The terms scooter and moped are often used interchangeably, however, there are some subtle differences between the two. With every vehicle, you must have a valid driving licence before you hit the road.

In Australia, you need a motorcycle licence to ride a scooter across all states and territories, whereas mopeds can be ridden with a car licence in South Australia, Queensland, and Western Australia.

The following table outlines the rules in the respective jurisdictions:

Riding a Moped or a Scooter in Australia

Engine capacity / top speed

Motorcycle licence required

Car licence acceptable

50cc or less / 50kmph or less

ACT, NSW, Tas, Vic

SA, Qld, WA, NT

More than 50cc / more than 50kmph

All states / territories

No states / territories

*All information is up to date as of March 2022

The Difference Between Scooters and Mopeds


Scooters are categorised as ‘motorcycles’ with an engine of 50cc or more, and they aren’t restricted by specific speed. Most scooter engines start at 125cc and will achieve speeds of 80 to 90kph depending on the terrain. [1]

Scooters have a heavier frame than their moped counterparts and are better suited to riding longer distances, especially if you have to travel on freeways or higher-speed roads.

To get on you have to step through the base frame (or chassis) and place your feet on the footrest platform before you start moving. This also allows you to stay closer to the ground and more balanced when you’re stopping or dismounting.


Mopeds, on the other hand, have an engine of up to 50cc and at their fastest can ride up to 50kph. They are lightweight, manoeuvrable, and suitable for metropolitan areas, especially at lower speeds. Similar to scooters, mopeds also have a base frame that you have to step through before you start moving.

When riding you should always try to avoid high-speed road sections (like motorways) and areas where the speed limit is above 50kmph. Otherwise, you may experience some frustration from other motorists, especially if you’re holding up traffic. Depending on the state or territory you are in, you may also be subject to a fine for disrupting traffic if you are travelling below 20kph than the speed limit.

Automatic Car Licences

If you hold an automatic car licence you may be restricted to riding only automatic scooters (most of them are automatic anyway). As a precaution, you should always check specific licencing rules with your state’s Department of Transport before you hit the road.

Learner Drivers

While Queensland, for example, allows learner, provisional and open driver licence holders to ride mopeds, learners in South Australia and Western Australia must pass riding tests before they can legally ride a moped. And in the Northern Territory, if you hold a current learner driver’s licence dated before 1 August 2019, you are allowed to ride a moped.

Carrying Passengers on Mopeds

While some states and territories allow car-licence holders to ride mopeds, few, if any, allow them to carry passengers on a scooter. In Queensland, for example, scooter riders can only carry passengers if the rider has held a motorcycle licence for at least 12 months.

Do I need insurance to ride a scooter?

Yes, like all on-road vehicles, you must be insured. 

Budget Direct covers a wide range of bikes, including scooters, and our Comprehensive Motorcycle Insurance offers a greater peace of mind covering loss or damage to your scooter, hire car following theft, and new scooter replacement if the scooter is written off within two years of its original registration.

Additionally, with Budget Direct’s optional extras, you can pay your premium either monthly or annually, and with an optional cover, you can repair or replace your helmet or riding gear if they’re damaged in an accident.  Please keep in mind that mopeds are not covered by Budget Direct Motorcycle Insurance.

Always read the Product Disclosure Statement to understand your cover. Learn more about Budget Direct’s Scooter Insurance.