water transportation also lack safety regulations.

To stay connected:

Crime:

Crime in Vietnam is rated HIGH; however, exercising vigilance and the same commonsense security precautions you would in any major metropolitan city in theUnited States will greatly contribute to an incident-free visit.

Violent crime against foreigners is rare; however, petty crimes, such as theft and pick-pocketing occur regularly, especially in crowded areas and tourist locations. Typically, there is a rise in petty crime during the Christmas and Tet holiday seasons, including during the day and in well-lit areas. Motorcyclists are known to snatch bags, cameras, cell phones, and other valuables from pedestrians or passengers riding in "cyclos" (pedicabs) or on the back of motorcycles, sometimes using a sharp weapon such as a knife to cut bag straps. In some cases, robbers will drive two motorbikes, one of which bumps the victim’s bike from the rear causing them to lose balance and look behind for damage; one perpetrator will then steal the assets hung in the front while the other drives away. Offenders might also use a knife to threaten and rob you while you are withdrawing money from an ATM.  If you are targeted by thieves, do not resist, and report the incident immediately to local police and to the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi or the U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City. Sexual assaults also occur, but risks can be minimized by taking basic security precautions such as not walking alone in poorly lit areas.

Some U.S. citizens have reported threats of death or physical injury related to personal business disputes. You should report such threats to local authorities.

Keep your passport and other important valuables in your hotel in a safe or another secured location at all times and carry both photo and digital copies of your passport. You should immediately report the loss or theft of your U.S. passport to the local police and the U.S. Embassy or the U.S. Consulate General. You must obtain a police report from the local police office in order to apply for a replacement passport and a Vietnamese exit visa. You must report to the police in the location your passport was lost or stolen or the Vietnamese may not issue a police report.

Transportation/tours: Exercise caution in choosing ground transportation upon arrival at the airport in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. Some travelers have reported being robbed by drivers who greeted them upon arrival with a placard showing the traveler's name. If you are expecting to be picked up, ask the company for the driver’s name, phone number, and license plate number before you travel. Use only established airport taxi companies or vehicles provided by hotels. You should be familiar with the basics of the hotel you have chosen, such as address and neighboring landmarks. You should try to write down the name of the taxi company, plate number, and any other identifying information in any incident so that it can be reported to the local authorities.

We strongly discourage the use of motorcycle taxis (known as “xe om”). Motorcycle taxis are unregulated and unsafe, and the helmets provided to riders offer little to no protection against injury in the case of an accident.

Drugs: Recreational drugs available in Vietnam can be extremely dangerous and can result in death. Drugs sold in Vietnam may be fake, synthetic, or laced with toxic ingredients undetectable to the buyer. You should also avoid purchasing liquor from street vendors, as the authenticity of the contents cannot be assured.

Victims of Crime: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Vietnam’s local equivalent of an emergency line is 113. Local police will issue a report of a crime, but generally will only initiate investigations for crimes they determine serious, which do not always equate with U.S. standards. Investigations can take several months to complete. Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy and Consulate General can:

  • Replace a stolen passport.
  • Help you find appropriate medical care if you are the victim of a violent crime such as assault or rape.
  • Put you in contact with appropriate police authorities, and if you want us to, contact family members or friends.
  • Help you understand the local criminal justice process and direct you to local attorneys, although it is important to remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.

Please see our information for victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: Persons violating Vietnamese laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Vietnam are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines, or even the death penalty. In Vietnam, you may be taken in for questioning if you do not have proper ID, such as a passport or a copy of your visa. In Vietnam, driving under the influence of alcohol resulting in a fatal accident could lead to immediate imprisonment. If you break local laws in Vietnam, your U.S. passport will not help you avoid arrest or prosecution.

There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but are still illegal in the United States. You can be prosecuted in the United States for engaging in sexual conduct with children or for using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country regardless of the legality of these activities under the host country’s laws. Counterfeit and pirated goods are illegal in the United States and if you purchase them in a foreign country, you may be breaking local law as well.

Arrest Notification in Vietnam: To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas and continue to make the request until you are seen by a U.S. official. Notification by the Vietnamese authorities to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate General and the granting of access by the Vietnamese authorities for a Consular Officer to visit detained U.S. citizens have historically experienced delays.

Dual Nationality: Dual nationality is accepted by the Vietnamese government in some, but not all, circumstances. As of July 1, 2009, Vietnamese citizens who acquire foreign nationality can maintain Vietnamese nationality, provided they follow the proper procedures. However, dual nationals should be aware that Vietnam recognizes their Vietnamese citizenship as primary before others. In such cases, the U.S. Embassy and Consulate General may be limited in the consular services we are able to provide. 

