Private vehicles



Private transport is transport that you own and use as you wish. Most Australians use cars or motor bikes for private transport. Car ownership is convenient but it is also expensive. There are many responsibilities involved in owning and driving a car in Australia.

Hitchhiking, that is getting a free ride with a stranger in their car or truck, is unsafe and not recommended.
Driver’s Licenses

To drive a car or motor bike in Australia, you must have a driver’s license. Always keep it with you when you are driving.

If you do not hold a licence from another country you will need to pass a Driver Knowledge Test to get a Learner’s Permit. A Learner’s Permit allows you to learn to drive if you are accompanied by a licensed driver. You must have “L” plates on your car when you drive.

Once you have developed appropriate skills, you can apply for a Provisional driver’s licence. To obtain a Provisional Licence you must be at least 17 years of age, have held a Learner’s Permit for a total period of at least six months or hold an interstate or overseas driver’s licence. You must have “P” plates on your car when you drive.

If you pass your Provisional period, you can apply for an open license. If there are conditions on your license, you must obey them.

See also Chapter 1, What to do soon after arrival

Laws applying to driving



You must be aware of and obey the laws applying to driving. For example:

The vehicle you are driving must be registered with the government.
Everyone in your car must wear a seatbelt or proper child restraint.
It is against the law to use a mobile phone while driving.
If you are involved in a road accident you must report it to the police immediately.

In Australia, traffic laws are very strict. Driving laws and regulations vary from state to state. Disobeying or breaking traffic laws can result in expensive fines, the loss of your driver’s license or even imprisonment. Parking illegally can also result in expensive fines. Speed limits are enforced and speed cameras may be used to catch people who exceed the speed limit.

It is illegal to drink alcohol or be intoxicated or under the influence of drugs while driving. Permitted blood alcohol levels vary, depending on the state or territory and the class of driver’s licence held. Police may randomly test drivers to check whether they are over the legal alcohol limit. See also Chapter 6, Australian Law

For more information:

Seatbelts and Child Restraints

Everyone in your car must use a seatbelt or a proper child restraint. There are fines for driving without wearing a seatbelt, and you may lose your driver’s license. There are seatbelts in all cars for adults and older children.

You need special government-approved restraints for babies and young children up to the age of seven. Child restraints must comply with Australian standards, be correctly fitted to the vehicle and properly adjusted for the child depending on its age:

Children up to the age of six months must be restrained in a rear facing child restraint, for example an infant capsule
From six months until the age of four children must be secured in either a rear facing or forward facing child restraint, for example a child safety seat.
From four years until the age of seven children must be secured in either a forward facing child restraint or a booster seat with a correctly adjusted and fastened seatbelt or child safety harness.

Young children are not permitted to sit in the front seat of a vehicle. Children aged between four and seven are not permitted to sit in the front seats unless all other rear seats are occupied by children under seven.

To hire child safety restraints go to www.kidsafe.com.au
Buying a car

New and second-hand vehicles are advertised for sale in newspapers and online. They are also available from new car showrooms and second-hand car yards.

The purchase price of a car does not usually include the cost of registration, stamp duty (which is like a sales tax) and compulsory insurance. These costs usually have to be paid separately.

For information about borrowing money to purchase a vehicle, contact your bank or a finance company. Remember to make sure you understand all terms and conditions before you sign any contracts for finance.

If you buy a car and the former owner has a debt that has not been repaid on the vehicle, the car could be repossessed or taken legally by the company owed the debt. To check if the former owner owes money on the vehicle, contact the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR).

The PPSR can tell you if the vehicle is reported to the police as stolen, deregistered due to unpaid traffic fines, recorded as a write-off, or whether the vehicle has been recorded with the Commissioner for Fair Trading because of possible odometer interference (tampering with the mileage display). For more information, phone 1300 007 777 or go to www.ppsr.com.au/individuals

All states and territories have motorists’ associations that provide services such as vehicle inspections for potential buyers of second hand vehicles, touring information, insurance, and road service (in case your vehicle breaks down). Many services are available to both members and non-members.

For more information please go to