Australia is renowned for its unquestionable natural beauty and endless coastlines. It is for this reason that many overseas visitors love to hire a car and drive around Australia. Of course, in Australia, like all countries, there are regulations that govern who is allowed to drive a motor vehicle. This helps to ensure that the roads are safe for all driver’s in the country.

If you are from overseas and would like to drive in Australia, the first question you need to ask yourself is whether you an “overseas visitor” or whether you are “moving permanently” to Australia.

An overseas visitor is someone who holds a temporary visa. If you are moving permanently to Australia, then you are considered to be a permanent resident and you would be a permanent visa holder.

In Australia, driving regulations differ depending on whether you hold a temporary visa or permanent visa. The regulations also differ depending on the state that you intend on driving within. For this reason, there is detailed links to the relevant state information in this article.

If you intend to drive in more than one state, then you will need to read detailed information for all states that you intend to drive in.

Overseas Visitors (Temporary Visa Holders)

If you are an overseas visitor, you are allowed to drive vehicles that you are authorised to drive on your overseas licence. This is the general rule, but this does differ state to state.

For example, if you are licensed to drive a motorcycle on your Italian driver’s licence, then you will be allowed to drive a motorcycle in Australia.

If your licence is not in English, you must carry either a NAATI certified English translation of your licence, or an International Driving Permit (IDP). A NAATI Certified translator is able to create an English translation for you that meets the requirements of Australia. Again, this is the general rule, but it does differ slightly state to state.

If you are pulled over by a police officer whilst driving in Australia, you should show them your licence if requested to do so. If your licence is not in English, then you should show the police officer your NAATI certified English translation or IDP.

Failure to produce either of these documents could result in charges being laid against you for undertaking a criminal offence.

More Information for Overseas Visitor (Temporary Visa Holder)

Permanent Residents (Moving to Australia)

The driving regulations in Australia differ for individuals who are moving to Australia on a permanent basis. If you are a permanent visa holder according to the Commonwealth Migration Act 1958 then you are considered to be a permanent resident, not a visitor.

If this is the case, then you will be required to apply for a state-issued driver’s licence. The application process differs state to state so you will need to read the detailed information provided at the following links.

In most cases, if you are seeking to transfer your overseas licence into an Australian-issued driving licence, you will need a NAATI certified English translation service, if your licence is not in English.

In most cases, if you are residing in a state for more than 3 months, then you are considered to be a permanent resident and may also be required to transfer your overseas licence into an Australian-issued licence.

All information in this article is current as at the publication date. However, the information is subject to change without notice due to the state-based licensing authorities changing their driving regulations as they see fit.

More Information for Permanent Residents

This guest blog post is brought to you by Costa Vasili, CEO of EthnoLink Language Services, a Melbourne-based translation agency founded in 2011. Costa has experience with regulations relating to licences for overseas visitors to Australia.

Updated on the 31.12.2019. Initially published on the 20.09.2018.

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