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  #1  
Old 13 Apr 2010
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Motorbike license and use in other countries?

Hi,

I recently arrived in Australia from the UK on a working holiday visa. I have been thinking about getting a low powered bike (about 125cc) and travelling around Aus on it. The problem is that I do not have a driver's license, or a motorcycle license. I am also planning on riding the bike through South East Asia and to Thailand.

What kind of license would I need for this? Would I need a full bike license (which would take over a year to qualify for), and then get an international license? Or would I have to have a current Driver's license to be able to apply for an international license?

From what I have gathered from the very small amount of information I have found, is that the international license is linked to the license from wherever you applied for it? So if I got a license in Australia that allowed me to ride a 125cc motorbike, and then applied for an international license I would then be able to ride said bike in all other countries which accept the international license?

I have looked everywhere for information on this and am not getting very far so would really appreciate some help!

Thanks a lot,
Tom.
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Old 13 Apr 2010
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The International Driving Permit is merely a standardised translation of your national licence. This means that you need a full licence to get one. I wouldn't go without any licence at all.

I have an IDP, but so far have never had to show it.
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Old 13 Apr 2010
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Okay thanks. So you're saying you wouldn't advise it unless I had a full driving license? Even if I had an Oz bike license which enabled me to ride a bike up to 250cc? Cheers
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Old 13 Apr 2010
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I guess any licence will do, as long as it looks ok. My wife had a temporary Thai licence and she had to show it in Indo, no problems. However, there was no cc restriction on it.

Worst case: you may have to pay a fine (most likely in Thailand, I think, although I've never had to show any licence there).

There is also an outfit on the net that sells and International Driving Licence to anybody who pays. In theory this is not a valid licence at all, but in practice I think it will pass in Asia.

However, if you only just arrived why don't you start the process of getting a licence in Oz now, so you have a full licence when you are ready to travel? Perhaps you can extend your stay in Oz for the purpose. Just an idea...
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Old 13 Apr 2010
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The main reason apart from the time is the cost, as I am traveling now it is hard to save money. I plan to save around $8000 before I leave if I can, and this includes the cost of the bike (around $1200 for a postie bike (Honda CT110)) and the journey including food, fuel and accommodation or camping. I'd have to wait at least a year to be able to do the full bike test here. It would be an option, but if I could legally ride through Asia on just a 250cc license i'd rather do that, if that license is still considered legal outside of Aus?
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Old 13 Apr 2010
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If you are saying you want to travel from Oz to Thailand on $8000 then you are cutting it pretty fine, I think.

You could try contacting the Indonesian, Malaysian and Thai embassies to find out, but I wouldn't hold my breath to obtain any useful info that way.

If the licence looks like a real licence then I would just go. Even if it does say 'restricted to 250 cc' the you should still be ok riding a 250. Most cops will not know what an Oz licence looks like anyway.
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Old 14 Apr 2010
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If you get an Australian state licence (there isn't a national licensing scheme in Australia) you will be restricted to a LAMS (Learner Approved Motorcycle Scheme) bike - this means basically anything up to 250cc (with a couple of restrictions of high powered 250s) and many bikes up to 650cc.

Check out the LAMS list in your state for details of what these are. Once you have your licence you can obtain an international licence and I can't see where there is any place on the international licence to indicate any capacity restriction - it just has stamps for categories for vehicle; i.e. motorcycle/car/truck/bus.

Once you have the international licence, carry this TOGETHER with your Australian licnece and you should have no problem riding through Asia - as a matter of fact in South East Asia you will struggle to find bikes larger than 125cc, never mind 250cc.

Enjoy the ride Tom.
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Old 14 Apr 2010
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The story will be slightly different for each State and Territory in Australia, but for NSW the process for gaining an International Driving Permit is reasonably straightforward.

If you live in a city area you will have to attend a learners course and then acquire a learner permit. If you are in a rural area where the course is not available you can apply for your learner permit without doing the course. After 3 months on your learner permit you can go for your Provisional Licence. You must be on the Provisional Licence for 3 years before being granted a Full Licence.

In NSW the International Driving Permit is issued by the NRMA (equivalent to the AA in the UK). I checked with the NRMA a few minutes ago and they will give you one if you are on a Provisional Licence. A full licence is not required.

The cost is $30 for an NRMA member and $45 for a non-member.

It appears to me that in NSW you can get your International Driving Permit within 4 months if you want to.

A couple of years ago my son and I rode bikes in Vietnam. Certainly at that time an International Driving Permit was not required. Though we do have full licences, an Australian learner licence would have been acceptable to the company from which we hired the bikes. I expect it is still the same, but the guys at - homepage - motorcycle tours, motorbike adventures in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia would know.

