Vietnam

Vietnam Driving Advice and Car Hire Info

When I set up DriverAbroad.com in 2012, Vietnam didn’t recognise the International Driving Permit and those wishing to drive here had to go through the laborious process of applying for a Vietnamese Licence. Thankfully, since March 2019, you can drive on the licence of most countries plus an IDP. Long term residents may still need a Vietnamese licence so I’ve left the information at the foot of the page. Bear in mind this was based on research from 2011 and 2012.

Roads in Vietnam have improved a lot in recent years though many roads away from urban areas are still unpaved and often in poor condition. The government is engaged with private companies in constructing a network of expressways to link major cities. Routes completed so far include the Hanoi-Lang Son Expressway which will connect to China’s G7211, the Hanoi–Haiphong Expressway and Hanoi-Lao Cai Expressway which is complete between Hanoi airport and the Chinese border. National Route 1A is the 2300km trans-Vietnam highway. The route begins Hữu Nghị Quan Border Gate near the China-Vietnam border and runs the length of the country connecting major cities including Hanoi, Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City, ending at Năm Căn township in Cà Mau Province.

To say the traffic in Vietnamese Cities is chaotic is an understatement. Roads are a seething mass of traffic, mainly motorbikes, with the occasional stranded pedestrian ducking and diving trying to avoid being hit. Motor bikes and cars seldom obey any rules of the road and it often seems amazing that only 30 people per day die on Vietnams roads. Hanoi is marginally more chaotic than HCMC. Driving in a City in Vietnam is likely to be one of the most challenging experiences a self drive traveller faces anywhere in the world. Once out of Cities, traffic is generally lighter but roads are in worse condition and the fact that traffic is lighter gives buses and lorries the opportunity to speed and overtake on blind bends and hills. Roads won’t have street lights and there are likely to be unlit vehicles and animals wandering in the road- you should avoid driving at night. Police are likely to stop foreigners driving cars since January 2020, any alcohol in the blood at all is an offence and rules around drink driving will be enforced rigorously.

It’s worth mentioning Vietnamese city roads in terms of handling them as a pedestrian as crossing the road here can be a challenge. If you stand and wait for a gap in the non stop traffic flow on a multi lane road, you’ll wait all day. You therefore have to steel yourself and attempt to cross. Look for a slight gap, and make it clear you intend to cross. Walk slowly at a steady pace – raising your hand helps to ensure you’re seen. The cars and motorbikes won’t stop, but they should slow down to let you cross their lane, or move round you. Keep going, with the same steady pace. Don’t ever stop or try to go back. Making sudden moves is likely to result in you being hit. Keep your eye on the traffic but only take evasive action if you’re sure a car (or more likely a bus) hasn’t seen you and is approaching too fast. Also watch locals to see how they cross the road. If you really daren’t proceed, ask one to help you across!

Although I try and keep the information in the site updated as much as possible, in a rapidly moving world, situations can change daily. Therefore please use the site as an approximate guide, and in conjunction with other resources in order to form your view on driving conditions, roads, safety etc.

Vietnam Car Rental

Avis and Hertz have branches in Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi and seem to offer self drive. Sixt only seem to offers cars with a driver.

We currently have no local car rental partners in Vietnam. If you are a local car rental company who would like to feature on DriverAbroad.com please check details on our Partnering page or contact us on ADriverAbroad@Outlook.com.

 

Pre March 2019 Information on obtaining a Vietnamese driving licence-

You need a Vietnamese licence to rent the car. Theres a lot of contradictory info on the web on getting a Vietnamese licence.
However the following info seems correct –

Most foreigners who have a driver’s license issued in their home countries simply have to register for a license here,’says Lam Thanh Trung, vice-chief of the Agency for Granting Driving Licenses.

The agency processes over 100 licenses for foreigners every month,’ says Trung. ‘With the required documents, one can have their license registered within seven days.’ Now that statement has been greeted with some scepticism by Nam regulars on some internet forums. ‘More like seven weeks’ was one comment i got.

Who can get a driver’s license in Vietnam:
According to a 2006 mandate by the Ministry of Transportation, all foreigners can register for a license in Vietnam if they had a valid one issued to them in their home countries.
Each city or province’s Department of Transportation is in charge of granting driver’s licenses for foreigners with licenses issued in their home countries.
However, licenses are only granted to those who have valid travel visas for a period of at least three months in Vietnam (though the actual length of the visit does not have to be that long).
Many tourists make the mistake that it’s legal to drive here with an international driver’s licence. But they also have to register,’ Trung says. ‘The period for which a [registered] license remains valid is based on the expiry date of one’s original license from home,’

Standard driver’s licenses in Vietnam last for five years. Motorbike licenses, on the other hand, have no expiry date.’An important point to note, how-ever, is that the type of license issued in Vietnam will only be equivalent to the type granted in one’s home country. For instance, ‘A four-wheel driver’s license can-not be registered to ride a motorcycle,’ Trung stresses. Those who have a four-wheel license but want to ride a motorcycle will have to pass an exam on riding techniques, but won’t have to take a written exam on traffic laws.

