Drivers from all over the world can drive in Australia if they have an international driver’s license. Many travelers enjoy driving through the Australian outback during their visit. It is one of the most convenient methods of transportation to get to all the exceptional sightseeing locations across the continent. Americans and drivers from other English-speaking nations can even drive in Australia for some time without an international permit. However, all visitors are recommended to get an international driving permit, even if they don’t necessarily plan on driving during their trip. Emergencies can occur and these permits offer travelers peace of mind.

What is an Australian International Driving Permit?

Visitors to Australia who want to drive through the outback are required to have an International Driving Permit before they can do so. A simple answer to the question, “what is an IDP”, is that it’s a travel document that translates all of the identification information on a state-issued driver’s license. In fact, these international permits are offered in 10 different languages and are accepted by over 150 different countries. They can also be utilized when you are required to prove your identity or your authorization to drive without needing any additional tests or applications. Travelers from nations that do not speak English are required to get an international permit to translate the identifying information on their driver’s license.

When do I need an international driver’s license in Australia?

When you visit Australia, you may be required to obtain an international driver’s license before you are able to rent a vehicle. If you are a driver from America or another English speaking nation, you are authorized drive with your home country’s driver’s license for up to 90 days before needing an international permit. U.S. citizens who plan to drive in Australia for over 90 days should get an AATA or AAA international driving permit to avoid any potential fines or points on their license.

How to get an international driver’s license for Australia

Applicants from the United States are able to request an international driving license from two authorized agencies. American motorists have the options of applying for their international permit at either the American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA) or the American Automobile Association (AAA). Applications for an IDP are typically processed by mail, but they can also be submitted in person at a local AAA office branch. Drivers are required to be 18 years of age and have a valid, unexpired U.S. driver’s license before applying. The following items are required to complete the request:

  • A completed international driver’s license application from either AATA or AAA.
  • Two valid and original passport photos.
    • In-person applicants can take their photos at an AAA office.
    • Photos must have the applicant’s signature on the back for mailed applications.
  • A valid U.S. driver’s license.
    • Photocopies of both sides are required for mailed applications.
  • Payment for the appropriate AATA or AAA International Driver’s License fee.

This is not the application method for Australian drivers requesting an international permit. Australian residents should contact their local driver’s license office for more details.

How long do International Driving Permits last in Australia?

Once you apply for an international driver’s license in the USA, it will be useable for one full year. However, all permits must be used within six months from their application date, so you cannot request an international license too far in advance of your trip. Moreover, your permit will only remain valid if your driver’s license is also valid. For this reason, you are recommended to renew your U.S. driver’s license if it is set to expire during or immediately after your trip.

These permits are only for temporary visitors in Australia. If you become a permanent resident of Australia, you will need to follow all of Australia’s local driver licensing laws.

Where to Get an Australian International Driver’s License

You can request an international driver’s license from anywhere in the world if you have your unexpired U.S. driver’s license with you. Applications can be mailed to either AATA or AAA offices to request international permits, even if you are already in Australia. For applicants in the United States, visiting a local AAA office may be a more convenient option. Overseas applications typically have a longer processing time, so be sure to account for the wait if you are applying from outside of the country.

Tips for Avoiding International Driver’s License Fraud

Currently, there is no option to apply for an international driver’s license online, so you should never submit any payment for these permits through the internet. Malicious individuals and companies can use websites and spam emails to attempt to sell you a fake IDP. If you buy one of these fake permits, you can end up paying a lot of money for a worthless document. Besides that, if you drive in a foreign country without the appropriate documentation, you can end up in a lot more legal and financial trouble along the line. If you are an American driver, you should only purchase an international permit from either the AATA or AAA.

Driving Rules in Australia

Americans using their international driver’s license in Australia might find it difficult to get used to drive on the left-hand side of the road. Drivers must remember to stay on the left side of the street after making turns, as it can be easy to make a mistake out of habit. Additionally, most Australian cars come equipped with right-side driver seats. Many Australian cars now come fitted with an automatic transmission, which might make the transition a bit easier for American drivers.

In terms of road rules, Australia uses the metric system which might take some time to get used to for Americans. English is the primary language used in Australia, therefore road signs should be easy to understand. The leftmost lane is used for slow-moving traffic and speed limits for residential areas are usually 60 kilometers (35mph). Most importantly, if you have been drinking at all, do not drive. The blood alcohol limit is .05 in Australia and drinking even a little bit before driving can be risky for visitors to the country.

Last updated on Friday, November 30 2018.

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