Riding in Vietnam: International drivers license info

This is still a grey area and no information on this page can be taken literally as factual advice – this is a guideline of the rules that we understand to be true about the International drivers license for renting in Vietnam.

International Drivers licenses are valid in Vietnam – UK source Gov website
UK government has now announced the international drivers permit is not recognised (24thish Dec 2017)

How to get an international drivers license – UK RAC

Motorbike insurance for Australians – Motorbike insurance for Australians

Motorbike insurance for UK citizens

International / All other countries motorbike insurance

Motorbike license for foreigners – Only useful to expats or people in Vietnam for longer than 3 months.

Register your IDP online at Vietnam Traffic Department (this page in vietnamese) – For those who have not registered the IDP in Vietnam

Please feel free to contact us and provide any other sources, advice or information.

The IDP is no longer valid in Vietnam (we believe)

Nothing has changed in the rules. The knowledge has recently surfaced that Vietnam signed a (useless) version of the international drivers permits. The 1968 version has a limited list of countries  including Chile, Taiwan, Costa Rica, Ecuador, the Holy See, Indonesia, Ireland, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Portugal, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, and Venezuela. This is the version that Vietnam is a part of. (we think)

The international drivers permit that most people understand is the 1949 version, which Vietnam is not a part of.

Within Vietnam both the government and police still have no idea what is going on, and any IDP is likely to help with police negotiations. It is still worth having an IDP when travelling here, even if it is technically not valid.

Many insurance companies are also not aware of this recent development and so may still pay out. However, the up to date companies are likely to fail to pay out on terms of illegal driving without a valid licence.

It is still ok to rent from Tigit Motorbikes.

The rest of this article is probably out of date, but for reference, and to hope Vietnam develops some level of organisation in the future, we will leave the content up.


To be legally driving a motorbike in Vietnam an International Driving Permit (IDP) together with the driver’s license from home country is required.


International driving permit

International driving permit


The IDP is provided in the form of an A6 size notebook, which looks similar to a passport. The IDP can only be obtained from your home country. The IDP only applies to vehicles that you are legally able to drive back home. A car license combined with an IDP is not sufficient to drive legally in Vietnam. A traveller must have a full motorbike licence, combined with the IDP to be legally driving in Vietnam.

Many travellers will not have a drivers license and are therefore driving illegally. This is fine within Vietnam as the police are a waste of time, they will not take a motorbike off a foreigner and without providing specifics; the process is usually quick and easy to deal with. Update since 2017 – the police in Mui Ne will take a motorbike off a foreigner!

Driving illegally invalidates any insurance a traveller may have from back home. Drive at your own risk!

Get insurance from home

Insurance does not exist in Vietnam for foreigners. Travellers should search insurance companies from home and check carefully that they are covered when riding a motorbike in Vietnam.

Other rental companies or sellers may mention a 3rd party yellow insurance paper. This paper does not do anything and is just another Vietnamese “guideline”.

Crashes and motorbike damages are always affordably fixable. TigitMotorbikes offers a collision damage waiver which covers damages to our rental motorbikes.

Note: Insurance from home will not be valid without an international driver license.

Dealing with serious crashes

Minor crashes are frequent in Vietnam but road speeds rarely exceed 60km/h meaning that serious crashes (if driving like a sensible human) are rare.

Following recommended routes will keep a traveller off the highways and danger zones. Keep to the backstreet roads and the countryside pace of life also applies to the driving speeds!
City driving is chaotic but unbelievably slow!

In the case of a serious crash where either the traveller or a local is injured the village people will quickly surround the scene of the crash. The police will promptly show up and act as an on the spot investigator and judge who pays who what.

Please note that driving illegally is not recommended, and by default makes the foreigner in the wrong. The foreigner will lose any negotiations and have to pay damage compensation regardless of who caused the accident.

Note – The police have a reputation for being corrupt in Vietnam. On serious issues they are helpful and behave as professionals. In times of desperation the police are there to help you!

