Driver’s Licence and Driving in Australia
Driver’s licences and motor vehicle registration are administered by the individual states and territories in Australia. Consult the website of the authority where you live for information on getting an Australian licence.
If you are a permanent resident you may use your driver’s licence from your home country in all states and territories for the first three months you are in Australia (six months in Victoria). After this time, you must attain an Australian licence. If the licence is not written in English, you will need a translated copy. Licensing conditions are generally more relaxed for New Zealand drivers, who most states treat the same as Australians moving from interstate.
Licence from another country
Residents of certain countries – like Canada and Ireland – can simply show their national licence, pay a fee, and receive a local version. The nice thing is, you are allowed to keep your old licence even though you are issued a new one! Other countries are not so lucky and will have to follow a process – often doing a driving test – in order to get an Australian licence. See below for the details of your licensing authority in Australia.
- New South Wales – Roads and Traffic Authority
- Victoria – VicRoads
- Queensland – Transport and Main Roads
- South Australia – sa.gov.au
- Western Australia – Department of Transport
- Tasmania – Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources
- Northern Territory – Northern Territory Transport Group
- Australian Capital Territory – rego.act
Driving in Australia
You must be 16 years of age or older to drive. Australians, on the whole, are responsible and safe drivers. Training and testing of new drivers is very strict and thorough.
Harsh penalties also exist for people caught driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Australia has approximately the same rate of annual road deaths for its population as Germany and Canada. This is more than the UK, Sweden and Japan, but less than New Zealand and the USA.
When driving, pay full attention to cars which have an “L” or “P” symbol on the back. This means the driver is either a learner or probationary driver. They are referred to a ‘L-plater or P-platers’. They have different road rules to fully-licenced drivers.
Demerit Points System
When you receive your driver’s licence you have a clean record, and zero points. If you receive a police ticket for a road violation – like speeding or running a red light – you receive a money fine, and get demerit points – as a penalty. If you reach the maximum allowed number of demerit points within 3 years, your licence will be suspended, and you will not be allowed to drive for a period of time.
Each State/Territory has its own rules. For example, if you have licence from New South Wales (NSW), you can accumulate a maximum of 13 points. In the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), it is 12 points. Know the point system for the place you live!
Australia’s speed limits are considered quite high compared to many other countries. In urban areas speed limits range from 40 kilometres per hour to 60 kilometres per hour. Speed limits outside urban areas and on expressways, highways and freeways vary between 80 kilometres per hour and 130 kilometres per hour.
Consult the traffic authority in your state or territory for exact speed limits: