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Driving in Australia: What you need to know before getting on the road

Trinity College Foundation Studies

Mon Feb 26 2018


So you’ve already got your driver license from back home – great! There’s just one problem… You kinda want to drive around while you’re in Melbourne. And we don’t blame you; exploring Melbourne by car is hugely convenient and there are so many great benefits to being able to drive around too. Of course, not every international student will want to take up that challenge, especially on roads unfamiliar to them.

Nonetheless, if you want to start driving around we’ve got you covered. Here’s what you need to know before you hit the road.

Obtaining a license

If you wish to drive in Victoria, some students may not need to go through all the usual hoops and barriers that usually comes with getting a Victorian driver license.

International students from recognised countries such as Japan, Singapore, Spain, Portugal, Italy and others do not need to sit a drive test as long as their driving history and their original license can be be properly verified, according to VicRoads. Individuals from these countries are free to drive with their current overseas license but need to verify it with VicRoads first and ensure that their license has English translations on it.

Students from countries such as South Korea, Taiwan, Poland and others do not need to sit a drive test as long as they’ve verified their original license with VicRoads, HOWEVER students from these countries who’re under the age of 25 will need to sit a drive test in order to get a Victorian Driver License.

A full list of the recognised countries and jurisdictions can be found here.

For everyone else in countries such as China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Mexico and others, your driving experience will not be recognised in Victoria regardless of how much time you’ve spent on the road back home. Just like the locals here, you will be expected to sit the same tests as them:

  • road law knowledge test (computer-based)
  • hazard perception test (computer-based)
  • drive test (practical)

Of course, if your license back home was suspended or revoked for whatever reason you will be unable to obtain a Victorian driver license until the disqualification period has been lifted from back home.

The rules of the road

Obey the road laws in Victoria and you should be fine. Keep your eyes peeled and always look out for signs telling you what the speed limit in the area is. Give way and stop when needed and avoid running a red light!

In addition to reading the signs as you drive, make sure you keep in your lane, indicate to let drivers behind you know when you’ll be turning and make safe decisions when deciding to change lanes or when you need to merge. You don’t always have to drive excessively fast so keep at a safe speed and take your time if you have to. Nothing worse than a reckless driver!

VicRoads has video guides at its website detailing what some of the road rules are. To find out more about these laws, watch these videos at VicRoads’ website.

Choosing the vehicle for you

We don’t expect all international students to go out and buy their own car, new or pre-owned, the second they get their overseas license approved or if they obtain a Victorian driver license. If you do decide however to get your own car, shop around a little before making that important decision. Look up expert reviews, consult car experts (some of your friends might be!) or talk to your parents.

And remember also that you may not be in Australia for a long time so consider whether owning one yourself will be worthwhile or beneficial in the long-run (the cost of maintaining a car can be quite high, especially if you get into an accident or don’t have insurance!).

If you only need a car for specific occasions, such as fun daytrips with your friends away from Melbourne or if you need to pack up and move to a new home, rentals are perhaps the safest and most cost-efficient means of traveling.

Indonesian student Reva did just that when he first drove around in Melbourne. Sharing his experience with us, Reva recommended GoGet, a rental service that offers affordable prices elusive to students! Currently, students can use the site to hire vehicles such as the Toyota Yaris, Toyota Corolla or Audi A3 Convertible (if they’re feeling extra fancy). Depending on the car, the usage rate will change. At its lowest, GoGet offers student drivers $6.55 per hour or $74 for an all day hire (which includes 150 km). Student membership plans are also available. If you wish to access this service for its rates, students will just need to show evidence that they:

  • study at an accredited Australian university, TAFE or private college
  • have a full-time study load (three to four subjects, or equal to that amount)
  • possess a student email/student ID

Other rental services that students may consider include Avis, Car Next Door, Budget, Hertz and more!

This story was produced by Media and Communication students at Trinity College Foundation Studies as part of Meld’s community newsroom collaboration. Education institutions, student clubs/societies and community groups interested in being involved can get in touch with us via