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Transport and Driving in Perth

Living in Perth is a rewarding experience for expats and locals. The capital of Western Australia is the most relaxed metropolis “down under”, providing both cultural activities and scenic beauty. Our expat guide to Perth introduces leisure, education, healthcare, and transport in the city.
Perth has both decent public transport and an extensive network of roadways.

Perth International Airport

Due to the city’s location in the remote southwest of the Australian continent, you are probably going to arrive in Perth via plane. The airport forms a little suburb of its own, about 11km from the central business district.

Perth Airport serves regional, domestic, and international flights by 20 airlines to circa 50 destinations. In August 2016, Abu Dhabi, Auckland, Bangkok, Christmas Island, Cocos Island, Denpasar, Doha, Dubai, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Johannesburg, Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Mauritius, and Singapore all had direct connections with Perth.

You can reach central Perth via public transport or the airport shuttle. The former option is cheaper, but less convenient. First, you need to take a free transfer bus from the international terminal (T1) to the domestic terminals (T3 and T4). There you can change to the Transperth bus #40, which takes about 47 minutes to reach the business district.

The Perth Airport Connect service will bring you directly to the CBD, for a fare of 15 AUD (one-way ticket for a single adult). Of course, you can simply hail a taxi. But like everywhere else, going by taxi is the costliest choice, with prices ranging between 43 AUD to central Perth and 97 AUD to Joondalup in the northern metro area.

Public Transportation in Perth

Perth itself has a public transport network – called “Transperth” – which consists of a wide network of trains and buses. The suburban rail services include six lines to Midland, Armadale-Thornlie, Fremantle, Joondalup, and Mandurah. Trains run from 5:00am to 0:00am-2:00am at a frequency of every 30 to every 2 minutes (the latter during rush hour).

Bus routes in Perth mostly serve as links to central suburban stops or train stations or as direct connections to the CBD. In the central business districts of Perth, Fremantle, and Joondalup, there are also free central area transit (CAT) buses during the day. If you are on a shopping spree or a tourist trail in the city center, you should take advantage of this.

Frequent passengers on public transport should make sure to buy a smart rider card. It allows you to add money on it for your fares instead of purchasing a ticket every time you use public transportation.  If you set up your smart rider card with Autoload, which creates a link to your debit account, you never have to worry about manually putting money onto your card. Autoload also gives you a discount of up to 25% on most fares.

Driving in Perth with an Overseas License

In case the public transport connections near your new home in Perth are rather insufficient, you’ll have to opt for driving instead. If you already have a driver’s license from your country of origin, you may wonder if it is valid in Perth.

If you have a tourist visa, a student visa, or a temporary work visa, you can indeed keep your overseas license as long as it is valid. If your overseas license is not in English, you need to have a certified translation or an international driving permit.

How to Get a Local Driving Permit for Western Australia

Everyone who has a permanent visa for Western Australia should apply for a local license after their first three months in Perth. The requirements for obtaining a driving permit in Western Australia may differ, depending on the country where your original license was issued, the type of vehicle you’d like to drive, and your personal health.

So, according to your specific situation, you may have

  • to provide verification of your overseas permit;
  • to take an eyesight exam;
  • to take a road theory / motorcycle theory / heavy vehicle theory test;
  • to participate in a practical driving test;
  • to undergo a medical examination.

Once you have fulfilled all requirements, you can swap your old license for a local permit. Please bring along the following documents to the nearest driver and vehicle center:

  • proof of identity
  • proof of address
  • current license and an official translation
  • one document showing your personal signature
  • the application fee (40.70 AUD for a standard transfer in 2016)

If you want to know more about driving in Australia, just check out this link to our InterNations guide. For specific questions concerning driving in Perth or Western Australia, make a local call to 13 11 56 (Monday – Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm) for further details.



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"After I moved to Australia, InterNations helped me connect with some compatriots in Perth and thus start enjoying the expat way of life. "

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