Tip for Expats in Vietnam – Obtaining a Driver’s License in Vietnam

Obtaining a Driver’s License in Vietnam


NOTE: You must get a Vietnamese Driver’s license to drive in Vietnam; International Driver’s License is not valid to drive in Vietnam.


The following article describes the process based on a United States citizen’s personal experience in Vietnam in September 2011. This article also assume you are currently a holder of a valid international or national driver’s license.


  • Requestor must be at least 18 years old.
  • Valid (not expired) Passport.
  • Valid (not expired) Vietnam Visa, with at least 3 month stay (i.e. Valid from X until Y = 3 months or greater)
  • A valid (not expired) international or national driver’s license that must be legitimate and legible, undamaged, free of defect or modification.

Required Documents

NOTE: Some of these steps could be combined, but I do not speak Vietnamese so I was not sure what each office I went to could or could not do.

Application for Driver License

  • Fill out the Application For Driver License (see attached file: Application for Driver License)
    Note about Applying For section: you can select either Car, Motorcycle or Both. If you already hold a valid national or international license for car (automobile), there is no extra testing or requirements for getting car added to your license in Vietnam, but the drawback to this is that the Vietnam License will expire when your international/national license expires, which can be inconvenient if it is less than a year away. Motorcycle only Vietnamese driver’s license does not expire, ever. Sounds great to have a license that never expires, HOWEVER, my experience is that even though I selected Motorcycle only option, they went ahead and added car to the license, thus an expiration date was added, bummer.

    • The application must be validated (stamped).  Here are your options to get the form validated: Embassy/Consulate, Government Office, Private Company or Representative Office.
      • For those who get a stamp from a Private Company, you must enclose the application with a photocopy of the Investment License if you are an investor, or a photocopy of the Investment License and a photocopy of Work Permit if you are an employee.
      • For those who get a stamp from Representative Office (R.O.), you must enclose the application with a photocopy of the Establishment License with your name as Chief of Representative Office if you are Chief of R.O., or a photocopy of the Establishment License and a photocopy of Work Permit if you are not Chief of R.O.
      • For those who get a stamp from your national Consulate or Embassy will receive a stamp on your form, and a secondary certification form. The secondary form is not valid for the Vietnam Motor Vehicles department and must be first validated by the Vietnam government. NOTE: Following steps are for United States Citizens, other nationalities, please contact your Consulate/Embassy for assistance.
        1. Take the following documents (your Passport, Visa, and the form the US Consulate gave you) to Vietnamese government office at 6 Alexandre De Rhodes, District 1 (once you walk through the gate, turn right and go into the second building on the left).
        2. Get 3 copies of each document, there is a copier there and a person who makes the copies (I think that is the number of the copies, check the signs in the office to confirm, and costs about 2,000/VND each).
        3. Go to the window on the far left and say you are getting documents authenticated. They will give you a form to fill out, and get a ticket from the ticket machine in the middle of the windows.
        4. Wait for number called then present all the items above. They will quickly review then give you a receipt with price and date to return (takes up to 1 week).
        5. When the date approaches, return to 6 Alexandre De Rhodes and get a ticket for the cashier. When number comes up, provide the receipt with payment detailed on the receipt to the cashier. They will give you your documents.

Current License Translated

  • Get your current international/national driver’s license translated.
    1. Bring your Passport and Driver’s License to 47 Le Duan, District 1. Enter the building from the front-center and turn immediately left, the office is on the right on the ground floor.
    2. Go to the copier (located in the same room) and have 3 copies made of each (again about 2,000/VND each).
    3. Go to Window 8 (I think is the number) it is the 3rd or 4th window from the left and place your documents (including the original Passport and driver’s license) in the bin at the window and site down and wait.  They will call you when they are ready. They will give you back the Passport (they keep your driver’s license for translation), and a receipt with date to return.
    4. On date of return go back to the same window and place your receipt onto the metal peg in front of the window, then sit and wait to be called.
    5. When called, give the payment and receive the documents including your original driver’s license.

Portrait Photos

  • Get 12 portrait photos (3cmx4cm) with blue background (any photo development shop does this service).

Medical Certificate

  • A valid Medical Certificate. You can have this done at the time you process your documentation (see Process Documentation section), or at a public hospital. NOTE: Local hospital is a lot less strict then the Department of Transportation, but is also much less sanitary.

Process Documentation

  • Take all the documents listed above (including originals) to 63 Ly Tu Trong, District 1. Go to the window on the far left and hand in all the documents and forms. You will then be given another form to fill out.
    • If you have not completed the Medical Certificate, you will then be taken to another room where the following checks will be done
      • Height
      • Weight
      • Blood Pressure
      • Vision (must read an entire line on a screen with 1 eye)
      • Check back of your throat for any sickness
  • After completing your exam (successfully), be given a receipt for your Driver’s Exam. This will include:
    • Address of test
    • What the test includes
    • Form for the judges
  • On date of exam,
    • Arrive at location of Driver’s exam (arrive about 2 hours early to practice (bring a manual bike to practice on), and watch, it is also a spectator sport, hahaha). Check-in with the office on site and hand in form (including your original passport).
    • Practice while you wait, there are 3 areas that you can practice on. The exam includes
      • Do a figure 8, 2 times without putting your foot on the ground and stay in the line.
      • Then drive in a straight line,
      • Then “zig-zag” (move left and right), finally,
      • Go over bumps while driving in a straight line.
    • When exam is ready to begin, all motorbikes must be parked off site, and everyone sits around waiting for their name to be called.
    • When your name is called, you get one of their bikes to test on (manual, not automatic) and you go through the test with everyone watching including 5 judges. You need a score of 80 to pass (I think), I did fair and still got a 90, so they are not too strict (another American did horrible but still passed). You will then get your Passport back but they keep your form.
  • Wait either 1 or 2 weeks (I think it is 2 weeks) and return to 63 Ly Tu Trong, District 1 to get your license.

That’s it! You are now officially a card holding member of the Vietnam Mortorbike club! Tomorrow I will post information in regards to RENEWING your Vietnam Driver’s License.


3 thoughts on “Tip for Expats in Vietnam – Obtaining a Driver’s License in Vietnam

  1. Pingback: Tip for Expats in Vietnam – Renewing Your Vietnamese Driver’s License | Everything about Nothing in a world about Everything

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