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Converting to a New Zealand driver licence

How to convert to a New Zealand licence

To convert your overseas driver licence to a New Zealand driver licence, you must apply at a specialist overseas conversion site.

You will need to:

You may also need to pass theory and practical tests. If you do, you will also have to pay the test fees.

Find a specialist overseas conversion site in your area

Your application will be sent to the Transport Agency to be assessed

Once you have made your application at the specialist overseas conversion site, your application will be sent in to the Transport Agency to be assessed.

It could take up to three weeks for your application to be assessed and for your new driver licence to arrive (if your application is approved). If your application is not approved, we will send you a letter explaining our decision, and what you can do next.

Make sure you allow enough time for your application to be assessed before your 12 months of driving in New Zealand runs out. The agent won’t be able to give you a temporary driver licence to allow you to continue driving.

If you need to sit a practical test

Don’t book your practical test until after we have assessed your application and you have received your New Zealand photo driver licence.

The New Zealand driver licence we send you will have a supervisor condition on it. This means you must be accompanied by a supervisor at all times when you drive.

Find out more about who can be a supervisor

Once you have received your New Zealand photo driver licence, you can return to a specialist overseas conversion site and book your test. If you are paying by debit or credit card, you can call us on 0800 822 422 to book your test. 

Once you have passed your practical test, we will send you a New Zealand driver licence without a supervisor condition.

If you don't need to sit a practical test

If your application is approved, we will send you a New Zealand driver licence.

Flowchart for converting a driver licence

Theory and practical tests required for drivers from some countries

Theory tests

You do not have to sit a theory test if:

  • your licence is current (or has expired within the last 12 months), and
  • you are converting a car or a motorcycle licence only, and
  • you have a licence from one of the following countries:
Australia France Japan South Korea
Austria Germany Luxembourg Spain
Belgium Greece Netherlands Sweden
Canada Hong Kong Norway Switzerland
Denmark Ireland Portugal United Kingdom
Finland Italy South Africa United States of America.

You do have to sit a theory test if:

  • you have a licence from a country not listed above, or
  • you are converting a heavy vehicle licence from any country.

Find out all about the driver licence theory tests

Practical tests

You do not have to sit the practical test if:

  • your licence is current (or has expired within the last 12 months), and
  • you have held that licence for more than two years, and 
  • your licence is from one of the following countries:
Australia France Japan South Korea
Austria Germany Luxembourg Spain
Belgium Greece Netherlands Sweden
Canada Hong Kong Norway Switzerland
Denmark Ireland Portugal United Kingdom
Finland Italy South Africa United States of America.

You may need to provide proof of the issue date of your overseas licence.

You do have to sit the practical test if:

  • you have a licence from a country not listed above, or
  • you have a licence from a country which is listed above but you have held that licence for less than two years, or
  • you have a licence from Hong Kong or South Korea and you are converting a heavy vehicle licence.

Find out all about the driver licence practical tests

You must follow the conditions

If your New Zealand driver licence has been issued with any conditions, you must follow them.

For example, if you are required to pass the practical test but have not yet done so, you will have a supervisor condition. This means you must be accompanied by a supervisor at all times while driving.

Who can be a supervisor?

If you are converting a motorcycle licence, you will not have a supervisor condition on your licence. Instead, you will be given a learner licence. You must follow all the conditions of a motorcycle learner licence until you have passed your practical test.

Check out the conditions of a motorcycle learner licence

If you fail the test, you may not be able to drive

  • If you fail the theory test, but you have been in New Zealand for less than 12 months, you can still continue to drive on your overseas licence.
  • If you fail the theory test and you have been in New Zealand for more than 12 months, you cannot drive in New Zealand. You can apply to sit the theory test again.
  • If you fail the practical test, you must only drive with a supervisor. Once you have re-sat the test and passed, then you will be able to drive alone.

Different types of licence require different tests

Different types of vehicles are grouped into ‘classes’. There are different theory and practical tests for different classes:

  • Class 1 covers cars and light-weight motor vehicles (eg vans and utilities)
  • Classes 2–5 cover trucks
  • Class 6 covers motorcycles.

Please note that New Zealand licence classes are not an exact match to those that apply overseas.

See the full definition of New Zealand driver licence classes

Most people will sit the theory and practical tests for a car licence.

If you want a motorcycle licence as well, you will have to sit another set of tests.  If you also want a truck licence, you will need to sit a different set of tests.

Make sure you tell the driving licensing agent which types of licence you want to convert.

There is a minimum age

These are the minimum ages you must be before getting each type of driver licence:

Class

Minimum age (years)

Car

Learner licence

16

Restricted licence

16 ½

Full licence (without an approved course certificate)

18

Full licence (with an approved course certificate)

17 ½

Motorcycle

Learner licence

16

Restricted licence

16 ½

Full licence (without an approved CBTA course certificate)

18

Full licence (with an approved CBTA course certificate) 17 ½

Truck

Learner licence

18

Full licence

18

Download Factsheet 72: Converting to a New Zealand licence [PDF, 93 KB]

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