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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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