As with most things, it’s best to err on the side of caution. Always check VND notes given to you. Should you receive bills that are less than ideal looking, politely ask for another note in better condition. This may feel awkward if you’re an expat or traveler in Saigon as you’re not in your territory but it’s better to be safe than sorry because of the hassle it might cause you if you get a bill that everyone keeps refusing.

In the event that someone does give you notes in poor condition, a bank can exchange the money for bills in better condition, but they may charge a fee.

This common sense rule of thumb should also be applied to foreign currency you might bring into Vietnam; make sure they are current bills and in excellent condition. This will ensure you do not encounter any issues when exchanging foreign money for VND.

What are the reasons for bank notes to be refused in Ho Chi Minh City?

There are a few reasons why bank notes might be refused. Most of them concern the appearance of a bill and how it may affect the commercial transaction or the individual receiving it.

Torn, Cut or Frayed Bills

Bills that have been cut, torn in any way or simply are weathered are the most common to be refused. Unlike many countries, Vietnamese currency is essentially worthless if it is not in its original form. This includes, but is not limited to cut corners and holes and tears on fold lines. While some foreign banks may take a bill in such a state, what is acceptable or not is often highly subjective.


The Central Bank of Vietnam has been slow to recall and replace outdated currency. Similarly, attempts to replace smaller notes with coins have been ill-fated. Adding to this is the tendency for previous generations to hoard cash out of distrust for banks.

The result is that it is not uncommon to come across bills that are 15 to 20 years old. While such currency might seem like a collector’s item to a relative newcomer, the fact is that it is well past its expiration date.

Printing and production printing methods have only recently introduced polymer coating and other measures to Vietnamese currency to prevent counterfeiting and aging. Therefore, that vintage looking VND10,000 note may be worth more as a bookmark than anything else.

Defaced or Otherwise Marked

As tempting as it is to write on a bill, doing so diminishes its value in Vietnam. This is particularly true with a bank. Marked bills are seen as ‘mafia money’ or part of a family stash that should not be in circulation, and are often refused.

While it is often common sense to avoid writing on any currency, it is much more applicable in Vietnam.