Vietnam to Expand Visa Exemption Policy

Vietnam has announced the plans to expand the list of visa-exempt countries. The plans assume adding 13 new nationalities whose citizens will enjoy visa-free travel to Vietnam.
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In an attempt to boost the tourism sector in post-pandemic times, Vietnam has announced its plans to extend the list of visa-exempt countries.

The relaxation of visa requirements will be based on bilateral cooperation and is supposed to include 13 new countries. 

The move will most likely target countries with high tourism spending and stays of longer duration, such as Canada, the United States, and Australia

Among other most likely candidates for visa exemption are Middle Eastern countries such as theUAE, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait.  

Also, Vietnam's close neighbors, such as Taiwan, India, and China, are potential candidates for the relaxation of visa policy. 

What is more, certain EU countires that are not already visa-exempt, i.e., Switzerland, Belgium, and the Netherlands, could also be added.

The Vietnamese authorities have already facilitated entry to the country for international travelers by introducing the Vietnam e-Visa system, which is currently available for all world nationalities.

This online visa, however, may soon no longer be necessary for certain nationalities.   

Countries currently eligible for visa-free entry to Vietnam

According to the Vietnamese visa policy, there are around 25 nationalities that can now enter Vietnam visa-free. 

The latest changes in the visa policy were made in August 2023 when the Vietnam government extended the number of days of visa-free stays from 15  to 45 days for nationals of 13 countries, including Belarus, Finland, Denmark, Germany, France, Italy, Norway, Japan, South Korea, Russia, Sweden, Spain, and the United Kingdom. 

Additionally, citizens of Panama and Chile are allowed to stay in Vietnam for up to 90 days visa-free, while Filipino and Brunei citizens can enter Vietnam without a visa and stay there for up to 21 and 14 days, respectively. 

Another visa exemption for a 30-day visa-free stay applies to nationals of Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore. Mongolia will join these countries starting on 7 March 2024. 

The reasons for expanding the Vietnamese visa-exemption policy

The decision to expand the list of visa-exempt countries in Vietnam is caused by the need to boost tourism in the country and attract as many tourists as in the pre-coronavirus times or even more.  

When comparing other Southeast Asian nations, the Vietnamese list of visa-exempt countries is relatively short. 

For example, the governments of Malaysia and Singapore granted visa-free entry to over 160 nationalities, while the Filipino government expanded visa exemption to over 150 countries. 

In turn, Thailand has recently relaxed its visa policy for China and Taiwan and plans to extend it to even more nationalities in the future.  

Vietnam's tourism sector has already observed an increasing number of visitors. Numbers can confirm it - nearly 12.6 million visitors traveled to Vietnam in 2023, around 3.5 times more than in 2022. 

Nevertheless, the Vietnamese tourism industry's goal for 2024 is to attract 17-18 million foreign visitors to the country. Achieving these figures may be hard or even impossible without a relaxing visa policy. 

Katarzyna Żyła
2024-02-22

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