How to get (convert/renew) Vietnam driving license for expats

There is an exponential increase in motorbikes in Vietnamese cities in recent years. People are more financially stable to afford a motorbike lately in Vietnam. This is not only true for the local community but if you are on a visitor visa or work permit in Vietnam for more than 3 months, then it is advisable to have your own means of transport rather than relying on Grab or Taxi services.
February 26, 2021 | 10:42
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Now, as it is evident that having your own vehicle will add a little less stress on your pocket, it should also be clear that nobody can drive a vehicle whether it’s a motorbike or a car, you must acquire a valid driving license to do so.

One important thing that everyone needs to understand is that if you are driving in Vietnam without a valid DRIVER’S LICENSE, you may not be covered by health insurance in case of an accident incurred by you or the other person.

A driver is at more risk of physical injuries if he or she is on a motorbike. If you are in a car, you may face even worse penalties in case of an accident. For instance, even if it was not your fault, a car driver will be accused of the accident, and you may face heavy fines or even suspension of your DRIVER’S LICENSE.

So, always drive wisely and safely in accompanied with proper training and following Vietnamese traffic rules. That’s only possible when you have a valid Vietnamese driving license. We are delighted to help you acquire one.

Now let’s look at the criteria for international driving licenses in Vietnam and the procedure for obtaining a Vietnamese DRIVER’S LICENSE in detail.

1) International Driving Licenses are legally void in Vietnam

Whenever a foreigner comes to Vietnam and wants to have his own ride, the main concern is whether he would use his driving License from his home country in Vietnam or obtain a new one. So, here are two criteria for that.

  • ASEAN Driving License
  • International Driving Permit

These two cards come under the rule of the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic regulated in 1968. A driver’s License is partially legal in Vietnam if it belongs to any member ASEAN countries. It’s ideal to have a local DRIVER’S LICENSE in Vietnam by merely converting your International Driving Permit to a Vietnamese Driving License.

Moreover, if your home country DRIVER’S LICENSE comes under a specific class and allows you to drive a motorbike and a car, you would automatically be legal to drive the rides mentioned above in Vietnam. But if not, then you would have to take a practice test to qualify for that.

2) Limited Validity of International Driver Permits (IDPs)

As we know, Vietnam is a member country of the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic in 1968. IDPs belonging to this convention have limited validity in Vietnam. But recently, it’s been argued that these IDPs are no longer legitimate in Vietnam in terms of driving vehicles.

This made our mind clear that IDPs are a temporary solution in the meantime for you to collect your necessary documents for filing Driving License Application in the Department of Transportation.

Please do keep in mind that the IDPs are not valid in your home country, and the best is to acquire a local DRIVER’S LICENSE in Vietnam. Only one thing you can benefit from IDP is that it may cover you in case of accidents if it’s valid accompanied by your local health insurance.

3) Prerequisites of a Vietnamese Driver’s License

While filing your application for a local DRIVER’S LICENSE in Vietnam, you must keep these documents handy.

  • A copy of valid passport mentioning bio page and visa page
  • A copy of the home country Driving License must be translated into Vietnamese language and ought to get it notarized by a Notary Public officer
  • 3 Passport size photo with dimensions of 4cm×3cm
  • A completed Application Form

Application processing fee 135,000VDN equivalent to almost 6USD

You can get all the information mentioned above in detail from the Vietnam Visa Immigration. In case of any ambiguities, feel free to contact them.

4) How to get Vietnam Driving License at the Department of Transportation

Once you have all your required documents with you, now you may visit ant nearest Department of Transportation for submission. They will collect copies of documents from you and return the originals to you. Also, the ahead photo will be clicked at the spot for DRIVER’S LICENSE purposes.

You will be given a receipt and will be called after 5-10 business days to collect your DRIVER’S LICENSE, or it may be shipped to you at the given address if you choose that option.

A fee of 30,000 VND will be charged from you.

If they ask you for a practical test for motorbike driving, it’s relatively easy and quick. While a car’s Driving test may be quite complicated.

5) Employing agents/brokers to simplify DRIVER’S LICENSE acquisition

Now, as you are a foreigner and most probably unaware of the Vietnamese language, how would you hand Driver’s Licensee your application processing? Simply contact a trusted agency to manage the DRIVER’S LICENSE application on your behalf.

They provide these services for a minimal fee and hand the Driver’s Licensee all the certifications and notarizations with 100% efficacy.

6) Locations of the Department of Transportation in multiple cities

There are multiple cities where expatriates can find Department of Transportation offices. Here addresses of a few in major cities are mentioned for you.

+ 10 Phan Boi Chau, Vinh Ninh, Hue City

+ 63 Ly Tu Trong, Ben Nghe, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

+ 24 Duong Tran Phu, Thach Thang, Hai Chau, Da Nang City

+ 2 Duong Phung Hung, Van Quan, Ha Dong, Ha Noi City

7) Vietnam Driving license duration limited to your visa period:

Here one thing foreigners must keep in mind that the validity of DRIVER’S LICENSE in Vietnam is only limited to the expiry date of your visa, work permit, residency permit, or even the date of expiry of your home country Driving license.

This means that if your home country DRIVER’S LICENSE is valid for 3 years, your work permit has an expiry of 1 year, and your visa will be expiring in 1 month. The validity of your DRIVER’S LICENSE in Vietnam is only 1 month. You have to renew your DRIVER’S LICENSE with the visa as well.

There are expectations that the government may introduce life-time DRIVER’S LICENSE in Vietnam. Still, you have to pass a theory test in Vietnamese for that.

8) How to Renew your DRIVER’S LICENSE

Luckily, the renewal process is quite simple and straightforward. All you have to do is submit your expired Vietnamese DRIVER’S LICENSE along with a valid visa and processing fee, and renewed DRIVER’S LICENSE will be issued to you within 5-8 days.

In some cases, you might have to produce your home country DRIVER’S LICENSE and make sure it’s valid at that time. Provide original and a certified copy of the Driving License.

9) New Vietnamese Traffic laws 2020

In light of the recent spike in road accidents in Vietnam, the government is keen to pass and implement new traffic laws in 2020.

A law has been passed on Preventing Alcohol Harmful Effects,

effective from Jan 1, 2020. According to this Law, there will be no tolerance for drunk drivers, and they will be charged with hefty fines such as

  • Motorbike drivers: 258-345 USD
  • Car drivers: 1292-1723 USD

10) Road safety conditions in Vietnam

Road safety conditions in Vietnam are quite adequate with the locals. But if you are a foreigner, then you must take extra care while driving in Vietnam. People mostly drive manual cars and may not respect traffic rules all the time. You may face rash driving and excessive motorbikes on the roads.

So, ex-pats must be experts in their driving skills while moving on Vietnamese roads.

Media contact: Ms Vy

Ho Chi Minh City Driver's License Training Center


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