driving-691751_1280Safe Driving

Road traffic accidents are the most common cause of death and serious injury to Irish visitors in Australia.

If travelling long distances take a break. Never ever drink and drive. Wear a seatbelt. Be responsible – do not get into the car with a driver that you know is under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. In rural areas roads may be unsealed and impassable after heavy rain. Driver fatigue is a major cause of death on Australian roads. Drivers are advised to always carry water and to take rest breaks every two hours while driving long distances. Petrol stations may be few and far between and there may be a requirement to carry an additional petrol supply.

It is also important to check the road worthiness of the vehicle to be used before undertaking long distance travel in remote areas. A national Australian register NEVDIS is available where the history of a car can be checked, whether it has been written off or involved in a serious accident, or whether there is any finance owing on it. If you buy a car with finance owing the debt will transfer to you as the new owner.

Local speed limits are generally lower than in Ireland. They are strictly enforced and hefty on-the-spot fines are applied. Watch out too for signs warning of local wildlife which may be present on the roads and can cause serious injury in a collision. Particular attention should be paid when driving at dawn and dusk when animals such as kangaroos are on the move.

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Buying a Car in WA

Buying a car in WA is relatively easy, although there is some paperwork involved. Both the buyer and seller fill out a “Notification of change of ownership” form. The seller copy of the form is green and must be sent to the Department of Transport within 7 days of the sale of the vehicle. The buyer copy is pink and must be posted to the Department of Transport within 14 days of purchasing the vehicle.

Once both copies of the form have been received the Department of Transport then transfers ownership of the vehicle to buyer.

There is an additional “Vehicle licence duty”, which is a fee paid to the Office of State Revenue on transferring a vehicle licence. It is charged at a percentage rate of the value of the vehicle, so the more expensive the car then the larger the fee.

Registration (Rego)

Cars are registered to individual states and by law each car on the road must have valid registration papers. Registration can be paid annually or every six months and the fees include Compulsory Third Party Insurance (TPI).

Compulsory TPI ensures that every vehicle using public roads in WA is insured for third party personal injury. It covers death and injury to people if you are involved in an accident. The TPI fee is a compulsory part of vehicle licensing. However Compulsory TPI does not cover damage to vehicles. Without additional car insurance you may end up in debt if you are involved in an accident. If you only have Rego and the accident is your fault you will have to pay for any damage caused to the other car. You will also have to pay the cost to repair your own vehicle.

For more information, click on the following link:

For information on types of insurance, choosing a car insurance policy, and on your obligations, e.g. being honest when you take out insurance, go to Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC)’s Money Smart website

Similarly should you only have Rego and someone drives into your car, that person has no legal obligation to make a claim on their insurance to pay for the damage caused to your vehicle. And because you have no insurance company to communicate with their insurance company, you can repair the car yourself and try to claim the expenses back through a small claims court.

WA Drivers Licence

People in Australia on a 417 working holiday visa or the 457 visa are not required to apply for a state driver’s licence. However those with a Permanent Residence visa must obtain a state licence within 3 months of arrival of the PR visa being granted.

To apply for a Western Australian driver’s licence you will need to personally attend a Driver and Vehicle Services Centre or regional Agent.

Please ensure you take the following documentation with you:

  • current overseas driver’s licence;
  • 2 proofs of identity (passport, banking statement etc.)
  • proof of your WA residential address;
  • one document that shows your signature; and
  • the application fee – the cost of a 5 year licence is $119, other fees do apply.

For more information, click on the following link:

Penalty Points (Demerits)

A demerit points system is used in Australia to deal with driving offences. Any points accrued during driving in WA do not go onto your Irish/UK driver licence. However should you lose your licence through driving offences during your time in Australia, your licence will be suspended at home too.

12 is the maximum number of points allowed, during public holidays the number of points given to each offence doubles, known as “Double Demerits”. This means that a speeding offence which would normally result in 2 points now becomes 4 points.

All driving offences carry a monetary fine along with the points system. A letter will be sent to the address of the owner of the vehicle and if unpaid can result in further court action by the Fines Enforcement Registry.

Importing a Car from Ireland to Australia

The Personal Imports Scheme allows migrants settling in Australia, to bring their personal vehicles with them. Mandatory criteria apply around ownership of the vehicle, use of the vehicle and the citizenship and visa requirements. If you fail to meet the criteria, you will not be eligible to import a vehicle under the scheme. Further information on importing a vehicle can be found here.