As more countries are accepting e-Visas, going to the embassy or waiting on the mail with your visa is becoming obsolete. Below are a few countries that have gotten in line with this newer streamline process making it easier when traveling to Vietnam, India, and other Asian countries. Here’s what you need to know to meet the Asia visa requirements.
In our previous blog, you learned that “visa” is an acronym for Visitor’s Intended Stay Abroad, and it’s issued by the country you plan to visit. Think of it as a kind of permission slip to enter a country, stay for a specific period of time and leave.
Since each country’s visa process is different in Asia, these how-to’s will guide you through the process for when traveling to Vietnam, India, Laos and Myanmar. (Our previous blog covered Nepal, Bhutan and China.)
As a reminder: Check your passport expiration date! To enter most countries, your passport must be valid for at least six months from the time of your entry. Also, be sure that you have blank pages (two for most countries) for the visa stamps and that your passport is not frayed or torn.
Compared to some countries, getting a tourist visa for India is a streamlined process. You can get an electronic travel authorization (an e-Visa) online for up to four days before your arrival date but no more than 120 days in advance. (It may take up to three days to process a US citizen’s visa. Visa services consider 18 hours a “rush.”) E-visas are granted for no more than two times in a calendar year.
Your e-Visa can be used at 25 airports and 5 seaports in India.
Online India Visa Application: It couldn’t be easier. Complete the application form online. You will select some options from pull-down menus, such as the passport type you’re requesting, your nationality and port of entry. You fill in the blanks for your personal information and email.
Length of stay: 60 days from the time of your arrival. An e-Visa cannot be extended, so pay attention to the expiration date of your visa. If you overextend your visa date, you will be fined and possibly detained.
Caveat: Easy as an e-Visa is, we don’t advise waiting until the week of your departure to get it. There are cases where an application is rejected—say, your passport photo is deemed unacceptable—and you will need to reapply.
For over a year now, Vietnam has had an electronic travel authorization or e-Visa. You can complete the application online prior to traveling to Vietnam! Of course, you could still get a visa the old-fashioned way and apply in person, by mail to the Embassy, by email or by an approval letter from your tour operator, such as Myths and Mountains.
Online Vietnam Visa Application: The usual personal information, email address, and the purpose of your trip.
Length of stay: 30 consecutive days from the time you enter the country. If you want to stay longer you must apply for a visa extension when you are in Vietnam. It may be extended for up to three months for $60-$310, depending on the length of the extension and where you apply.
Cost: For a 30-day, single entry visa, there is a $9.99 processing fee and a $25 stamping fee that is payable when you arrive. A multiple entry visa approval letter is $14 and a $50 stamping fee. You can pay a few dollars more for Airport Fast Track if you don’t want to stand in line. There is also a penalty fee if you arrive on Saturday, Sunday or a public holiday. Urgent and emergency visas cost more.
Caveat: Keep your visa approval letter with your passport to show at your point of entry to Vietnam. You will need it to get your visa stamp.
Perhaps the easiest way to get a visa for Laos is on arrival at a checkpoint, such as the international airports in Vientiane, Pakse, Savannakhet, and Luang Prabang, or at the Tha Naleng train station in Vientiane. There are a few overland crossings that provide visas also.
You can also get a visa by snail mail or by visiting a Laos embassy to avoid lines at the borders. A visa allows one entry to the country.
Laos Visa Application: The usual personal information plus both the name and address of a contact person in Laos and your next destination.
Length of Stay: Two months from the time the visa is issued. However, you can apply for a 30-day visa extension twice at the immigration office in Vientiane.
Cost: $35 for US citizens (fee varies depending on citizenship). Be sure to have US dollars at the entry point if you are getting a visa on arrival. (Have small bills, since there might not be an ability to change large ones.)
Caveat: If you want to extend your stay, go to the immigration office before your primary visa expires. It will cost you $2/day. If your visa has expired, you’ll have to pay $10 for each day you overstay.
E-Visas are the way to go in Myanmar! If you have submitted the application form online and have received an approval letter, you can get the visa at Yangon, Mandalay, or Nay Pyi Taw International Airports and various land border checkpoints, such as Tachileik, Myawaddy, and Kawthaung.
About three days after you receive the application acknowledgment email, you should receive an e-Visa approval letter. It is valid for 90 days from the issue date. (Be aware: This is not the same as the acknowledgment email that you get within an hour of your payment being accepted.) Nor is this approval letter a confirmed visa. You will show it when you enter Myanmar, and an agent stamps your passport with a visa.
Online Myanmar Visa Application: Along with all the usual personal information, you provide your port of entry, the purpose of your visit, the type of accommodation where you’ll be staying (hotel, home stay, resort, etc.) and the name and address of that place. If you are with a package tour, you must also give the name of the company you are traveling with and contact information for them.
Length of stay: 28 days from the date of your arrival for a single entry.
Cost: $50 at time of online e-Visa application.
Caveat: Don’t leave and expect to come back into Myanmar. Re-entry requires a new visa.
You are not allowed to do any paid or unpaid work during your stay that is different from the profession you wrote on your application, so be careful what you write in the “occupation” slot.
No residential or home address will be accepted on your visa application.
An e-Visa is not accepted at seaports, so if you are cruising, ask your tour operator about a “Pre-arrangement Visa on Arrival.” In most cases, you will need to get the traditional Myanmar Visa—that is, you will mail your passport in advance to get the visa placed in it prior to your travel dates.
If your application is denied, you’re not going to Myanmar and don’t expect an explanation. Don’t bother asking for one either.
E-Visa operations are closed for Full Moon Day of Waso, the Buddhist version of Lent, which is July 16 in 2019.
Ready to travel?
Now that you know what you need to get a visa, let Myths and Mountains guide you through the process. Have any other questions? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we would love to help!