Having a valid driving license in Vietnam is mandatory for foreigners who want to operate cars and motorbikes. As cars are very expensive many foreigners opt to drive motorbikes. Many drive without licenses without much difficulty but, if you aim to drive a motorbike over 50cc and want your health insurance to be valid in one of the world’s most lethal traffic environments, get a valid motorbike driving license in Vietnam.
How Do I Get a Valid Motorbike License in Vietnam?
Change in Law
Getting a valid driving license in Vietnam has just become a lot more difficult! From mid-2016 the law changed. Currently, it’s impossible to have a Vietnamese motorbike license if you travel on a tourist visa. You need a business visa, a work permit and/or a residence card of three months’ duration or more. So, if you are on a tourist visa, you are not able to convert your license. even if you hold an equivalent motorbike or car license from your home country
What can I do?
There are three ways for foreigners/tourists to legally drive a motorbike in Vietnam:
- Get a Vietnam-recognized IDP (International Drivers Permit)
- Get a Vietnamese license
- Drive a 50 cc motorbike
International Driver’s License(IDL) / International Driving Permit (IDP)
From August 1st 2016 the International Drivers License (IDL) became recognized in Vietnam – but only for certain countries. Those countries where the IDL is recognized were signatories to the 1968 Convention International Driving License (IDL).
If your country was a signatory to this convention you can purchase an insurance policy that covers you for riding in Vietnam. You will need to take your home country driving license with motorbike endorsement to the transport authorities to obtain it.
Australia, USA and Canada are not signatories to the 1968 Convention therefore, citizens of those countries are NOT able to drive in Vietnam with their IDPs. However, the UK has just been recognized.
How To Get a Vietnamese Driver’s License
Straight Conversion from Home License to Vietnamese License
If you hold a car or motorbike license from your home country (and hold a business visa, a work permit and/or a residence card of three months duration or more) you can obtain the equivalent driver’s license in Vietnam. In short, it is a straight-forward conversion.
Have a Valid Driver’s License from Home Country but not a Motorbike License
If you hold a valid driver’s license from your own country (and are on the correct visa) you can gain a Vietnamese motorbike license by passing a practical motorbike driving test. For tourists on short holidays however, this is a ridiculous notion. To pass the test you need to book – often several weeks in advance and you need to practice for it.
Do not have any driver’s license
If this is you, you will need to pass both theory and driving tests to operate a motorcycle. You will need to be fluent in Vietnamese as the theory test is in Vietnamese and you are not allowed a translator. Good luck!
Drive a 50CC Motorbike
Vietnam does not require you to hold a license to drive a 50cc motorbike (scooter). However, you should check if your home country does. Whilst you may be legal in Vietnam you may not be legal (policy wise) in your home country.
If you are looking to rent a 50cc scooter in Hoi An we recommend you contact The Help – Expat Services. This organization run by French National, Cyril Quynhon, prides itself in keeping their bikes maintained to the highest level so they are completely safe. As many tourists have found when they rent motorbikes in Hoi An many of them are not roadworthy. Often brakes, lights or indicators don’t work properly which makes them quite dangerous to ride. So The Help is a good option not just to circumvent the insurance problem but also to ensure the bike you rent is safe to ride.
For those not keen on any type of motorbike, consider an E Bike (electric bike). The Help’s E bike’s look like motorbikes but feel much more like a fun toy to ride. Prices are as follows:
50cc motorbike @ 5 USD per day (insurance extra); E bike @ 4 USD per day (insurance extra) Minimum 3 days rental required.
Neither bikes are super fast but they will take you do Da Nang and back and are great for riding around Hoi An.
Further details, please refer to the information below:
Converting your License
Types of Licences
- You need an A1 license for 175cc and under and an A2 license for over 175cc
- To convert an Australian driving license into a temporary Vietnamese driver’s license (car to car / motorbike to motorbike), is straight forward and can be done at the Department of Transportation in Da Nang (3 Ly Tu Trong, Da Nang) or the Quang Nam Department of Transportation (12 Tran Phu, Tam Ky City) for Hoi An. We advise going to the Da Nang Department of Transportation as, from all reports, this department is more used to foreigners and far easier to navigate. Remember: the applicant must hold a valid Vietnamese visa of at least three month’s validity.
- You need application forms for your license and your health check.
