Do Driving Licenses Need to be Translated?

Why you might need a driving license translated

Most people who go overseas for short trips never think about translating their driving licenses and, in reality, a translation is rarely necessary. Most national or state driving licenses are accepted in other countries although there may be limitations on their use and in some rare cases, a translation may be necessary. It always pays to do a quick Google search before jetting off to another country, especially if the country is unfamiliar or where people speak an entirely different language or use a very different form of writing. 

Spare a thought for the average traffic cop in say, China, who asks to see your driving license at a roadside stop and you are driving a rental car. Your license will probably be totally incomprehensible. The same goes for Chinese or Japanese tourist in Australia or Europe who carries their own national driving license with them. It may technically be legal, but the policeman or policewoman who asks to see it will probably not have a clue whether it is actually valid or even discern any useful information from it, especially if the photo i.d. is a bit out of date.

There is one way around only carrying your own driving license or getting it translated and that’s getting an international driving license. This is usually easy to obtain in advance before leaving your own country. The international license is normally carried with the national license and presented to whoever asks to see it. The information is translated and printed in some, but not all, of the world’s major languages.

The requirements for driving license translation

If you do need to have your driving license translated, use a professional driving license translator. By choosing the right translator who can translate the license into the language you need, all the relevant parts of the license must be translated correctly. These include:

  • your name;
  • your home address (if on your own national license);
  • the date of expiry of your license;
  • the date the license was issued;
  • whether there are any special conditions required for you to use your license, e.g. wearing spectacles or contact lenses;
  • the validity of the license for particular vehicle classes.

Note that most countries and, in some cases, administrative regions of a single country, such as state governments in the U.S. or Australia, require local licenses to be obtained after a period of residence. The rules depend on which country you obtained your original license in, so for example, if you have a Singaporean license or a New Zealand or British one, you can obtain an Australian one without having to do any further tests. You may need to get your own license translated just to have a new, local license issued.

The need for using the right language service provider

If you have been told that you need your national license translated, it is best to get it done by someone who knows what they are doing. Choosing a professional driving license translator will avoid problems and misunderstandings. Every country has a different way of approving translation accreditation or qualifications, so make sure you check which translator or agency is qualified to certify your license and knows what is required in the country you want to use it. 

If you are already in Australia, for example, and expect to be in one state or territory or the other for more than 3 months, then you can expect to have to get a new, locally issued license. That might mean that your own national license you have been using up to then needs to be translated. Use a NAATI-certified licensed translator to do the translation. NAATI is the Australian national accreditation authority for translators and interpreters.

How to Get a Fast and Accurate Driver License Translation in Australia

There are several reasons why you may want your driver’s license translated into English while in Australia. The first is if you are visiting Australia you may need it to rent a car and the second is for identification purposes when booking into a hotel or other type of accommodation in Australia. You also may wish to open a temporary bank account in Australia and having an accurate translation of your driving license could serve as one of the means of identification required.
The most important move you should make when seeking a translation is to choose a NAATI-certified translator as translations from these experts are not only approved for government purposes but are recognized throughout Australia as accurate. One great benefit of getting your overseas license translated by a NAATI translator is if you are involved in a car accident, whether it is your fault or the other driver’s, it gives you the peace of mind that the police officer attending the accident will be able to accurately identify who you are at that you have a valid driver’s license.
Most Australian states require you to get a translation of your driver’s license into English from a NAATI-certified translator. Most NAATI translation services can offer translators in almost any language you want. So if you are visiting from Spain or Latin America you just need to go online and search for a NAATI translator who specializes in Spanish to English translations. You can scan your driver’s license and forward it to your chosen NAATI translator who will perform the translation and certify it to say it is accurate.

Going abroad with a NAATI translation of your driver’s license

To save you the time of getting a translation of your driver’s license before you go overseas it is a good idea to get it translated by a NAATI translator here in Australia before you leave. Many countries will accept the translation as NAATI translations have a good reputation for accuracy. You can use your translated driver’s license not just to hire a car abroad but also as identification when you are traveling around a country.

Coming to Australia on a working holiday visa

In order to enter Australia on a working holiday visa, you will need to have three important documents. One is a bank statement showing the availability of at least $5,000, the second is a credit limit of around $5,000 on a credit card and the third is a flight booked to leave the country once your holiday visa has expired. On top of this, you will need to provide identification for a host of other things like applying for a state driver’s license after 3 months of staying in Australia and an Australian bank account for your employer to use to deposit your wages. Having an English translation of your driver’s license provides one form of identification that you will need to access the above things.

How to get a fast driving license translation in Australia?

If you want a fast driving license translation in Australia you need to go online and find a translation company that offers a 24-hour turnaround service. You will need to follow the steps on your chosen translator’s website. The first thing you will need to provide is a photo or scan of your driver’s. You will then be asked to pay for the service online using either a credit card or PayPal. Once the translation has been completed you will be sent a digital copy of the translation of your driver’s license which will include a NAATI certification from the translator. If you want a hard copy of the translation mailed to you it will be necessary to pay the postage and provide a mailing address.