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Driving in Vietnam: How To Convert a Driver’s License (and other tips)

Driving in Vietnam: How To Convert a Driver’s License (and other tips)

Vietnam is a popular destination in Southeast Asia as a great “motorbiking trip”. Vietnam’s Hai Van Pass which can be found in the central of Vietnam, between Hue and Hoi An, was popularised by the British show Top Gear.

Motorbike is also one of the common modes of transportation for the local either for a short trip, cities to cities or even from north to south of the country, a motorbike is always an option for many. Vietnam’s big cities and even countrysides are filled with small alleys that no car can fit through. Driving a motorbike is easier and more convenient for daily life here.

MUST-READ: Vietnam motorbiking routes and affordable Vietnam motorbike tours

IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT DRIVING IN VIETNAM

Before I walk you through how to convert a driving license in Vietnam, let’s discuss things that you should know before you start the process.

What Side Of Road Does Vietnam Drive On

Vietnam drive on the right side. Although there are four countries in Southeast Asia that drives on the left; Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore

Can I Use My International Driving License In Vietnam

While motorbiking throughout Vietnam is such a big thing for tourists and expats, what most foreigners don’t know is that even having an international driver’s permit, you still need to convert this to a Vietnamese driving license.

Besides your IDP, see other things should pack when you move to Vietnam and the current requirements for entering.

Driving in Vietnam Without A Valid License

It is illegal to drive in Vietnam without a valid driver’s license. You will get fined and have your motorbike or car confiscated if you get caught.

You should also check with your travel insurance if you will be covered in case of an accident if you driver without a valid license in Vietnam. Many foreigners fail to get claim or coverage for accidents in Vietnam if you are driving without holding the right driver’s license.

Can You Convert a Driver’s License in Vietnam

Short answer is yes. Although you will have to apply for it and do a test (both paper and actual).

How Long is the License Valid

Once your driver’s license is convereted, you should see the expiry date at the front. The license is only valid as long as your current visa during the application date.

If you are on a tourist visa, then your converted license will expire as the same time as your visa. Same goes for business visa, TRC, etc.

Requirements To Convert Your Driver’s License

Here are the requirements you need to prepare before you start the process of converting your driver’s license:

  • your driver’s license – some people would say it has to be an international driver’s license but that’s not true, as long as it’s still valid, it’s good enough
  • passport photos – white background, although this is a confusing requirement some applications say that you don’t need it since your photo will be shot when you submit your paper but some people still had to bring their own passport photos, it’s best to be prepared
  • payment – bring Vietnamese cash, you don’t need to pay more than 500.000 VND including the notarization and translation

HOW TO CONVERT A DRIVING LICENSE IN VIETNAM

If you are ready to get a valid driver’s license in Vietnam, here’s the step-by-step guide on how to convert your current license:

Driving in Vietnam - How To Convert a Driving License In Vietnam (1)

Photocopy Your Passport and Driver’s License

You have to make a photocopy of all pages of your passport together with front cover and pages that don’t have any visa/stamp in it. You should also photocopy both sides of your driver’s license.

Get Your Driver’s License Translated and Notarised

You need to have your driver’s license translated and notarized first. Often, whichever government office you will go to submit your application, there is a notarization and translation office there or you can also use any private offices that offer this service. Get two copies just in case or so you don’t need to do it again in the future.

You will probably have to leave your driver’s license for a day and come back the next day to pick it up.

It shouldn’t cost more than 150.000 VND per set. Look for signs that says “Văn Phòng Công Chứng” which mean notarize office.

Bring These Documents To the Right Office/Department

Once you have your driver’s license translated and notarized, it’s time to bring it to the Department of Transport (License Conversion Department). Simply say to the receptionist that you are here to convert your driver’s license and show your paper, they will point you which window to go.

In this part, you will be explained which vehicle you will be allowed to drive or which type of vehicle they can list on your Vietnamese driver’s license. Once you agree, your photos will be taken together with your documents.

You will also be asked to pay the fee here, it should be more or less 200.000 VND but not more than 300.000 VND.

Take the Written and Driving Test

Most likely, you should be able to take your written and driving test the same day you submitted your application.

There is a very confusing part here. Depends where you are getting your driver’s license converted, you may or may not have to take any test.

In Ho Chi Minh City, some foreigners only had to do a written test, some said they only required to do the driving test while others claim you didn’t had to do either test.

Another confusing thing is, some people said that the written test is in Vietnamese, if you don’t speak the language, there’s no way you can pass it while some locals said you should be able to ask to take the written test in English.

Apparently, there are locals you can bribe to mark the answers in Vietnamese written test or you can simple hire a visa agent or local law firms to assist you in getting these done.

Pick Up Your Converted Driver’s License

Assuming you had to take the written and driving test, the same day, you will be told if you passed it and if you did, you can come back the next day to finally get your Vietnamese driver’s license or come back 3 days later if they are a bit backed up.

In your license, it should say if A1 for those who want to drive a motorbike or B1 for an automatic car. It should say A1 and B1 if you can drive both.

You will pay another 150.000 VND when you pick up your Vietnamese driver’s license.

SAMPLE OF CONVERTED VIETNAMESE DRIVING LICENSE

Driving in Vietnam - How To Convert a Driving License In Vietnam (1)
valid for driving automatic car (B1)
Driving in Vietnam - How To Convert a Driving License In Vietnam (1)
back of the B1 driver’s license
Driving in Vietnam - How To Convert a Driving License In Vietnam (1)
valid for driving a motorbike/motorcycle (A1)

GOVERNMENT OFFICES WHERE YOU SUBMIT YOUR VIETNAMESE DRIVER’S LICENSE CONVERSION

Here is a list of offices where you can submit your application to convert your license into Vietnamese. You should also be able to get your current driver’s license translated and notarised:

Hanoi

  • 16 Cao Bá Quát, Điện Bàn, Ba Đình, Hà Nội – Google map

Da Nang

  • 270 Đường Trần Phú, Phước Ninh, Hải Châu, Đà Nẵng – Google map

Nha Trang

  • 4 Phan Chu Trinh, Xương Huân, Thành phố Nha Trang, Khánh Hòa – Google map

Da Lat

  • 36 Đường Trần Phú, Phường 4, Thành phố Đà Lạt, Lâm Đồng, – Google map

Ho Chi Minh City

  • 252 Lý Chính Thắng, Quận 3, Ho Chi Minh City – Google map

WHERE ELSE CAN YOU USE YOUR VIETNAMESE DRIVER’S LICENSE

Just like a TRC (temporary residence permit), you can fly domestically with a driver’s license, given that it’s still valid. Some expats said there’s an exception flying to Phu Quoc and that you cannot use your driver’s license to fly there, but based on my experience, I was able to fly in and out of Phu Quoc using my converted driver’s license.

I hope this guide on how to convert a driving license in Vietnam has been useful. If you have questions or tips based on your own experience in doing this process, let us know in the comment section below.

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Roy

Sunday 16th of April 2023

This was really helpful, thank you.

So to confirm, I can do a license conversion with just a tourist visa?

Do you know if there is any way to start this process/ apply online before I get to Vietnam? Or pay for an express processing time?

I have a motorbike license in my home country so only need to convert it, but I’ve heard that it can take 5 working days to process.