Can you drive with a foreign licence in Victoria?
According to the Department of Transport and Planning (DTP), those visiting from other countries overseas are allowed to drive a vehicle using their overseas driver licence in Victoria, if it is current and valid, for up to six months.
If living in Victoria for more than six months, then you will need convert your overseas licence to a Victorian one. This applies to any foreign nationals regardless of their visa status, including temporary and permanent visa holders.
If your driver licence is from a recognised country (see below), you may only need your foreign licence converted by VicRoads to obtain a Victorian licence, rather than undergoing tests.
If your driver licence is not from a recognised country, you may need to prepare and take the tests to convert your licence to a current and valid Victorian one.
Remember that is an offence to drive unlicensed in Victoria, and heavy penalties apply if you are caught driving without a valid licence.
How is driving in Victoria different?
There are many Australian wide rules that may take overseas drivers some practise to get used to. For example, driving on the left-hand side of the road, speed limits written in kilometres (not miles), and merging on roads and freeways.
Silvia Morris, Senior Instructor with RACV Drive School, says that, “unprepared overseas licence holders are often surprised by the stricter requirements to pass a driving test in Victoria compared to their own country. Often, they have more road rules to learn and more new habits they need to develop than they realise.”
There are also Victorian road rules specific to our state, such as driving around trams and buses, which many people misunderstand, gaining knowledge in Melbourne city hook turns; parking, road lanes, and marking, and our rules when sharing the road with scooters and cyclists.
Which countries are recognised by Victorian road law?
A spokesperson from the DTP says that safety is at the forefront of recognising foreign licences in Victoria. “The safety of everyone using our roads is our highest priority – no matter where they obtained their licence,” they said.
According to the DTP, ‘recognised countries’ are those which feature the following criteria as part of their licensing standards:
- Mandatory learner driver requirements
- Driving assessment of a similar standard to that in Australia
- Licence documentation proof of identity
- Training and qualification information of the persons who conducted tests
- Information for both car and motorcycle licences are required
If a person holds a current and valid licence from a recognised country, no test is required to obtain a Victorian driver licence, although they will still need to convert it to a Victorian one after residing in Victoria for six months.
The following countries are recognised in Victoria by Austroads and the DTP:
- Australia (interstate)
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Canada (although licences from Ontario must be surrendered)
- Isle of Man (for licences first issued on or after 1 April 1991)
- Malta (for licences first issued on or after 2 Jan 2004)
- Netherlands (Holland)
If a driver’s country is not recognised, to continue driving on Victorian roads after six months, they will need to sit the Victorian Learner Permit Test, the Hazard Perception Test and the Drive Test to obtain a current and valid licence.
Separate rules may apply for consular and diplomatic staff and Defence Force personnel. Please check the VicRoads website for the most updated information.