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On August 31, I am flying out of Washington, DC to Ho Chi Minh City, with a connection in Beijing (both via Air China). My connection will occur on September 1st, and by the time I arrive in Vietnam, it will then be September 2nd.

I do have a visa for Vietnam, but it becomes valid on September 1. Will this be a problem when boarding my first leg on August 31 in Washington, DC? I wouldn't think it should as my visa will be valid when I actually arrive in Vietnam. Also, by the time I check in on August 31, it will already be September 1st in Vietnam (due to the 11 hour time difference). I also have a valid Chinese visa.

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Yes you will be fine, you will arrive with a valid visa.

The airline have a responsibility to ensure you will be allowed to enter the country, they will be checking that your visa will be valid and accepted in Vietnam upon arrival. When you arrive the border control will be checking that your visa is valid from that date, which it is.

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