We understand most foreigners care about motorbike driving license when they think of travelling on two wheels in Vietnam. This page is updated until today.
Updated (good news): You can try this website (https://www.e-ita.org/vietnam) to get an international driving license. They also abide by the 1968 Convention. The application process is 100% online and takes about 3 minutes including uploading a headshot. Below is a permit they issued to one of our Australian customers, make sure you have motorbike endorsement in your national license.
Sadly, none of your home country driving licenses is valid in Vietnam. There are conflicting reports about this but the reality is unfortunately not good news. Please get an international driving licence as explained below.
International Driving License
We will explain and cover the different types of IDL and help you to know which one works here in Vietnam.
1949 & 1968 Convention International Driving Permit (IDP)
Recently, some countries started to issue an IDP that includes both of the Conventions and that means you are good to ride everywhere. Please contact a licencing agent and ask if you can get one as below.
1968 Convention International Driving License (IDL)
Fortunately, the good news is IDL is now valid in Vietnam from August 1st, 2016 with the 46/2016/ND-CP decree. However, this decree only covers countries that abide by the 1968 Convention on Road Traffic on IDPs. If you have a 1968 IDP like below, you can purchase an insurance policy that covers you for riding in Vietnam. Please also bring your home country driving license with a motorbike endorsement. Congratulations, you are riding legally in Vietnam!
1949 Convention International Driving Permit (IDP)
Many countries like Australia, UK, the USA, and Canada, etc. are not signatories to the 1968 Convention but abide by the 1949 Geneva Convention. Therefore, citizens of those countries are NOT able to drive in Vietnam with their IDPs.
Below is a copy of the 1949 Convention IDP which is not accepted in Vietnam!
Local (Vietnamese) License
Vietnamese driving licences are mandatory for riders of motorcycles with a capacity of over 50cc. You need an A1 license for under 175cc or A2 for over 175cc.
It’s more to do with insurance policies when you ride in Vietnam. For more details please follow this link.
Below we will go over the details to help you understand the whole process and how to have a local Vietnam motorbike driving license. We have one office in Hanoi only so the details are good for Hanoi, not other provinces or cities.
You will first need to know your status to start with.
Currently, it’s also possible to have a Vietnamese motorbike license even if you travel on a tourist visa. Make sure your home country driving licence includes motorbike, your passport and Vietnam visa are still valid. First, you need to get all your documents translated at a notary office and bring them to the local Department of Transport.
You have your home country driver’s license and can operate both automobiles and motorcycles. If this is you, you can obtain the equivalent driver’s licence in Vietnam, without the need to do a test. In short, it’s just about converting your license!
You hold your home country driver’s licence, but can only operate an automobile. If this is you, you can obtain a motorcycle licence after passing a motorcycle driving test. Luckily, there is no need to do a theory test. However, you will need to register for a test and wait for it. The whole process can take up to a month before you have a licence in your hand. This is, in fact, not convenient if you are a tourist with a visa up to 30 days!
You do not have any driver’s licence that allows you to operate an automobile or motorcycle. If this is you, you will need to pass both theory and driving tests to operate a motorcycle. Please note though, the theory test is in Vietnamese and on a computer screen with 20 questions and you must pass at least 18 of them. To make it more difficult, sadly you can’t have an interpreter. In other words, you need to be fluent in spoken and written Vietnamese.
You have your home country driving license with a motorbike endorsement. In addition, you also have a valid international driving permit (IDP) from countries that signed the 1949 Convention (found on the first page). Sadly, Vietnam doesn’t accept both of your licenses. However, you can easily convert your licence into a Vietnamese equivalent.
You have your home country driving license with a motorbike endorsement. In addition, you also have a valid international driving permit (IDP) from countries that signed the 1968 Convention (printed right on the first page, see above). Congratulations, there is nothing you need to do. Bring both of these documents and you are legal to ride motorbikes in Vietnam. However, you can only be legal for the displacement limit of your licenses.
Converting Your Motorbike Driving License
It is the easiest way to get a Vietnam motorbike driving license. In other words, you don’t need to take any theory or riding test.
This could only be possible if you already had your home country motorbike driving license. It’s simply converting from your home country driving license to the Vietnamese license.
You need to have notarizing copies of your passport, visa, and home country motorbike driving license (take 1-2 working days once you are in Vietnam). These documents can be done at any notarizing office. Then wait 3-5 days (Status 1 above) to have your Vietnam motorbike driving license issued.
If you need a riding test (Status 2 above) then you need to wait a bit longer. Normally, they can arrange a weekly test somewhere in Hanoi. But sometimes this can be longer.
In Hanoi, applications for temporary driver’s licences should be directed to the City Department of Transport, 16 Cao Ba Quat street.
Applying For a Vietnamese Driving Licence
This is a much more difficult way to get a Vietnam motorbike driving license. You need to take both theory and riding tests (Status 3 above). All questions and instructions are only in Vietnamese! You have to do this because you don’t have a valid home country car or motorbike driving license. Something like CBT from the UK is not enough.
To get a Vietnamese motorbike driving license, the applicant must hold a valid Vietnamese residence permit or a work permit, a business visa of at least three month’s validity, and a sponsor company. You need to have notarizing copies of your passport and visa (take 1-2 working days once you are in Vietnam). These documents are translated and notarized at any notarizing office. Then wait for your turn to do the theory and riding tests that can take up to a month.
To apply for a Vietnamese driving licence in Hanoi, the applicant should contact the City Department of Transport, 16 Cao Ba Quat street.
To make it clear, we don’t offer any service for converting or getting a Vietnamese motorbike driving licence because we don’t have enough time and staff.
However, there are companies or people who offer services of obtaining or converting a Vietnamese driving license. They usually require a copy of your papers only. In reality, their prices are very expensive, starting from around 250$US (under 175cc or A1 license) to 400$US (over 175cc or A2 license). Therefore, most tourists found these prices too expensive and couldn’t afford them.
If you want minimum risks and in safe hands without worrying about a Vietnam motorbike driving license then book a guided motorbike tour with us. Many people think they can save on a self-guided motorbike tour but if something happens they do lose money!
The only thing that we found difficult for novice riders is getting out of town and returning back to Hanoi. Just watch the below video and see how two girls who were beginners on Honda XR125 dirt bikes. With our guide leading your way, you will get through this. Flow as a fish in the river!
To know whether a self-guided or guided tour is better for you, please follow this link.
Just contact us if you still have more questions regarding driving licenses for your Vietnam motorbike tours.