Driving in Australia is mostly great fun! We have some great road trips, so it’s worth taking a drive when you visit! But many travelers aren’t sure about the laws. Can you drive in Australia with an overseas license? Is there an Australian drivers license for foreigners? Do you need an International Drivers License in Australia?
This post explains the laws about overseas visitors wanting to drive here, and who can drive in Australia with a foreign license. It will also help new residents wondering whether they can drive in Australia as a foreigner.
For info about general Australian driving rules, see our guide to Australian driving laws for travelers and ex-pats.
Can I drive in Australia with a foreign license?
The laws about driving in Australia with an overseas license are different in different states. Generally, you’re allowed to drive in Australia with an overseas drivers license if you’re a temporary visitor. If your license isn’t written in English, you’ll need to carry a formal English translation or an International Driving Permit.
That rule doesn’t include New Zealanders. Kiwis are treated like interstate visitors and need to apply for a local license after 3 months living in Australia.
Note also that the laws are different in the Northern Territory. Read the Northern Territory section of this page if that’s where you’re headed.
If you’re planning to live in Australia, you can drive with your overseas license for three months (six in Victoria) before you’ll need to have a local license. If you’re in Australia temporarily, but longer than 3 months, some states ask you to apply for a temporary drivers license.
Jump to your state:
- New South Wales
- South Australia
- Western Australia
- The Northern Territory
International drivers permits and license translations in Australia
If your license is not written in English, you’ll need to carry either an international drivers license (also known as an international drivers permit) or a formal translation of your overseas license. You’ll need to carry the original versions of these documents when you drive, along with your overseas license.
An international drivers permit is a certified document, but not an actual drivers license itself. International driving permits are issued from the same country as your license, normally from official motoring groups. Check with your country’s licensing office on how to obtain one.
Formal license translations need to be done by an approved translator*. They can also come from a consulate office in Australia. Check with your country’s consulate in Australia for more information.
Can I drive a GoGet with an overseas license?
GoGet is a car sharing service that allows you to use a range of cars without owning them. It’s very useful for travellers and expats living in Australia temporarily, who don’t want to bother with the cost or hassle of buying a car.
We don’t mind if you have an overseas license – you can still drive a GoGet and access all of our cars. Of course, you also need to follow the laws of the state you’re driving in, as you won’t be covered if you’re driving illegally.
To find the nearest GoGet car to your Australian home, you can search our entire fleet here.
Driving in Australia with a foreign license – state rules
Here are the rules for each Australian state about driving with a foreign license. No matter what state you’re in, you always need to have a current overseas drivers license with you when you drive. Also, you can only drive the type of vehicles that you’re licensed to drive on your overseas license, and you must always obey the local road rules.
Note: These conditions apply to full license holders, not learner or provisional drivers. Generally, if you have an overseas learner’s permit, you’ll need to re-apply for a local learner’s permit. Contact the state license authority for details on your circumstance.
New South Wales
As a temporary visitor, you can drive on your overseas license as long as:
- It remains current;
- You aren’t disqualified from driving while you’re in Australia;
- Your license isn’t suspended or cancelled; and,
- You remain a temporary visitor.
If you’re an Australian citizen living overseas, you’re still considered a temporary visitor and the above rules apply.
You don’t need an International Driving Permit if your overseas license is written in English. If your overseas license is written in another language, you’ll need to carry a formal translation or International Driving Permit.
If you have a permanent visa you must have a local license by the time you’ve lived in NSW for three months.
In Victoria, the conditions around driving on overseas licenses changes based on your visa status.
If you are a temporary visa holder:
- You can drive on a current overseas drivers license, and do not need a Victorian license;
- Your overseas license will be fine for the length of your stay; and,
- You must have your license written in English. Alternatively, you must carry a formal English translation or International Drivers Permit.
If you are a permanent visa holder:
- You can drive on your current overseas license for six months from the date you entered Australia (if the visa was issued before arrival); or,
- You can use a current overseas license for six months after the date your visa was issued (if it was issued after you arrived in Australia).
After six months, permanent residents need to apply for a Victorian drivers license.
In Queensland you can drive with an overseas license as long as your authority to drive in Queensland hasn’t been withdrawn. If your overseas license isn’t written in English, you’ll need to carry a formal English translation of it with you.
Your authority to drive in Queensland on your overseas drivers license will be suspended if:
- An Australian court has disqualified you from driving;
- You’re convicted of driving over 40km per hour over the speed limit;
- You haven’t paid fines issued to you;
- You’re ruled medically unfit to drive;
- You’re an Australian citizen and have lived in Queensland for three months or more; or,
- You have a residential visa and have been living in Queensland for over three months.
A permanent resident must have a Queensland drivers license once they’ve been living there for 3 months.
The South Australian government says a temporary international visitor can drive in the state, as long as they have:
- No driving disqualifications in any country; and,
- A current overseas license written in English; or,
- A current overseas license with a formal English translation, or an international drivers permit.
If your overseas license expires while in South Australia, you must apply for a South Australian license to continue driving.
In Canberra/the Australian Capital Territory, you can use your overseas license to drive, as long as your visa remains a temporary visa and your overseas license remains current. However, if you’ve moved to the ACT to live, you need to apply for an ACT license within three months.
Temporary visitors can include:
- Business people;
- People visiting friends or relatives;
- Visitors on working holiday visas; and,
- People temporarily working or studying in the ACT who plan to return home afterwards.
If you’re driving in Canberra with your foreign license, you always need to have it with you. You also need an International Driving Permit or English translation of your license if it’s not in English.
In Tasmania, temporary visa holders can use an overseas license under a few conditions. Permanent visa holders can use an overseas license under the same conditions for the first 3 months of their visa. After that, they need to have a Tasmanian drivers license.
These are the conditions you need to follow.
- Your overseas license must be current.
- You can’t have been disqualified from driving anywhere in the world.
- Your license can’t be suspended or cancelled.
- Your right to drive can’t have been withdrawn by the state.
- You can’t have been given a Tasmanian license.
- You must carry your license with you. You’ll also need an International Driving Permit or English translation if the license isn’t in English.
Visiting drivers may use a current overseas license when driving in Western Australia, as long as they hold a temporary visa. You are a visiting driver in WA if you are:
- A members of an overseas defence forces;
- A family member of an overseas defence force member;
- Visiting WA on business;
- On a working holiday visa;
- Temporarily working in WA;
- A student studying in WA; or,
- A tourist visiting WA.
If you have an English language license, you only need to carry it with you when you drive. However, if your overseas drivers license is not in English, you must carry a formal English translation of it or an international driving permit.
You also must not have your license suspended or cancelled, nor be disqualified from driving anywhere.
If you’re on a permanent visa, you may use your overseas license for up to three months before you’ll need to apply for a Western Australian license.
The Northern Territory
While most states have similar rules for using an overseas license in Australia, The Northern Territory is an exception. In the Northern Territory, you are not allowed to drive with an overseas license more than 3 months after arriving in the state, regardless of whether you’re a temporary visitor or a permanent resident.
For the first three months, you must carry your license with you. You also need to carry a formal English translation or an international drivers permit if the license is not written in English.
After the first three months, you must apply for a Northern Territory drivers license. You can apply for an exception to this. There are no standard circumstances where an exception will be granted, it’s on a case-by-case basis. The details for how to apply for an exception can be found on this webpage.
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