Everything you need to know about driving in Australia as a foreigner
Australia is a vast country with incredible sights. Endless road trips make it the perfect country to hire a car and set out exploring.
If you’re wondering about driving in Australia with an overseas licence, read on. We’re explaining, in simple terms, the laws around Australian driver’s licences for foreigners.
Rest assured – it’s all pretty easy in the end. Let’s hit the road.
Can I use a foreign licence to drive in Australia?
Driving in Australia with an overseas licence differs from state to state. Generally, you can drive in Australia with an overseas licence if:
- you’re a temporary visitor
- you carry your licence with you
- you carry an accepted English translation if your licence isn’t in English.
But it does get a bit more complicated at times. If you’re coming from New Zealand, Australia simply treats you as an interstate driver, and you must apply for an Australian licence after 3 months. Planning on driving in the beautiful Northern Territory (NT)? Check the specifics for the NT as some foreign driving laws differ.
When planning to live and drive in Australia long term, you’ll need a standard Australian licence after your first three months are up (though it’s six in Victoria). Or, if you’re staying temporarily, but longer than three months, some states require you to get a temporary Australian driver’s licence.
- Do I need an Australian drivers licence? No.
- Do I need an international driver’s licence in Australia? Not usually.
- Can I use my overseas driving licence in Australia? Yes, on a temporary stay.
Now let’s break all of that down for you to clarify things.
English licence translations and international driver’s licence in Australia
Getting an Australian driver’s licence, for foreigners, isn’t necessary. As we covered above, driving in Australia with an overseas licence is generally allowed if you’re a temporary visitor. Whether you have an Indian, German or Chinese driver’s licence doesn’t matter. All official foreign licences are recognised in Australia.
You may also drive in Australia with an international driver’s licence (sometimes called an international driver’s permit).
But if your licence isn’t written in English and you don’t carry an international driver’s licence, you’ll need to carry a formal English translation of your overseas licence.
Formal licence translations must be carried out by an approved translator, usually from NAATI or AUSIT. However they can also come from your country’s consulate office in Australia. Keep in mind that you’ll need to have the original translations with you when you drive, not just photocopies.
Can I use Car Next Door with my overseas licence?
Yes, you can use Car Next Door with a foreign or international driver’s licence. We’d love to have you. In fact, our easy car hire is perfect if you’re a traveller or expat – you probably don’t want the extra expense of owning a car. You can choose from over 5,000 cars around the country and we have cars close to home, airports and train stations to help you get around.
Once you verify your licence, you can instantly book cars, utes and vans from your neighbours with:
- no monthly fees
- free cancellation up to 48 hours before your trip
- damage cover included in all trips
- 24/7 support
- contactless pickup with Instant Keys.
Seems pretty easy to use, doesn’t it? It really is. But you also need to be sure you’re following the licensing laws for each state that you drive in. Let’s take a look at that now, state by state, and make driving in Australia with an overseas licence easy.
State rules for driving in Australia with a foreign licence
In Australia, laws and driving regulations are different in each state and territory. In most places, you can drive on an overseas licence as long as it is current. Of course, you can only drive the types of vehicles which your overseas licence authorises you to, and you must drive according to any conditions on your foreign licence.
We get asked a lot of questions about state rules, like, “Can I drive in NSW with an overseas licence?”. Here’s our state-by-state breakdown of Australia’s licensing laws so you can be sure to get it right.
Driving in New South Wales with an overseas license
As a temporary visitor to New South Wales (NSW), you can use your overseas licence if it’s current, not disqualified, suspended or cancelled, and you remain a temporary visitor.
It’s important to note that if you’re an Australian resident living overseas, you’re still considered a temporary visitor and the same rules apply.
If your overseas licence isn’t in English, you’ll need to carry a formal translation or an international driver’s licence.
And if you’ve moved to Australia permanently, you need to get an Australian licence before three months are up. Service NSW has more information available. And you can use Car Next Door to find the perfect car rental in NSW, close to where you’ll be travelling.
Driving in Queensland with an overseas licence
You can drive with an overseas licence in Queensland. As with other states, if your overseas licence isn’t written in English, you need to carry a formal English translation of it with you.
If you’re an Australian citizen or have a residential visa, and have been living in Queensland for over three months, you must apply for a local licence.
Driving in Victoria with an overseas licence
Can you drive with your overseas driver’s licence in Victoria? Yes you can, but the rules change a little depending on what visa you hold.
If you have a temporary visa:
- you can drive on a current overseas driver’s licence for the length of your stay
- your foreign licence must be written in English, unless you also carry a formal English translation.
If you’re a permanent visa holder:
- you can use your current overseas licence for six months after entering Australia (if you visa was issued before you arrived in Australia)
- if your visa was issued after you arrived in Australia, you can use your current overseas licence for six months after the date your visa was issued
Permanent residents must have a Victorian driver’s licence after six months.
Need to know more? Learn more about driving with an overseas driver’s licence in Victoria. Or find your perfect car rental in Victoria.
