Truck industry invited to share views on managing overseas licensed drivers

Austroads is inviting the heavy vehicle industry to share its views on the management of overseas licensed heavy vehicle drivers as part of a new survey.  

In a statement, the organisation said the anonymous online survey is a “response to industry concerns and recognising the differences between driving in Australia and overseas”.  

Austroads hopes that the answers given will provide it with “valuable information” that will help inform policy review and decision making.  

“Overseas licensed heavy vehicle drivers are generally welcomed in Australia as they provide valuable skills and help address current industry shortages,” a spokesperson said.

“However, there have been concerns raised about the road safety risk of these drivers. 

“Austroads, on behalf of its eight state and territory member agencies, is seeking to understand whether changes should be made to the management of overseas licensed heavy vehicle drivers.”  

Michael Nieuwesteeg, Austroads roads safety and design program manager said that he didn’t want to dismiss the concerns of the heavy vehicle industry, but pointed out that the evidence which is available shows that there are “relatively few” heavy vehicle crashes which involve overseas licensed drivers.  

“Despite this, licensing authorities understand that while in Australia, overseas licence holders may face driving conditions, and a road use and safety culture which differs from their country of origin,” he added.  

Austroads is encouraging heavy vehicle drivers, heavy vehicle operators, individuals and businesses who rely on heavy vehicles to undertake the short survey here before the end of Friday, July 12.

As it stands, overseas licence holders who come to Australia can drive the same class of vehicle as they can in their home country, within a limited period of time.  

The timeframe people can drive on their overseas licence before transferring to an Australian licence varies between states and territories.  

Some jurisdictions require you to obtain an Australian licence once you are living there for three months, while others allow you to drive on an overseas licence for six months or more.  

One of the questions in the survey asks:

How long should a person be allowed to drive any heavy vehicle on their overseas licence before obtaining an Australian licence:

  • Not at all
  • 3 months
  • 6 months
  • 12 months
  • Unlimited so long as their overseas licence is current
  • Depends on their visa type and whether they are intending to say in Australia

Judy Oswin, a consultant working with Austroads, recently told Big Rigs: “You can get caught up in the administrative side of things, but the most important point is that if I want to transfer from an overseas licence to an Australian licence, I go through the same process as I would go through if I was applying for that licence class as an Australian.”  

At the latest meeting of Australia’s transport ministers in Brisbane on June 7, a request was also made to the National Transport Commission (NTC) to undertake a review of the “adequacy” of licensing and accreditation arrangements for heavy vehicle drivers, and report back to the next meeting.

A spokesperson for the Department for Infrastructure and Transport told Big Rigs that ministers want to determine if changes are needed to ensure the system is “supporting the heavy vehicle industry and all road users more broadly”.

Ministers have asked for the probe to be finished by the second half of the year.


  1. Overseas drivers should not be allowed to drive here until completing a test on our road rules and the testing of their true driving abilities

  2. I have a question to Michael Nieuwesteeg. What rock have you been living under for the past 12 months with a comment like this “relatively few heavy vehicle crashes which involve overseas licensed drivers”. I think you should crawl out from behind the desk you sit at and shout yourself a company paid trip up and down the highways, then tell the industry who is the main factor in heavy vehicle accidents. South West Victoria is a good start point coming out of the South East of South Australia. It’s not us being bigots, but our lack of enthusiasm towards operators that risk our lives with their poor judgement, arrogance and stupidity.

    1. Well said. The men that have been operating semi’s in this country for decades, know what its like to be confronted with drivers from overseas every other day on our shocking roads that are supposedly called ‘highways’.
      There definately needs to be change in the licencing for immigrants that can’t READ english for a start.

    2. Problem is sitting behind a desk looking at stats don’t show the several minor crashes out there, that don’t get reported , which I experienced while parked in a roadside heavy vehicle park and was sideswiped, finding the driver of the said truck driving on an international licence

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