Importing a Vehicle

Find out how to import a car to Vietnam and get it registered on the roads and the documents required when bringing a car for personal use in Vietnam...

A used automobile can be imported into Vietnam, though import duties are high and the procedure is a complicated one. The present owner of the vehicle must be the original owner; if the automobile has changed ownership since the original title was issued, the vehicle cannot be imported into Vietnam. The vehicle must have been legally registered in the owner’s home country for at least six months, have a minimum mileage of 10,000 Km and cannot be more than five years old. Although driving is on the right side of the road, vehicles equipped with the steering wheel on the right or left side may be imported into the country.

It is also possible to import a motorcycle into Vietnam if the engine size is 175 cc or greater. The procedures are the same as for importing an automobile. Import duties on motorcycles can easily be more than 100 percent of the value of the motorcycle.

Procedures and required documents

Vehicles may enter the country through one of four ports: Cai Lan in Ha Long City, Hai Phong, Danang and Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam Customs is in charge of the importation of any vehicle into Vietnam. The necessary application forms (as detailed below) can be downloaded from their website.

To import a vehicle into the country, the following documents will need to be supplied to Vietnam Customs:

  • An application form for importing an automobile into Vietnam (don de nghi nhap khau o to)
  • An automobile import licence (giay phep nhap khau)
  • A bill of lading (van tai don)
  • A customs declaration for export/import (to khai hai quan xuat/nhap khau)
  • A vehicle registration certificate (giay dang ky xe nuoc ngoai)

In addition, the owner of the vehicle will need to present the customs officer with:

  • A valid passport
  • A visa that is valid for at least three months
  • A valid work permit
  • A household registration book

Note: The household registration book must be issued by the Ministry of Public Security of Vietnam.

Once the vehicle arrives in Vietnam, it will need to be inspected by Vietnam Customs. A customs officer will check the automobile import licence, bill of lading, customs declaration for import/export, and conduct a physical inspection of the vehicle. The owner of the vehicle may request to see the vehicle before presenting it for inspection, but this process must be overseen by a customs officer. Import duties will need to be paid to Vietnam Customs before the vehicle can be released. Automobiles are assessed a Special Sales Tax of 50 percent or more on the value of the vehicle, unless the importer is of diplomatic status, in which case, the Special Sales Tax is waived.


Once the car has passed through customs, the owner has three working days to submit an application for the vehicle's Vietnam registration. The vehicle will need to be tested for safety and environmental standards and receive a certificate of technical safety and environmental protection. These certificates will need to be submitted to Vietnam Customs to complete the processing of the vehicle.

The next step will be to have the vehicle registered at the designated local police traffic office. All required documentation, including the Certificate of Vehicle Inspection, the Vehicle Registration Declaration, proof of insurance and the owner’s valid passport, visa and work permit will need to be presented to the traffic office.

Customs offices

Licence Plates

After the vehicle has successfully passed through customs and been registered with the police traffic office, Vietnamese licence plates will be issued. Foreign licence plates may not be used in Vietnam. Once the application for licence plates has been submitted, temporary plates, valid for 20 days, will be issued. If necessary, the temporary plates may be extended once for an additional 20 days. Once the permanent plates have been issued, they must be affixed onto the vehicle.

Foreign vehicles will have licence numbers preceded by the letters NN or NG, which identifies the vehicle as being either foreign or diplomatic. The other letters and numbers on the licence plates will reflect the city and province where the vehicle is registered and other information to identify the vehicle.