Getting A Driver’s License In Australia: A Complete Guide

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How can foreigners and permanent residents get a drivers licence in Australia.

Are you planning to get an Australian driver's license? You're in the right place!


This guide covers all you need to know about obtaining a license, from legal requirements to the application process. Despite a robust transportation system, having your vehicle is crucial in Australia due to its vastness, making a license a legal necessity.


Australia values road safety, enforcing strict traffic laws with a zero-tolerance policy for offences. Although some find the driving assessment challenging, proper learning ensures success on your first try.


This guide provides an overview of the Australian Driving License, the assessment process, the demerit point system, application steps, and more. Being well-prepared for the Driving Assessment increases your chances of passing.



1. Standard Terms Associated With The Australian Driver's Licence


Let us begin by learning the standard terms associated with the Australian driver's licence and what you should know about them:



Department of Transport


Every state or territory in Australia has its own Department of Transport (often called DOT). These DOTs are in charge of granting driver's licences to individuals who have applied for them. Any licences issued by the Department of Transport are valid throughout all Australian states.



Demerit Points


A driver's license (DL) is issued with 11 to 13 demerit points valid for three years. Different DOTs have different demerit points.


For each traffic rule violation, a specific number of demerit points will be deducted. The number of demerit points removed varies, depending on the severity of the offence. If you are on an extended vacation, the number of demerit points assigned to each sort of offence will get doubled.


Furthermore, your driving licence will get cancelled if you're left with zero demerit points, and you will be ineligible to apply for a new license for the following three months. As a result, when driving in Australia, extreme caution is required.



2. How to Prepare For Your Driver's Licence Application


Here is everything you need to know about preparing for your driving licence application in Australia:



If You Have An Overseas Driving Licence


Visitors on a temporary visa (not a permanent visa) from other countries are conditionally authorised to drive with their existing overseas driver's licence for their stay, except for Victoria and Northern Territory. Regarding Australian driver's licenses for foreigners, every Australian state and territory has its conditions.


Generally, drivers must bring their foreign driver's licence and submit a copy with other needed documents for a 100-point check when applying for a learner's permit.


An International Driving Permit or a certified translation is only necessary if the licence is not in English. However, you must anyway carry your original licence with you. As per Australian driver's license NSW (New South Wales) conditions, if a driver becomes a permanent resident of NSW, they must obtain a local licence within three months.


A resident of Victoria who intends to stay for more than six months is not authorised to drive with an international licence for more than six months (calculated using the Australia entry date or the visa grant, whichever is later).


People holding a driver's licence from a non-recognised country must possess a Driving Licence Verification Certificate and other papers. To see a list of recognised countries, visit this website.



If You Do Not Have an Overseas Driving Licence


If you do not possess an overseas driving licence, you must submit all the documents necessary for a 100-point check when applying for a learner's licence. Here's everything you need to know about a 100-point check:


The 100-point check is used in Australia to verify and establish someone's identification. The Australian government uses this personal identification system to prevent financial transaction fraud perpetrated by businesses and individuals.


The Australian government maintains a standard list of documents that an individual needs to present for a 100-point check. These documents are divided into sections, with specific points for each section. If you are required to meet a 100-point check in any situation, you must be able to submit documents totalling up to 100 points.


The documents are divided into two categories: primary and secondary. Any primary document has a point value of 70. You must submit at least one secondary document with your picture if you cannot present your primary documents.


The secondary documents on the list are worth 40 / 25 points. The tables below contain specific information about the documents as well as the points they include:





  • 70


  • 0 or 1 document

Types of Documents
  • Birth Card

  • Birth Certificate

  • Expired passport

  • (not cancelled and expired in previous two years)

  • Current Passport

  • Citizenship Certificate

  • Documents with same characteristics to a passport

  • (documents granted to refugees for identification purposes and diplomatic documents)




40 Point Documents

35 Point Documents

25 Point Documents


Submission: 0 or 1 document

Types of Documents:


  • A Boat Licence

  • Australian Driving Licence

  • Student Identity Card

  • Public Employee Identification Card


Submission: 0 or 1 document

Types of Documents:


  • Document from your employer within the last two years

  • Land Titles Office record


Submission: 0 or 1 document of each category

Category 1

  • Foreign Driving Licence

  • Medicare Card

Category 2

  • Utility bill

Category 3

  • Rent agreement

Category 4

  • Educational Records



3. How To Get A Permanent Driving Licence In Australia?


All DOTs (Departments of Transport) in Australia have a simplified driving licence process. 


Here are some most common steps you can follow to obtain a permanent driving licence in Australia:



Step 1: Get A Learner's License


You must first complete an online assessment to obtain a learner's license. In this Australian driver's license test, you will get multiple-choice questions on road safety. You must ensure that 80 per cent of your answers are correct. 


