Can migrants and tourists drive in Victoria with a foreign driver's licence?

man and woman driving a car

Jessica Taylor Yates

Posted January 27, 2023

Is it legal to drive in Victoria with a licence from overseas? Here's everything you need to know to get on the road in Victoria with an international driver's licence.

From the age of 16, an individual can obtain a Learner Permit in Victoria with VicRoads. They are then required to complete 120 hours of driving with an accompanying adult before taking the Hazard Perception and Drive Tests from the age of 18 to gain their driver licence permit. 

But what if you already have a driver licence from overseas? Can you drive a car with a foreign license in Victoria?

That depends on the type of licence you have, the country you received it from, and how long you are planning to use it in Victoria. 

Here’s everything to know about driving with a foreign licence in Victoria. 

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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)
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Canada (although licences from Ontario must be surrendered)
  • Croatia
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Guernsey
  • Ireland
  • Isle of Man (for licences first issued on or after 1 April 1991)
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Jersey
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta (for licences first issued on or after 2 Jan 2004)
  • Netherlands (Holland)
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • Singapore
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • UK
  • USA

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. 


mature age man driving

Even if you have had an overseas licence for some time, you may be required to sit a test. Image: Getty. 

How to convert to a Victorian driver licence

There will be different processes for obtaining a Victorian driver licence depending on the current licence you hold. 

“The type of licence or permit you'll receive, as well as the process you need to follow to convert your licence will vary depending on how old you are, how long you've had your licence for, the issuing county of your licence, and the status of your international licence,” says Morris. 

The first step you will need to take to convert your overseas license is by completing a short form on the VicRoads website which asks for:

  • The country your licence was issued in

  • Your date of birth

  • Your arrival date in Victoria

  • Any infringements on your licence

After this, you will be directed as to the steps and eligibility criteria you will need to meet to gain a Victorian driver licence.

If you are required to take a test with VicRoads to obtain a Victorian driver license, some of the tests you may need to complete include:

  • Learner Permit Test (online or in-person)
  • Hazard Perception Test (online or in-person)
  • Drive Test (in-person only)

Before the driver licence test, you apply for a Learner Permit, or your ‘L’s.’

A learner permit allows you to drive with an experienced driver with a current and valid driver licence for practise. You can also take driving lessons to increase your knowledge and confidence on Victorian roads. For assistance, you can take lessons with RACV Drive School.

Remember that when visiting VicRoads, you need to bring your evidence of identity along with your current and valid overseas licence for verification.

What if you fail your Victorian driver licence test? 

If you fail the Victorian driving test (including the car, motorcycle, and heavy vehicle licence tests), you will no longer be permitted to drive with your overseas driver's licence and it is no longer valid in Victoria. 

There are many reasons why people may fail their drive licence test. “We understand that driving in an unfamiliar environment can be challenging,” says the DTP spokesperson, “which is why we urge everyone driving in Victoria to know the road rules and share the road safely.’’ 

Driving without a licence in Victoria is illegal, and it is an offense to drive without one. Those caught driving without a driver licence can receive a hefty fine and further action. 

If you fail, you can re-sit the test, which you will need to pass to gain a Victorian driver licence and drive on Victorian roads legally. 


learner driver RACV drive school

RACV Drive School provide lessons to teach you how to drive safely in Victoria. 

Can tests be taken in languages other than English?

While speaking English as a second language can be an extra challenge, RACV Drive School have driving instructors who are bilingual and can assist with explaining road rules and regulations.

“If you have difficulty understanding English,” says Morris, “You should notify VicRoads and they may be able to arrange a registered interpreter to assist you.”

If you need assistance to make an appointment or completing a form in a language other than English, you can get help from your family, friends, or at a VicRoads office.

If you need an interpreter or assistance to sit with you during a VicRoads test, you can visit a VicRoads Customer Service Centre who can help book an interpreter for you.

Translator services are also available for Auslan services for those with speech and hearing impairments.

International Driver's Permit

Whether you're planning an overseas road trip, like the famous Route 66 across the United States, or heading to Tokyo for a high-tech holiday, you may need an International Driver's Permit (IDP). 

As RACV is the only licensed seller in Victoria (issued by the Australian Automobile Association (AAA)), you can either apply online or visit an RACV retail store.

An IDP is legally required in 33 different countries across the world, and is required by rental companies in many more before allowing you to drive their vehicle. 

An IDP is valid for 12 months from date of issue and must be used in conjunction with your current Australian Drivers Licence, so don’t forget to pack your driver’s license with your boarding pass and passport!

Professional driving lessons in Victoria

When learning how to drive in Victoria, booking in professional lessons with a licenced driving instructor can you give you the skills you need to drive safely and pass your drive licence test. 

Morris says that it is best to book in lessons sooner than late to practise building new habits, rather than waiting until just before their test. “You don’t know what you don’t know,” she says. 

She recommends booking in a professional driving lesson with a qualified RACV driving instructor well before test day. Otherwise, she says, “when you are nervous on your test day, you are more likely to make mistakes if the habits are not built in, which can lead to an unsuccessful test result.” 

How RACV Drive School can help

As one of Australia’s longest-running Drive Schools, RACV driving instructors have helped many overseas licence holders prepare for and pass their VicRoads driving test.

RACV driving instructors are trained to help understand road safety, what you will be assessed on, and strategies to improve your driving and make you a better, safer, more confident, and effective driver. 


Learning to drive? 
Book a lesson with the RACV Drive School