How to Get a Vietnam Driving License

Driving in Vietnam is the best way to experience the country. But it’s also essential to bear in mind the legality of the whole adventure. To ride a motorbike, you need to have a Vietnam driving license. 

Driving in Vietnam is the best way to experience the country. But it’s also essential to bear in mind the legality of the whole adventure. To ride a motorbike, you need to have a Vietnam driving license

There has been a recent crackdown on foreign nationals riding around in Vietnam without licenses. On top of that, it just makes more sense to have a license. Most insurance companies will not pay out if you don’t have one. So, before you think about renting a bike here in Vietnam, get your paperwork sorted! 

It can seem intimidating to navigate the bureaucratic red tape to get a license, but fear not. Keep reading to find out the step-by-step process to get a Vietnam driving license.

Vietnam driving license

International Driving License

Since 2015, if you already have a license from home with a motorcycle endorsement, and an international driving license, then you are set. You do not need to get a Vietnamese driving license at all! You can drive a motorbike in Vietnam hassle-free. Bear in mind, though, that your international driving license must be from a country that signed the 1968 Vienna Convention. And make sure that both are up-to-date.

Vietnam driving license

Converting Your License

If you don’t have an international driving license, you need to convert your existing license to a Vietnamese one. It’s easier if your license from home has both automobile and motorbike endorsements. If so, then it’s merely a case of getting a temporary Vietnamese license issued. On the other hand, without a motorbike endorsement, you are also required to take a practical test.

Besides, you need to have a work permit, residence permit or business visa that is valid for more than three months. If you are only traveling for a short time, without an international driving license, then you are a little out of luck. At least as far as driving legally is concerned. 

Documents

The first step in the process is to get the following documents prepared and ready:

  • Original driving license
  • Original passport
  • Original resident card (if applicable rather than a visa)
  • 4 passport photos — double-check the exact size with the local department of transportation as it can vary depending on the province
  • Copy of application form
  • A certified copy of your passport
  • Notarized translation of your driving license — this needs to be certified by the notary public office or embassy/consulate where the translator works

If you have to apply for the motorbike counterpart as well, you also need your health check results. More on that later! Your embassy will be able to advise further on notarizing and copying your documents.

Vietnam driving license

The office

Once you have all the above documents, you are ready to head on over to your local transport office. In Hanoi, this is at the Office of Traffic and Public Works (16 Cao Ba Quat Street, Ba Dinh or 2 Phung Hung, Ha Dong). In Ho Chi Minh City, the address is at the Office of Transportation (63 Ly Tu Trong Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1). 

Once you get to the office, the process is as you would expect: lots of waiting, misdirection and confusion. When it’s all done, you have to give the address you would like your license to be sent to. Then, you are ready to pay. The whole thing should only set you back around 135,000 VND for the processing fee. Plus, however much your translation and notary services cost.

Taking the motorbike test

If you don’t have a motorcycle endorsement on your home driving license, then it’s time for the fun part: the motorbike driving test. First, you need to have a health check to ensure you are fit to drive. You should be able to have this at the driving test center but it’s worth double-checking beforehand.

Once you have got your health check, you can head over to the driving center for your test. The type of test depends on the kind of bike that you want to drive. An A1 license will allow you to ride bikes up to 175CC while anything higher requires an A2 license. The test itself is fairly straightforward. You have to drive a figure of 8, follow a zig-zag and then drive around 15 meters over a rough surface. Once (or if!) you’ve completed the test successfully, you have to sign your issuance form. Ten working days later, you will receive your valid Vietnamese motorbike driving license.

Vietnam driving license

Getting a New Vietnamese Driving License

If you don’t have any form of driving license all, then the process is a lot more complicated. Mainly because everything is in Vietnamese! If you are looking to get a license made from scratch, then you will have to take the theory test as well as the practical. This is in Vietnamese and covers a possible 150 questions.

To register for the test, you first have to go for training. The number of hours required depends on the type of license you’re applying for. It’s 7 hours of theory and 5 of practice for an A1 license and 12 hours of theory and 20 of practice for an A2

The address for applying for a Vietnamese driver’s license in Hanoi is the Center for Automotive Training and Mechanism (83A Ly Thuong Kiet Street, Hoan Kiem). For Ho Chi Minh City, it’s the same as above: the Office of Transportation (63 Ly Tu Trong Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1).

Conclusion

It can seem daunting to organize everything to get your Vietnamese driving license. Then again, it’s obviously worth it. The morality of the thing aside, if there are any serious issues on the road your driver’s license will likely end up being invaluable.

Driving around in Vietnam without a license is basically asking for trouble. It’s all fine until it all goes horribly wrong. So, get down to your local test center today!