International students in Australia have the chance to drive a car as long as they have the correct driver licence. Being able to drive, especially in areas where public transport may not be available all of the time, can be a great convenience. Australia is a huge country, with a number of large cities and an even bigger outback. Having a car while studying can help you adjust to a lifestyle of your choice in a new country. It will also give you the freedom for other activities like taking a night job or staying longer with friends. While it is not always necessary to buy your own car, it may be an option for you to consider.
This guide will provide you with important information that will help you understand Australian driver licences, insurance, car maintenance, and traffic safety. Please note that this is a guide only. Our counsellors can help refer you to the right organisations for more information.
Any driver must have a valid driver licence to be allowed to drive in Australia. You should carry your driver licence with you at all times when you are driving. One thing you need to remember is that international students are regarded as temporary residents in Australia So this means that you can drive using your home country’s driver licence if it has been approved by your studying state’s transport authority. If your driver licence is not written in English, you should always bring along with you a certified translation in English or apply for an international driving permit from your home country.
If you do not have a driving licence from your home country, you can also apply for one in Australia. You will have to go through your state or territory’s motor registry, as well as undergo a series of tests. If you gain permanent residency in Australia, you will also need to apply for an Australian driver licence.
There are also other benefits if you do decide to get your driver licence. It can serve as your primary identification document wherever you go in Australia. For example, it could lead to employment since some student jobs require you to have a driver licence and can also give you the freedom to go anywhere at any time.
Driving in Australia
It is important that you understand basic traffic rules when driving in Australia. Road rules in this country may be a little different from back home. For example, in Australia they drive on the left-hand side of the road. The rules will also be slightly different in each state and territory so you need to make sure you review driving laws depending on your location. Some of the most important laws to remember are to abide by the speed limit, don’t use mobile devices while driving, and always wear a seatbelt. Australia strictly imposes that it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content (the level of which depends on your licence) or while under the influence of illegal drugs. Anyone found to have committed the offence may be fined, or may face criminal charges.
The central business districts (CBD) may not be the best place to drive since they are typically busy with heavy traffic and congestion much of the time. If you decide to explore the outback, there are toll points in most major cities like Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney, which you can pay using an e-TAG.
Buying a car
Buying and maintaining a car in Australia can be expensive, and it may not be necessary if you live in big cities like Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane. Most metropolitan areas in Australia have accessible public transport, which makes it easy to get around. Buying a car in Australia means you also need to take care of other payments like insurance, registration, servicing, petrol, and repairs. According to a survey by the Australian Government, the purchase and maintenance of a car typically costs between AUD$150 to AUD$250 per week. Take note, international students sometimes are not eligible for loans and you may need to find a different source of income to fund your car purchase and maintenance costs.
Driving around Australia is a good experience for international students.