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Changes to learner and restricted driver licences

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.

We want to hear what you think about these proposed changes.

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:

Please read the overview carefully and consider the effects the proposed Rule changes would have on you or your organisation.

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

What we are seeking your feedback on

Waka Kotahi welcomes your comments on the proposed changes set out in this overview and in the draft of the proposed Rule.

When you provide your feedback, it would be helpful if you consider and answer the following questions:

  1. Do you support revoking the time-limited licence policy? Please outline your reasons.
  2. Do you see any additional risks in revoking the time-limited licence policy?

For both questions, your reasoning behind the response would be appreciated.

How to make a submission

You can send your submission:

Please include the following information in your submission:

  • the title of the proposed Rule change
  • your name, and title if applicable
  • your organisation’s name if applicable
  • your email address (preferred) or postal address.

The deadline for submissions is 5pm on Friday 8 October 2021.

After the consultation is completed a final document will be prepared and released.

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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.
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  • 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.

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