You can’t drive Chinese in Australia

December 6, 2020

OR CAN YOU?

If you have a valid Chinese license, you can. What? It’s in Chinese? Well, of course it is, and you can drive with it in Australia if you have an English translation from 驾照翻译. So far, so good. Where do you get one? Not so fast. It can’t be just any translation. It has to be an original document, not a photo or anything like that. And it must be signed by an approved translator, preferably from the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI). If you are a temporary visitor, you have a current valid license with an English translation and you have no suspensions or any disqualifications you are good to go. Can you transfer an overseas license? You can. You may also have an International Driving Permit or License, but it does not replace your regular license.

WHERE CAN YOU GO?

There are eight states and territories in Australia: Australian Capital Territory (ACT), New South Wales (NSW), Northern Territory (NT), Queensland (QLD), South Australia (SA), Tasmania (TAS) (ah, Tasmania!), Victoria (VIC) and Western Australia (WA). In ACT have your Chinese license written in English and certified by your embassy or consulate or NAATI. The same applies in NSW and NT but in NT the Overseas Driver License is valid for only three months. In QLD, SA and TAS the three month rule also holds. In VIC it is a six month rule and in WA you will be good as long as your overseas Chinese license remains valid and yes, don’t forget that translation.

DRIVER RECOGNITION

Experienced Driver Recognition status is intended to recognize one’s driving experience and age as sufficient to excuse certain drivers from licensing requirements for new drivers. This status is available to applicants for an Australian license when their Chinese license ceases to be valid. Countries accepted for this recognition status include Taiwan and Hong Kong (Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China (PRC)). Drivers from Hong Kong wishing to convert to an Australian license without being tested must be at least 25 years old and have held their Hong Kong license for a minimum of 12 months.

ON THE ROAD

You’ve got your permits, original license, translation and you’re ready to roll Down Under. But wait! Remember to drive in the LEFT lane. If driving in the Outback, remember to take extra petrol (gasoline). Most of the states discourage driving on unfinished (unpaved) roads. In cities, do not drive on tramways and when in Melbourne especially learn how to make a “Hook” turn across tramways at intersections (very important). Ready?

George Jones

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George Jones