Driving in Australia, do you need a new drivers licence and buying a car… what you should know

In Australia, you can drive on your NZ license for up to 3 months. Then you will need to transfer your New Zealand driver’s licence to an Australian licence in order to drive legally. Read more below…

When you first get to Australia you will probably need to utlise Australia’s fine public transport while you are looking for a car, or rent a car when you first get there to make exploring your new city easier.

You can find out more information on Australia’s public transport by following this link: https://www.australia.gov.au/information-and-services/transport-and-regional/public-transport-services.

Steps to getting converting to an Australian licence

You will need to get the below organised before you book with the relevant Australian road agency.

Proof of identity: you will need two documents – one document must show your full name, and the day, month and year of your birth, e.g. current passport or birth certificate. The other must show at least your family name and your first given name in full, e.g. Medicare card, bank statement, telephone, gas, electricity or water bill up to 12 months old, current Australian student id. Documents must be original. Copies and certified copies are not acceptable. One of your proof of identity documents should show your signature.

Proof of Australia address: you can use your bank statement (open an Australian bank account), utility bill as long as it has your name on it or any government letter.

Book an appointment with the appropriate roads authority

Individuals seeking conversion of an overseas licence should make direct contact with the relevant Australian road agency.
Australian Capital Territory
New South Wales
Northern Territory
Queensland
South Australia
Tasmania
Victoria
Western Australia

Costs of transferring your licence

It costs between $30 and $133, but the cost depends on the state or territory you are in.

State by state rules for transferring your overseas licence to an Australian licence

So you are staying in Australia for more than 3 months, then you will need to apply for an Australian drivers licence.

Each state in Australia have slightly different rules towards international drivers and slightly different road rules, it is very important to check with the licencing agency in the particular state that you are planning on visiting. See the list below:

New South Wales (www.rta.nsw.gov.au)

If you are a driver or motorcyclist who has moved to NSW – from another Australian State or Territory, or if you have migrated from another country – you will need to make arrangements to get a NSW driver or rider licence.

You can use your existing licence for up to three months, after which you must have a NSW licence in order to drive a vehicle or ride a motorcycle.

If you are a licence holder from New Zealand (regardless if you are a permanent or temporary resident), you must obtain a NSW driver licence within three months of residing in NSW or you must stop driving.

For more information on a NSW drivers licence and how to apply visit: international drivers or international riders.

Victoria (www.vicroads.vic.gov.au)

If you are a driver or motorcyclist who has moved to Victoria from another Australian State or Territory, or from another country you will need to make arrangements with VicRoads to get a Victorian licence.

For up to three months after arriving, you can drive in Victoria if you have a current interstate or New Zealand (NZ) licence/learner permit, even if you are under 18 years of age. After three months you must change your licence to a Victorian driver licence.

If your time in Victoria is interrupted whereby you return interstate or to NZ and take up residency for a period of time, the three month period begins afresh from the date you take up residency again in Victoria.

You must be 18 years of age to apply for a licence in Victoria. No age exemptions apply.

If your interstate or New Zealand learner permit or licence is (suspended, disqualified or cancelled) as a result of a driving offence, demerit points, medical reasons or due to unpaid fines, you will not be able to obtain a Victorian equivalent, until your ban is over.

For more information on a Victoria drivers licence and how to apply visit: international drivers.

Queensland (www.transport.qld.gov.au)

When driving on a road in Queensland under your valid foreign driver licence you must:

  • only drive the class of motor vehicle authorised on that licence
  • comply with the conditions (if any) of your licence
  • show your licence to a police officer when asked to do so.

If your licence is in a language other than English you should carry a recognised English translation of the licence.

You must not drive in Queensland on your foreign driver licence if:

  • you have been disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver licence by an order of an Australian court
  • your authority to drive on the licence has been suspended or withdrawn.

To apply for a Queensland driver licence for the same class as your foreign driver licence, you will need to:

  • complete the Driver Licence Application/Renewal form (F3000)
  • show your foreign driver licence and a recognised English translation (if required)
  • show your supporting evidence of identity including Queensland residency documents
  • declare that you are medically fit to drive the class of motor vehicle
    Note: If you have a medical condition that is likely to adversely affect your ability to drive or ride safely, you are required to show a medical certificate from your doctor stating that you are medically fit to drive or ride safely.
  • pay the licence fee.

You may also be required to:

  • pass an eyesight test
  • pay the road rules test fee and pass the test
  • pay the practical driving test fee and pass the test.

For more information visit the Getting a Queensland licence (for overseas licence holders) page.

South Australia (www.transport.sa.gov.au)

If you are visiting from overseas, or you’ve recently moved here permanently, make sure that you are driving legally and safely.

If you are issued a permanent visa and become a resident of South Australia, you must obtain a South Australian drivers licence within three months and you may be required to surrender your overseas driver’s licence. Once you are issued with a South Australian learner’s permit or driver’s licence, your overseas licence is invalid.

Applying for a South Australian driver’s licence

You may be eligible for the equivalent class of licenceas your foreign licence. Minimum age requirements apply.

