The Directorate for Roads of Vietnam has announced plans to issue international driving permits to local residents and recognize licenses held by foreign drivers staring in 2015.
“The move was announced after the country acceded to the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic (in August),” said Nguyen Van Quyen, the agency’s deputy director.
“Those who study, work or live in a foreign country may apply for an international driving permit.”
The permit will carry the same validity and legal weight as the domestic license without requiring the holder to take any written or practical test, he said.
Each permit will feature information on the license in five languages: Vietnamese, English, French, Russian and Chinese.
Quyen said the pilot program to issue international driving permits will be carried out at his agency and in localities that exhibit high demand, like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Those who hold the permit will be permitted to drive in countries that use the opposite-side of the road without having to conduct any procedures.
But they should study traffic laws in their host country prior to getting on the road for their own safety, Quyen added.
With the international driving permit, Vietnamese citizens will be able to drive in 70 countries--including Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iran, Israel, Italy, Norway, Poland, Russia, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden, Uruguay and the US.
Regarding the process of exchanging old laminated paper licenses for Vietnam's new plastic card, Quyen said that 2.2 million of 3.5 million driver's licenses have already been changed nationwide.
To be clear, that means only 3.8 percent of the population holds a driver's license of any kind.
Valid paper driver's licenses will continue to be recognized in Vietnam, he said.
Drivers, in Vietnam, must apply and take a test to drive a motorbike whether they have been licensed to drive a car or not. Those who hold foreign motorcycle licenses can have their licenses "translated" under the trial program without having to take a test.