The only downside of not having a full licence is that some travel insurance companies will not cover you if you are injured while riding the bike. I have looked at about a dozen policies in recent years and all of those that cover motorcycling say you are only covered if you have an Australian Licence regardless of whether the country in which you are riding requires it. Some say it must be a full licence, but I currently use CUG who state:

We will NOT cover any loss or damage as a result of , or caused by motorcycling, unless the driver has a current motorcycle licence - this applies even if the driver is not required to hold a motorcycle licence or a motorcycle licence is not required by law.

There doesn't seem to be any mention of whether it has to be a a full or even a provisional licence.

I have ridden in 17 countries and only been asked for my licence in Romania - where the cop couldn't read English anyway!

Cheers

John
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Old 14 Apr 2010
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Thanks for all the info. Really helpful. I'll have a better look into the costs, and if the budget makes it unfeasible at least I can travel around Oz. Cheers
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Old 15 Apr 2010
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Well, for once Oz bureaucrats are very generous. Full marks to them.

Do check the fine print on your health insurance to make sure you are covered and don't go without cover.
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Old 15 Apr 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beddhist View Post
Do check the fine print on your health insurance to make sure you are covered and don't go without cover.
Yes, we recently had this confirmed to us by 1Cover, who stated "We will only be able to cover you if you have a full Australian Motorbike license."
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Old 16 Apr 2010
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Generally in Australian road law a "licence" refers to a licence without restrictions or conditions attached to the holder for a class of vehicles, eg a "probationary licence" is a restricted licence by way of speed limits, alcohol consumption, etc. A "learners permit" is definitely not a licence and I'm surprised the NRMA would issue an IDP - and its pretty stupid of them too.

A few years ago on the aus.motorcycles newsgroup there was a guy who had been put onto a probationary licence because of a drink drive offence and had been refused insurance cover for an accident he had overseas whilst riding because he did not hold a "licence". Lesson: if there is a no pay out clause the insurance companies will find it.
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Old 17 Apr 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RogerM View Post
Generally in Australian road law a "licence" refers to a licence without restrictions or conditions attached to the holder for a class of vehicles, eg a "probationary licence" is a restricted licence by way of speed limits, alcohol consumption, etc. A "learners permit" is definitely not a licence and I'm surprised the NRMA would issue an IDP - and its pretty stupid of them too.

A few years ago on the aus.motorcycles newsgroup there was a guy who had been put onto a probationary licence because of a drink drive offence and had been refused insurance cover for an accident he had overseas whilst riding because he did not hold a "licence". Lesson: if there is a no pay out clause the insurance companies will find it.

Hi RogerM

See my post above. The NRMA didn't saythey will issue an IDP on a learner permit; but they say they will for a provisional licence. I guess a licence is a licence just as a provisional rego paper is perfectly legit until you get the real one. A permit obviously isn't a licence and doesnt imply that it is.

Here's the definitive statement from the NRMA website:

An International Driving Permit (IDP) is a special permit for travellers allowing motorists to drive in overseas countries without further tests or applications, provided their domestic driver's licence is valid.
The International Driving Permit is more than just a permit; it is an UN sanctioned document, available in 9 languages and recognised in over 150 countries around the world.
The International Driving Permit can be used as an additional form of identification should your passport be unavailable or locked away in a safe place.
Getting an International Driving Permit

Only NRMA and associated Members of AAA (Australian Automobile Association), are authorised to issue International Driving Permits.

The International Driving Permit can be issued over the counter at any NRMA Office while you wait and is valid for one year.


To apply you will need:
  • To be 18 years or older (there is no upper age limit)
  • A current Australian Drivers Licence (either a provisional or full licence)
  • A clear, recent passport-style photograph
  • Payment of $45, however if you can produce a current Motoring Club Membership card you will receive a significant discount, so payment will reduce to $30.
That a licence has conditions or restrictions on it is surely not relevant provided you comply with those conditions or restrictions. My full licence has a section on the back headed "Licence Conditions" though there aren't any listed. My daughter's full licence has a condition that she wears her glasses while driving and I know of a guy whose licence says he must wear his false foot.

Re the guy who had his claim refused. I have had travel claims refused twice but had the decisions reversed when I made it clear that I thought they were wrong and I was going to make a formal appeal. I never accept "No" if I think I am right.

Cheers

John

Last edited by Deolali; 17 Apr 2010 at 06:37. Reason: added quote from NRMA website
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