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Driving license requirement for international students and new migrants

Attractive traditional Indian woman in sari holding her first own car key isolated on white background. Beautiful Asian woman model. Source: iStockphoto

Find out if international students and new migrants can drive on an Indian driving license in Australia or not and for how long.

Coming into a new country and trying to fend for yourself is a challenging task.  Whether you are a new migrant, spouse or an international student, having a mode of transport to get to work or university is a must and not everyone is fortunate enough live near a public transport service. So what are the driving license requirements for such individuals who are not yet permanent residents or citizens of Australia?

We talked to Mr Bakshinder Singh, who runs a driving school in Adelaide.

bakshinder Singh
Bakshinder Singh

Q. What is the driving eligibility for Indian International students in Australia? Can they drive on their Indian license?

Yes, absolutely. As long as you have a full Indian Driver's license, you can drive in Australia until you get your permanent residency. Once you get your PR, you have three months to convert your Indian driving license into an Australian license.

Q. What about people who come on a permanent residency to Australia?

Friends driving in car together
Friends driving in car together
Brand X

Those people can also drive on their Indian license for three months. They will need to convert their license into an Australian license within those three months.

Same applies to people on spouse visa. They can drive on their Indian license until they get their PR. Then they have three months to get the Australian Driver's license.

Q. Can residents go to the transport office and get their license converted through some paper work formalities or do they have to sit for all driving tests to get an Australian driving license?

Queensland Police

You cannot simple exchange an Indian driving license for an Australian. The Indian driving license does not have a lot of value as compared to an Australian one; hence, you will have to sit for a driving test in Australia to gain an Australian license. This test includes a theory test, practical test and a hazard perception test.

But Australia does give you the facility to obtain a full Australian license if you pass all tests. The government however has the right to revalidate your license when they please.

Q. What type of questions are included in the driving test?

Driving test
SA Government

In South Australia, out of the three tests, two are done at the same time.

The first is ‘Give way’ rules test. There are eight questions in total and it is mandatory to pass all eight questions. Even if someone fails one question, they have to re sit the exam.

Then is the multiple choice section that has questions regarding general traffic rules. There are a total of 42 questions and it is mandatory to get at least 32 right in order to pass the test.

The third test is the hazard perception test. This section includes questions that check your ability to sense hazards while driving. This tests the driver’s practical skills.

Then there is the practical test where an examiner sits with the driver in a car to test his driving. If they feel that the driver is safe to be our on the road, they pass him if not then you fail the practical test.

Q. You deal with a lot of Indian driving students. In your opinion, what aspect of the driving test is most challenging for your students?

Guy In Car
Guy In Car

Mostly the students have no problem sitting for the theory test. But there are some who may face a language barrier and need help comprehending or reading the questions. But, students do get the facility to hire an interpreter and this facility is free for first time users. Interpreters can read the question in the student’s native language so that they understand the question.

When it comes to practical test, language barrier is an issue too. So we as instructors, try to make sure that we explain the rules well and use the correct terminology clearly so that they understand the practical rules and also the traffic signs. We also request the examiners to give clear instructions to the students in clear sentences and slowly so that people with language barriers can understand the directions of the examiner.

Q. In your opinion, how many driving classes should a person take before sitting for a test?

Traffic signs

There is no hard and fast rule regarding this as everyone learns at a different pace.

But on average, I would say, for someone who fully knows how to drive and just wants to brush up his skills, you still need eight to ten hours of classes.

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