27 July, 2011

Licensed to Drive

It has been a red-letter day at sunny Casa Del Riecken.  Both of the adults are now officially licensed drivers in Australia!

Our "real" licenses are not in our possession... yet, but we do have the temporary paper versions.

If you are considering moving to Australia from the United States, here is what was involved for us.

There is no test required.  You simply show up, pay your fee and they send you your license in the mail. You will need TWO forms of identification though.  Erika used her passport and a utility bill.  I used my passport and a copy of our signed lease.  You can see the required documents in this PDF.

There is no written test.  There is no behind-the-wheel test.

Once all of the paperwork has been filled out and your picture has been taken, it takes three to five days to get your license in the mail.  That is not a typo.  Three to five DAYS.  Wow - that is super efficient.  I am used to waiting weeks.

Erika was able to walk in, pay and be done.   I was a special case.  Because I am diabetic (Type II), I had to get a (very very brief) medical exam before getting my license.  I make an appointment with Central City Medical Center and was able to get in the same day that I called.  The ten minute physical cost me AU$75 (AU$65 for the exam and a AU$10 new patient fee).  The doctor asked me about my condition, took my blood pressure, did a simple eye exam and listened to my heart and lungs.  I gave him the forms and he faxed, then mailed, them to the drivers license center.  That was on a Thursday.  On Tuesday I was able to return to the center (centre) to finish the process.  (Again, very fast.)

The doctor approved a two-year license for me.


Your fees vary based on how long you want your license to be valid.  Erika is a healthy person and she had the option of one or five years.  She took the "I'm committed to living here" approach and put down AU$116.00.  If she had opted for one year only it would have cost AU$37.00.

I could only get a two-year license, so my fee was $48.40.  I am not sure what the fee amounts are for three and four years, as they are not published.

That's all there is to it.  If you come from some other countries, there is more involved.  My Scottish friend, because of the licensing rules, had to sit for the written test and has a heavy vehicle license - because his Scottish license allowed him to drive heavier vehicles (his wife has the same license) - though they didn't have to have any special training for that.  He tells me that they have since "fixed" the system.

If you are from Burma or Bangladesh you need to sit for a theory test.  Some countries require a note from the consulate indicating that you are licensed to drive in your home country.  If your documents are not in English you may require an official translation.

The Australian Department of Transport:

We would call this the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) in Minnesota.  The waiting room here has the same queue system that the Hennepin County License Bureau has in Minnetonka.  You get a ticket and then wait.  The ticket in Oz is distributed by a machine, where in Minnetonka you ask a person for the ticket.  You then wait while tickets are called.  Different services go to different counters.  You wait until your number is called and then go up to the numbered counter.  Very efficient.

But... don't go over lunch.  The ADT is only open banker's hours and, of course, everybody goes down on their lunch break.  I waited for an hour over lunch and only a few minutes when I went in the early afternoon.

See this PDF  and this page for additional information.

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