Driving in South Australia with an overseas licence
As with the other states and territories, as a temporary visitor you can drive in South Australia with an overseas licence. But you must:
- not be disqualified to drive in any country
- have a current overseas licence written in English (or a formal English translation)
- carry your overseas licence with you when you drive
For more information, check with Service South Australia about driving with an overseas licence. You can even quickly check if you can transfer your overseas driver’s licence.
The easy bit? Finding your ideal car rental in South Australia to make your travels even better.
Driving in Australian Capital Territory (Canberra) with an overseas licence
In the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), which many international visitors simply know as Canberra, you can drive with a current overseas licence on a temporary visa. If you’re moving to the ACT permanently, you need to apply for a local licence within three months.
Temporary visitors can include tourists, business people, those visiting friends and family, people on a working holiday, or people temporarily working or studying in the ACT who plan to return home afterwards.
When you’re driving in Canberra with an overseas licence, you must carry it with you, along with a formal English translation if it’s not written in English.
Driving in Tasmania with an overseas licence
As a temporary visa holder in Tasmania, you can drive with an overseas licence, so long as you follow a few rules.
- Your overseas licence is current.
- Your right to drive can’t have been withdrawn by the state.
- You’re not disqualified from driving anywhere in the world.
- Your licence hasn’t been suspended or cancelled.
- You haven’t been given a Tasmanian licence.
- You must carry your licence with you, or an English translation if the licence isn’t in English.
If you have a permanent visa, you can use an overseas licence for the first 3 months. After that, you need a local drivers licence.
Driving in Western Australia with an overseas licence
You can drive with a current overseas licence in Western Australia (WA), as long as you hold a temporary visa. You’re considered a visiting driver in WA if you are:
- a member of an overseas defence force (or family member of the person serving)
- on a working holiday visa or temporarily working in WA
- a student studying in WA
- a tourist visiting WA
- visiting on business.
If you’ve been granted a permanent visa, you need to apply for a Western Australian licence within three months.
And again, as with the other states and territories, if your licence is not written in English then you must carry an English translation (or an international driver’s licence).
Driving in Northern Territory with an overseas licence
The Northern Territory (NT) is a little different from other states and territories when it comes to driving in Australia with an overseas licence.
In the NT, regardless of whether you’re a temporary visitor or a permanent resident, you’re not allowed to drive with an overseas licence more than 3 months after arriving in the state.
For the first three months you must carry your licence with you, along with a formal English translation if required. You may also drive with an international driving permit in Northern Territory.
While the law says you need to drive with an NT driver’s licence after three months, you can apply for an exemption. Learn more about the rules for visiting drivers to the NT. Otherwise, start searching for the perfect companion to your travels in the beautiful Northern Territory.
Which country's driving Licence is valid in Australia?
Whether you’re visiting from overseas or you've moved here permanently, it’s important to make sure that you’re driving legally and safely. We get asked a lot, “Is driving in Australia with an overseas licence allowed?”
And the answer is Yes. You can drive in Australia with an overseas licence. Whether you’re coming from Sri Lanka, Malaysia, India, Canada, the UK, the US, Vietnam or the Philippines doesn’t matter. You can drive in Australia with any overseas licence. All country’s driving licences are valid in Australia.
You may also drive with an international driver’s licence, but you don’t need one. If your licence is not written in English, you will need a formal English translation. Make sure you check the rules for each state you visit.
Frequently asked questions
How long can I drive in Australia on a foreign licence?
How long you can drive in Australia on a foreign licence depends on which state in Australia you are driving in. Most states allow you to drive for three months, depending on your visa type, but Victoria will allow you six months driving with an overseas licence. Check the rules of the state you will be driving in.
Is an international licence valid in Australia?
Yes. An international driver’s licence is valid in Australia. You may use this to drive in every state and territory. Depending on your visa type, and where you are in Australia, you will eventually need to apply for a local licence. This usually happens after three months, but it is sometimes longer.
Is an international licence valid in Australia?
Yes. Foreigners can get an Australian driver’s licence. In fact, it is a requirement when you stay for a certain length of time. In most states and territories, after three months, you will need to apply for an Australian licence. However in Victoria you can drive with a foreign licence for six months.
Can you use an international driver’s licence to buy a car?
Yes. You can buy a car in Australia with an international driver’s licence. You don’t need a driver’s licence to buy a car in Australia. For more information, see our article about car finance for international students (it will be a useful read even if you’re not a student).
Recap: driving in Australia with an overseas licence
Driving in Australia with an overseas licence is pretty simple really. You can drive the same type of vehicle as you’re allowed to in your home country, usually for up to three months (but it varies state by state). So double check the laws and regulations for each state you plan to visit, and then go ahead with planning a great time. Use Car Next Door to see our beautiful country and make your travel truly easy.
The information published on this blog is of a general nature only and does not consider your personal objectives, financial situation or particular needs. The information published on this site/page should not be relied upon as a substitute for personal financial or professional advice. Information included in this article is accurate as of 23 May 2022.