1. Do I have to get a NSW licence to drive in NSW if I am a visitor?
No, you do not have to get a NSW driver licence if you wish to drive in NSW while you are visiting. You can drive on your current overseas licence as long as:
- You remain a visitor
- Your overseas licence remains current
- You have not been disqualified from driving in NSW or elsewhere, and
- You have not had your licence suspended or cancelled or your visiting driver privileges withdrawn.
Note: Australian citizens who reside overseas and are not permanent residents of Australia are allowed to drive in NSW on a current overseas licence as an international visitor. There is no need to apply for the issue or renewal of a NSW licence.
2. As a visitor, can I get a NSW licence as soon as I arrive in Australia?
If you are a new NSW licence applicant and are identified by Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) as a temporary overseas visitor, you will only be eligible to convert your overseas licence to a NSW licence once you have been in Australia for a continuous period of at least six months immediately prior to applying for a licence (unless you are from New Zealand – see Question 3 for more information).
If you are a temporary overseas visitor and do not hold an overseas licence, you may apply for a NSW learner licence without waiting six months. Your learner licence will display the 'Q' condition and will only be valid for 12 months. Once you have obtained a NSW learner licence all tenure and testing requirements must be met to progress through to an unrestricted licence. See Getting a car licence and Getting a motorcycle rider licence for more information.
3. What must I do if I am a New Zealand citizen or a New Zealand driver licence holder and want to drive in NSW?
If you are a New Zealand citizen or a New Zealand driver licence holder, you will be exempt from all temporary overseas visitor licensing arrangements. You may be issued with a licence of normal validity period, there will be no Q condition and you will be exempt from the six-month waiting period. This exemption will apply to customers who present to RMS a New Zealand passport or New Zealand driver licence.
If you are a driver licence holder from New Zealand, you must obtain a NSW driver licence within three months of residing in NSW (regardless if you are a temporary or permanent resident) or you must stop driving.
4. Who does RMS consider as a temporary overseas visitor?
Roads and Maritime Services considers a temporary overseas visitor as someone who is not an Australian citizen, who is not a permanent resident of Australia or does not hold one of the following documents:
- Australian full Birth Certificate showing parental details
- NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages issued photo Birth Card
- Australian passport
- Certificate of Australian Citizenship
- Australian Naturalisation Document
- Certificate of Aboriginality
- Certificate of evidence of residency status
- Current ID document from Australian Passport Office
- Current Australian Defence Force photo ID
- Overseas passport or travel document which includes a valid Australian permanent residency visa.
5. What happens if I have previously held a NSW licence?
If you are an Australian citizen, a permanent Australian resident, or you already hold (or have previously held) a NSW licence you can apply for a NSW licence without waiting six months.
6. What happens after I have resided in Australia for a continuous period of six months?
If you are regarded as a temporary overseas visitor and have resided in Australia for a continuous period of at least six months, you may apply for a NSW licence. If you hold a current licence from a recognised country this may be used to determine if knowledge and/or practical driving/riding tests are required. If you pass the required tests and you cannot provide proof of permanent Australian residency, your NSW licence will be issued with a ‘Q’ condition code.
7. What does the ‘Q’ on the front of my licence mean?
The ‘Q’ condition code on the front of your licence means the documents you presented to RMS as proof of your identity when applying for your licence did not indicate that you are a permanent resident of Australia.
8. How long will my Temporary Overseas Visitor (‘Q’) licence be valid for?
Your NSW licence with a ‘Q’ on it is valid for 12 months only (including pensioners) and must then be renewed (if you are still in NSW and wish to continue driving).
Once you have been issued with a NSW 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 whilst you are the holder of a NSW licence.
When driving in NSW, you must comply with any conditions, restrictions or limitations that apply to your NSW licence. If you are requested by NSW Police to produce your licence in relation to a driving matter, you must produce your NSW driver licence.
If you continue to hold overseas visitor status, you may surrender your NSW licence (including a learner licence) at a motor registry at any time. This is as long as your NSW driver licence is not suspended or cancelled. If you surrender your NSW driver licence, you may resume driving under the authority of your overseas licence as long as you are not disqualified from driving, you have not failed a driving test, your visiting driver privileges have not been withdrawn and your overseas licence remains current and valid.
If your NSW driver licence expires, it must be renewed if you wish to continue driving in NSW. You may not resume driving under the authority of your overseas licence unless your NSW driver licence, even if expired, has been surrendered.
You have an obligation to prove your overseas visitor status if requested by Police.
9. Will the ‘Q’ appear on all forms of the NSW licence?
Yes. The ‘Q’ is added to all NSW licences where the licensee’s proof of permanent Australian residency has not been provided. This includes all driver licences issued by RMS, including:
- Learner licences
- Provisional P1 licences
- Provisional P2 licences
- Unrestricted licences, and
- All heavy vehicle and multi-combination licences.
10. I hold a NSW learner licence with a 'Q' on it; will I have to do a Driver Knowledge Test (DKT) every 12 months when I renew my licence?
No. You are not required to sit and pass a car Driver Knowledge Test (DKT) at every learner licence renewal. Once you pass the initial DKT you will not be required to pass another DKT until the fourth renewal.
11. Does the Temporary Overseas Visitor (‘Q’) licence stop me from driving some vehicles?
No. There is no difference between a ‘Q’ licence and a normal licence in terms of testing requirements or conditions of use associated with a NSW driver licence.
12. What happens if I become an Australian permanent resident? How do I get the ‘Q’ removed from my licence?
If you have become an Australian citizen or Australian permanent resident you can choose to have the ‘Q’ removed from your licence. In order to do this you must provide RMS with acceptable documents that show you are an Australian resident (see Question 4).
If you provide evidence of permanent residency to RMS before the expiry of your ‘Q’ licence, you can pay a replacement fee and be issued with a new NSW licence without the ‘Q’ but with the same licence expiry date.
If you become an Australian permanent resident but wish to wait until your ‘Q’ licence expires and then provide evidence of permanent residency to RMS, you will be eligible to apply for a 1, 3 or 5-year NSW licence. The ‘Q’ notation will not appear on your new licence.
If you become an Australian permanent resident within the first six months of residing in Australia, you can obtain a NSW licence by providing evidence of your Australian permanent residency to RMS.