Starting from July 1, 2023, temporary visa holders in NSW will need to convert to a NSW driver’s license if they have resided continuously in the state for six months and wish to continue driving. The move comes in response to concerns about increased road safety risks presented by overseas license holders, who can legally drive in NSW until a permanent visa is granted under the Commonwealth Migration Act 1958, which can be renewed multiple times.
Foreign drivers who disregard NSW road rules while using overseas licenses will soon face tougher regulations in a new government crackdown, effective 1 July 2023, there will be some rule changes in NSW for overseas licence holders with temporary visas such as to study or work in Australia. The issue was first identified by the previous government which was forced to hold off due to Covid-related delays in administering driver‘s licence tests. The current government has decided to proceed with the new policy.
Temporary visa holders — who have lived in Australia for six months — from some countries, including India, China, Pakistan and Nepal will now sit the same knowledge and practical test as required by locals, but will not be required to log hours like the rest of us, the Daily Telegraph reported.
According to the new rules, temporary visa holders must convert their overseas licence to an NSW licence within six months of their arrival if they wish to continue driving. These rules apply to a person residing in NSW on or after 1 July 2023. If a person arrives in NSW earlier in 2023, the new ‘6-month rule’ does not apply. The person can continue to drive in NSW on their overseas licence until they become a permanent resident in NSW or their licence expires or has been cancelled or suspended.
If a person arrives in NSW before 1 July 2023, they can continue to drive on their overseas licence and would not be required to meet the new requirements. However, if a person arrives on 1 July 2023 or after, they must obtain an NSW driver’s licence within six months.
The rules about tourists who are coming as visitors in Australia are allowed to drive in NSW using an overseas licence for up to three months provided that they:
There are three categories of overseas licence holders: those with a licence from a ‘recognised’ country on List A or List B and those with a licence from a ‘non-recognised’ country. Overseas licence holders from a recognised country on List A or customers who are 25 years of age or older from a recognised country on List B can convert their current overseas licence to obtain an NSW licence without a knowledge or driving test.
There will be harsh penalties imposed on a temporary visa holder:
The process of converting an overseas licence to an NSW licence may vary depending on the applicant’s age and country of origin. Usually, there are two categories of overseas licence holders: licenses from a ‘recognised country’ list A or B and those with a licence from a ‘non-recognised’ country. An overseas licence holder from a recognised country, List A, and those 25 years or older from a recognised country, List B, can attend a Service NSW Centre and convert their current overseas licence to obtain an NSW licence without the knowledge or driving test. On the other hand, an overseas licence holder from a ‘non-recognised’ country will be required to undertake the knowledge test and driving test to obtain an NSW driver’s licence.
What does the new overseas driver policy mean?
The new policy means overseas drivers will lose their visiting driver privileges if they receive 13 demerit points, are convicted of a severe driving offence, are disqualified from driving by a court, or commit specific speeding or drug and alcohol-related driving offences.
Until now, a loophole allowed some drivers to hold their overseas licence after receiving 13 demerit points or being convicted of a severe road offence but from 1 July 2023; this will change. Under the new measures, a person’s visiting driver privileges will be withdrawn if they:
Currently, an overseas licence holder who accrues 13 or more demerit points or who commits a serious driving offence can drive on their overseas licence after they have served any relevant suspension or disqualification period.
Under the proposed new approach, these licence holders would have their visiting driver privileges permanently withdrawn if they commit any such offences. If they wish to drive again in NSW, they would be required to apply for a NSW driver licence,
Currently, overseas licence holders who receive 13 demerit points or commit a serious driving offence can continue to drive using their overseas licence after completing any relevant suspension or disqualification period. However, with the new policy in effect, visiting driving privileges will be permanently withdrawn from these licence holders.
Serious driving offences include the following offences:
These new measures will apply to a visiting overseas driver who resided in NSW before 1 July 2023 but who accrues more than 13 demerit points or is convicted of a serious driving offence on or after 1 July 2023.
Along with the new measures to be introduced, international licence holders should be aware that using a mobile phone is strictly prohibited while driving, and driving after consuming alcohol and drugs is considered a severe offence. They should abide by the rules to avoid committing such offences.
Since 2020, over 2,000 overseas drivers have had their visiting driver privileges withdrawn due to poor behaviour on the roads
Previously, overseas licence holders who accrued 13 demerit points or who committed a serious driving offence could continue to drive on their overseas licence after serving any relevant suspension or disqualification period. Under the new rules, these licence holders will have their visiting driving privileges permanently withdrawn and will be required to apply for an NSW driver’s licence if they wish to drive again in NSW.
iVACS can play a crucial role in facilitating the IDLV (Indian Driver License Verification) process for temporary visa holders in New South Wales (NSW). With the new policy requiring temporary visa holders from countries like India to sit for the same knowledge and practical tests as locals when converting their overseas license to an NSW license, iVACS can streamline and expedite the verification process. By integrating with the Indian authorities’ database, iVACS can securely and efficiently authenticate the validity and authenticity of Indian driver licenses, ensuring that the applicants meet the necessary requirements for obtaining an NSW license. This verification process helps enhance road safety by ensuring that only qualified and licensed individuals are allowed to drive on NSW roads, minimizing the risks associated with inexperienced or unqualified drivers.