Eyesight tests for driver and rider licensing


Learn about having an eyesight test when you apply for a licence, when your eyesight changes, and at different stages when renewing a licence.

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When you need one

You must be able to see well enough to drive safely.

Transport for NSW requires an eyesight test when you're applying for a driver or rider licence.

You may also need a test when renewing a licence, depending on your age and licence class.

You must pass an eyesight test:

  • when applying for a licence for the first time
  • when upgrading a licence to a higher class
  • every 10 years, if you're under 45 years of age
  • every 5 years once you turn 45
  • every year from 75 years of age
  • when renewing a Class Light Rigid (LR), Medium Rigid (MR) or Heavy Rigid (HR), Heavy Combination (HC) or Multi Combination (MC) driver licence
  • when applying for a 10-year licence.

If you declare a vision or eye condition for the first time, you need to provide an eyesight report completed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist.

What's involved?

The eyesight test is done onsite at a service centre when you renew or apply for a licence.

Service staff will ask you to read aloud from a chart of letters.

If you use glasses or contact lenses while driving or riding, please bring them to the test.

If you fail the eye test, you can't resit it at a service centre. You must provide an eyesight report from an optometrist or ophthalmologist.

Transport for NSW may defer your eyesight test if you're a low-risk driver renewing your licence online. See Deferring eyesight tests when renewing a licence online below.

Changes to your eyesight

Your eyesight can change over time.

You may need another eyesight test or have conditions placed on your licence if you:

  • need glasses or contact lenses to drive
  • lose vision in one eye
  • are diagnosed with an eye disease.

For details see below. Contact a service centre for more information.

Glasses and contact lenses

If you get glasses or contact lenses for the first time and need them to drive, you'll need to sit a new eyesight test.

If your eyesight changes and you no longer need glasses or contact lenses, you'll need to sit an eyesight test before you can drive without them.

Vision in one eye only

If you have vision in one eye only (monocular vision) you can usually still drive.

You must get a certificate from an ophthalmologist or optometrist that:

  • confirms you meet the eyesight standards
  • includes copies of any recent visual field testing.

If you drive a private or commercial vehicle, you may be able to get conditions added to your licence. This is subject to regular review, usually every 2 years.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is an eye disease that affects the optic nerve and leads to poor peripheral vision. People over the age of 40 are most at risk.

If you notice your peripheral vision getting worse, contact a health professional or see Glaucoma Australia.

If you develop glaucoma you must report it to Transport for NSW or a service centre and provide a satisfactory eyesight report.

Macular degeneration

Macular degeneration is an age-related disease that can lead to low vision and blindness. People over the age of 50 are most at risk.

Key symptoms include:

  • difficulty with reading or any other activity that requires fine vision
  • distortion, where straight lines appear wavy or bent
  • difficulty distinguishing faces
  • dark patches or empty spaces appearing in the centre of your vision.

If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your eye care professional immediately.

If you develop macular degeneration, you must report it to Transport for NSW or a service centre and provide a satisfactory eyesight report.

Conditions on your licence

If you need glasses or contact lenses to pass the eyesight test, a condition will be added to your licence. A licence condition can also be added as a result of your ophthalmologist or optometrist's certificate.

Licence conditions are legal requirements you must follow when driving or riding.

They are sometimes printed on the back of your licence card. For example:

  • S001 – must wear glasses or contact lenses while driving     
  • S002 – must wear glasses or contact lenses when driving at night
  • S003 – must wear glasses or contact lenses when driving a vehicle with GVM over 8t.

For more information see Licence conditions on medical advice.

Deferring eye tests when renewing a licence online

Transport for NSW may defer your eyesight test if you're a low-risk driver renewing your licence online. This includes low-risk drivers with a class Car (C), Car/Rider (C/L), Rider (R) or Light Rigid/Rider (LR/R) licence.

If the test is deferred, we'll notify you to complete it within 8 weeks. You can take the test at a service centre, optometrist or ophthalmologist practice.

We may suspend your licence if you don’t take the test on time.

We don't automatically defer the eyesight test for high-risk drivers. This includes drivers requiring a specialist review, police-identified drivers, heavy vehicle drivers, and drivers who hold a Bus Driver Authority or carry public passengers.

If you're a driver with a Medium Rigid (MR), Heavy Rigid (HR), Heavy Combination (HC) or Multi Combination (MC) licence who had an eyesight test in the last 12 months, you may renew your licence online. If you're a high-risk driver unable to renew your licence online, attend a service centre.

For more information see Service NSW Changes to transactions due to COVID-19.
 

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