Visitor drivers and driving overseas 



Do I need an international driver licence to drive overseas? 

Some countries will let you drive on your New Zealand licence for a limited period of time. If you want to drive in these places the Automobile Association recommends that you obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) before you go because this is a translation of your New Zealand driver licence which is internationally recognised.

You should carry both the IDP and your driver licence together when you are overseas. An IDP will allow you to drive for up to 12 months in most countries, but you can’t use it for work purposes.

You must be over the age of 18 years and have a full, valid (i.e. not suspended, expired or revoked in the country of issue, and either current or expired in the last 12 months) New Zealand driver licence to be eligible to apply for an IDP.

To get one, you need to apply to the Automobile Association - it should cost you $20-30. See the AA website for more information on applying for an IDP and a list of countries where an IDP is valid.

Your local CAB can help you with your application.

Countries which do not accept New Zealand driving licences include the Cook Islands, Tonga, China and Samoa. If you wish to drive in these countries, take your current New Zealand driving licence and use it to get a Visitor’s Driving Licence when you arrive. You’ll probably have to pay a fee for this.

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What else do I need to know about driving overseas?

Expiry of your driver licence -
If your driver licence is due to expire while you are away, you should renew it before you leave the country.

You can't renew your licence while you are overseas. If your licence does expire while you are away, you may be able to apply for a replacement driver licence which is valid for 12 months. (You can also do this if your licence is lost or stolen while overseas).

To apply for a replacement drivers licence from overseas, you will need to write to the NZ Transport Agency. Include a completed DL2A application form and send it, along with proof of identity and address, to the address on the form.

If your licence is lost or stolen overseas -
If you lose your driver licence or it is stolen while you are overseas, you can apply for a replacement licence and have it sent to your overseas address.

If you have a Realme account you can do this online. Otherwise, you will need to complete an application form and send it to the NZ Transport Agency.

Working overseas or away for an extended period -
You may need to get an overseas driver licence if you plan to work overseas, or be overseas for longer than the country will allow you to drive on your New Zealand licence. Contact the country’s embassy (if you are still in New Zealand) or the local overseas licensing authority (if you are already in the other country) to find out what you’ll need to do.


Certificate of Particulars -
Some overseas authorities will ask you for proof of your licence details if you are applying to convert your New Zealand driving licence to one for their country. You can apply for a Certificate of Particulars and use it as proof of your licence details. It costs around $10.

To apply for a Certificate of Particulars, contact the NZ Transport Agency at:

NZ Transport Agency 
Palmerston North Office
Private Bag 11777
Palmerston North 4442
New Zealand

Telephone (for the Driver Licensing Contact Centre) : 0800 822 422 
Email: cert@nzta.govt.nz

 

You’ll need to provide your name, birth date, address, licence number and contact details.

More information driving overseas is on the NZ Transport Agency website.

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I have an overseas driver licence. Can I drive in New Zealand?

If you have a valid overseas driver licence or driving permit from another country, then you are entitled to drive in New Zealand for up to 12 months from the date of your arrival. 
 
If your licence is in a language other than English, then you must carry an accurate translation from an NZTA approved translator. An International Driving Permit from the country where your overseas licence was issued, would be an acceptable translation of your overseas driver licence. 

You will need to convert it to a New Zealand licence if you stay in New Zealand for longer than 12 months.

Before you drive in New Zealand, you must learn the New Zealand road rules because there may be differences to driving in your home country. For example in New Zealand we drive on the left, and it is illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving.

You can watch the NZ Transport Agency video Driving in New Zealand. It is a good idea to travel with someone who is familiar with the New Zealand road rules, or even better, take a Defensive Driving Course.

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How do I convert my overseas driver licence to a New Zealand one?

If you want to get a New Zealand driver licence and you hold a valid overseas driver licence, you can apply to have it converted to an equivalent New Zealand driver licence.

To apply for the conversion, you will need to visit an NZTA driver licensing agent and bring:

  • a completed DL5 form (also available at your nearest NZTA driver licensing agent)
  • your passport or other proof of identity
  • your overseas driver licence
  • a translation from an approved translation service if your licence isn’t in English (you may be able to use your IDP if you have one).

You may need to sit a theory or practical test (or both). It will depend on where your overseas licence was issued, how long you have had it, and whether it is a heavy vehicle licence.

To find out whether you’ll need to sit a theory test or practical test, see the NZTA factsheet Overseas driver licences

Once you have your New Zealand licence you will no longer be able to use your overseas licence to drive in New Zealand.

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What makes a driver licence valid?


A driver licence is valid if it is not suspended, expired or revoked in the country of issue, and is current or expired in the last 12 months.