TL;DR: scroll down and check how to obtain an e-visa.
Get the Visa the old school (and expensive) way
Some years ago I wanted to go to Vietnam, but I gave up because of the bureaucratic way to obtain a visa. I mean, look on the Vietnam Embassy’s in Switzerland how to apply for a Visa.
They tell you to go in person to Bern or to send the passport with a pre-stamped envelope to send it back per post, as long as a receipt that you paid the fee in advance. The fee was listed nowhere in the website, so I had to ask it at their bluewin email address.
The answer I received on 2019-08-20 was:
1. The visa application fees vary according to the duration of your stay and number of entries. The current visa fees are as follows:
- One month visa, single entry: CHF 70 per person.
- One month visa, multiple entries: 85 CHF per person.
- Three month visa, single entry: CHF 85 per person.
- Three month visa, multiple entries: 120 CHF per person.
* Remark: For children up to 12 years old, the fees are 10 CHF less than those applied to adults, namely 60 CHF, 75 CHF and 110 CHF respectively.
The above fees are calculated for normal processing procedures (five to ten business days). If you wish to obtain a ONE-MONTH express visa (one-two days by mailing, or directly if you come to the Embassy), you must add 20 CHF more for each visa.
The fees must be paid in advance by bank transfer (preferably) or in cash. In case of transfer, please enclose a copy of payment.
2. When you enter and exit Vietnam with your child, birth certificate and/or Authorization to travel for minors is not required.
Embassy of Vietnam in Bern
70 CHF per person, and 10 CHF discount for a child, that makes for me, my wife and our baby: 70 + 70 + 60 = 200 CHF + postage fees to send the passport and a pre-stamped letter to send it back. It’s a ridiculous amount of money compared to the next option.
Visa on Arrival (letter fee + queue and 25 USD stamp fee on arrival)
Check this thread on TripAdvisor about the Visa on Arrival.
I read you can get a visa on arrival (VoA) in a form of invitation letter (or similar) sent by an agent online for a price varying from 10 to 25 USD + a stamping fee of 25 USD per person on arrival.
If you google for “visa to vietnam”, you find several agents offering the same service. I did my research to be sure that they were not scams. In the tripadvisor thread I’ve read that they are legit. The only annoying thing is that when you arrive you still need to fill a form, queue somewhere and pay 25 USD.
Examples of services offering the approval letter for the visa on arrival:
- https://www.myvietnamvisa.com/vietnam-visa-on-arrival.html (website professionally done and good looking, but more expensive letter: 14 USD)
- https://www.vietnamvisapro.net/ (the cheapest: 6 USD letter, but the website looks ugly)
The funny thing is that the e-visa is listed as option in the Vietnam embassy in Bern (visa on arrival not mentioned at all) but described as not yet applicable. “Vietnam E-visa pilot project is not applicable yet in Switzerland” (Switzerland’s “Ordinary” passport is not checked in the list they linked, updated in 2018).
I even e-mailed them to clarify. As read in the forums I didn’t expect much advertising of the e-visa, as the e-visa “product” is basically a competitor. If all tourists do the e-visa, the embassy will lose a lot of money. Why should they advise their competitor? It seems crazy, but every office ultimately wants to survive and make income… the answer I received on 2019-08-26 was:
Thank you for your email.
The pilot E-visa scheme has been recently implemented for Swiss citizens on an experimental basis until 01 February 2021, applied for TOURIST visa. This visa scheme is managed exclusively by the Vietnam Immigration Department and absolutely independent from the Embassy.
The official website for E-visa is: https://evisa.xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn/vi_VN/trang-chu-ttdt
However, as far as we know from some Swiss customers, the E-visa is not working properly at the moment.
In the meantime, we recommend you to follow traditional procedures in order to get a Vietnam visa, especially when your trip is scheduled for few upcoming weeks.
If you have any difficulties while applying an E-visa, please contact directly the Vietnam Immigration Department.
For other information please feel free to contact us.
The link in their reply matched the proper entity in Vietnam issuing e-visas: Vietnam National Web Portal on Immigration E-visa page. Check in the List of Countries that allowed E-visa issuing if your country is listed. Surprise: Switzerland is listed!
If you click on the form to apply for e-visa (a bit slow to load), Switzerland is in the dropdown list of nationalities.
The fee is 25 USD. When you arrive in Vietnam you go ahead to the passport control with the printed e-visa and they put a stamp on your passport. No queues, no additional stamping fees. So, despite the risk that for some customers “it is not working properly” I think that the e-visa is the way to go.
Enjoy your trip to Vietnam.