- You need to have a translation and a notarized copy (of the translation) of your home country license
- You need a notarized copy of your passport (picture page and visa page)
- You need 2 color pictures of yourself 3 x 4 cm
- Cost is approx. 100,000 VND for notarizations and translation; 135,000 VND for license application
- In this case, when you are converting a current Western motorbike license into a Vietnamese motorbike license, Hoi An Now recommends you do it in Da Nang
On the Da Nang Hoi An Expats Facebook group, Challis McAFee outlined the process:
“I went to the translator at 175 Le Loi (corner of Le Duan and Le Loi). Paid 50,000 VND for the translation and 30,000 VND for the notary. It took 24 hours, and I had to leave my USA driver’s license to be translated. After picking up my translated document, I took it along with a photocopy of my passport (picture page and current visa page), and 2 color pictures (don’t smile) 3x4cm to the big building at 24 Tran Phu (tallest building in town). Also bring your actual passport and license. Enter on the North side of the building. Press #3 on the queue printer. Go sit near windows 1-4 and wait for your number. They will give you a form to fill out. Fill it out. Pay them 135,000 VND. They take your picture. They give you a receipt. Come back to get your license in 7 days. You are now legal to drive!
Note: this is either for a car OR a motorbike. It isn’t good for both. I guess you need to jump thru the same hoops to apply for the other one. They asked me which one I wanted.“
When you apply for your bike license you are issued with a file. Inside, you can find the bike licence application along with the health check form. Go to the nearest hospital and get the health check done. It is very basic and quick, and usually involves a simple eye test, ear check along with a few other bits and then you are out.
Taking the Motorbike Practical Test
- If you don’t have a current motorbike license but you have a car license then you still have to do a driving test for a motorbike license
- You will also need to have a health check (ask the Department of Transport Registry Office where they would like this done)
- Driving test schedules are arranged by the Department of Transport Registry Office in the relevant province – in Hoi An’s case Quang Nam – and you may have to wait, as they are not necessarily held frequently (it seems like they wait until a quota is filled before conducting the tests). Because of this, some in this area try their luck in Da Nang instead.
- Do paperwork as described above
- Get a health check as advised by the Department of Transport Registry Office (don’t worry, a blind woman could pass)
- Lodge your application with the Department of Transport Registry Office
- Keep alert for announcements of upcoming driving tests
- Practice on a course similar to the test course
- Do the test
Employ an agent to do it all for you (he/she will accompany you to the health test but you’ll have to do the driving test yourself)
Important points about the driving test
- You should wear trousers, not shorts, and shoes, not flip-flops
- You must bring your original passport and home driving license to the test (although notorised paperwork will have already been lodged)
- No-one speaks English at the Dept of Transport, so it’s best to either have a Vietnamese speaker with you or use an agent to do it all for you.
- If you are new to motorbikes it’s advisable to practice for the driving test. Some will tell you it’s a very easy test but if you put one foot wrong (or on the ground at any stage!) you may well find you will have to do the test again (see practice area below for Hoi An). Don’t be too cocky
- Even if you have a bike, if it’s not a Honda Wave, rent a Honda Wave. That’s the bike used for test in Hoi An. So use the same model when you practice
- Pre-set the bike in third gear. You can do the whole circuit in that gear without difficulty
- You are required to do 1 ½ loops on a figure 8. Initially, this may appear quite hard (as you cannot touch the lines at all) but with practice it becomes quite easy… like a lot of practice for some. The rest of the course involves some simple turns and negotiating some bumps
- If you make a mistake just keep going and look jubilant upon finishing. It’s amazing what a smile can do
- They’ll tell you on the day whether you’ve passed or failed
- If successful, pick up your driving license in Vietnam about 4 weeks later.
Great website for more info: Off Road Vietnam
Laws surrounding drink-driving in Vietnam changed at the beginning of 2020. Now it’s very easy to face a fine and potentially lose your license, even with a tiny amount of alcohol in your system. To stay safe, keep on the road and in pocket, don’t even bother with a single beer. And consider alternative travel arrangements if you happen to have been on the sauce the night before.
|Level 1:||Car||6-8 million VND||Deprive license for 10-12 months|
|<0.25mg||Motorbike||2-3 million VND|
|Bike/Electric Bike||80.000 – 100.000 VND|
|Level 2:||Car||16 -18 million VND||Deprive license for 16-18 months|
|<0.25mg||Motorbike||4-5 million VND|
|Bike/Electric Bike||200,000-400,000 VND|
|Level 3:||Car||30-40 million VND||Deprive license for 22-24 months|
|<0.4mg||Motorbike||6-8 million VND|
|Bike/Electric Bike||600,000-800,000 VND|
Wondering how much a doctor’s visit will cost you if you fall off your bike? Check out this Hoi An cost of living guide for guidelines on medical, dental, accommodation, grocery, and many other types of everyday costs in Hoi An.