I am 28 years old and currently living in the USA. I, together with some of my friends, had a motorcycle tour in Vietnam in September 2019 (Luckily before the Coronavirus Outbreak). We landed and stayed in Hanoi for several days before visiting Danang – Hoi An, where we hired motorbikes and enjoyed the breathtaking landscapes by ourselves. We made ourselves comfortable in a little homestay in Hanoi Old Quarter and it was in that lovely place, those adorable Vietnamese people convinced me to get the Vietnam Motorbike License. So…
How Did I Realize The Importance Of A Motorbike License In Vietnam?
Actually, we didn’t make so much preparation for the trip. Given that I had already acquired an International Driving Permit (IDP), I didn’t pay any attention to the license permitted in Vietnam. Upon arrival at the homestay, the host talked to me a lot and accidentally mentioned my Vietnam Motorbike license. “This is the first time I have heard about it”, I surprisingly replied to him.
Right after that, with an amazing British English accent like Prince Harry I thought, the homestay host had a “coffee talk” with all of us for at least half an hour. He introduced Vietnamese transport status to us, on top of that he told me tons of valuable information on the driving license in the country. There were advantages of having a driver’s license in Vietnam, fines related to motorbike license possession, and procedures to get one. Here I’m going to narrate.
First And Foremost
Even if I have the IDP, I still have to convert to the equivalent Vietnam driving license.
Vietnam now accepts the IDP from foreigners from 85 counties that join the Vienna Convention so, before reaching Vietnam for a motorbike trip, confirm the membership of your country according to this Convention.
Next, About The Plus On Owning A Vietnam Motorbike License
When you are stopped by the Vietnamese police, showing legal documents can help you avoid much trouble. Vietnamese police can quickly spot your fouls on the road so the most advisable thing to do is to adhere to the law and show your respect.
When you book your room or homestay, your possession of the IDP and a Vietnam motorbike license can make a good and reliable impression on the host. Bear in mind that the IDP is regarded as the passport there.
And if unfortunately you are involved in an accident, presenting the documents can help the police identify the case quickly, find ones responsible, and assist you on the spot.
Then, About The Scenario That You Encounter The Vietnamese Police
Hilariously enough, the homestay host cracked some jokes about foreigners stopped by Vietnamese police. However, what I remembered the most was:
- The police are not good at foreign language (you might see how awkward and time-consuming it is).
- There is no excuse for foreigners like us, or even heavier fine sometimes.
Fines For Not Carrying The Vietnam Motorbike License
I would like to underscore the fine if you don’t carry the Vietnam motorbike license on road. The homestay host said that Vietnamese Law on Transport is very strict on permission, the police, plus, are on watch on every intersection in most of the tourism cities. It is the reason why they impose harsh punishments on those who don’t have the driving license.
In preparation for this blog, I searched the Internet in order to show you. If you are stopped by the police and charged driving without a Vietnam driving license, you must pay the fine in accordance with kinds of vehicles as below.
- For the 2-wheel with a cylinder capacity of under 175 cm3, you are imposed with a fine of VND 800,000 and VND 1.2 million (about $35 to $50).
- For the 2-wheel vehicle with a cylinder capacity of over 175 cm3, you must pay up to VND 3-4 million ( from $130 to over $170 approximately).
- If you were driving a car and similar vehicles, the fine could be in the range of VND 4-6 million ( from over $170 to $260).
I don’t know how you may feel but personally, I suppose the trip will be significantly ruined with this kind of police encountering.
How Did I Get The License?
I bet this part is exactly what you want in my whole story.
First, there are several documents that I was told to prepare: passport, visa, driving license from my home country, and small portrait photos (maybe you are required for photo shooting at the office).
The Place To Administer The Procedure
I did go to the Office of Vietnamese police in Hanoi with a friend. I don’t have a clear recollection of the place other than that the staff is very nice and quick at work.
This is amazingly inexpensive, I paid VND 30.000, more than $1 a bit. My Vietnamese friend explained that citizens here are to be served by the State staff, they need to pay very little money as a kind of contribution to the State budget.
Nevertheless, given that I had gained the IDP before arriving in Vietnam, I just need to convert it into the Vietnam motorbike license. In case you don’t have the IDP, it is compulsory to sit for some tests (on theory and practice) to get the license. Come on! We are visitors and I’m sure you don’t expect it, so, get the IDP as a preparation step for the trip.
There is another way to get a Vietnamese driving license. In particular, when you rent motorbikes or take a motorcycle trip in Vietnam, the tour company also gives you a hand with completing all types of papers.
I highly appreciate the help of all people I met in Vietnam, including my homestay host, my Vietnamese friends, and even the officers who delivered the Motorbike License. If you plan to have a motorbike trip in Vietnam, don’t be like me, don’t drive recklessly without any document preparation, and don’t surprise at the warm hospitality of Vietnamese people.
I wish you amazing tours in Vietnam!