How do I get an Australian drivers license?
Australian driver licenses are administered at state/territory level, and regulations vary as a result. You will normally need to obtain a state license within 3 months of taking up residence in the state (you can use your overseas license in the meantime).
If you have held your overseas license (even from a non fully-recognized country) for a number of years, you should be exempt from probationary restrictions once you pass your test.
In NSW the theory test is computer based and can be taken at any RTA office. It does not matter if you fail the theory test - you just try it again, except that since January 2002 there is a fee of AUD30 for each attempt. The theory test can be practiced online. However, if you fail the practical test you lose your visiting driver privileges straight away. You need to obtain a NSW learner license until you pass the test, and until then you are subject to learner restrictions (e.g. you can't drive alone and you are subject to an 80kph speed limit). However, even if you only pass the practical test a second time, you are still not subject to probationary restrictions once you do pass as long as you have held an overseas license for three years.
You may need to do a practical test unless:
- you have a New Zealand license; or
- you hold a current overseas license and have previously held an Australian license - the exact regulations in this area can be complex and vary from state to state
- you hold a current license issued by an overseas country - including most of the European Union nations, Canada, the USA and Japan - whose licensing system is recognized as similar to Australia's. All Australian states and territories are moving to grant this exemption - as of May 2002 it has been implemented in WA, Victoria and Queensland, with NSW set to follow on 20 May 2002.
- If you are moving to another state/territory you will need to check with the government directly as to whether they have implemented this scheme or not.
Under NSW regulations, you can keep your overseas license once you obtain a NSW license (whether learner or full) but your overseas license will be endorsed so that it is no longer valid in the State.
You need proof of address in the State to get an NSW license. This can be quite simple, any official letter addressed to you there should do. If you are staying with friends and don't have anything official, one of them can sign the form to vouch for you as long as he/she holds a NSW license.
People on temporary visas in NSW can keep using their overseas licenses for longer than three months. They can get a NSW license if they wish, but will need to go through the testing process. One 'advantage' of continuing to use an overseas license is that as far as I know you can't get demerit points for things like speeding (although you can still be fined, and in extreme cases your visiting driver privileges could be taken away).
Bear in mind that in Australia, you generally have to carry your driving license (whether Australian or overseas) with you at all times. This is different from the practice in the UK
New South Wales traffic authority