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Driving and Licences in Australia
Can you drive in Australia on your current driver’s 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. Find out how below, state by state…
When you first get to Australia you will probably need to utilise Australia’s fine public transport while you are looking for a car. Uber is available in Australia. You can easily rent a car when you first get there, and pick it up from the airport, which makes exploring your new city easier.
In this post you will find helpful information on:
Documentation needed to transfer your driver’s 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, and 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.
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 driver’s licence type and age. See the above links to find out the process and costs state by state.
State-by-state rules for transferring your overseas licence to an Australian licence
If you are staying in Australia for more than 3 months, then you will need to apply for an Australian driver’s 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 an NSW driver or rider licence.
You can use your existing licence for up to three months, after which you must have an 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’s licence within three months of residing in NSW or you must stop driving.
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.
Your new licence will be posted to you. You will be provided with 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.
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’s 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’s licence card. This receipt is valid for 3 months, or until the day that you receive your driver’s licence card in the mail.
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.
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 driver’s licence within three months and you may be required to surrender your overseas driver’s licence. Once you are issued 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.
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.
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’s licence you can transfer to a Tasmanian driver’s licence without having to sit a written or practical driving assessment.
You must produce a current New Zealand driver’s licence (which doesn’t need to be surrendered only sighted) and pay the driver’s 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
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’s licence or public vehicle authority card.
A current interstate / New Zealand driver’s licence.
On top of the above, you will need a medical examination from a GP when applying for your Australian driver’s licence if you are:
Applying for or renewing a heavy vehicle class licence.
Applying for or renewing endorsements for passenger, recovery services, driving instruction or testing.
Drivers aged 75 or over.
Anyone with a medical condition that could affect their ability to safely operate a vehicle.
Anyone who has been requested to supply a medical certificate for driver’s licence application by the NZTA.
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 in 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 is also length of ownership and tax payable issues.
Find out if it is worth shipping your car
Before deciding to ship your car to Australia there are two things you should do:
Regardless of where you live in Australia, all fully licensed drivers have approximately 12 demerit points they can ‘earn’ on their licence before needing to hang up the keys and take the bus. All other licences have less (apart from a professional licence). Point limits vary from state to state.
Demerit points can be added if you are caught speeding, using your mobile phone while driving, or any number of other driving offences.
In general, points will stay on your licence for a period of three years from the date of the offence.
What are demerit points?
Australian demerit points are a system used to monitor and penalize drivers who commit traffic offences. Each offence is assigned a certain number of points, and if a driver accumulates too many points within a certain period of time, their license may be suspended or revoked.
The number of points assigned to each offence varies depending on the severity of the offence. For example, speeding may result in 1-6 demerit points, while driving under the influence of alcohol may result in 10 demerit points.
It’s important to note that demerit points are specific to each state or territory in Australia, so the rules and regulations may differ slightly depending on where you are.
If you’ve read the above content and the answer to your question isn’t there, please write a comment below and I’ll research the answer for you. Please note, if the answer to your question is in the content above, I will not reply. Sorry, I just get too many questions these days.
I’m the creator and editor of Moving to Australia and have been for 15 years! I know everything there is to know about New Zealanders moving their families and life to Australia. Either from first hand experiences and research or through the questions from visitors to this website… and I’m here to help!