5 Things You Need To Know Before Driving A Car in Australia

An International student is driving a car for the first time in Australia on the left side of the road.


Students who study in Australian educational institutions located in faraway places can choose to get a vehicle so that it's easy for them to get around.


You might not require a car if you are studying in metropolitan cities like Melbourne and Sydney, but in smaller cities, it can be difficult to travel using Australia public transportation services.


Having a car gives you the benefit of exploring beautiful places in the country. While it’s not mandatory to buy your own car, it can be an option for you to consider.


This post contains important information that will help you learn more about the driver's licence, insurance and car maintenance in Australia.



1. Driver Licences


Only people with a valid driver’s licence can drive in Australia. You need to always have your driver’s licence with you when driving.


One crucial thing to remember is that international students are temporary residents in Australia, which means your home country's driver’s licence needs the approval of the transport authority in Australia.


If your driver's licence is not in English, you’ll have to get a certified translation in English or claim an international driving permit from your home country.


You can also apply for a driver licence in Australia if you don’t have one. For that, you need to look into your territory or state’s motor registry and go through some tests. Even if you gain permanent residency in Australia, you need to apply for an Australian driver’s licence.


An Australian driver's licence for international students has several other benefits. Wherever you go in Australia, it will act as your primary identification document. It can also help in the employment process as some jobs require a driver’s licence.


All in all, it gives you the freedom to go anywhere anytime.



2. Driving in Australia


Driving is a little tricky for international students in Australia as they need to know the basic road rules of the country. Here are some road rules that you should follow in order to avoid penalties and accidents in Australia:


  • Drive on the left-hand side of the road.

  • Always carry your driving licence.

  • The driver including the passengers needs to wear safety belts in the car.

  • Littering and throwing anything out of your car is strictly prohibited.

  • Be cautious of speed limits and make sure to follow them.

  • Never use a mobile phone while driving.

  • Kids younger than seven years must be seated in their own car seats.

  • Last but not least, don’t drink and drive.


To drive in Australia, you need to abide by these rules. If caught violating any of the rules, then you can expect to be fined heavily and in some cases even face criminal charges. Australia has very high fines, so you must obey these rules.   


You might want to consider other things while driving in Australia - The Central Business Districts (CBDs) face heavy traffic and are typically busy with congestion, so avoid driving in such areas.


And if you want to travel to the outback, there are tollways in cities like Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne that you can pay for, using an e-Tag (electronic toll collection system).



3. Purchasing a Car


Buying, running and maintaining a car in Australia can be an expensive affair for international students. Owning a car in cities like Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne is not necessary as you have access to public transport in Australia, which makes it easy to travel around.


Purchasing a car in Australia also means that you have to look after other payments like registration, servicing, insurance, repairs and petrol.


According to research conducted by RACV in 2020, the average cost to own, run and maintain a car in Australia is around AUD $10,894 per year and AUD$209.50 per week.


Also, it’s important to note that international students are not allowed to take loans, so you might have to look for a different source of income to fund your car purchase costs.



4. Insurances


To drive in Australia, it’s compulsory you get car insurance to cover the costs that may occur due to road accidents that may damage your and other party’s car or cause any injury.


Here are a few types of car insurances that you can take in Australia:



Most states in Australia include compulsory third party insurance in your registration fees. Third party property insurance and comprehensive insurance are optional in Australia.


Now let’s see what all these insurances cover and not cover:


Tpes Of Insurances Covers Not Covers

Compulsory Third Party

  • Injuries or deaths in an accident
  • Damage to your car
  • Damage to other party’s car
  • Damage or loss by theft


  • Damage to your car
  • Damage to other party’s car
  • Damage or loss by theft
  • Injuries or deaths in an accident

Third party property, theft and fire insurance

  • Damage to your car
  • Damage to other party’s car
  • Damage or loss by theft
  • Injuries or deaths in an accident

Third party property insurance

  • Damage to other party’s car
  • Damage to your car
  • Damage or loss by theft
  • Injuries or deaths in an accident


You can choose from a variety of insurance companies in Australia. You should thoroughly research your options to get the highest level of cover at a low cost.



5. State Authorities for Driver Licensing


Each territory and state in Australia has its own set of regulations related to licensing. In order to find the details of the motor authority in a particular state of Australia, check the following links:



Note: If you get the Australian permanent residency, you’ll need to obtain a driving licence within the first 6 months of getting PR. If you fail to do so, you’ll be forbidden to drive in Australia on an overseas licence.


Useful Links to Explore:

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