1. The Situation as it Stands
The authorities are cracking down. Traffic police patrol the streets and it would seem that the language barrier presents no problem when being stopped; some even speak English quite well. If you think that a driver’s license from your home country is enough to prove you can drive legally in Vietnam, you’re mistaken.
2. What are the Implications of Not Having a Licence?
If you are caught without documentation, it is possible that you have your motorbike hauled away for an entire month. And according to the Australian Embassy website, penalties for driving unlicensed and causing an accident, whether you’re at fault or not, can be up to ten years imprisonment and if that accident is fatal, twenty years. Actual penalties are determined by the police and courts. Getting a driving license removes these potential sticky situations and it’s not that hard.
3. First Things First
Pop on down to 63 Ly Tu Trong in District 1. Pick up an application form and fill it out with your personal details. You will be asked to have the form verified by your embassy and you will need to provide photocopies of your visa page and passport photo page, as well as six small size passport photos. Go along to your consulate and explain that you need proof of your signature for a Vietnamese driver’s license. At the bottom of the form, you are required to sign. Don’t sign it until you’re in front of the relevant person at the consulate who will then stamp it for you.
When you’ve got all the required bits ‘n’ pieces assembled, go back to 63 Ly Tu Trong and hand them in. They will ask you to go for a health check. Don’t worry though as the amount of poking and prodding is limited and the doctor is on location. You will also be required to undertake an eyesight test. Take proof of your good health back to the counter and you will be given the time and place of your driving test.
5. Get Your Face in It
If you already possess a driver’s license, things are a lot easier. You will need to get it translated at 37 Le Duan in District 1. Take the original in along with two photocopies, go to the appropriate counter and come back three days later to pick up the translated document. If you don’t have a driver’s licence, things get a whole lot more complicated. You will be required to take a theory test in Vietnamese. The test comprises 100 questions and there are various tricks to taking it which you can discover when you go for three two-hour sessions study on a Sunday.
6. The day of the Test
Remember to bring along your original passport and driver’s license. It’s best to arrive early. Everything is a bit confusing and you’ll probably have to wait around a lot. You will be required to fill in another form with personal details and then take it to the examiners, who sit in front of where people take the test. Your name goes into a pile and you’ll be called when it’s your turn
7. The Test Itself
The test itself is not anywhere near in the same league as taking a driving test in the UK, for example. You are provided with a bike, but take heed as they are probably not up to the standard of what you’re used to and the brakes don’t really work well. The test requires you to drive in a figure eight, upon exiting which you drive within the lines of a fairly narrow straight path and come back weaving in and out of traffic cones. You turn again and drive over white lines which are supposed to constitute an uneven road surface. The key is to remain within the white lines and not to put your foot down.
8. When it’s Over
When you finish go to the table where the examiners sit, sign some papers and off you go. Remember to smile sweetly and say thank you, a bit of courtesy goes a long way. Ten days later, go back to Ly Tu Trong and all things being well, pick up your brand spanking new licence and drive away with your head in the air.
9. The Figures
At the consulate/embassy, it will cost you VND500,000 to have your form stamped (price varies according to county). The health check costs VND30,000 and you need to pay a fee of VND70,000 for the licence. To get your home licence translated should cost around VND40,000.
Department of Transportation
63 Ly Tu Trong, Q1
37 Le Duan, Q1
SaigonStay – According to The Word HCMC