Whether you’ve just bought a slice of land, or plan on doing some work on a farm, chances are you're going to be at the wheel of a tractor sooner than later.
As you turn the key and smell that exhaust as it fills the air, you may wonder - whether you need a special driver's licence for this. And if so how do you get a tractor licence?
It’s a valid question and one that’s not often talked about. If you're dealing with farm vehicles every day - you want to know you're operating within the law.
Here is what you need to know.
So what’s the deal here? Do I need a special farmer's driver's licence?
You may be surprised at this, but for families who have been running their farms' for generations - the idea of getting a special licence for the machine they grew up driving almost seems like overkill.
That's fair enough and the law reflects that.
If you’re operating an agricultural vehicle within the boundaries of your farm then the answer is no, you don’t need a special licence to drive a tractor - no matter how big, how heavy, or what you’ve got in tow.
What about if I'm underage?
Here's where it gets interesting. If you're underage and without a licence, you are still able to operate a tractor on private property - provided you don't drive on any public roads. Just remember to buckle uptight, and wear a helmet. You should also consider additional safety equipment depending on the job.
Can I drive a tractor on public roads?
When you open the gate and pull out onto public roads - that's when regulations come into play. These rules depend on what licence you have, how heavy your vehicle is, and where you are located.
But, the good news is the rules here are very straightforward: If you hold a class C licence - which is basically your everyday car licence, you can drive a tractor on almost any public road in Australia.
This can be almost any size of tractor, towing almost any farm implement.
However, size matters
In Western Australia, you're free to drive your tractor on almost any road, provided you are within the right weight restrictions. Vehicle weights are calculated by their Gross Vehicle Mass or GVM. Here's the gist:
- If your tractor GVM is 4,500kg or less you can legally drive it with a Class C licence.
- If your tractor (or vehicle) is over 4,500kg you will need to apply for the appropriate heavy vehicle driver's licence.
- Some heavy machinery does not need a licence if it's technically a trailer, but it's always good to check before you pull out onto the open road.
Where you live also affects the rules
Depending on where you live - slightly different regulations may apply. For example, Victoria may have different rules for driving on public roads compared to Western Australia, so always check local road rules and regulations before getting too tractor-happy.
In WA you can drive any tractor size on any road so long as you carry the right authorisation for your vehicle size. This will usually apply to special vehicles, and also depending on whether it's in a roadworthy condition.
In Tasmania, there are size/weight limits and you cannot travel more than 10km away from the farm where you normally house your tractor.
Can learners and provisional license holders drive tractors?
If you're holding a provisional or learner's driver's licence you may want to help out on a farm or even be working part-time on a farm during the holidays.
There's good news here too.
Anyone holding a provisional (red P plate) licence or even their L plates can get some tractor action. You don't even need to display an L or P plate when you're cruising around the farm. The rule of having a full licence holder sitting next to you also does not apply.
Do I need to complete a tractor course before I start operating one?
If you haven't grown up around farm machinery, or used a tractor before you will need some form of training. If you don't believe that, just watch Clarkson's Farm.
The fact is, that while you may not require a specific licence to operate a tractor, heavy vehicles and farm machinery operate very differently from cars, and there are a few more things to think about - especially if you're towing an attachment.
It's a good idea to get some on-the-job training, or even attend a course to get the basics down. if you're looking for employment in the agricultural sector - having the necessary qualifications will definitely be an asset.
Start your tractor journey today
Want to test drive a tractor, or speak to the experts about hiring or purchasing new heavy machinery? Here at Boya Equip we are WA's largest Kubota tractor supplier, and with decades of experience operating farm machinery from tractors to ATVs and specialist equipment, we can make sure you're prepared and confident from the start. Reach out for a quote today or drop by our showroom for a test drive.