Driver Knowledge Tests

What is the real cost of getting a car licence?

While public transport, cycling and walking can serve the needs of many, it often comes with restrictions that having a driver’s licence overcomes. Additionally, some jobs require you to have a driving licence, but what is the actual cost of getting one in NSW?

The prices quoted are effective December 2019. They are the official prices, but you might find subsidised or cheaper options if you search.

Restrictions for each licence type are available here.

Learner licence

You need to be at least 16 years old or older to get a learner licence. To get one you need to attend an NSW registry or service centre with proof of identity and pass a Driver Knowledge Test (DKT) – you can practice the questions for free on this website. There are 45 questions in the test and you must get at least 41 correct.

DKT price: $45 each attempt

Learner licence fee: $25

You will also need to study the Road User’s Handbook which you can download from RMS’s website. It’s available in English, Arabic, Chinese, Croatian, Greek, Korean, Serbian, Spanish, Turkish and Vietnamese, and you can also take the DKT in these languages. You can get the handbook in Japanese, too, but not take the test in Japanese. They are available to purchase for around $13.

A DKT must be booked in advance. Call 13 77 88 or go to myTests.

Driving lessons

You need to be on your learner licence for at least 12 months, but no more than 5 years. You must keep a log book with at least 120 hours of driving practice including 20 hours of night driving. Both you and your supervisor must complete the declaration of completion at the end of the log book.

It’s strongly recommended that you get lessons with a qualified driving instructor (registered in NSW). Aim to have 20-40 hours of instruction (more if you still don’t feel confident). Prices range from around $55-75 for a single hour or pay for blocks of lessons that range from $40/hr in a block of 10 hours. The price will depend on the location, the types of vehicles available, the types of lessons available, local competition and whether you want to use your car or not.

Depending on where you live and where you practice driving, let’s assume you drive 60 kilometres for every hour you practice. If your car’s fuel economy is 10 litres per 100km, then you will use 6 litres of fuel every hour (on average). The amount of fuel you use will depend on your car, your style of driving and where you drive (hilly areas will use more fuel, for example).

Lessons: 20-40 hours at $40-75 = $800-3000

Fuel: 120 hours at 60km using 6 litres per hour is 720 litres, which is around 145c today for Unleaded 91 (according to Fuel Check): $1044

Bear in mind that for every one hour of paid driving tuition you can mark down three hours in your log book, up to a maximum of 10 hours’ tuition, or 30 hours in your log book unless they are conducted at night in which case it’s two hours for every one hour recorded. We haven’t included that in the calculation and we haven’t included any of the costs of running your car and keeping it roadworthy.

Choosing a driving instructor

The right driving instructor for you will suit your learning style, be located in a convenient place, have a vehicle that you like to drive with the type of gearbox you want to learn with, and you have a rapport with them.

Read our extended guide to choosing the right driving instructor here.

The driving instructor will help you remove any bad habits that you have learned by watching your relatives or friends drive. Remember that examiners are trained to spot these kinds of poor driving skills, so the earlier you learn the correct way to drive, the better.

Then you take a driving test to get your P1 licence: $59

The driving test is an on-road test that assesses your driving skills, awareness of other road users, decision-making and your attitude towards other road users.

Provisional P1 licence

You have to be at least 17 years old and have satisfied the conditions of your learner licence, plus passed the driving test. Then you can take the Hazard perception test (HPT) which costs $47 per attempt.

Provisional (P1) licence fee: $59.

Driving test: $58 each attempt

Provisional P2 licence

You have to have held a P1 licence for at least 12 months and have passed the HPT then you can take the driver qualification test (DQT) which costs $47.

Provisional (P2) licence fee: $93.

Full licence.

You have to have held a P2 licence for at least 24 months and have passed the DQT ($47 per attempt).

Full unrestricted driver licence (car) per year: $54, or you can buy it up to 10 years for $348 which is much cheaper per year.

Recapping the costs

Compulsory costs

Licences: Learner ($25) + P1 ($59) + P2 ($93) = $177

Tests: DKT ($47) + P1 ($58) + HPT ($47) + DQT  ($47) = $199

Fuel: around $1000, depending on circumstances

Total without lessons: $1376

Optional (but recommended) costs

Driving lessons: 20-40 hours at $40-75 = $800-3000

Total including lessons: $2176-3376

This doesn’t include any of the costs of owning your car, or if you have to take time off work to practice for or take your test.

Darren is an expert on driving and transport, and is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists

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