(This page has been updated due to changes in government policy. Amended paragraph identified by *)
Most new residents to Australia must complete the three tests to exchange their licence;
On road driving test (VORT)
Hazard Perception test.
You have only 90 days to do this from the date your permanent visa becomes valid. After this time, if you continue to drive you will be driving unlicensed and subject to severe penalties if discovered.
If after 90 days you have not passed the three tests and obtained a South Australian licence you must obtain a South Australian Learners Permit and may only drive with a Qualified Supervising Driver next to you and you must comply with all other Learner restrictions.
If you are a temporary resident you may continue to drive on your overseas licence provided that it remains valid. If your overseas licence is in a language other than English you are required to carry, in addition to your licence, an official translation or an International Driving Permit (IDP) issued by your home country.
An IDP is often the cheapest method. You should consult your embassy or consulate for advice if necessary. An IDP is not a licence but purely a United Nations authorised document to translate your licence into a number of languages. It is not valid on its own.
*As of 19th June 2017, on passing the theory test you will be issued with a Section 80 Temporary Driving Permit. The issue of this permit cancels your foreign licence so you are no longer permitted to drive within Australia on the basis of that license. If you do not complete the licensing process prior to the expiry of your Section 80 permit you will have to obtain a learner’s permit and follow the learner regulations. You will NOT be able to legally drive unsupervised within Australia until you complete the process. If you do so and are caught the penalties for driving without a license are very severe.*
If you are a temporary resident who is planning on applying for permanent residency it is a good idea to start the process of changing your licence before the clock starts ticking once you have your permanent visa.
New residents from some countries can do a direct exchange of their foreign licence for a full or provisional South Australian licence (depending on age). These countries are:
- Isle of Man
- United Kingdom
- United States of America
Holders of licences issued by the above countries can directly exchange their foreign licence for a South Australian Car or motorcycle licence only. If your foreign licence is for a heavy vehicle you must undertake a practical test in a vehicle of that class.
If you hold a valid New Zealand licence you may exchange that for a South Australian licence valid for all equivalent classes of vehicle.
Additionally, if you are over 25 years of age and hold a licence from one of the following countries you may also directly exchange your foreign licence for a South Australian Car or Motorcycle licence.
- Czech Republic
- Hong Kong
- Republic of Korea
Although the process is broadly the same throughout Australia, as in the countries that are recognised for direct exchange of licences, the actual procedures may vary. The information in this article is applicable to South Australia and may change as a result of any changes in legislation. I will endeavour to keep this article up to date if and when any changes do occur, however it is your responsibility to ensure you follow the most current legislation. A simple checklist can be found on the government website here to provide information on the process specifically to your situation.
I specialise in helping new residents obtain their South Australian licence and to adjust to safely drive on our roads, and am happy to assist in any way I can.
Even if you are able to exchange your overseas licence directly you may well benefit from a 2 hour in car session to assist you in adjusting to some of our more unusual road rules.
Visit our website for more information.