Work Authorization: The Government of Vietnam maintains strict laws with respect to foreign workers. U.S. citizens planning to work in Vietnam should make sure that they are in full compliance with Vietnamese regulations. Penalties can be severe and include deportation, fines, or detention.

U.S. citizens who also hold Vietnamese citizenship, and who are currently residing in Vietnam, may wish to contact local authorities and/or seek competent legal advice on how local laws may affect their status. For detailed information on Vietnamese nationality law and other legal issues visit the Embassy of Vietnam website.

Teaching English: We advise those considering accepting an English teaching job in Vietnam to carefully review the terms of the contract regarding working and living conditions and to ask for references from persons familiar with the institution, especially former U.S. citizen employees. 

Hotels: Hotels in Vietnam require you to present your passport (and visas, if issued separately) upon check-in so that your stay can be registered with local police. Every guest in a hotel room must be registered, regardless of nationality. If you stay at a private residence (i.e. at the residence of family or friends), you must comply with registration requirements by visiting the local police station and registering your stay within 24 hours. Some provinces allow registration online. 

Exports: Vietnamese law prohibits the export of antiques. However, these laws are vague and unevenly enforced. Customs authorities may inspect and seize your antiques without compensating you, and the determination of what is an “antique” can be arbitrary. If you purchase non-antique items of value, you should retain receipts and confirmation from shop owners and/or the Ministry of Culture and the Customs Department to prevent seizure when you leave the country.

Imports: Vietnamese authorities have seized documents, audio and video tapes, compact discs, literature, and personal letters they deem to be pornographic or political in nature, or intended for religious or political proselytizing. It is illegal to import weapons, ammunition, explosives, military equipment and tools (including uniforms), narcotics, drugs, toxic chemicals, pornographic and subversive materials, firecrackers, or children's toys that have "negative effects on personality development, social order, and security."

For up to date information on Vietnam Customs information, please visit the Vietnam Customs website.

Speech: The Government of Vietnam maintains strict control over all forms of political speech, particularly dissent or speech it deems as critical of the government and/or party. U.S. citizens have been detained for political activities (including criticizing the government or its domestic/foreign policies or advocating alternatives to Communist Party rule), possession of political material, and non-sanctioned religious activities (including proselytizing). Authorities have also detained U.S. citizens for posting messages on blogs or online chatrooms that are political or critical of the government.

Association with Groups: Persons whom the Government of Vietnam perceives to be associated with dissident or political groups may be denied entry to Vietnam, prevented from departing, detained, interrogated, or placed under surveillance.  

U.S. citizen travelers have been summoned by immigration or local security officials for reasons that are unclear or not explicitly related to any suspected or alleged violation of law. We recommend that U.S. citizens finding themselves in this situation contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate General immediately for further information and/or assistance.  

Photography: Taking photographs of anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest may result in questioning by authorities, fines, or delayed travel. You should be cautious when traveling near military bases and avoid photography in these areas.

Disputes: The Vietnamese government has occasionally seized the passports and blocked the departure of foreigners involved in commercial disputes. U.S. citizens whose passports have been seized by Vietnamese authorities should contact the Embassy or Consulate General for assistance.

Civil Procedures: Civil procedures in Vietnam, such as marriage, divorce, documenting the birth of a child, and issuance of death certificates, are highly bureaucratic and can be slow. Please contact the Vietnamese Embassy in Washington, D.C., or the Vietnamese Consulate General in San Francisco or Houston concerning documentary requirements for these services. Enforcement of civil orders is frequently difficult or non-existent.

Women Traveler Information: If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips for Women Travelers.

LGBT Rights: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBT events in Vietnam. For more detailed information about LGBT rights in Vietnam, you may review the State Department’s annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. For further information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) travel, please read our LGBT Travel Information page.

Accessibility: Most public places and public transportation are not accessible to persons with disabilities. Sidewalks, curb ramps, restrooms, road crossings, and tourist areas are not equipped to assist such individuals. A 2010 law required construction and major renovations of new government and large public buildings to include access for persons with disabilities, but enforcement is sporadic. New, modern buildings and facilities in larger urban cities are regularly being built with ramps and accessible entryways.

Health

Medical facilities in Vietnam, including emergency response services, frequently do not meet international standards and may lack medicine and supplies.

