COVID-19 SERVICES UPDATE: Information for all alert levels, Waka Kotahi services and more

SCAM ALERTS: Report a phishing scam or learn about the latest phishing emails

ONLINE SERVICES: We currently have an issue with receiving some payments and are working to resolve this issue as quickly as possible. We apologise for any inconvenience.

EASTER WEEKEND – PLAN AHEAD: Heading away for the long weekend? Check our holiday journeys tool(external link)

SCAM ALERTS: Refund email and Vehicle licence (rego) renewal phishing emails

Changes to learner and restricted driver licences

Submissions for this consultation have now closed. The information below is archived for reference.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is consulting on the Land Transport (Driver Licensing) Amendment Rule (No2) 2021.

The proposed Rule will revoke the five-year time-limit for the Class 1 and 6 learner and restricted licences, and revert them back to a standard 10-year validity (the same as the full licence) when a licence-holder renews their learner or restricted licence.

It will also remove the 90-day time restriction on renewal, allowing these licence holders to renew their licence any time before expiry, and will remove the requirement for the licence holder to re-sit and pass a theory test to renew their licence.

Why are we consulting?

Consultation is being carried out to ensure legislation is sound and robust, and the Rule development process considers the views of, and impact on, those people and organisations affected by the proposed Rule.

This consultation has two parts:

Subject to the approval of the Minister, the proposed Rule changes are expected to come into effect on 24 November 2021. 

Consultation documents

Frequently asked questions

  • Why is there a five-year limit on a learner and restricted licence?

    As novice drivers and motorcyclists gain skills and experience, they were expected to move from a learner licence to a restricted licence, then to a full licence, within a reasonable timeframe. The five-year limit was intended to provide a balance between providing sufficient incentive for individuals capable of progressing to do so but avoiding forcing those who do not feel skilled enough to progress.

    Close Back to top
  • Why remove the five-year time limit on learner and restricted licences?

    The costs of tests (theory and practical) and renewing a licence prevent some people progressing to a full licence and penalises those that choose to remain on a learner or restricted licence for good reason, like only using a moped or to transport children, or as a form of identification.

    There is no safety concern that led to this approach and no clear evidence or data to show that drivers on time-limited licences have a higher risk of crashes.

    Close Back to top
  • How will learner and restricted licence holders benefit?

    By removing the time limit on learners and restricted licences we take away the cost barrier, time pressure and stress of sitting and passing a theory test - you will be able to remain on a learner or restricted licence for as long as you like (and renew it every 10 years) or to progress to a restricted or full licence more easily.

    This also has a social and economic benefit because a young person is more likely to get employment if they have a restricted or full driver licence.

    Close Back to top
  • Why don’t licence holders progress to a full licence?

    There are a range of reasons licence holders don’t progress to a full licence, such as:

    • the cost of theory and practical tests
    • the cost of renewing the licence
    • no adequate supervision/training
    • no access to a road legal vehicle to be trained in, or to take to a practical test.
    • only needing a learner licence to ride a moped
    • only wanting a driver licence for identification
    • having other transport options
    • no access a vehicle to learn to drive
    • in the case of a restricted licence, only needing to transport children or a spouse.
    Close Back to top
  • Why does the expiry of time-limited licences put pressure on the driver licence system?

    Between now and late 2023, approximately 3,000-5,000 licence holders a month will have their time-limited licence expire. These licence holders will then be ineligible to drive and will need to renew their licence for a fee, pass a theory test and be issued with another five-year time-limited licence.

    Despite increasing testing officer numbers, the practical driver testing system does not have the testing capacity and driver licensing agents would struggle to process the renewals before they expire, and licence holders may have a long wait for a driving test to progress onto the next stage. COVID-19 lockdowns have compounded this and will continue to affect most regions for some time, especially Auckland.

    The proposed Rule change will help alleviate the incoming bottleneck and manage the flow of applications, allowing people to remain on their licence for the purpose they need it for, without pressure to progress.

    Close Back to top