Under 18s driver licence and learner licence

Learner and provisional (P1 and P2) driver licences issued to under 18s have the following additional security features:

  • The date of birth of the licence holder will be repeated in the card background.
  • A red box will surround the facial image.
  • A reference to the date of the holder’s 18th birthday will appear in the banner of the card.

The features will be introduced progressively in registries across NSW. They enhance the security features on the licence and will facilitate the visual identification of the age of under 18s.

The licence will remain valid after the holder has turned 18 and will be valid until the expiry date shown on the card. Licences already issued to under 18s without these new security features will remain valid until the card’s expiry date.

Licences issued to over 18s will not be changing.

learner licence

Learner licences are valid for five years. When you are issued with your learner licence, you will receive a Learner driver log book so that you and your supervising driver(s) can record your driving experience. Take care of your log book. If you need a replacement log book you will need to attend a registry and pay a replacement fee.

You will have to log at least 120 hours of supervised driving (which includes a minimum of 20 hours of night driving) before you can attempt the Driving Test. Night driving hours are between sunset and sunrise.

Note: Learner drivers who complete a one hour structured driving lesson with a fully licensed driving instructor can record three hours driving experience in their Learner Driver Log Book. A maximum of 10 hours of lessons will be accepted and recorded as 30 hours driving experience in the Learner Driver Log Book. These structured lessons must be recorded in the Structured Lesson Record Keeper log book insert in order to be recognised.

Exemptions from holding a learner log book

Those who are exempt from holding a Learner Driver Log Book include:

  • Drivers who have previously held a NSW or interstate drivers licence other than a learner licence.
  • Drivers who apply for a learner licence and have previously held an overseas licence other than a learner licence.
  • Holders of an overseas licence, other than a learner licence, who are issued with a learner licence after failing one Driving Test.
  • Drivers specifically exempted by Roads and Maritime Services.
  • Drivers over 25 years old.

Learner drivers must:

  • Be supervised at all times by the holder of a full Australian driver licence.
  • Have L plates displayed conspicuously at the front and rear exterior of the car (or an L sign on the roof) when driving. The letter L on the plate must not be hidden.
  • Observe a maximum speed limit of 90 km/h.
  • Not tow any other vehicle.
  • Not exceed zero blood alcohol concentration (this means you cannot drink before driving). It is also illegal to drive under the influence of drugs.
  • Not supervise another learner driver.
  • Only carry the number of passengers that can be properly seated in seats and restrained by approved seat belts or child restraints.
  • Only drive vehicles that have a seat belt fitted to the driver’s position and you must wear the seat belt.
  • Not use any functions of a mobile phone including hands free devices.

Failure to comply with any of the above requirements is an offence and carries heavy penalties, including loss of licence.

From 28 September 2009, demerit points apply to learner drivers. A learner licence will be suspended or refused if the threshold of four (4) demerit points is reached or exceeded.

What happens next?

If you are aged 17 years or older, you are eligible to attempt the Driving Test if you have logged at least 120 hours * driving time (which includes 20 hours of night driving) and have held your learner licence for at least 12 months. From 19 December 2009 drivers who are aged 25 years and over and hold a current learners licence are exempt from completing the Learner Driver Log Book and any tenure requirement.

If you pass, you will be issued your provisional P1 licence. You can attempt the Driving Test in any type of light vehicle however you will be restricted from driving certain prohibited vehicles when a P licence is issued. For more information see P1 and P2 vehicle and passenger conditions.

You should read A guide to the Driving Test for more information on what you need to do before the test and what you will be tested on.


keys2drive – an Australian Government-funded program provides learner drivers and their parents/supervisors a free driving lesson with a keys2drive accredited professional driving instructor. Visit keys2drive


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