How to get your driver licence converted to a Vietnamese driver licence

Update Jan 2017: Vietnam has recently started recognising International drivers permits, reducing the need to convert your licence to legally drive in Vietnam. The guide below may still be useful if you intend on staying in Vietnam longer, or would like a local form of identification.

 

Vietnam doesn’t recognise driver licences from other countries, or International driver permits. So if you think you’d like to drive in Vietnam, and want to be covered by insurance then you’ll need to have a local driver licence.

When getting set up in Vietnam on the working holiday visa converting your driver licence is probably one of the longest processes – so best to start it on day one.

I got my New Zealand driver licence (for motorbike and car) converted in Ho Chi Minh city, here’s how I went about it…

Timeframe: 8-14 days
Cost: VND 500,000 (≈ NZD$30)

The Process

  1. Collect all the forms and required evidence
  2. Get your New Zealand licence translated and notarised.
  3. Submit your application
  4. Wait about a week
  5. Pick up your new driver licence!

Step-by-step

Step 1: The beginning

It is easiest to start by going to the licencing office to get the paperwork, and work out what documentation you are missing. The office can be tricky to find, but it is opposite a university down an alleyway here:

The driver licence conversion office is on the first floor.

There is also a photocopy and photo ID shop next door if you need any of these.

Step 2: Translation and notarisation

The driver licencing office may ask you to translate and have your translation verified. To do this you need to take your New Zealand driver licence to another office not far away.

Once inside, you need to take a ticket for counter three and wait for your number to come up.

For me there were two prices around the translation:

  • 24-hour translation – you have to come back the next working day
  • 2-ish hour translation – come back later in the day. They will tell you when.

It’s not much more for the faster option, so I’d suggest pating a little bit more and get it over and done with. You can go to a nearby cafe to relax or catch up on work etc. WORK Saigon or the Vegan restaurant opposite the school up the road, are good places I found nearby.

Note: Watch out for lunch times, as many government offices will close for about an hour, it’s best to avoid 12pm-1:30pm.

You may be required to photocopy your driver licence or passport. You can do this at a shop across the road from the government office.

 

Step 3: Submit application

Now it is back to the licencing office to submit the application and pay the fee. You will be given a reciept with the date that you need to come back to pick up your new licence. When I came back on the the afternoon of the date on my form the licence wasn’t ready and I was asked to come back the next day. When I came back it was ready for me. I’d suggest going first thing on the day printed on your form to keep things moving in case it’s not ready yet.

Things to note:

You will need an address in Vietnam, I don’t think this address is checked, so I just used the address of my hotel.