Foreigner’s Guide in Getting Driver’s Licence in Australia

International visitors and tourists who want to travel by land to the different places and destinations in Australia may want to go by car. Getting a driver’s licence is necessary so that law enforcement officers will allow you drive a motor vehicle on the road. It should be carried at all times so that you can present it to a police patrol when crossing state lines. An International Driving Permit (IDP) is needed aside from the driver’s licence that tourist drivers should have. Foreign nationals currently staying in the country should have a valid licence in accordance with various state laws before visiting a motoring search site to buy a new automobile.

Though licensing laws vary across states and territories, a graduated licensing scheme is implemented. If you have a driver’s licence that is not written in the English language then a translation must be provided when presenting your IDP. When going for interstate travel, differences in state laws would take effect so it is important to obey the local road rules and regulations of the state. For instance, the driving age in the Australian Capital Territory is 15 years and 9 months while South Australia drivers licence holders can be as young as 16 years old through a Learner’s Permit (LP).

Licence Classes

Overseas tourists should take all the time to know the road rules of Australia including that of its states and territories. Road rules and regulations are consistent across the country even if the driving age varies from 15 to 18 years. Though there are many drivers licence classes, foreign drivers are permitted to have a Class C licence for vehicles with 4.5-tonne gross vehicle mass. A learners driver licence is needed for minors and those learning to drive.

According to different state and territorial jurisdiction rules, car licences are organised in different grades. Check the list below:

Australian Capital Territory
When getting a learner driver licence, a driver has to complete a road ready course and pass a computerised road rules test. A provisional license is granted to a driver that is at least 17 years old with a learner licence for 6 months. After holding a provisional licence for three years, the driver can upgrade it to an Open Licence. International visitors to the ACT are not required to obtain an ACT licence providing their IDP or Overseas Licence is current.

New South Wales
The state’s driving age is 17 years but it is subject to restrictions during a 3-year probationary period. A driver must undergo three stages of probation before gaining a full drivers licence. There are two types of provisional licence holders wherein the P1 is gained after 12 months of having a provisional licence. After one year and successful completion of a computerized hazard perception test, the driver can obtain a P2 grade. When P2 licence holders pass another computerised test, they will receive a full, unrestricted drivers licence. All licence applications must be presented to the Road Transport Authority.

Northern Territory
If you intend on getting your drivers licence in Northern Territory, get a learner’s licence for six months before obtaining a provisional licence. International drivers must prove their identity and local residence. Aside from that, they have to present their current interstate licence.

Just like New South Wales, Queensland has a two-grade provisional licence grade wherein drivers have to undergo driving and hazard perception tests. However, elderly drivers need to renew their drivers more often. Foreign drivers must obtain a local licence if they are residing anywhere in the state for three months. Completed application forms should be submitted to the Queensland Transport Centre.

South Australia
Passing a theory test, a driver of at least 16 years old can obtain an LP. Drivers can obtain a provisional licence if they have an equivalent interstate or overseas driver’s licence. Fully-licenced drivers should restrict their alcohol level to 0.05 per cent blood alcohol concentration.

Learner’s driver permit is subdivided into L1 and L2 grades. Drivers can have a P1 grade licence after reaching 17 years old and logging 50 practice hours. An L1 licence is upgraded to L2 grade after nine months.

Drivers must pass a drivers licence test, which include a computerised knowledge test and eyesight examination, in order to get an LP. There are P1 and P2 levels that prepare drivers to obtain a full drivers licence. Certain restrictions are enforced once a driver obtains a full driver licence from mobile phone use to blood-alcohol level. Such licences are good for ten years and be made available for three years upon request. VICRoads should be contacted if you plan on converting your licence.

Western Australia
Administered by the Department of Transport, Western Australia has a different grading scheme as compared with other states and territories. There is a two-phased learner’s permit level wherein drivers have to pass a series of tests such as computerised driving theory test, eyesight exam, and practical driving test. Pass the hazard perception assessment so that you can obtain a provisional licence. There is also a two-phased provisional grade for drivers with P1 grade given to those who completed at least 25 hours of driving and P2 to those holding P1 grade for 18 months. After a two-year probationary period, a driver can now obtain a full drivers licence.

International Drivers Licence

Getting an international drivers licence doesn’t mean that you can drive anywhere in Australia, there are rules and regulations that foreign drivers have to follow. When applying for a drivers licence, foreign drivers from recognised countries can be exempted from the computerised theory test and practical driving assessment. The countries that are exempted from these driving assessments are Austria, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guernsey, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Japan. Jersey, Luxembourg, Malta, New Zealand, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States of America.

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