  • Medical personnel generally speak little or no English. Doctors and hospitals expect immediate cash payment for health services. You may obtain lists of local English-speaking physicians from the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi or the U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City from our website.
  • International health clinics in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City can treat minor illnesses and injuries, but more serious problems often require medical evacuation to Bangkok or Singapore.
  • Although you can purchase many prescription and non-prescription medications at pharmacies, some common U.S. medications may not be available. You should bring adequate supplies of medications for the duration of your stay in Vietnam and ensure with the Ministry of Health that the medicine you need is allowed to enter Vietnam. You should carry a copy of your prescription if carrying medicine in a travel case or container. You can e-mail the Health Ministry with further questions.
  • We strongly recommend travelers purchase medical evacuation insurance before visiting Vietnam.
  • Travelers to Vietnam are at risk of the following diseases: Tuberculosis, Dengue Fever, Zika, Avian Influenza (H5N1), and HIV. You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the CDC website.  

Air pollution is also a significant problem in Vietnam’s major cities, and you should consult your doctor prior to travel and consider the impact that seasonal smog and heavy particulate pollution may have on you. To obtain information on the air quality in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, please follow the link to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Now website. Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City’s AQI can be observed either by clicking on the Vietnam location on the map, or by selecting Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City in the “Select a City” option on the upper right part of the page. The page provides AQI over the last 24-hour period as well as pollutant concentration and a downloadable historical document.

Travel and Transportation

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: Traffic in Vietnam is dangerous, chaotic, and undisciplined. Road conditions are poor; traffic accidents are the leading cause of death, severe injury, and emergency evacuation of foreigners in Vietnam. Long-distance buses and trains do not meet U.S. safety standards. Buses and trucks can often be overloaded and travel at high speeds with little regard to other modes of road transportation.

Driving in Vietnam is not comparable to driving in other countries. Vietnamese drivers routinely ignore traffic laws, which causes traffic fatalities on a daily basis. We strongly discourage you from operating a motorcycle or scooter in Vietnam. Vietnamese drivers and pedestrians may not behave in a manner to which Americans are accustomed. If you do choose to operate a motorcycle or scooter in Vietnam, wear a helmet and always yield to a larger vehicle. Might makes right on the roads. Motor bike fatalities are a leading cause of death or serious injury among foreign nationals visiting or living in Vietnam, with several fatalities having occurred on major roads and rural routes within the past year. If you are the victim of a serious motor bike accident in Vietnam, the prognosis for full recovery and survival is low due to Vietnam’s poor medical infrastructure. A motorbike license is required to operate a motorcycle or scooter in Vietnam. Motor scooter drivers without a license can be held criminally liable for injuries to or death of a victim in an accident.

Pedestrians should always look carefully in both directions before crossing streets, even when using a marked crosswalk with a green “walk” light illuminated or when crossing what is believed to be a one-way street. When walking on sidewalks, be mindful of scooters that may be behind you. Vietnamese commonly drive their scooters on sidewalks.

Because the United States is not a party to the Convention on Road Traffic, international driving permits and U.S. drivers’ licenses are not valid in Vietnam. Foreigners renting vehicles risk fines, prosecution, and/or imprisonment for driving without a Vietnamese license endorsed for the appropriate vehicle. If you wish to drive in Vietnam, contact the Provincial Public Transportation Service of the Vietnamese Department of Communications and Transport to obtain a Vietnamese driver’s license.

For more information, please refer to Vietnam’s national tourist office website.

Public transportation:

Bus system: While Vietnam does have an extensive bus system, buses can be overcrowded and are often driven with little or no regard for passenger safety.

For-hire vehicles: Areas outside of large cities typically have only rudimentary public transportation and often do not have metered taxis. Travelers are advised to use caution in these situations.

Smartphone-based for-hire vehicle services: Uber, GrabTaxi, and local taxi companies are readily available and actively utilized by foreigners and locals.

Aviation Safety Oversight: There is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers to Vietnam. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not officially assessed the Government of Vietnam’s Civil Aviation Authority compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards, though safety standards have improved significantly in recent years. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.

Last Updated: December 28, 2017
Travel Advisory Levels

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Hanoi - Consular Annex
170 Ngoc Khanh
Ba Dinh District
Hanoi, Vietnam
Telephone
+(84) (24) 3850-5000
Emergency
+(84) (24) 3850-5000
Fax
+(84) (24) 3850-5010
Vietnam Map