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How to Apply for your Australian Driving License

How To Apply For Your Australian Driving LicenseApplying for my Australian Driving License is something I have been meaning to do for some time it’s just that I haven’t had chance to get around to it.

The timing thing was starting to worry me though. If you are a just a visitor to Western Australia then your allowed to drive for a period of 12 months.

If you intend on becoming or are already a permanent resident of WA (like me) then your supposed to obtain your WA drivers license within 3 months!

So 15 months later I thought it was time for me to get myself sorted! If I got stopped by the police then I think I’d probably get the book thrown at me.

What implications not having a valid license had on the validity of my car insurance goodness knows but if I wrote my car off I’m sure the news wouldn’t be good.

So, I trundled on down to my local licensing centre and got myself sorted.

Now before I go any further, this process relates to Western Australia only, if your moving to another state in Australia the process may be different so check with your local authority. You’ll find details and links for these at the bottom of this Blog entry. :)

Anyway, as a current holder of a UK driving license, obtaining my Western Australian License was a pretty straight forward process.

In Western Australia there are a number of ‘recognised countries‘ where the holders of driving licenses for these countries are exempt from taking the computerised theory test and may be also exempt from the requirement to undertake a practical driving assessment.

Applicants who hold motorcycle class equivalents are also exempt from the motorcycle theory test.

At time of typing the full list of recognised countries is as follows:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Croatia
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Guernsey
  • Ireland
  • Isle of Man
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Jersey
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • Singapore
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom
  • United States of America

Note that driver’s licenses issued by Malta and the Isle of Man are only ‘recognised’ where:

  • Isle of Man – the license was issued on or after 1 November 1991; and
  • Malta – the license was issued on or after 2 January 2004.

Proving your identity:

As part of the application process you’ll need to prove both your residency status and your identity.

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In my case I took a bank statement which confirmed my address and my passport to prove my ID (it also confirmed that I’ve lost far to much hair in the last 6 years since my passport photo was taken)!

If your driving license has your photograph on it then that should also suffice however me being me I never got around to getting one of those back in blighty either!

As a rule though, the licensing folks in Western Australia require both primary and secondary proof of your identity as well as proof of your residency in WA. At least one of the documents must include your signature.

Primary proof of identity can be such documents as your current license (if it has a photograph), a current passport or a birth certificate.

Secondary proof of identity can be such documents as an automatic teller machine (ATM) card issued by a finance institute, a credit card or a Medicare card.

If one of the documents that you use for your proof of identity has your WA address on it, then this will also satisfy the proof of residency requirements.

If not, you can use other documents that have your WA address on them to prove your residency. Examples would be a house rental agreement, a council rate notice or a bank statement. A place of employment cannot be used as a residential address.

Once you’ve confirmed you are who you say you are and not some foreign terrorist then you’ll then need to complete the application form.

The application form is a pretty straight forward document where you complete your address details, details about your current driving license (Driving license number, Classes of vehicles you’re able to drive etc), details of any medical conditions which might prevent you from driving, that kind of thing.

Once you’ve got this part sorted you then need to do a quick eyesight test.

Eyesight Test:

Having the ability to see where your driving is considered a good thing here in Australia so although the process of applying for your Australian driving license is an easy one you still need to take an eye test.

It’s not hard though. Taking the test is just like going to the opticians. You simply need to cover each eye up in turn with one hand whilst reading the bottom row of letters with your uncovered eye.

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I’d say at a guess the letters aren’t as small as the bottom row of letters you’d read to prove that you have 20:20 vision at your opticians so if you struggle with this bottom line like I do then don’t worry :)

Say Cheese!

The next thing you need to do to complete your application is to have your photograph taken. This photo will appear on your driving license and the folks at the licenses office do this for you so there’s no need to turn up with your own photo’s.

I have no idea what my photo looks like now. The lady at the licensing office said ‘You can smile when the light comes on’. I smiled but it was one of those half smiles which will probably leave me looking like some kind of serial killer. Still, most folks driving licenses have dodgy pictures on don’t they? :)

Show me the money

Now for the sad part. Yep the process is oh so straight forward but you still need to pay some of your hard earned cash to get your Australian Driving License.

It’s not to expensive though. Australian driving licenses are renewed on either an annual or 5 yearly basis. If you go for the five year license it works out a little cheaper. At time of typing the cost of a five year license is $116. There are concessions available with a five year license for the more ‘senior’ folks coming in at about $58.00.

So there you go. Once you’ve completed the application process your issued with a temporary license until your permanent license arrives. I was told by the lady in the licensing office that this should be with me in about two weeks.

It feels so good to be legal again :)

Useful Links (open in new window)

ACT. Road Transport Authority

Rego.act is your gateway to the Australian Capital Territory Road Transport Authority. Allows you to complete tasks related to vehicle registration, pay infringements, change your address and find information on driver licensing, parking and vehicle inspections.

International Driving Permits

An International Driving Permit (IDP) is proof that you hold a valid driver licence in your home country. IDPs are issued through state and territory motoring clubs. This page on the Smartraveller site links to relevant IDP authorities in each state.

Licensing & registration (Qld)

Queensland Transport’s driver licensing and vehicle registration information.

Licensing Services (WA)

Licensing Services manages a wide range of licensing functions for vehicles and drivers licences. You can make licensing payments via this site and change your details online.

Motor Vehicle Registry (MVR) (NT)

Provides motor vehicle inspection and registration, and driving licensing services throughout the Northern Territory.

