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Australia at a Glance

Australia: Licenses and Traffic Rules

Driving in Australia evokes images of endless roads in a red desert. Indeed, the sheer size of the country means that expat drivers may face unexpected difficulties. We tell you all about venturing into the outback as well as rules and regulations for driving in Australia.

Driving Permits for Australia

As Australia is made up of five states and various territories, each has different specific regulations concerning driving and cars. Here is a summary of the most general rules for drivers to follow.

First and foremost, expat motorists need a driver’s license. When you intend to drive in any foreign country, it is always a good idea to apply for an International Driving Permit. It is accepted in almost every country worldwide and will save you a lot of trouble. The application is relatively simple and usually not very expensive. Ask at your local department of motor vehicles or motoring club.

Foreign nationals with a driver’s license in English may use their original license to drive in Australia for up to three months. After that time, they will have to apply for an Australian one and pay a small fee. The price depends on the territory.

If you are originally from

you may simply convert your foreign license to an Australian one. This requires an administrative fee as well.

If you come from another country, you are required to take both the written and practical Australian driving test. The minimum driving age is 16 in the Northern Territory, 18 in Victoria, and 17 in all other territories. However, there is an ongoing debate about proposals to raise the minimum age to 18 nationwide.

Traffic Rules and Regulations

Australia adheres to the points system. For each driving offense a number of so-called "demerit points" is added to your license. An accumulation of about a dozen demerit points in a three-year period will result in your license being suspended. However, it is wise to check the regulations of the individual territories concerning their specific point system.

As in most countries, it is compulsory for everyone in the car to wear a seatbelt at all times. Children must be placed in a restraint appropriate to their age. Australia has one of the toughest child restraint laws. In case of violation, the driver is at fault and punishment is given in the form of demerit points and a hefty fine. If you are caught using a hand-held mobile phone while driving, this will result in an immediate fine, and you will incur demerit points on the spot.

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