Several years ago I remember reading a blog post by Đan Harris of China Law Blog and learning what has proven a very important lesson: when traveling for business, pony up and pay the extra money for a business visa.

Dan Harris related a visit he paid to a leader in the Pacific islands—I forget which one exactly—but he had paid the extra five dollars for a business visa. The leader asked to see his passport and examined his visa. He then nodded and began conversation with Harris.

I’ve struggled to get the proper credentials at times. Vietnam has strict visa requirements to be a certified foreign lawyer. Getting the apostille and submitting the proper documents can cost thousands of dollars. Needless to say I work remotely from overseas, one way to avoid the necessary documentation. In Cambodia, it’s a lot easier, and in Laos, working as an in house counsel for an established investment company, I was easily able to get the proper documentation in my passport.

Not everyone coming to Vietnam has to worry about the certification to act as a foreign attorney, but oftentimes business is the reason. It’s not more expensive than a tourist visa, and it’s just as easy to get. You just have to select the purpose properly.

I’ve also experienced pain when traveling from Asia to the United States. On one occasion I was in Vietnam and flew back around the world to North Carolina. I had filled out the arrival information card and checked business. When I got in the line and up to the customs officer I said something else. This was a mistake. They sent me to a special line to get my luggage searched.

There are all kinds of problems that can be avoided by simply getting the right document for the right purpose.