Getting Your Motorbike License in Vietnam: A Guide for Expats

Vietnam’s vibrant cities and scenic countryside are perfect for exploring on a motorbike, but before you hit the road, you’ll need a Vietnamese license. Driving without a license is risky. Not only could you face fines, but your health insurance might not be usable if you happen to have an accident. Here’s how expats can navigate the process:

Do You Qualify?

  • Temporary Resident Card: You’ll need a Temporary Resident Card (TRC). It must be valid for at least 3 months before starting the official procedure.
  • Home License: The easiest route is converting your existing license to a Vietnamese one.

The Conversion Process (If You Have a Home License):

  1. Required Documents:
    • Passport
    • Home country driving license – notarized copy with Vietnamese translation (done by a government-authorized translator)
    • A valid Temporary Resident Card (TRC)
  2. Submission: Head to your local Department of Transport (You can find contact information online).
  3. Processing: It typically takes 7-10 days for your Vietnamese motorbike license to be issued.

The Test Route (If You Don’t Have a Home License):

  • Required Documents:
    • Passport – original and photocopy.
    • Residence permit or work permit – original and photocopy.
    • A valid Visa
    • Medical certificate of good health (from a government-approved clinic)
    • Four passport-sized photos
    • Completed application form (Can be obtained from Department of Transport)
  • Theory Test: This test is in Vietnamese and requires fluency (no interpreters allowed).
  • Driving Test: Prepare for a practical exam that tests your riding skills.
1607920551 500 How To Get a Vietnamese Drivers License

The figure of eight in the photo above looks simpler than it is in reality, so get there early to get some practice in prior to the exam. The track has a sensor which detects when you cross the line & the motorbike is rigged with a display to show your score. You start with 100 points and are deducted 5 points for each violation. You need to get 80 or above to pass.

What makes the figure of eight difficult is the width of the course & the fact that it’s a very small figure of eight with tight corners, which requires slow driving while maintaining your balance.

Finding a Driving School:

Schools can help you prepare for the tests, translate documents, and navigate the application process

  • Saigon Driving License

 

Additional Tips:

  • Costs: Expect to pay for translations, notarizations, application fees, medical certificate, and potentially driving school.
  • Time: Allow a month or more, especially if taking the tests.
  • Alternatives: Riding without a license is common, but comes with risks (fines and insurance issues).

Remember, this is a general guide. Regulations can vary by locality, so check with your local Department of Transport for the latest information.

There are 4 Department of Transportation that you can come in person to get a driving license:

  • Hue – No. 10 Phan Boi Chau, Vinh Ninh, Hue 
  • Da Nang – No. 24 Duong Tran Phu, Thach Thang, Hai Chau 
  • Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) – No. 226 Ly Chinh Thang, Ward 10, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Hanoi – No. 2 Duong Phung Hung, Van Quan, Ha Dong, Ha Noi or No. 16 Cao Ba Quat Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi 

Ride safe!

NOTE:  since this was written way back in 2015, the rules about using agents to help pass your test have changed significantly.  Please don’t rely on this — find an expert.

 

Why You Need a Vietnamese Driver’s License?

How to Get a Vietnamese Driver's License

Okay, so you’re an expat living in Vietnam. You have a motorbike. You don’t want to be the person with a GoFundMe page for your medical bills so you’ve bought expat health insurance.

So you’re all set, right?

Oops! You’re forgetting your Vietnamese Driver’s License!

While this may not be news to some, you’re legally required to have a valid Vietnamese Driver’s License if you’re using a Vietnamese health insurer. Otherwise, you may be denied claims for that expensive hospital bill.

Those who are driving without a license are subjecting themselves to elevated risk, likely out of pure laziness. We get it, we’ve all been there. While it does take some extra effort, it’s certainly not worth the risk of having your insurance denied. It’s also certainly not worth your medical bills be the burden of your family or friends.

So here’s how to get a Vietnamese Driver’s License if you’re looking for someone to lead you through the process:

Prior To Driving Test

Step 1: Contact Tenzing

We have staff members who can help arrange everything from start to finish in English. Just send us an email to info@ten-pac.com.

Step 2: Document Pick-Up

The driver’s license agent will arrange to pick up all of the following documents:

  • Foreign driver’s license (if you have one)

  • Scan of the passport photo page

  • Scan of Visa page

  • Scan of the last stamp into Vietnam

  • 2 passport photos

Step 3: Set Date For Driving Test

Select a date, usually on the weekend, when you have a few hours to do everything else.

Day Of The Test

After you arrive, give your Tenzing agent a ring, who’ll take over from there. If you do not have a foreign license, then you’ll have to do a quick written test as well. Then it’s on to the driving:

Guide to the Driving Test Vietnam

Practice!!!

The figure of eight in the photo above looks simpler than it is in reality, so get there early to get some practice in prior to the exam. The track has a sensor which detects when you cross the line & the motorbike is rigged with a display to show your score. You start with 100 points and are deducted 5 points for each violation. You need to get 80 or above to pass.

What makes the figure of eight difficult is the width of the course & the fact that it’s a very small figure of eight with tight corners, which requires slow driving while maintaining your balance.

Is this an accurate test of what driving in Vietnam is like? Extremely debatable, but let’s not get off tangent.

The Actual Driving Test

After everyone taking the test gets some practice in, they’ll call names for the actual test which is judged by some guys overlooking the course.

Vietnamese Driver’s License & Payment

After successfully completing the test, you’ll get your Vietnamese Driver’s License in about 7-10 days & you can pay the fee upon receiving the card.

So that’s it, then you’re all good to go with a motorbike, health insurance & valid Vietnamese Driver’s License. You are now free to run over as many Pokemon Go people as you’d like.

Disclaimer:  We were joking, do not hit any Pokemon Go people, but you might wanna take a look at the article about drivers you’ll see while riding a motorbike in Vietnam.

What About International Driving Permits? (IDPs)

For Vietnamese providers, it seems impossible to get an answer whether they accept IDPs or not for insurance purposes. Vietnam now offers IDPs, we’ve not been able to get a Vietnam insurance provider to definitively say they accept IDPs for insurance purposes. We recommend to err on the side of caution unless you have an international provider who’s specifically said IDPs are acceptable.

Final Thoughts

On a more serious note, the purpose of this article is to make sure that benefits you’re eligible for are not excluded because of a technicality. Even if you’re the safest driver in the world, you cannot control what other motorbikes, cars, buses & lorries do.

Make the effort & take the time, you don’t want to be the person who’s stuck with the bill that otherwise would’ve been payable.

You can contact info@ten-pac.com & we’ll help get the process started 

Article Disclaimer: you can go through the driving license process by yourself & pay less, but it’s significantly easier, less time consuming & less overwhelming with the guidance of a local fixer.

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Quinn Miller

CEO & Managing Partner
From the US
Joined Tenzing in 2014
Expat for 10 years in Vietnam
Finance & Entrepreneurship Degrees

Speciality:
- Group Health Insurance
- Life Insurance
- Savings Plans"