Can you drive in Australia on your current drivers licence? Do you need to convert to an Australian one? 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.
In this post you will find the below information:
Process of transferring your overseas licence to an Australian licence
Each state has their own process of transferring your overseas drivers licence to an Australia drivers licence.
Please find below the links to transfer your NZ drivers licence to an Australia one (state by state):
Documentation needed to transfer your drivers 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 wanting to transfer an overseas licence should make direct contact with the relevant Australian road agency:
Costs of transferring your licence
It costs between $30 and $133, but the cost depends on the state or territory you are in. I cannot give you an exact cost because it depends on your current drivers licence type and age. See above links to find out process and costs state by state.
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:
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.
- Check which licence you are eligible for
- Complete a Licence Application form.
- Check you have the right proof of identity.
- Check that your overseas licence shows the first issue date. If it doesn’t show this date, contact the NZ authority that issued your licence. You can get an official letter from them confirming your licence details.
- Find your nearest service centre. Bring your NZ licence, application form and proof of identity with you.
- You will also need to pay the relevant licence fee.
- When you visit the service centre, you’ll need to pass an eyesight test and have your photo taken.
Your new licence will be posted to you. You will be provided a temporary paper licence to drive or ride with until your new card arrives.
What happens to your New Zealand licence? Your NZ licence will be photocopied and returned to you. Once you have a NSW licence, it becomes the licence of authority for you to drive or ride on NSW roads. As you can only hold one licence at a time in Australia by law, the details of your NZ licence will be recorded in our system. Your NZ licence is no longer recognised and has no authority while you hold a NSW licence.
For more information on moving your New Zealand licence to NSW and how to apply visit: https://roads-waterways.transport.nsw.gov.au/roads/licence/visiting-moving/move-nz-licence.html.
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.
Converting your licence from New Zealand
To continue driving in Victoria after three months, you’ll need to convert your overseas licence to a Victorian one:
You’ll get a receipt as proof of your licence that you can use to drive, until you receive your driver licence card. This receipt is valid for 3 months, or until the day that you receive your driver licence card in the mail.
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.
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 licence as your foreign licence. Your full or provisional New Zealand licence can be transferred to an equivalent South Australian driver’s licence.
For multi-combination vehicles (road train or B-double) you’ll need to supply a letter from an employer in New Zealand stating you have driven vehicles of this type.
You must transfer your licence within 3 months of becoming a South Australian resident.
To apply for your licence you will need to present the following to a Service SA customer service centre and pay the licence fee:
You will receive a temporary driver’s licence and your photo licence will be posted to you.
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.
If your overseas driver’s licence has been issued in New Zealand and you are unable to produce your New Zealand driver’s licence document, a ‘Certificate of Particulars’ or a letter verifying your licence details will be accepted. The Department of Transport will contact the New Zealand Traffic Authority on your behalf to confirm your driver’s licence details before it can be accepted.
Please ensure you take the following documentation with you:
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
- 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.
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 – application for a NT driver/rider licence PDF (292.2 KB)
- 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).
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
Is it worth taking your car with you to Australia?
There is very specific documentation required to ship your car to Australia. Without it your car will not be allowed entry and would be stuck at the port. There are also length of ownership and tax payable issues.
Find out if it is worth shipping your car
You will need to do two things:
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.