A Guide to Getting a Driver’s Licence in Australia

how to get driving licence in australia

One of the most common queries among international students is ‘how to get a driving licence in Australia’. Some international students want to drive, not only to get to university or work, but simply to explore Australia during their study breaks. 

This article answers several frequently asked questions about driver’s licences in Australia and helps to demystify the process for both international students and tourists. 

Can I use another country’s driver’s licence in Australia?

Tourists and international students in Australia are classed as ‘visiting drivers’. They may be able to use their overseas licence to drive, so long as the licence is valid. However, Australian laws and driving regulations differ between individual states and territories, and also depend on how long visitors will be staying in the country. For instance, in New South Wales, international visitors are able to drive using an overseas licence for up to three months, after which they will need to apply for a New South Wales driver’s licence; while in Victoria, overseas licences remain valid for six months before they need to be converted.

Often, if your overseas licence isn’t written in English, you will need either a written translation to accompany your licence or an international driver’s permit. It is also important to note that, if there is a change to your visa/citizenship status, then you may have to apply for an Australian driver’s licence. For instance, you have three months to apply for an Australian driving licence if you gain permanent residency in Australia.

It is important for international students and visitors to check the individual driving regulations in their planned place of residence before arriving in Australia.

Can an international student or tourist get an Australian driver’s licence?

‘Can an international student or tourist get a driver’s licence?’ is one of the questions frequently asked by visitors to Australia. The question makes perfect sense; after all, international students want to make the most of their time in Australia, and having a driver’s licence offers more freedom to get around and explore the country.

Getting an Australian driving permit can be a time-consuming process, but if you don’t have an overseas licence or if your licence is set to expire, then you will be able to apply for an Australian driver’s licence through your local state motor registry. 

Using an international driver’s licence in Australia

While you will be able to drive in Australia on your overseas licence, some states will require that you have an international driver’s licence in addition to your foreign licence. 

You should check with your local state authority for more information before you arrive, as the answer will depend on where you’re visiting or studying.

How to get a driver’s licence in Australia

While each Australian state has its own licence requirements, there will generally be three stages to gaining an Australian driving licence:

  1. Learner’s permit 
  2. Provisional licence 
  3. Full licence (with some restrictions)

Before gaining your learner’s permit, you will have to complete a knowledge-based test to make sure you understand the road rules. While the requirements vary between states, you will typically have to complete a test and several hours of supervised driving before receiving your provisional licence. 

Check out the following links for information on how to get a driving licence in the different states and territories of Australia: 

South Australia 

Victoria 

New South Wales 

Northern Territory 

Western Australia 

Tasmania 

Australian Capital Territory 

Queensland 

Transferring overseas licences

If you already have a valid overseas licence, you may not have to go through the process of driving on a learner’s permit and completing an online test for a driving licence in Australia. If you’re from a recognised country or jurisdiction, you will be exempt from having to take a knowledge and driving test when applying for an Australian driver’s licence. This will make it easier to exchange your driver’s licence. 

If your country isn’t on the list of recognised countries or jurisdictions, you’ll have to go through testing procedures. For instance, if you’re wondering, ‘Is an Indian driving licence valid in Australia?’, the answer would be a resounding yes. But, you would have to complete an Australian driving test if you become a permanent resident.