To begin, a form requesting a license must be obtained (see below) and filled out by any one of the following: the Vietnamese Embassy, the Consulate General, the Representative Office of International Organization in Vietnam, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (I believe the Embassy of most countries will also help get a licence for their citizens)

WHAT’S REQUIRED: The following submissions are required for a foreigner to get a driver’s license in Vietnam:
A valid passport with 3 month Visa
1 petition (issued form) requesting driver’s license
1 copy (notarized duplicate) of original driver’s license
1 Vietnamese-translated copy (notarized duplicate) of driver’s license
1 copy (duplicate) of passport 3 passport-sized photos
Original copies of passport and driver’s license must be shown when submitting all documents

Forms to request a driver’s license can be obtained at the Agency for Granting Driver’s Licenses or sgtcc.hochiminhcity.gov.vn
In Ho Chi Minh City, all documents must be submitted to the authorities for driver’s license registration, located at: 252 Ly Chinh Thang Street, District 3, 8 Nguyen Anh Thu Street, District 12.

Open weekdays only.The fee is VND30,000 (US$2) for one license.
THE IMPORTANT PARTS: Only good for the same as your countries license, takes 7 days to get it and you have to get a 3 month visa.

There are also a few online resources available detailing how to get a licence whilst in the country such as the links below-
http://www.lookatvietnam.com/2009/08/obtaining-vietnamese-drivers-licenses.html
VIETNAMESE DRIVER’S LICENSE

So from the above it always seemed that you had to be in the country before you could apply for the licence. However, as of July 13 that may be changing.  Mr Nguyen, who is the owner of http://vietnamesedrivinglicense.com/ has provided the following info on obtaining a VDL and the service he can provide –

In Viet Nam have a lot ways to complete a Vietnamese Driving License( VDL)
Document :
1-Passport
2-Visa or Residence card or Visa exemption
3-Foreign(country) driving license ( not International DL => it’s not alow in Viet Nam)
4- 4 coulor photos
5- Address in Vietnam ( it’s also in VDL)
Important : from this year -2013 – when FOREIGNER convert from foreign DL => VDL , the valid of visa is the same the valid of VDL when complete
Example:
Visa 1 month => VDL only 1 month
Visa 3 months => VDL only 3 months
Visa 6 month => VDL only 6 month
Residence card 1 or 2 or 3 years => VDL will 1 or 2 or 3 years
Visa exemption 5 years => VDL will 5 years
 
if the Valid of FOREIGN DL shorter the valid of visa, residence or visa exemption => VDL will expire as the same valid of foreign DL ( not as the same visa)
Conplete in 9-10 working days
In original foreign DL have class car only => convert => VDL only when complete
If someone to convert to class MOTORCYCLES => must test the exam pratice =>1 day for check health and 1 day for test the exam pratice – it’s will complete in 3 weeks.- in this case, VDL will expire as the same the valid of foreign DL.
If in foreign DL have both class car and motorcycle => will have both class in VDL when complete ( don’t need test)
I can convert from class car => VDL class Motorcycles=> don’t need test the exam !
I can complete before come to Viet Nam – all document send to my email before 2 week .
Everybody will pick up at Department Transport of Viet Nam => of course it’s legal!
Only pay the price when complete
Total price only from 75 usd
Thank you and sorry for I speak+ write English not good!

AN KHANG – INTERNATIONAL DRIVING LICENSE

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Office TPHCM : 85 – Điện Biên Phủ – Quận 1 – TP.HCM Office Hà Nội: 101- Láng Hạ – Đống Đa – Hà Nội

20 – Cộng Hòa -Quận Tân Bình – TP.HCM Office Huế : 23- Đường Hà Nội -TP Huế

968 – Đường 3 Tháng 2 – Quận 11- TP.HCM Office Cần Thơ : 17- Lê Lợi – Ninh kiều – Cần Thơ

——————————————————————————————————————————

Phone: 08.6680.7057__Fax: 0839101292 Hotline : 0983.247.057 – 0902.247.057

Email: vanphongankhang@gmail.com

15 comments


  1. AN KHANG COMPANY-VIETNAMESE DRIVING LICENSE SERVICE
    Head Office : 85- Dien Bien Phu-Da Kao Ward-District 1-HCM City-Viet Nam
    Office at Ha Noi: 18- Yen Ninh str-Ba Dinh district-Ha Noi City
    Office at Hue: 17- Le Loi- Hue City
    office at Can Tho: 20-Hai Ba Trung-Ninh Kieu district-Can Tho City
    Phone:08.6680.7057__Fax: 0839101292
    Hotline: 0983.247.057____0902.457.057___Mr An
    Yahoo: upa098
    Email: vanphongankhang@gmail.com
    website: http://vietnamesedrivinglicense.mov.vn
    *You can contact us via email before come to VietNam,it’s faster-we can complete for you before you come if your visa still valid in Vietnam

    *Provisional Driver’s License,Probatinonary Driver’s license,Learner Permit Driver’s License,Limited Driver’s license,,Enhanced Driver’s License,Commercial Driver’s License,…please contact us!

