International Driving Permit is accepted in Vietnam
International Driving Permit is accepted in Vietnam

It is added thereto no actual message that the international driving permit is accepted in Vietnam but yet this is still current. Still are circulating a variety of information on the Internet about driving motor vehicles by foreigners in Vietnam. It states for example that neither foreign nor international driving licenses are accepted in Vietnam. It was further published that foreign driving permits require a rewriting in Vietnamese driver's permits for foreigners to may ride motor vehicles in Vietnam. These reports and information’s are incorrect.

Worryingly are also information, that who is driving a motor vehicle in Vietnam without a valid Vietnamese permit bears all costs and could be sentenced to imprisonment in the case of damage. In Vietnam these foreign driver's licenses are valid and recognized which are associated with an international driver's license. Enshrined this is at the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic from 08th November 1968. This agreement was signed by South Vietnam as early as 1968 and later also realized. But this was after the end of splitting of Vietnam forgotten and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam felt not bound by it.

This has now and almost 30 years after the opening of Vietnam's foreign policy in 1986 probably changed. The Socialist Republic of Vietnam has joined the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic from 08th November 1968 on 20th August 2014 and wants now to issue international driver's licenses by itself. Therefore on the web portal of the Government of Vietnam (ChinhPhu) was published as follows:

“The Directorate for Roads of Viet Nam (DRV) has officially granted International Driving Permits (IDPs) to Vietnamese and foreigners since November 3, 2015. Locals and those foreigners who have permanent residence permits can apply for the IDPs, as long as they have a driver’s license issued in Viet Nam. The IDP will be valid for three years and is recognized in 84 other countries that signed the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic in 1968.”

traffic control in Vietnam police violence at night in Vietnam police control in Vietnam
traffic control police violence at night police control


On the web portal from the Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany it is therefore noted as follow:

„Who is holder a valid international driving license which was issued in Germany is allowed to drive in Vietnam the vehicle classes which are mentioned in driver's license. In this case the rewriting of the foreign driver's license into a Vietnamese driver's license is no longer necessary. It should be noted that with a category B driving license the driving of motorbikes or motor scooters over 50 cc is not allowed.“

The legal situation is therefore clearly. It remains to hope and to wish that the local Vietnamese police get also knowledge of these regulations. The highway robbery for the rip off foreign drivers in Vietnam, and the abuse of authority by Vietnamese police officers should be belonging to the past. This would be especially gladdening those individual tourists which explore Vietnam on their own and by motorcycle.

One can and should try to get contact to its diplomatic mission (embassy or consulate) in Vietnam to ask for support in the case at future reprisals by the Vietnamese police on these rules.

Area of validity - signatory states Vienna Convention on Road Traffic from 08th November 1968:

Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Central African Republic, Chile, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia , Cuba, Czech , Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guyana, Holy See, Hungary, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, , Morocco, Netherlands, Niger, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of , Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand,  Macedonia, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Zimbabwe
(it should be noted that not yet all signatory states have ratified this convention)

It still applies for all citizens from countries which are not parties to this Convention:
The local foreign driver's license needs a rewriting into a Vietnamese driving license for driving motor vehicles in Vietnam.

Heiko Grimm