One of the best things about being in Vietnam is the freedom to move – a moped can be purchased for as little as 3-5 million VND (130-230USD). For those used to being dependent on public transportation, it’s a game-changer – everything becomes possible, you can get to any point around the city and beyond, and watch people on the street. But first, you need a motorbike license to legally get around.
There you will meet the characters – legendary Ninja Lead, notorious Electric Bike Hoc Xinh, Wave Tre Trau, entire families on a bike, and don’t even get me started. You haven’t lived here if you haven’t met these.
However, it’s not all beer and skittles for Tays here. Contrary to the popular belief, there are traffic regulations here, and consequences for breaking the latter, see below (dated 2013, for the lack of English versions on the Web, but gives an overview):
One of the violations, ”not owning a driving license”, labels most ex-pats as violators, not eligible for insurance coverage, and in the wrong in case of a road accident. While it is relatively easy for a Vietnamese to obtain a local license, this is not the case for the guests of the country. There are no tests available in English, and most would need to resort to using “agents” that help apply for and pass the driving and theory tests.
If you are anything like me, you would not be excited at the necessity of paying a third-party person for government services. Luckily, if you have a valid motorbike license, there is a way to convert it legally and become a law-abiding citizen. See the steps below (done in 2019, prices subject to a slight change) :
- Make a notarized translated copy of your license (I did mine here, around 300k).https://goo.gl/maps/g2piyzGUuEFcetpU7
- Do a health check for the driving license (I did mine here, around 300k).https://goo.gl/maps/JC6Pvo7RMaf6mnHK7
- Go to 16 Cao Ba Quat and submit these and fill the forms (register with the security guy as you enter the yard). Pay 135k and pick up your license a week later. Valid for the duration of your visa, so it would be reasonable to do it if you have a 1-2-year residence card. Do not lose the slip they give you when you pay as it will be needed to pick up the converted license.
Follow these instructions to be legally driving and ease your communication with road police and strengthen your positions in case of an accident. May sleeping bass drivers pass you by.