As a general rule, you are able to drive in Australia, as a visitor, on your existing driving licence for a maximum of three months after arriving in Australia. However specific rules do vary across each state, as detailed below.
Even if you do not intend on driving whilst overseas it is strongly recommended you purchase an International Driving Permit (IDP). This is a special permit established for travellers, which allows motorists to drive in overseas countries without testing as long as their driver's licence is valid. Another benefit of an IDP is that it is authorised by the United Nations and is recognised in over 150 countries world-wide. An IDP can also be used as an additional form of identification whilst travelling. A large portion of car rental firms will also require an IDP before an agreement is reached. Applications for an IDP should be available from your local Post Office.
New South Wales (NSW)
If you have the intention to reside in NSW and have received the appropriate visa/s you are not considered a visitor thus you may only drive on your overseas licence for a maximum of three months after your arrival in Australia. After this period if you wish to continue driving you must get a NSW licence.
To gain a licence is NSW you must be over the age of 17. If your licence is written in English you must present your licence at a Road Transport Authority (RTA). If your licence is not written in English you must get an official translation from either: The Community Relations Commission for Multicultural NSW; or The Commonwealth Department of Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs. You may also be required to provide a letter from a relevant diplomat if additional licensing information is needed.
You must also:
- Give proof of your NSW address
- Prove your identity
- Pass an eyesight test
- Pass a knowledge test for each class of licence required
- Unless exempt, pass a driving test
You may be exempt from passing a driving test if you have held an Australian Drivers Licence before; hold a current New Zealand Licence, or have a licence from a country considered to have similar driving standards.
For more information visit: http://www.rms.nsw.gov.au
In Queensland if you are a holder of a interstate licence you have three months to apply for a Queensland licence. To do this you must go to your local Queensland Transport Centre. Under normal circumstances your licence should be issued immediately however if state verification is required it may take up to 48 hours. You must provide appropriate identification with at least one of the documents showing your Queensland address.
For overseas drivers you will be required to obtain a Queensland Licence if residing for more than three months in Queensland. If your licence is not written in English you will be required to provide a translation. To obtain a QLD licence you will have to fill in an application form and present this and the appropriate identification (including proof of a Queensland address) to a Queensland Transport Centre.
Overseas drivers will then be required to pass a written test, this will cost $16.50. The test is comprised on 30 general questions for a motor car licence with an additional 5 for a motorbike licence. The road rules you will be tested on are contained in the book 'Your Keys to Driving in Queensland' which may be brought from your local newsagent for approximately A$10.05. Depending on the country where your licence was issued you may be required to sit a practical test also.
To see whether you are exempt from the practical test and for more information visit: http://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/
Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
International Visitors to the ACT are not required to obtain an ACT licence providing their International Drivers Permit or Overseas Licence is current. International persons who have chosen to reside in the ACT will be required to obtain an ACT licence within 3 months of their arrival to Australia.
When applying for an ACT licence you will be required to present:
- Your overseas licence
- A letter from the overseas licensing authority confirming the licence detail and status
- A letter from a relevant consulate or diplomatic office - based on information received from the overseas licence issuing authority confirming details
- Proof of Residence
- Pass an eye test
- Pay the required fees
- Pass a drivers knowledge test
- Pass a driving test
People from certain countries may be exempt from the knowledge and practical testing. To see whether you are exempt from testing and for more information visit: http://www.rego.act.gov.au
Northern Territory (NT)
To transfer your interstate licence to a NT licence you will need to prove:
- Your identity
- You are residing in NT
- Your intestate licence is current
- That your licence is not cancelled, suspended or disqualified from obtaining a licence anywhere in the Commonwealth
If arriving from interstate to Victoria you may drive for up to three months if you have a current interstate or New Zealand licence. After this period you will be required to obtain a Victorian licence. To convert your current licence to a Victorian one you must make an appointment either by calling VICRoads Information on 13 11 71 or TTY (for those who are hearing and speech impaired) on 1300 652 321.
Upon arriving to your appointment you must present:
- Your current/expired interstate or NZ licence
- Proof of Identity
- Proof of Victorian residence
- A completed VICRoads Licence/Learner Admission Form
If you have a prior drink driving offence that took place in Victoria you will also have to provide the court order. If you are in Victoria on a Temporary Visa you may drive on your overseas licence for an indefinite period providing your overseas licence or International Drivers Permit is current. However if you are in Victoria on a Permanent Visa you may only drive on your Overseas Licence for three months before you will be required to obtain a Victorian Licence.
You must make an appointment by contacting the bodies mentioned above. You may be required to pass a knowledge test and hazard perception test before you commence the practical driving test. However you may be exempt from any testing depending on the country you licence is from. To see if you are exempt from testing and for more information visit: http://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au
Western Australia (WA)
To be able to drive on WA roads with an interstate licence you must: have a licence that is not suspended, cancelled or disqualified; carry your licence on you at all times and drive only those vehicles that your licence allows comply with any other conditions of your licence.
Visitors may drive on their interstate licence for up to 12 months from your arrival or until you licence expires. If you intend on becoming a permanent resident of WA you will be required to obtain a WA licence within three months of your arrival. To do this you will be required to provide the appropriate identification along with proof of residence in WA.
For overseas visitors the rules are much the same. If just visiting WA you are permitted to drive on your overseas licence for up to 12 months. If your licence is not written in English be sure to carry an official translation whenever driving. In applying for a WA licence you will be required to provide proof of identity and residency in WA; a translation of your licence if not in English; your overseas drivers licence.
When applying for a WA licence you may be required to sit a written rules theory test. However you may be exempt from this testing depending on the country your licence was issued. To see if you are exempt from testing and for additional information visit: http://www.transport.wa.gov.au
South Australia (SA)
For interstate residents now residing in South Australia you have three months after arrival to surrender your interstate licence and obtain a SA licence. Applications can be made to your nearest customer service centre (links to this address will follow below). You will need to bring: your interstate licence; proof of identity showing residence, age and your signature and a medical certificate if required.
If you are an overseas visitor looking to reside in SA you also have three months to surrender your overseas licence and obtain one from SA. Due to similar driving standards in some countries you may not have to complete any further testing to obtain the SA licence, there is a list of pre-approved on the second link included below. If the country that issued your licence is not on this list you will be required to sit a written test, after which, you will receive a temporary one month licence. Within this one month period you must book and complete a driving test. The identification requirements for this application are the same as for interstate residents.
For more information visit: http://www.sa.gov.au
Interstate and overseas visitors choosing to now reside in TAS must obtain a Tasmanian licence within three months of their arrival. As long as a person moving interstate has had their provisional licence for a minimum of 2 years (for 22 - 25 year olds) and 3 years (under 22 year olds) they may simply transfer onto a Tasmanian licence by visiting a Service Tasmania store of a local police station.
International visitors selecting to reside in Tasmania can drive to 3 months after their arrival. After this date if their licence was not issued by New Zealand they will be required to present themselves, the appropriate identification including proof of their Tasmanian residence and completed application form to the locations mentioned above. There they will have to complete and pass a knowledge test and practical test before their TAS licence is issued. (People holding New Zealand licences are exempt from testing).
For more information visit: http://www.transport.tas.gov.au