Go to any Service SA customer service centre and present the following documents:

  • your current driver’s licence – if this is not written in English you must bring an approved English translation or your international driving permit
  • evidence of identity – proof of your identity, signature, age and address
  • payment for your written test, if required
  • your medical certificate, if required
  • concession card, if entitled.

Western Australia (www.dpi.wa.gov.au)

If you are just visiting Western Australia (WA) you can drive on your current overseas licence. However, if your licence expires whilst you are here or if you plan to live in WA, you will need to apply for a WA driver’s licence. To find out more go to Transfer your overseas licence.

To apply for a Western Australian driver’s licence you will need to personally attend a Driver and Vehicle Services Centre or regional Agent.

Please ensure you take the following documentation with you:

  • current overseas drivers licence;
  • proof of identity – examples of accepted documents are provided in the “Proof of identity requirements for your initial (WA) Drivers Licence” document found below;
  • proof of your WA residential address;
  • one document that shows your signature; and
  • the application fee (refer to schedule of fees below).

Tasmania (www.transport.tas.gov.au)

If you are a new permanent resident of Tasmania (fixed address) from another Australian State or Territory, or from another country you will need to make arrangements with DIER to get a Tasmanian licence.

If you hold a New Zealand driver licence you can transfer to a Tasmanian driver licence without having to sit a written or practical driving assessment.

You must produce a current New Zealand drivers licence (which doesn’t need to be surrendered only sighted) and pay the driver licence fee.

You need to provide the following in person at Service Tasmania shops or designated police stations:

  • your existing Australian licence (or New Zealand) and evidence of current residential address
  • OR
  • Full Evidence of Identity
  • completed application form (Service Tasmania will provide this)
  • provide a medical certificate if applicable
  • pay a fee (if applicable)
  • have your photograph taken and provide your signature.

Northern Territory (http://www.transport.nt.gov.au/)

You must change over your driver licence and vehicle registration within three (3) months of residing in the Northern Territory.

To Transfer your overseas licence you will need to :

  • provide a valid and current overseas driver licence
  • provide an international driving permit (issued in country of origin) or;
    • an official translation of the overseas licence into English by an Authorised Translator; or
    • an original letter from the licensing authority in the country of origin or the relevant consul or diplomatic corps confirming the licence details and status; or
    • an original letter from the licensing authority in the country of origin or the relevant consul or diplomatic corps confirming the licence details and status.
  • pass an eyesight test
  • provide completed form L1- Application for a Northern Territory Driver/Rider Licence.
  • provide Evidence of Identity and Residency.

If you are not from a recognised country you will also need to pass a theory and practical (driving test).

Other conditions may apply, for further Information refer to Information Bulletins:

ACT (www.canberraconnect.act.gov.au)

An Interstate / New Zealand public vehicle licence can be mutually recognised in the ACT under the Mutual Recognition (Australian Capital Territory) Act 1992 and the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act 1997.

The mutual recognition legislation allows a person to transfer their interstate / New Zealand public vehicle licence to the ACT without completing certain requirements for an ACT Public Vehicle Driver Licence.

A person who applies for an ACT Public Vehicle Licence under mutual recognition must meet the eligibility requirements and provide certain documents in support of their application.

Applications for mutual recognition of an interstate / New Zealand public vehicle licence must be made in person at a Canberra Connect Shopfront.

An applicant for mutual recognition of a public vehicle licence must present the following documents on application to transfer an interstate / New Zealand public vehicle licence to the ACT:

  • Completed Application Form.
  • Evidence of resident status.
  • A statement of licence details showing the issue date of the interstate / New Zealand licence.
  • A current interstate / New Zealand public vehicle driver licence or public vehicle authority card.
  • A current interstate / New Zealand driver licence.

For more information on a ACT drivers licence and how to apply visit: international drivers.

Buying a Car in Australia

Buying a car in Australia can be a confusing task, as rules and costs vary from state to state. When buying a vehicle you need to factor in all the ‘hidden’ costs & taxes that the various state governments throw in.

A few key points worth noting are:

  • In Australia, you pay stamp duty to the state government when you buy a car (How much depends on which state you are in, and what type of car you are buying)
  • New cars are subject to 10% GST (Some 2nd hand cars may also be subject to GST)
  • Stamp duty is charged on the full price of the car, INCLUDING GST
  • Rules vary from state to state about roadworthy certificates (the equivalent of an MOT, for those from the UK).
  • Fuel prices, although significantly cheaper than the UK & europe, are, like everywhere else, climbing steeply.
  • Luxury Car Tax applies on new cars over $57,009
  • Car Registration is an annual road tax that varies from state to state

Further Information

If there is anything else you would like to know about driving or buying a car in Australia, please ask me a question using the below comment system and I will do my best to find the information you need.

2 Comments

  1. Dillen Hans

    August 1, 2015 at 3:04 am

    Hello wondered if you can help…can I ship my car from South Africa over to here in Australia. Please help… thanks a lot.

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      August 3, 2015 at 7:44 am

      Hi Dillen,
      Thank you for your enquiry.
      Please email Nikita at Ausmove, she can help arrange shipping your vehicle to Australia from South Africa ([email protected]).
      Good luck with your move.

      Reply

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