In black and white terms, a retiree who plans to live in Vietnam does confront a visa problem. Vietnam does not issue retirement visas. The government issues tourist visas and long-term stay visas. But these long-term stay visas are only issued to diplomats and officials or for business and employment.
Tourist visas are available for a one-month stay and can be single entry or multiple entry.
What retirees to Vietnam normally do is to extend these tourist visas. The initial visa is for 30 days. Then this visa is extended for an additional three months. This process, although not officially recognised, is then repeated every three months.
Long-term foreign visitors are constantly concerned, however, that one day their renewal request will be refused. This would then require them to leave the country and reapply for a fresh tourist visa.
In Australia, a tourist visa can be obtained by post through the Vietnamese government embassy. The application form can be downloaded from www.vietnamembassy.org.au.
Simply complete this application form and then send by registered mail to the embassy, along with:
- a passport with at least six months validity and at least one blank page
- one passport-sized photo affixed to the form
- a return self-addressed prepaid envelope (express post or registered mail)
- the visa fee which must be paid in cash, money order or bank cheque, payable to ‘The Embassy of Viet Nam’. Only Australian dollars are accepted. Visa fees vary and depend on the length of stay and visa type.
Contact the embassy for further information at: The Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, 6 Timbarra Crescent, O’Malley, ACT 2606.
A business visa requires the sponsorship of a Vietnamese employer or business partner. This visa allows for multiple entries and a stay of up to one year. If you do not have a business partner, employer or other sponsor who can provide you with an entry clearance, you can also apply for a business visa for a stay of up to 90 days.
Immigration agents in Vietnam can be used and this does make the process much easier although more expensive. Extensions can be obtained via an agent within Vietnam.
Visas presented no issues to Sam and Rose, the English teachers in Vietnam for a year’s sabbatical from life in Australia. They had three-month visas and had them regularly renewed. They used an agent. Rose advised that it is important not to use photocopies, always original documents.
Howard, the Vietnam veteran who returned to Vietnam in his later years, faced a different situation. “I am married to a Vietnamese so I am on a ‘no visa’. I just have to go over to the Provincial capital every three months and get an extension. I could get permanent residency here. And I have to report to the police. But everyone has to report to the police. Everyone in Vietnam is registered.
“My dealings with the Vietnamese authorities have been very good. When I go the capital, the officials all know me, they are very friendly, they don’t ask for a bribe and they do the thing for $A10, the right price.”
Ian, another Vietnam vet who is not married, said he has no visa issues. “I just get a three or six month tourist visa and simply renew it here. After nine years I recently had to leave the country to renew, but that was the first time in nine years.”
There is no 12-month multiple entry visa available. Always three or six months.