Who is a temporary overseas visitor?
If you are not an Australian citizen and not a permanent resident of Australia, you are regarded as a temporary overseas visitor. Temporary overseas visitors can include:
- Business people on limited-duration visits
- People visiting friends or relatives or
- People studying or working temporarily in NSW (eg working visa holders).
Licensing arrangements for temporary overseas visitors
From 18 April 2008, all new NSW licence applicants identified as temporary overseas visitors will be subject to the following licensing rules:
- As a temporary overseas visitor, you will only be eligible to apply for a NSW licence once you have been in Australia for a continuous period of at least six months immediately prior to licence application.
Note: You must declare your last date of arrival in Australia on the licence application form.
- Licences will be marked with the one letter code ‘Q’ in the conditions area on the front of the licence, with the accompanying text ‘Evidence of permanent resident status not provided to Roads and Maritime Services (replacing Roads and Traffic Authority)’ appearing on the back of the licence, and
- Licences (including Learner, P1, P2, and unrestricted) issued with a ‘Q’ will only be valid for 12 months.
These licensing rules do not apply to:
- Customers who have previously been issued a NSW licence
- Customers transferring an Australian interstate licence to a NSW licence
- Temporary overseas visitors applying for a NSW learner licence (see below)
- New Zealand citizens or New Zealand driver licence holders
New Zealand citizens or New Zealand driver licence holders
If you are a New Zealand citizen or 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 Roads and Maritime Services (replacing Roads and Traffic Authority) a New Zealand passport or New Zealand driver licence.
Note: New Zealand driver licence holders are required to 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.
Driving in NSW
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.
Unlicensed overseas visitors
If you are a temporary overseas visitor and you do not hold an overseas driver licence, you may apply for a NSW learner licence without being in Australia continuously for six months. Your learner licence will still display the 'Q' condition and will only be valid for 12 months. For more information on how to get a NSW learner licence see Getting a licence.
Renewing a Temporary Overseas Visitor licence
All Temporary Overseas Visitor licences (with a ‘Q’ on the front of the licence) are only valid for 12 months.
If you hold a provisional or unrestricted NSW licence with a ‘Q’ on it, a licence renewal letter will be sent to your current address approximately six weeks before your licence expiry date.
A licence renewed before its expiry may be renewed for a period of up to 12 months beyond the expiry of the licence being renewed.
If you hold a NSW learner licence with a ‘Q’ on it, you will not be required to sit and pass a car Driver Knowledge Test (DKT) every time you renew your licence. Once you have passed an initial car DKT to get your first learner licence you will not be required to pass another DKT until your fourth renewal.
If you hold a Temporary Overseas Visitor licence, you are not able to renew your licence by using a photo-kit application form – you must go to a NSW motor registry in person to renew your licence. You may, however, use a photo-kit application form to replace your licence.