Driving safely in Vietnam

No training + no awareness + low powered motorbikes = low speeds + frequent but gentle crashes.

The foreigner or skilled driver comes along with ideologies, speeds and awareness from driving properly.
Go above and beyond the speeds of the local driving skill set.
No one is prepared or looking out for speeds like this.
Conclusion = big crash.

Amazing awareness is not needed when plodding along at 50km/h
This can be done with a cigarette in one hand and a mobile phone in the other. Which is exactly what the locals do!

When driving Vietnam, enjoy the scenery and the leisurely paced culture. If you do decide to go fast, have the attitude that anyone can do anything at any time. Expect no predictability and no common sense from other drivers or roadside walkers. Be alert at all times and respect and understand that the locals are not prepared for vehicles moving at speed.

Drive slowly, or drive with hyper awareness and everything should be ok! The cities look chaotic, but are unbelievably slow so don’t be intimidated by the crazy looking traffic.
Tigit Motobikes has an article by the local driver Link, for tips for driving safely in Vietnam. Tigit also highly recommends reading the comedy sketch, how to drive a motorbike in Saigon by Mathew Pike.

Email with Australian insurance provider 1cover

One Cover

Thank you for your email.

We cover people medically when riding a motorbike if they have their full Australian driver’s licence they can ride a bike up to 50CC – providing they are following the road saftey laws over there.

If someone has their full Australian motor bike licence and it is accepted in Vietnam (or if they also have their international licence) we cover them medically whilst riding there is no limit on the engine size.

We do not cover the bike at all or for personal liability for the rider just cover them medically if they have the valid licence and are following the road safety laws.

Email with World Travel Insurance

The Gold / Silver Motorcycling policy is only available to UK residents – We also offer an International policy that includes cover for motorcycling. In answer to your previous question we would not cover anyone without a licence for motorcycling.  Links below for UK Motorcycling policy and International policy – the clients would need to purchase the policy themselves.

UK residents cover:

International residents cover:

They would be covered medically under this policy scheme but this would exclude Personal Accident ( compensation for permanent disability or death ) and Personal Liability ( this should be covered under the vehicles insurance. They must be licenced to drive the size of motorbike and must wear a helmet and take all safety precautions necessary

Tigit’s Final thoughts

Hours of digging in both Vietnamese and English has failed to reveal any factual evidence on this topic. The police have a list of internationally accepted countries within the police stations. This list differs from the official Vietnamese government websites, which differs from various news sources.

The situation is a such a mind blowing mess that no official in Vietnam, be it a government official or a policeman, has any idea what they are doing.

To avoid paying fines, have a motorbike licence + international drivers permit. The police (and the rest of the world), do not know which countries are accepted or not accepted so in our experience they assume any international drivers permit is valid.

To be insured, obtain insurance from home and carefully check with the relevant insurance company that they cover you in Vietnam.

There is no 3rd party liability insurance for foreigners, we have not found a solution to this yet. Stay tuned!

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  1. Ian James says:

    Nightmare! I’ve been 3 years running and only now this latest problem with uk IDPs has arisen. VN gov haven’t got a clue about supporting tourism and adventure. Get it sorted VN or it’ll be Chiangmai for me next trip. Gutted.

    • Jon - Tigitmotorbikes says:

      Technically nothing has changed.
      Vietnam signed an international drivers permit document which got everyone excited. It has now been understood two years later that they signed an out of date/nearly pointless one which does not include many countries.
      On the positive side, the police still have no idea about this, so the IDP does still help within Vietnam, it just no longer helps towards insurance.
      Most insurance companies also do not know…. the UK government has been the first to understand the situation.

  2. Keith says:

    UK IDP not valid as of December 2017. A local licence will be required.

    Most riders go around 20k to 40k, only a few will dare reach 50k. Not recommended for people who have recently acquired their motorbike licence. A lot of things to take in. Situations changing all the time.

    25th Dec 2017