If you're a visitor to NSW, you can drive on your current licence, as long as it hasn't been suspended or disqualified, and you follow the NSW road rules.
Driving in NSW on an overseas licence
If you hold an overseas licence, you are allowed to drive the vehicles covered by your overseas licence in NSW indefinitely, as long as:
- You remain a temporary overseas visitor
- Your overseas licence remains current
- You have not been disqualified from driving in NSW or anywhere else
- You have not had your licence suspended or cancelled, or your visiting driving privileges withdrawn
- You carry your overseas driver or rider licence. If your licence is not written in English, you must also carry an English translation, or an International Driving Permit.
You don’t have to get a NSW licence if you comply with these conditions, and can prove your genuine visitor status to NSW Police, if required. You should read the Road Users Handbook, the Motorcycle Riders’ Handbook and/or the Heavy Vehicle Driver Handbook to learn the current road rules in NSW.
You can choose to apply for a NSW licence if you wish – see Applying for a NSW licence as a temporary overseas visitor.
New Zealand licence holders
If you hold a New Zealand licence, you must get a NSW licence within three months of living in NSW, regardless of whether you are a temporary or permanent resident, or you must stop driving. See Moving to NSW for more information.
Australian citizens with overseas licences
If you’re an Australian citizen who lives overseas, are not a permanent resident of NSW, and have a current overseas licence, you’re allowed to drive in NSW as a temporary overseas visitor. There is no need to apply for the issue or renewal of a NSW licence.
If you’re a permanent resident of Australia under the Commonwealth Migration Act 1958, you can drive or ride on a current overseas licence for a maximum of three months from the date you arrive in Australia. To keep driving, you need to obtain (not just apply for) a NSW licence within this three month period. See Moving to NSW for more information.
What types of vehicles can I drive?
If you’re a visiting car licence holder, you can drive those vehicles covered by a NSW class C driver licence: up to 4.5 tonnes Gross Vehicle Mass, and seating up to 12 adults including the driver.
If you’re a visiting motorcycle licence holder, you can ride motorcycles covered by your overseas licence class.
If you’re a visiting heavy vehicle driver, you may drive vehicles that are covered by your overseas licence.
Applying for a NSW licence as a temporary overseas visitor
If you’re a temporary overseas visitor (ie not an Australian citizen and not a permanent resident of Australia), you can choose to apply for a NSW licence if you wish.
See Moving to NSW for the application requirements.
The following condition applies:
- Your licence will show the letter Q in the conditions area on the front of the card. The accompanying text ‘Evidence of permanent residency status not provided’ will be printed on the back of the card.
These rules do not apply if:
- You’ve previously been issued a NSW licence
- You’re transferring a licence from another Australian state or territory, to a NSW equivalent
- You’re a New Zealand citizen or New Zealand licence holder. In this case you’re exempt from the Q condition, however you must obtain a NSW licence within three months of living in NSW, regardless of whether you’re a temporary or permanent resident, or stop driving. See Moving to NSW for more information.
Driving and riding in NSW
Once you’ve been issued with a NSW licence, including a learner licence, it becomes the authority under which you can drive or ride on NSW roads. Your overseas licence is not recognised and has no authority while you hold a NSW licence.
When driving or riding in NSW, you must comply with all the conditions, restrictions or limitations that apply to your NSW licence. If the NSW Police ask you to produce your licence in relation to a driving matter, you must provide your NSW licence.
The NSW Police may also ask you to prove your overseas visitor status.
Renewing a temporary overseas visitor licence
Roads and Maritime Services will send you a renewal notice around six weeks before your licence expiry date.
If your NSW licence expires, you must renew it. If you still meet the requirements of a visiting driver, you cannot resume driving under the authority of your overseas licence, unless you hand in (surrender) your NSW licence. This is provided your NSW licence is not suspended or cancelled and you have not failed a driving/riding test.
If you hold a learner licence with a Q condition and you need to renew your licence, a new licence will be issued for five years.
To renew your temporary overseas visitor licence, you need to attend a registry or service centre in person, pay the required fee and have your photo taken. You can use a photo-kit for one licence renewal if you are temporarily out of NSW.
Replacing a temporary overseas visitor licence
If your licence is lost, stolen, damaged or destroyed, you can apply for a replacement online, in person at any registry or service centre, or by using a photo-kit if you are temporarily out of NSW. You can only order one replacement licence online in a 12 month period.
Becoming an Australian citizen or permanent resident
If you become an Australian citizen or permanent resident while you hold a temporary overseas visitor licence, you can have the Q condition removed if you wish.
If your licence has not expired, you can apply for a replacement licence and pay the replacement fee. The replacement licence will have the same expiry date as the licence with the Q condition.
Alternatively, you can wait until your licence expires, and then renew it without the Q condition. If you provide proof of your permanent residency status, you can renew for one, three or five years. You may be eligible for a ten year licence if you are aged 21 to 44 years.
Handing in a temporary overseas visitor licence
You may hand in (surrender) your NSW licence at a registry or service centre at any time, as long as it hasn’t been suspended or cancelled. If you surrender your licence, you may resume driving under the authority of your overseas licence, as long as:
- You’re still considered a temporary overseas visitor
- Your overseas licence remains current
- You haven’t been disqualified from driving
- You haven’t failed a driving test
- Your visiting driver privileges haven’t been withdrawn.
Learner licence holders – interstate or overseas
If you hold a learner licence from another state or country, you can continue to learn to drive in NSW.
When driving in New South Wales, interstate and overseas learner drivers must comply with the following licence conditions:
- Be supervised at all times by the holder of a full Australian driver licence that is a class C or higher
- Have L plates displayed conspicuously at the front and rear exterior of the car (or an L sign on the roof) when driving
- The letter 'L' on the plate must not be hidden
- Not tow any other vehicle
- Not exceed zero blood alcohol concentration (this means you cannot drink before driving). It is also illegal to drive under the influence of drugs
- Not supervise another learner driver.
- Only carry the number of passengers that can be properly seated in seats and restrained by approved seat belts or child restraints
- Only drive vehicles that have a seat belt fitted to the driver's position and you must wear the seat belt
- Not use any functions of a mobile phone including hands-free devices.
Learner licence holders from another state or country must comply with the above conditions when driving in NSW, even if they do not ordinarily apply in your home state or country.
You must also comply with any other conditions applied to your licence, by your licensing authority. When travelling in NSW, it is your responsibility to ensure that you are aware of the conditions that apply to your licence.
Failure to comply with any of the above conditions is an offence and can carry severe penalties including immediate suspension of driving privileges by Police.
An interstate or overseas learner, when driving in NSW, must not drive/ride faster than the posted speed limit or any lesser maximum speed limit if one is applied to your licence by your home state or country.
Demerit points and penalties apply to learner drivers who commit an offence in NSW. See Demerit points for more information.