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Driving In Australia


Driving in Australia is on the left hand side of the road, the same as in the UK, Ireland, South Africa and Japan. Our vehicles are all right-hand drive too and distances are measured in kilometres. Our roads are generally of high standard, particularly in the cities, where they are of a similar standard as those found in any developed country and traffic is generally not as congested as the rest of the world, though Aussies do complain that we have high traffic volumes in Sydney and Melbourne. Perth’s high population growth over the last decade has meant we have increasing traffic congestion there too.

Driving in Australia outside the cities can be very different to driving anywhere else in the world due to the vast distances that can be involved (Perth to Sydney is further than London to Moscow!). Our relatively small population (of approximately 23 million) means that some of the roads can be quite desolate and you can often drive for a few hours without seeing another vehicle! If you are heading across to Aussie for the first time, the RAC (a national motoring organisation) can assist with free tips and advice and they have offices in all the major cities. Here’s a link to their website.

The legal requirements in Australia governing drivers licences and the laws relating to legally driving in Australia are set by the various state and territory governments who issue and manage their own drivers licence programs, as Australia is a Federation of independently governing states.

Please see below for a summary and information on what the legal implications are and how to either apply for a drivers licence using your current licence from your home country or to re-apply (as is relevant to you).
Driving in Australia (©Tony Hewitt)

Driving in Australia – Australian Capital Territory (ACT):

People from other countries who take up residence in the ACT must obtain an ACT Driver Licence to drive a motor vehicle or motorbike. When you move to the ACT your current overseas licence or International Driving Permit is valid for only three months. Drivers licence holders from approved countries can apply for an ACT drivers licence without needing to pass a written or practical driving test, licence holders from non-approved countries will need to pass a written and practical driving test. Please click on THIS LINK for more information.

Driving in New South Wales:

If you’re a permanent Australian resident, or hold a permanent visa under the Commonwealth Migration Act 1958, and you intend to stay in NSW, you are not considered to be a visitor. As such, you are allowed to drive in NSW on a current overseas licence for a maximum of three months. After that, you will need to apply for a NSW licence to continue driving or riding. Certain Recognised Countries can apply for a NSW Drivers Licence without having to pass a written or driving test. For more detailed information visit the NSW Drivers Licence Website.

Driving in Victoria:

If you have entered Victoria on a temporary visa: you are not required to get a Victorian driver licence and/or learner permit you may drive using your current overseas driver licence for the length of your stay.

If you have entered Victoria on a permanent visa issued under the Migration Act 1958 you may drive on your overseas driver licence, providing it is written in English or accompanied by an English translation or international driving permit for:

  • 6 months from the date you first entered Australia if the permanent visa was issued before you entered Australia, or
  • 6 months from the date when the permanent visa was issued to you if the permanent visa was issued to you while in Australia.

If you want to continue driving in Victoria after this time you must get a Victorian driver licence. If your overseas driver licence has expired, you will still be able to take the drive test as you are exempt from holding a learner permit for the test.

For more information visit the Victoria Roads Website.

Driving in Queensland:

If you have a resident visa or have become an Australian citizen and have lived in Queensland for 3 months, you will need to get a Queensland driver licence. For detailed information on how to apply for a Queensland drivers licence visit the Queensland Transport and Licensing Website.

Driving in South Australia:

If you get a permanent visa and become a resident, you must get your South Australian driver’s licence within three months. Once you are issued with a South Australian learner’s permit or driver’s licence, your overseas licence is invalid and you may be required to surrender it. For more information and details on how to apply for a South Australian drivers licence, visit the South Australia Transport Website.

Driving in Western Australia:

If you hold a permanent residence visa and are living in Western Australia, you can drive with your current overseas licence for up to 3 months and will need to apply for a WA licence to be legally allowed to drive after this period. Migrants who hold provisional or temporary residence visas (e.g. 457 visa) can drive on their locally recognised international drivers licence for as long as it and their visa are valid. For detailed information on driving in Western Australia and how to apply for a drivers licence visit the WA Licensing Department Website.

Driving in the Northern Territory:

For information on drivers licences for the Northern Territory, please visit the
Northern Territory Licensing Website.

Driving in Tasmania:

You can drive in Tasmania on your overseas licence if you are a visitor OR have a temporary visa (e.g. international students, refugees, working, holiday) OR have a permanent visa that has not been issued more than 3 months. For information on how to apply for a Tasmanian drivers licence, visit the Tasmania Transport Department Website.

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