  2. Michael

    Hello,
    We are in the same situation. We ld like to cross the border with our own vehicule in one week.
    Finally, did you get your licence from vietnam ?
    Scrly
    Michael

  3. Driver Abroad

    Hello Michael

    Beyond scooters I’ve never managed to rent a vehicle in Vietnam. I suggest you try someone who’s in the country via Lonely Planet Thorn Tree or maybe Serrano who posted above. Also the company above seem to be able to sort out licences and permits – try them -Email: vanphongankhang@gmail.com
    website: http://vietnamesedrivinglicense.mov.vn. Please let me know how you get on.

    Matthew

  4. Driver Abroad

    Also Michael check out my page on driving your own vehicle abroad- that may help -https://driverabroad.com/self-drive/driving-your-own-vehicle-abroad/

  5. Dennis Ingram

    can one drive on uk motorcycle full license,or do you have to get a VN motorcycle license ?

  6. Driver Abroad

    Hello Dennis – as far as I know,and from my own personal experience, its much easier to hire a motorbike than a car in Vietnam. I rented a couple and wasn’t even asked for a licence. If you’re talking about the actual legal position eg if you were stopped by the police, then I would assume its the same as for a car ie that Vietnam doesnt recognise another countries licence plus IDP, so you would need a VN licence. For more detailed info on motorcycle specific rules in Vietnam, I’d try the Horizons Unlimited website (link in the bar at the right hand side of this page).Or you could try contacting the An Khang people from the link above -they should be able to advise you.
    Good luck and I’d be interested to hear how you get on.

    Matthew

  7. Every body must hold a Driving Licence of Vietnam when driving / riding in Vietnam.

  8. Ben Mak

    I found this post very useful, thank you. There is so much confusion on the internet about if foreigners can legally ride a motorcycle in Vietnam.

    So providing I can obtain a VN motorcycle license, do you have any suggestions who provides insurance for foreigners?

  9. Driver Abroad

    Very good question Ben. In my own experience, most rentals tend to be ‘unofficial’ with no documentation involved. If you had an accident…who knows? You’d probably have to pay cash for the repairs. If you were to be stopped by the police without paperwork, again I guess cash would need to change hands. I must admit, I rented a couple of motor bikes in the country and ran the risk of being stopped. Luckily I never was. If you want to be ‘official’, I suggest contacting one of the agencies above who can arrange a licence and see what they suggest.

    Good luck!

    Matthew

  10. Will Woodward

    I’m planning on driving from the UK to southeast Asia between April and September this year. How easy/difficult is it to drive into Vietnam from Laos in my own car?

    I see that I need a Vietnamese driving licence – but I can’t get this from Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi without driving there in the first place. Any thoughts?

    Also what are the requirements regarding Carnet de Passages?

    Thanks.

  11. Driver Abroad

    I’ve never done that trip Will (but would love to!). Couple of good sources of info – horizonsunlimited.com often have info on taking your own vehicle (motorbikes in their case) over borders.This company are also very knowledgeable about travelling in the region and run trips crossing the VN/Laos border http://www.ontheroadinchina.com

    Would be really interested to hear how you get on…

    Matthew

  12. Lawyer

    Hi all,
    The first, whishing all of you expats everything in the best. I am Vietnamese Lawyer. If you need my help to execute some legal procedures, for instance gets driving license, sets up legal entities…, please feel free to contact with me.
    I am ready to help you now, 100{7f4422d59222ef42e86be9359b1bf1dbe011d48d1cfdf8d1c820b409fb7ac6f1} free for advising.
    Wish all best to you!

    Tran Lawyer

  13. Lawyer

    Hi all,
    The first, whishing all of you expats everything in the best. I am Vietnamese Lawyer. If you need my help to execute some legal procedures, for instance gets driving license, sets up legal entities…, please feel free to contact with me.
    I am ready to help you now, 100{7f4422d59222ef42e86be9359b1bf1dbe011d48d1cfdf8d1c820b409fb7ac6f1} free for advising.
    All best to you!

    Tran Lawyer
    Email: manservice67@gmail.com

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