Vietnam Visa Scam: A Visa Experience using my British Passport

Sharing my Vietnam Visa scam experience that I hope you never encounter! During my first visit to Hanoi, Vietnam back in April 2015 I was using my British passport (I was not yet a dual citizen during this trip hence, I don’t have my Philippine passport with me). I, unfortunately, fell into the trap of a visa scam.  I would like to share with you my personal experience of how I ended up in this predicament.

Vietnam visa is required for Europeans and other non-ASEAN nationalities who wish to visit Vietnam. At present, British nationals can obtain a 15-day visa-free entry to Vietnam.

I was back in Southeast Asia (Philippines) to visit my family and friends. My friend and I planned to have a little getaway in Hanoi, Vietnam. I had heard so many good reviews about Hanoi.

Read More: 10 Best Things To Do In Hanoi, Vietnam That You Shouldn’t Miss

On the day of our trip, upon checking in at the airport, the lady at the airline counter would not let me board the flight without showing a visa letter from the Vietnam embassy.

The airline gave me an email address which I should need to contact to help me source the approval letter immediately. Stressed out with the whole visa situation only a few hours before my flight departure. I immediately emailed them and received a prompt reply charging me for the expedited processing fee and the visa fee.

vietnam visa reply 1

After a few minutes, they sent me an electronic copy of the approval letter.

vietnam visa approval letter

When I received the letter,  the airline let me board the plane and I thought that was it. Panic over, all set to see Hanoi.

Vietnam visa online scam

After we went thru the immigration in Manila, I received a few more emails from the Vietnam visa company, charging me for more money!

Vietnam visa online scam email 2

The Vietnam Visa Corporation informed me they can’t issue a visa on weekends. Seriously!

They already charged me for the SUPER URGENT VISA on top of the regular processing fee.

At this point, I was so pissed off and clearly they were ripping me off with the visa fees.

I argued on my email that the only requirement to get the Vietnam visa from arrival is the Visa Letter (which I had already paid for and had received).

vietnam visa online scam payment request

then after this, I received another email explaining the charge.

There is no such thing noted on their website about this “weekend processing visa fee”

Vietnam visa online scam email response

At this point, the anxiousness and stress from their threat to curtail my trip to Vietnam once I arrived, left me with no other option but to pay the USD$152 for the limited days visa.

When I arrived at Hanoi airport…

When I got off the plane, there was a woman holding a name banner with my name on just before we reached the immigration border. She asked me to wait at one corner while she sorted out my visa.

Out of curiosity, I followed her as she went to the Immigration visa desk where all the other passengers that required a visa were waiting and processing their application as well.

I asked fellow travellers who were also waiting for their application about their Vietnam visa experience and they told me that all the immigration officer asked for at the Visa immigration desk was the copy of the approval letter, a passport picture and the visa fee of USD $45.

Read More: Complete List of UK Passport Visa Free Countries to Visit

This just confirmed to me that my inkling that I was being scammed was true.

They immediately advised me to report it to the Vietnam embassy in the UK after my trip. The visa lady came back to me and handed over my instant visa. No fingerprints, no picture and no signature required, viola!

The 15-day visa mentioned by the Vietnam Visa Corporation was not given, I just received a 4-day visa.

I tried to confront the visa lady about it, but since she can only speak limited English it was very difficult to hold a proper conversation about this matter with her. All I got was just a shrug.

I managed to enter the Vietnam border, without questions too!

I tried to forget what happened that evening and just enjoy Hanoi as planned. When I came back to the UK, I sent an email to the Vietnam embassy here in London and the reply I got was not satisfactory. What they basically replied about my complaint was they have nothing to do with it since they are not the one who issued the visa!

So I emailed again the company to file a complaint.

Here was their response.

Vietnam visa online scam email convo

followed by this email asking how long I wanted to stay in Vietnam.

vietnam visa online scam complaint

They were completely oblivious about my details even though I had already sent all the details needed.

vietnam visa online scam complaint response

I never bothered replying to this email because I felt I was just talking to a brick wall and someone who does not care about the complaint and wants to cover their back with this scam.

I had charged it to experience and I would like to share this experience for British citizens and other nationalities who need a Vietnam visa.

You can also read and be aware of the other money scams and tourist scams in Southeast Asia that you might encounter. If you are visiting Ho Chi Minh city, here’s a helpful guide and tips to avoid scams in the city. ALWAYS look for a trusted and reputable company that process your Vietnam visa.

I consider this my rookie mistake on travelling but, that’s how you learn things and I want to warn others so they won’t fall for the same visa scam. After this bad experience with my visa, I would still go back to Vietnam. Here is a sample itinerary to Vietnam that I would like to do.

vietnam visa scam pin1


Ryazan Tristram EverythingZany Author Bio

Ryazan Tristram

Travel Writer & Photographer

Ryazan has a Bachelor’s Degree in Tourism and Hotel Management. She also has more than 10 years of work experience gained from working in the hotel and travel sectors in Asia and Europe. Her work has been featured and published on Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest, Discovery Channel, World Travel Guide, MSN, CNBC, GMA, Daily Mail UK, Lonely Planet and many more. She is currently living in the UK as a dual citizen (British – Filipina). Join her in travelling around the UK and beyond with a mission to promote sustainable tourism and share travel guides, travel tips, foodies, history and culture.

9 thoughts on “Vietnam Visa Scam: A Visa Experience using my British Passport”

  1. That’s shocking. Beware dodgy visa companies. We use a great one and happily partner with them on our site. Vietnam and the Vietnamese people are two of our favourite things in the world.

  2. Wih you contacted Vietnam embassy in the Philippines and taken a visa which would have been hassle free and authentic.
    I don’t understand as being a British passport holder and having 15days visa free , how did they charge you?
    Why did they give you a visa or just 4days? on what basis?
    I visited twice and both the times I got it from the embassy directly by paying the official visa fee.
    So sorry to hear your such a bad experience.

  3. This is horrible and has just happened to the niece of a friend of ours (yesterday). Also in region of US$200 and panicked into obtaining it. Also a British passport holder. I’m going to add a link to you post onto Travelfish to warn others.

  4. I had no idea borders can be crossed without an immigration officer stamping your passport (where a visa would be required). Shocking. Thank you for sharing so other travellers can be wary.


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