Vietnamese Driving Licences
Find out about getting a Vietnamese driving licence and learning to drive a car or motorbike in Vietnam...
Anyone of legal age in Vietnam who wants to drive a vehicle with an engine capacity of 50cc or larger must possess a Vietnamese driving licence. Motorbikes and scooters with an engine capacity of less than 50cc do not require a driving licence and are legal to operate if the driver is at least 16 years of age.
If a foreigner does not have a valid foreign licence, or if they wish to have an additional endorsement, such as a licence that allows for the operation of both an automobile and a motorcycle, the procedures to get a Vietnamese driving licence are much more complicated than those for converting a foreign licence to a Vietnamese one.
A foreigner who is at least 18 years of age may apply for a Vietnamese driving licence if they have a valid passport and a resident card or visa with no less than three, or in some provinces, no less than six month’s validity. Applicants applying for a new driving licence in Vietnam will have to pass both a written test and a practical driving test.
How to apply
Foreigners in Hanoi may pick up an application form for a driving licence from the Department of Transportation and Public Works.
- Department of Transportation (Traffic) and Public Works
At: 16 Cao Ba Quat Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
Tel: (04) 39422715
- At: 2 Phung Hung, Ha Dong District, Hanoi
Tel: (04) 433824404
In Ho Chi Minh City, applications can be obtained from the Office of Transportation.
- Office of Transportation
At: 63 Ly Tu Trong Street in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Tel: (08) 38223760
Elsewhere in Vietnam, the local city or provincial police can provide information on how to find the transportation office in their area that processes driving licence applications. However, since some documents will need to be verified through the foreigner’s embassy or consulate, most foreigners will need to go to either Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City to apply for a new driving licence. Additionally, as the offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City process the largest number of foreigner applications they are more accustomed to working with the needs and questions of foreigners.
Translation and verification
After the form is completed, but before it is signed, the applicant will need to take the application to their embassy or consulate for verification. The embassies of almost every country in the world can be found in Hanoi, and there are consulates of many countries located in Ho Chi Minh City. There are a few consulates in Hai Phong and Danang, as well. Embassy staff will need to verify the information on the application, as well as witness and notarise the applicant’s signature. Costs will vary according to the policy of the embassy, but may exceed VND 500,000.
The applicant should be prepared to present the following to consular officials:
- Vietnam visa or residency permit with no less than three months validity
- Six or more current colour passport photos. Check to verify the size and number of photos the local Department of Transportation office requires as this can vary significantly depending on the location.
Applicants will need to undergo a simple health and vision check, which can be done either at the test centre or at most Vietnamese hospitals. There is a charge of VND 160,000 for the medical exam.
Once the application is completed, the next step is to return it to the officials at the same location from which they obtained the application. The following items will need to be presented:
- Completed application, officially certified and notarised by the foreigner’s embassy, consulate, or other recognised and authorised certifying authority
- Two or more officially certified and notarised copies of the applicant’s passport
- At some locations, or under certain circumstances, an officially authorised translation and legalization of the applicant's passport into the Vietnamese language may be requested and must be done by a translation service recognised by Vietnamese authorities
- At least three colour passport photos; Check to verify the size and number of photos the local Department of Transportation office requires as this can vary significantly depending on the location.
- The applicant's original passport must be shown for verification when the documents are submitted
- You may be asked to take a written letter of introduction (in Vietnamese) from your employer, school administrator or other respected authority that explains who you are, where you are from and why you want or need a Vietnamese driving licence
- A completed health certificate
Applicants will need to take a theory test. The test is available in English, but English testing is not done regularly. The local driving licence departments can advise when and where the next English test is scheduled. The theory test for an automobile licence consists of 450 questions. The theory test for a motorcycle licence consists of 150 questions.
Training programmes that take about three months to complete are offered to those who need to take the theory test. Prices for the programme start at around VND 400,000. The Department of Transportation can advise applicants on where to go for a training programme.
There is also a required practical driving test that must be successfully passed before a new driving licence will be issued to either automobile or motorbike drivers. These tests are given at various testing centres located throughout Vietnam. Foreign applicants are required to bring their original passports with them to take the test. The cost of the test is VND 70,000. The exact amount is required. Test centres will not give change. Practical driving and written tests are given at the same test centre. Applicants must go to the test centre, present their passports and valid Vietnam visas, then take the written test, followed by the driving test.
Once all documentation is in place and the applicant has passed both the written and driving tests, a fee will need to be paid to the office handling the licence. A driving licence costs VND 70,000 at this time.
Estimates vary for the total cost of obtaining a new licence, depending on any translation and notary fees that are imposed, as well as the cost of passport photos and testing fees. Costs will probably not exceed VND 1 million. The actual processing time for the licence may take anywhere from five days to three months.
Types of Driving Licence
The Ministry of Justice has complete information about the different classes of driving licences available as recorded in the National Assembly Law on Road Traffic, Number 23/2008/QH12.
- For an English-language translation of this information: Click here. The relevant information can be found in Chapter V, Article 59, Section 2 (clauses a through c) and Section 4 (clause b)
The major driving licence classifications are the Category A1, A2 and A3 licences, which are granted to drivers of motorcycles and three-wheeled motor vehicles. These licences have unlimited validity if the driver has a permanent Vietnamese licence – they never expire. Drivers of passenger cars will be issued Category B1 licences that are valid for five years. Driving licences are valid nationwide.
Penalties and Fines
Vietnam imposes harsh penalties for drivers who do not possess a valid Vietnamese licence. In addition to fines, an unlicensed driver could face a prison sentence of up to three years, and an unlicensed driver who causes an accident could be sentenced to up to ten years in a Vietnamese prison. If the accident results in death, the penalty can be up to 20 years. The actual penalty would be determined on a case by case basis by the police and by the courts. If a driver is stopped by the police and is unable to show a valid licence, the police are authorised to impound the vehicle for 90 days.
The Ministry of Justice sets forth the laws for driving in Vietnam and the penalties for breaking the law. Here are some important laws to know:
- A driver of any motor vehicle will be fined VND 80,000 to 120,000 when driving without proof of civil liability insurance
- A driver of any motor vehicle will be fined VND 60,000 to 80,000 when driving without a driving licence or registration certificate
- A fine of VND 400,000 to 600,000 will be assessed for drivers of cars that do not have civil liability insurance
- A driver of any motor vehicle will be fined VND 300,000 to 400,000 for driving with a licence that has expired within the past 6 months
- A driver of any motor vehicle will be fined VND 2 to 3 million if the driver does not have a valid Vietnamese driving licence