Overseas Driver Licences

Austroads page containing information for overseas drivers on licences and driving while in Australia. Includes information regarding international licences

Roads and Traffic Authority, NSW

The Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) is responsible for promoting road safety and traffic management, driver licensing and vehicle registration in News South Wales. It is also responsible for the maintenance and development of the National Highway and State Road network in NSW. It provides funding assistance to Local Councils for Regional Roads and to a limited extent, for Local Roads.

Transport (SA)

Transport SA services all areas of transport, including air, rail, marine, freight, vehicle registration and driver licensing, and roads for South Australia.

Transport, DIER (Tas)

Transport is part of the Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources. The transport index page links to a range of transport related information including licence and registration information, concessions, safety, and roads and public transport information which is primarily concerned with roads, bridges, passenger and freight transport services.


VicRoads manages the Victorian road network and its use as an integral part of the overall transport system. This site includes links to information about licensing and registrations, road rules, road projects and road traffic information. From this site you can change your address, pay your registration, get a vehicle security certificate, check your driver history and check if land is affected by a road proposal.

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Written by Mark

As the founder of Getting Down Under, Mark is passionate about demystifying the process associated with a move to Australia. Having launched Getting Down Under in early January 2006 and made the move to Australia from the UK in the same year, Mark continues to share resources and support for those looking for assistance. If you have a question for Mark, please post in our Community Forums. Please note All information provided on Getting Down Under should be considered in conjunction with our disclaimer. Please seek professional advice if you have any doubts! 

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  1. I am 16 years old and have lived in Australia permanently since I was 5 years old. Can I apply for a South Australian drivers licence when I only hold a New Zealand passport? regards Billie

  2. Very interesting. When we migrated from the USA to South Australia in 1999, the fact that I had a US license (with an amazing driving record – and had had one for a long time) let me drive for a while in SA – *BUT* it meant nothing toward getting my SA license, despite the fact I had been driving for 20+ years. So to the SA authorities it was as if I was a brand new driver with NONE of my previous driving experience applying to my obtaining a license in SA.

    So, I had to take the entire set of tests as if I had never driven at all.

    To those who do not know this, in S.A. there is a sort of a “scam” going on in regards to your practical driving test.

    1) You can go through a driving school, and then as you perform various maneuvers well enough for your teacher to believe that you are competent, each item gets marked off on your “log book”.

    2) You take a single test of all your driving skills. Sounds fine until you know what this entails.

    They mean that you must complete every maneuver perfectly (and they are not joking around). This is not the same at all as a “Driving School” that uses a “log book” approach, where as you drive around with the teacher they mark off your various accomplishments.

    Now it just happens (at least back in 2000) that within the “must be perfect” tasks set for you … were included (of course) parking in EVERY normal manner. Here is the nasty part. When you parked in a lot between the lines, your car had to wind up within 15mm of “center perfect” from the exact center of those painted lines (no secondary adjustments are allowed – all in one motion and perfect). A similar method was used for the parallel parking test. Your car had to be within a very small margin of the exact center of the marked space to meet the TESTING requirements of acceptable distances. None of these bore any resemblance to “being legally parked”.

    You also cannot make ANY errors or you fail the entire test… so being 1mm to the left or right (or front or back) when you park, means that you failed your practical test.

    I have no idea if they became more SANE since 2000, but this is how it was back then.

    People who did not know this was going to occur (mostly migrants) had no idea that a ruler was going to be used… down to the millimeter… to check their parking accuracy. That information was not in anything printed that the person getting the test had access to. Nearly everyone failed of course… and then had to go through an entire training course at a driving school.

    Oh yes…. and unless you lived WAY OUT in the country, those tests were given to you by a driving instructor (the same person who stood to make a lot of cash off of you if you failed).

    As a nation, Australia (not just the state of SA either) has a very long reputation for providing financial support for various industries (like their driving schools) by pulling garbage like this.

    Had I known, I would have just paid to go to a driving school (with 20+ years of driving with a perfect record).

  3. I’m from New Zealand, I’m not sure if it is easy to apply or convert to an Australian Driving License. In New Zealand, their driver licence is valid for use for a limited period of time in many countries. An International Driving Permit may be obtained from the Automobile Association. To obtain an IDP a person must be 18 years of age or over, hold a full current licence and pay a NZ$20 fee.

  4. Was just wondering….my daughter has gone to WA to study in a uni. She had just recently before leaving Malaysia gotten her “P” license in Malaysia, P meaning Probationary. In Malaysia a new driver is subject to a two year “P” term before a full license is issued. Am wondering now would she be able to get a “P” license in WA also with the “P” she already has?

  5. i got my indian driving license and i want to transfer mine one .as india is not on list which are exempt fron practical assessment. i have pass my theory and eyesight.

    i have a good experience to drive in this country.but two times i have lose that.

    so plz tell e how can i pass the exam . is there any need we should take driving lesson from a driving that beneficial.

  6. In 1969-1971 I worked in Western Australia for Geotechnics ,Kings Park Road , Perth
    I changed my Brit licence for the Australian one sitting the theory test and achaiving 24/25.

    It is possible to get a replacement for this licence which I have since had stolen .
    Do the records go back this far? I am hoping to spend quite some time over there as my nephews family is emigrating.

  7. Please I need to know where I can translate my Egyptian driving license to use in Australia, for how long I can use the translated license & where I can have the Australian driving license.
    I’m a student.

    • You can use your translated license for 3 months, you can apply at any RTA office in NSW, go to the nearest RTA and they will advice you about the authorized offices to translate your International license.

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