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Wait time for Vietnam visa on arrival

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Based on what I've read here I decided that VOA was the way to go. We are using Tonkin Travel for our Vietnam arrangements (incredibly responsive) so I asked them about doing the paperwork for VOA. Today I received an email warning me that if other international flights arrive at the same time the wait can be very long. Since we don't have a consulate nearby I'm debating sending the passports to DC, even though we are leaving in a month. The embassy website mentions something called a "loose paper visa" which doesn't require sending the actual passport, just a copy. An unanticipated difficulty is that the website does not give the fees. (The state dept. warns that the fees are variable and not stated.) Anybody tried the loose paper visa? I hate the thought of standing in a long line with a hungry impatient husband. And I don't want to even consider the possibility of having to replace passports during the holidays.

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