Getting a driver licence 



How do I get a New Zealand driver licence?

There are three main stages in getting your New Zealand driver licence. The process will take at least 18 months depending on your age and whether you complete a NZ Transport Agency-approved driving course. The New Zealand Road Code explains the rules for driving (now available online).
 
Each stage has an application process and a testing process, which takes place at your local NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) agent or driver testing centre. If you fail any test, you can try again as many times as you like - just as soon as you can make another booking. You don’t have to pay the application fee again, just the testing fee. The ordinary private driver licence is a class one licence.

Each of the three stages requires you to pass a theory or practical driving test, pass a vision test, and pay an application fee and a test fee. You will need to have certain forms of ID, and may also be required to present a medical certificate.

Stage one - Learner Licence
To get a learner licence you need to be aged at least 16 years and pass a road rules theory test. Your learner licence will expire after five years and you'll need to renew it if you want to continue to drive. Read about the conditions of a learner licence.

Stage two - Restricted Licence 
To get a restricted licence you must be aged at least 16 1/2 years, have a current learner licence and have held the learner licence for at least 6 months (during which you are expected to be doing supervised driving practise). Your restricted licence will expire after five years and you'll need to renew it if you want to continue to drive. Read about the conditions of a restricted licence
 
Stage three - Full Licence
To get your full licence you must be at least 18 years of age (or 17 ½ if you have completed an approved advanced driving course). You will need to have a current restricted licence and, depending on your age and whether you have completed an approved course, held it for at least three, six, 12 or 18 months. 

For example if you are 25 years old and have completed an approved course you need to have had your restricted licence for at least three months. If you are 18 years old and did not complete the driving skills course you must have held your restricted licence for at least 18 months (this is reduced to 12 months if you have done an approved course).     

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What are the conditions of a learner licence?

If you hold a learner licence you can drive a car as long as there is always a supervisor in the front passenger seat, who has held a full New Zealand car licence for at least two years.

While on your learner licence, you must display "L" plates on both the front and rear windscreens (or on the rear of your moped) whenever you are driving the vehicle. You can get “L” plates from your NZTA agent.

A learner licence also allows you to drive a moped between the hours of 5am and 10pm. You must have an “L” plate displayed on the moped whenever you are riding it.
 
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What are the conditions of a restricted licence?

If you have a supervisor, who has held a full New Zealand licence for over two years, seated in the front passenger seat, you can drive at any time of day and can carry passengers.

If you do not have a supervisor in the front passenger seat you are only allowed to drive between the hours of 5am and 10pm, and you are only allowed to have the following as passengers:  

  • your partner, 
  • your parent or legal guardian, 
  • a child who lives with you and is under the care of you or your partner; 
  • a person for whom you are a primary caregiver, or 
  • a relative living with you who is a beneficiary. 

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How much does it cost to get driving lessons?

Once you have your learner licence it is a good idea to have a few formal driving lessons as well as plenty of supervised driving practice with a suitable friend or family member. Driving instructors’ fees can vary widely (around $45 - $65 per hour), so it is worth shopping around.

If you or someone in your immediate family is a member of the Automobile Association, you may be eligible for three free driving lessons once you get your learner licence.

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Is there a different process for a motorcycle licence?
 
It is a three-stage process, as it is for getting a driving licence, but some of the tests are different.

Stage 1 - Motorcycle learner licence 
Before you can apply for a motorcycle learner licence, you must be at least 16 years of age and pass a basic handling skills test. You will need to pass a road rules theory test. Your learner licence will expire after five years and must be renewed if you want to continue to ride. Read about the conditions for a learner licence.

Stage 2 - Motorcycle restricted licence
Y
ou must be at least 16 ½ years of age and have held your learner licence for at least six months. To get your restricted licence you can either: 

  • apply for the restricted licence and then pass a practical test; or 
  • pass an assessment from a Competency-Based Training And Assessment (CBTA) assessor and get a certificate to use when you apply for your restricted licence.

Your restricted licence will expire after five years and you will need to renew it if you want to continue to ride your motorcycle. Read about the conditions for a restricted licence.

Stage 3 - Full motorcycle licence
To get your full licence you must be at least 18 years of age (or 17 ½ years if you have completed a CBTA course). You can either:

  • apply for your full licence and pass a practical test after you have held your restricted licence for least 18 months or
  • pass an assessment from a CBTA assessor and get a certificate, after you have held your restricted licence for at least nine months. Once you have held your restricted licence for at least 12 months you can use the certificate to apply for your full licence.

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What are the conditions of a motorcycle learner licence?

The restrictions on riding a motorcycle on the learner licence are very similar to those on driving a car on the learner licence:

  • you can ride unsupervised between 5am and 10pm;   
  • you must not tow another vehicle;
  • you must not carry a passenger;
  • you must have an "L" plate displayed on the rear of the motorcycle whenever you are riding it; and
  • you must only ride a learner approved motorcycle scheme LAMS approved motorcycle.

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What are the conditions of a motorcycle restricted licence?

If you have a restricted motorcycle licence you are no longer required to have an ‘L’ plate on your bike. However you are still not allowed to carry passengers, tow another vehicle, or ride between 10pm and 5am, and may only ride a LAMS approved motorcycle.

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What does the donor option on my driver licence application mean?

You have the choice to become an organ donor in the case of a fatal accident. You should discuss this with your family before you tick the 'Yes' box, as they have the right to over-rule your decision. This is listed as item 4c on your driver licence.

More information about the organ donation option on your driving licence is on the NZTA website. For more general information about organ donation see our Body and Organ Donation page.

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How do I book a licence test?  

You can book your driver licence test online, or in person at your local NZTA driver licensing agent.


What are my licencing requirements if I want to be a truck driver?

If you plan to drive a heavy vehicle such as a truck, trailer, bus or forklift, you will probably need the appropriate licence class and/or endorsement according to the type of vehicle and whether you will carry passengers.  Read more about this on our Endorsements and User Charges page.