After passing the online test, you will receive a learner's permit. Keep in mind that everyone must obtain a learner's license. 


Note: The test consists of around 30 questions.



Step 2: Learn And Practice Driving With Australian Regulations


Before taking the Practical Driving Assessment, learn and practise driving with Australian rules and regulations. Driving instructors can teach you how to drive. 


You will find several driving schools in every Australian city where you can learn how to drive efficiently without breaking any rules.



Step 3: Appear for Practical Driving Assessment (PDA)


You can take the Practical Driving Assessment (PDA) after you understand the road safety laws in Australia and are confident about your driving skills.


You will be seated next to an examiner during your PDA, who will ask you to follow the instructions. The PDA incorporates five sections, each requiring you to do certain activities. 


At the end of the examination, the examiner will inform you whether you have received the licence or not based on how well you performed in each area.



Step 4: Obtain Red P or P1


After passing your PDA, you will need to practise driving with some limitations, such as maintaining a blood alcohol level of zero, a speed limit of 90 kilometres per hour and the ability to pull trailers weighing up to 250 kg. 


Additionally, only a few demerit points are awarded to P1 drivers. P1 drivers must hold their licence for a year before moving on to the next step.




Step 5: Get a Green P or P2


After a year of holding a Red P, you will receive a Green P or P2. As a P2 driver, you will only get a certain number of demerit points. Once you have your P2 driver's licence for six months, you will be eligible for a full driver's licence.


P2 holders are also subject to certain limitations, such as a blood alcohol level of zero and a speed limit of no more than 100 kilometres per hour.



Step 6: Get a Full Licence 


After six months of holding a Green P licence, you will be eligible for a full licence. Once you receive your full driver's licence, you can drive at the maximum speed limit. Furthermore, your full licence will give you access to all demerit points.


If you have an overseas driver's licence and have been driving for at least six years before applying for an Australian driver's licence, you will be issued a full licence instantly after passing the PDA.


If you want more information about the driver's licence application process for a specific state or territory, check out the Australian government website.


Note: Although the format of the online assessment and PDA, the number of demerit points, and the process of obtaining a full licence is similar in all states, the numbers associated with these processes may differ. Please consult the respective official Department of Transport websites for additional information:




4. How Old Do You Have to Be To Get Your License in Australia?


The age limit to get your driver's licence in Australia depends on where you reside. You will also need to take a few steps to ensure you are ready to drive safely.


You first need to get a learner's permit for supervised driving, then move to a restricted, probationary or provisional licence, which allows you to drive by yourself (also known as your Ps), before obtaining a full driver's licence.


Check out the table below to learn the age requirements in different states and territories to get a learner's permit in Australia:



State / Territory Age Requirement To
Get a Learner’s Permit

Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

15 years and nine months or older

New South Wales (NSW)

16 years or older

Northern Territory (NT)

16 years or older

South Australia (SA)

16 years or older

Queensland (QLD)

16 years or older

Victoria (VIC)

16 years or older

Tasmania (TAS)

16 years or older

Western Australia (WA)

16 years or older



5. Australian Drivers License For International Students


Only those with a valid driver's licence are allowed to drive in Australia. You always need to carry your driver's licence with you when driving. As an international student, one thing to remember is that you are a temporary resident of Australia. The Australian transport authorities must approve your home country's driver's licence.


Suppose your driver's licence is in your home country's language and not in the English language - in that case, you need to get an international driving permit from your home country or a certified translation in English.


You can apply for one in Australia if you do not have a driver's licence. You need to check with your territory's or state's motor registration and take some assessments. Remember, you still have to apply for a driver's licence even if you get an Australian PR (permanent residency).


There are numerous other advantages of international students getting an Australian driver's licence. It will serve as your principal identity document everywhere you travel in Australia. It can also assist in job searches because some positions demand a driver's licence. Overall, it allows you to go wherever and whenever you want!



6. Road Rules in Australia


If you want to drive a vehicle in Australia, you must get familiar with the local road laws, which may differ from other countries (like driving on the left side of the road). Each state and territory has its rules, so be sure you understand the ones that apply to your residence. 


Some of the most common rules include wearing a seat belt, using hand-held cell phones while driving, and speed limits.


Driving under the influence of illegal substances or with a blood alcohol concentration above 0.05 is likewise banned in all regions of Australia. If you are found guilty of an offence, you might be required to pay a fine. You may even lose your licence or face criminal charges in serious situations.


Now that you know everything about getting a driver's license in Australia, you are ready to start getting your Australian driver's license, which will give you the freedom to go anywhere, anytime.


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