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Mar 19, 2024 / 05:54

Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry negotiates visa waiver agreements with 15 countries

Since mid-August 2023, Vietnam has been issuing electronic visas to citizens of all countries, extending the duration from 30 to 90 days with unlimited entries.

Minister of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) Bui Thanh Son during a Q&A session at the National Assembly on March 18 informed that negotiations are underway with 15 countries regarding mutual visa exemption and with 80 countries for reciprocal visa waivers concerning diplomatic passports.

 Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son. Photo: quochoi.vn

Deputy Head of the Delegate Affairs Committee Ta Thi Yen noted that Vietnam has recently become a preferred tourist destination. Vietnam has unilaterally or through agreements waived visas for some countries to attract tourists. However, very few countries grant visa exemptions to Vietnamese citizens, making visa applications for Vietnamese nationals challenging.

On this issue, Minister Son emphasized that countries worldwide consider Vietnam a safe destination with many scenic spots and attractions.

In the trend of openness and deep integration, not only do foreigners come to Vietnam, but Vietnamese citizens also have the need to travel and seek business development opportunities abroad. Therefore, the MoFA coordinates with relevant authorities to simplify entry and exit procedures. This has been specified in the Law on Entry, Exit, Transit, and Residence of Foreigners in Vietnam, such as extending the duration of stay in Vietnam and enhancing tourist visa issuance, he said.

In addition to the 13 countries with unilateral visa waivers, the MoFA is also negotiating visa waivers with 15 countries to facilitate smoother entry and exit. Furthermore, negotiations are ongoing with 80 countries regarding mutual diplomatic visa waivers. This is aimed at facilitating overseas travel for leaders of ministries and localities.

Deputy Hoang Van Cuong expressed concern that even after negotiating mutual visa waivers with 15 countries, Vietnam only exempts visas for 28 countries. Meanwhile, countries in the region with strategies to attract tourists have expanded their visa programs. Singapore exempts visas for 164 countries, Malaysia for 162, the Philippines for 157, and Thailand for 64.

"This presents intense competition for Vietnam. Should the Ministry of Foreign Affairs consider unilaterally waiving visas for tourists from developed, high-income countries with low crime rates?" questioned Cuong.

Son emphasized that tourism development is a consistent policy of the Party and the State. To promote tourism, various factors are needed, with visas being an important aspect. After amending the Law on Entry, Exit, Transit, and Residence of Foreigners, both foreign nationals and Vietnamese citizens enjoy more favorable conditions.

"When the Prime Minister worked in Australia, he asked if there were any visa issues, and the answer was that the electronic visa system worked very well," said Son, indicating that the ministry is collaborating with relevant ministries to study visa exemption measures in the near future.

Mutual visa waivers are policies between Vietnam and certain countries whereby visa exemptions are reciprocated. When Vietnam waives visas for citizens of a country, that country reciprocates for Vietnamese citizens. Typical examples of mutual visa waivers are among Southeast Asian countries, where they exempt visas for each other's citizens upon entry and exit.

Since mid-August 2023, Vietnam has been issuing electronic visas to citizens of all countries, extending the duration from 30 to 90 days with unlimited entries. Vietnamese nationals unilaterally exempted from visas have their temporary stay extended from 15 to 45 days and are considered for visa issuance and extension of temporary residence.