Driving in Australia with a foreign licence
If you hold a foreign driving licence, and are driving in Australia, there are rules as to whether or not you have to switch to an Australian driving licence.
There are different rules for different countries. You might be able to swap your licence, or re-do your driving test.
If you’re found to be driving on an incorrect licence in Australia, you will get in trouble. You may be fined, or have your driving privileges suspended.
Each state has its own laws, so the different rules will be be explained state-by-state.
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.
“You can drive in NSW on a current overseas licence for a maximum of three months. Then you will need to apply for a NSW licence to continue driving or riding.
“If you do not hold permanent Australian residency, but will be in NSW for more than 3 months, you can apply for a Temporary Overseas Visitor licence.
“New Zealand licence holders, regardless of whether you are a permanent or temporary resident, must obtain a NSW licence within three months of living in NSW or stop driving.”
“If you hold a permanent visa (issued under the Migration Act 1958) you may drive on your overseas driver licence if it's 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 (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.
“If you hold a temporary visa, you are not required to get a Victorian driver licence and/or learner permit”
“You can’t drive in Queensland if:
- your authority to drive in Queensland on your overseas licence has been withdrawn because you:
- are an Australian citizen and you have been residing in Queensland for 3 months
- are not an Australian citizen, but before you took up residence in Queensland you were given a resident visa and you have now been residing in Queensland for 3 months
- are not an Australian citizen, but after you took up residence in Queensland you were given a resident visa and you have now been residing in Queensland for 3 months since getting the visa
- have failed a practical driving test in Queensland after 1 January 2014.
“A resident visa is a permanent visa or special category visa under the Migration Act 1958 (Commonwealth). These visas allow a person to stay indefinitely in Australia. These do not include temporary, business or guardian visas.
“If you are visiting Queensland from another country or jurisdiction, you can drive if you have a valid overseas licence.”
“If you are a visitor to Western Australia (WA), you may drive only those vehicles that you are authorised to drive on your overseas licence, for as long as it remains valid in the country of issue.
“If your overseas licence ceases to be valid, you must apply for a WA licence.
“Visiting drivers include:
- Overseas Defence Force personnel and their families.
- People on business trips.
- People with working holiday visas.
- People working temporarily in WA.
- Students studying in WA.
“If your overseas licence is not in English, you must carry an international driving permit or an approved English translation of your licence with you when you drive.”
“If you are just visiting Australia, you can drive the same type of vehicle as your current licence allows, but you must drive according to any conditions on your overseas licence.
“You will need either one of these:
- a current licence issued in another country that is written in English
- a current licence with an English translation if necessary or an international driver's licence.
“You must carry your licence documents at all times when driving and produce these and your passport to police on request.
“You must not be disqualified from driving in any country.
“If your overseas licence expires while you are in Australia, you must get an Australian licence.”