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Transportation in Brisbane

As an expat who’ll soon be living in Brisbane, you are bound to have a lot of questions about the capital of the “Sunshine State”. Never fear: The InterNations guide on staying in Brisbane covers all key topics of expat life in Brisbane, from leisure and education to transportation and health.
River ferries and catamaran speedboats are an important part of Brisbane’s public transport network.

Brisbane Airport

As an expatriate, you will arrive by plane, at the international terminal of Brisbane Airport. The airport is located 14 km northeast of Brisbane’s central business district, in a suburb of its own. It’s an important hub for the Australian airlines Virgin, Qantas, and Jetstar, serving 41 domestic as well as 28 international destinations — mostly in the Asia-Pacific Region, in the Middle East, and on the West Coast of the USA.

From the airport, you can easily reach Brisbane or other places in the Southeast Queensland area by shuttle bus, Airtrain, or taxi.

Public Transport: Taxis and Translink

Speaking of taxis — business people and night owls in particular will be interested in knowing more about Brisbane’s local cab companies. Taxis belong either to the fleet of Yellow Cab (whose vehicles are bright orange) or Black & White Cabs (whose vehicles are actually black and white).

Fares are regulated depending on the time of day, with prices currently including a basic fee of at least 2.90 AUD, 2.17 AUD per kilometer, and 0.82 AUD per minute. The basic fee is most expensive between 0:00 and 5:00 when Brisbane’s public transport network is closed, except for a few night buses on the weekend.

Public transport in the Brisbane metropolitan area is provided by Translink, which runs the bus service, the boats and catamarans to the outlying islands, and the Citytrain lines. Once you have found a place to live, you can use the Translink online journey planner to see if there are any convenient and fast connections for your daily commute, to the nearest shopping facilities, or the central business district.

If you are going to travel frequently with Translink, you might want to purchase a “go” electronic card. It’s a pre-loaded, top-up smart card which is considerably cheaper than a paper ticket. For example, the adult fare to travel through one zone of the Translink area is 4.80 AUD; with an electronic ticket, you only pay 3.35 AUD at peak times and only 2.68 AUD for the same trip.

Driving in Brisbane

In Brisbane, public transportation does not seem quite as accepted as in other major Australian cities. Indeed, the public transport network is less frequented than that of metropolises like Sydney or Melbourne. If your new home or place of work should be in a remote location, driving will be the better option. But don’t forget that Australians drive on the left side of the road!

If you’d like to go by car while living in Brisbane, you can simply keep using your overseas license as long as you fulfill the following conditions:

  • The old permit is still valid.
  • It has not been suspended or withdrawn in your home country.
  • It is for the proper class of vehicle (i.e. you cannot drive a car with an overseas motorbike license, or vice versa).
  • You are medically fit to drive.
  • You have an official transition for any non-English license.
  • You have been living in Queensland on a resident visa for less than three months.

Getting a Queensland Driving License

If your license has expired or if you simply want to exchange it for a local driving permit, you usually can trade in a full overseas license for a car or motorcycle for the Queensland version.

However, you need to pass both a written exam and a practical driving test — unless your original license is from one of the following countries:

  • Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Croatia, Denmark
  • Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guernsey, Ireland, Italy
  • Japan, Jersey, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal
  • Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, the USA
  • Isle of Man (if issued on or after 1 April 1991) and Malta (if issued on or after 2 January 2004)

If you have a license issued in one of the states listed below, you don’t need a test, either, as long as you are at least 25 years old.

  • Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic
  • Estonia, Hong Kong, Hungary
  • Latvia, Lithuania, Poland
  • Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia
  • South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan

To swap your license, just go to your nearest customer service center of the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads. The department also offers an overview of the local road rules, in case you’d like to familiarize yourself with them before you hit the road.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Benoit Julien

"Before moving to Brisbane I contacted 5 members of their InterNations community. Today 3 of them are my friends."

Gabriela Jaquez

"As a traveling spouse it was not always easy to meet interesting people abroad. On InterNations I have many of them here in Brisbane in no time."

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