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Converting to a New Zealand driver licence

If you have a valid* overseas driver licence you can convert it to a New Zealand driver licence. You can also convert the classes on your overseas licence to the equivalent classes for your New Zealand licence.

*A valid overseas driver licence means that your licence must not be suspended, disqualified or revoked in the country of issue and must be either current or expired within the last 12 months.

If you’re going to be staying in New Zealand, it’s a good idea to convert your overseas driver licence to a New Zealand driver licence. Depending on when you last entered New Zealand, you can only drive using an overseas driver licence for 12 or 24 months.

Extension of the timeframes for driving on some overseas driver licences in New Zealand

How to convert to a New Zealand licence

You must apply at a specialist overseas conversion site.

You'll need to:

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

You can't convert to a New Zealand licence using only an international driving permit. You must present your physical overseas driver licence.

Find a specialist overseas conversion site in your area

Theory and practical tests required for drivers from some countries

All drivers must know the road rules, what the road signs mean and how to drive safely. You can find out more in The official New Zealand road code.

To prove that you are familiar with our road rules and can drive safely, some people will need to sit theory tests and practical driving tests. The tests you need to sit depend on the country your licence is from.

Some countries* require similar driving skills and have similar licensing systems to New Zealand’s. These countries are considered exempt 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

*Hong Kong is recognised as a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.

If your licence is not from one of the countries above, then your licence is from a non-exempt country. 

Non-exempt countries

If your licence is from a non-exempt country, you must pass a theory test and a practical driving test.

Find out all about the driver licence theory tests
Find out all about the driver licence practical tests

You need to make your application at a specialist overseas conversion site first, and sit your theory test. Your application will then be sent to Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency for your overseas driver licence to be assessed. We’ll check to make sure your driver licence is authentic and hasn’t been tampered with in any way.

Once the assessment is completed and your application has been approved, we’ll send you a New Zealand driver licence with a supervisor condition. 

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

Once you’ve passed your test, we’ll send you a New Zealand driver licence without a supervisor condition.

Converting an overseas driver licence from a non-exempt country

Exempt countries

Car or motorcycle licence

If you’re converting a car or motorcycle licence (New Zealand class 1 or 6) from an exempt country, you don’t have to sit any theory tests.

If you’ve held your licence for more than two years, you won’t have to sit any practical driving tests either providing your licence clearly shows show an issue date that was more than two years ago. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to get documentation from your licensing authority to confirm you’ve held it more than two years, or you can choose to sit the practical test instead.

Truck licence

If you’re converting a truck licence from an exempt country (New Zealand classes 2-5), you’ll have to pass a theory test.

If you’ve held your licence for more than two years, you won’t have to sit a practical driving test (unless your licence is from Hong Kong or South Korea, in which case you must pass a practical driving test).

Booking your test

If you need to sit tests, you can book them as soon as you’ve made an application at a specialised overseas conversion site.

Find out all about the driver licence theory tests
Find out all about the driver licence practical tests

It's easy to book the practical test online.

Book a practical driver licence test

Application assessed

Your application will then be sent to Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency for your overseas driver licence to be assessed. We’ll check to make sure your driver licence is authentic and hasn’t been tampered with in any way. We’ll contact you if there are any issues with your driver licence.

Application completed

Once your application is completed and you’ve passed any theory tests that were required, we’ll send you a New Zealand driver licence.

If you still need to pass a practical test to complete your overseas conversion, your New Zealand driver licence will have a supervisor condition on it. 

Converting an overseas driver licence from an exempt country

Driving in New Zealand while converting your licence

You can only drive in New Zealand for 12 or 24 months, depending on when you last entered New Zealand. You may still be able to drive on your overseas driver licence while you’re partway through your overseas conversion.

If you passed your theory test on or before 17 December 2020

If you’re required to pass a practical test to complete your overseas conversion, we’ll issue you with a New Zealand licence with a supervisor condition on it. Once you’ve been issued with that licence, you can’t drive on your overseas licence anymore. You must have a supervisor with you at all times while driving.

Once you’ve passed your practical test, we’ll send you a new New Zealand driver licence without a supervisor condition.

If you passed your theory test on or after 18 December 2020

You may be able to still drive on your overseas licence even if we’ve issued you with a New Zealand licence with a supervisor condition.

If you last entered New Zealand then you
from 2 January 2019 to 17 December 2020 (inclusive of those dates)

can drive on your overseas licence until:

  • you sit the practical driving test to complete your conversion, OR
  • your overseas driver licence becomes invalid, OR
  • 31 March 2022.

You don’t need a supervisor.

Note: if you sit and fail the practical test, you won’t be able to use your overseas licence and will need to have a supervisor.

on or after 18 December 2020 can’t drive on your overseas licence, you must have a supervisor with you at all times

Supervisor condition

A supervisor is a person who:

  • holds a current full New Zealand driver licence for the class of vehicle

  • has held their full New Zealand driver licence (or an equivalent overseas driver licence) for at least two years, and

  • doesn’t have a supervisor condition on their New Zealand licence.

Driving in New Zealand while converting a motorcycle licence

If you’re converting a motorcycle licence and need to pass a practical test, you won’t be given a supervisor condition; you’ll be issued with a learner motorcycle licence.

If you passed your theory test on or before 17 December 2020

You can’t drive using your overseas licence. You’ll need to comply with the conditions of your learner licence until you pass the practical driving test and get your full licence.

If you passed your theory test on or after 18 December 2020

You may be able to still drive on your overseas licence even if we’ve issued you with a New Zealand learner licence.

If you last entered New Zealand then you
from 2 January 2019 to 17 December 2020 (inclusive)

can drive on your overseas licence until:

  • you pass the practical driving test to complete your conversion, OR

  • your overseas driver licence becomes invalid, OR

  • 31 March 2022.

You don’t need to follow the learner conditions.

on or after 18 December 2020

can’t drive on your overseas licence, you must follow the conditions of a New Zealand class 6 learner licence.

You’ll need to comply with the learner conditions until you pass your practical test and get your full licence.

Motorcycle learner licence conditions

  • You must only ride a LAMS-approved motorcycle.

  • You must not carry passengers on the motorcycle or in a sidecar

  • You must not ride between the hours of 10pm and 5am

  • You must not tow another vehicle.

There's a minimum age

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

Class

Minimum age (years)

Car or motorcycle

Learner licence

16

Restricted licence

16 ½

Full licence (without an approved course certificate)

18

Full licence (with an approved course certificate or approved CBTA course certificate)

17 ½

Truck

Learner licence

18

Full licence

18

This means that if you're under 18 years of age, you can only convert your overseas licence to the equivalent age-related New Zealand licence class.

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 different types of heavy vehicles (eg 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'll have to sit another set of tests.  If you also want a truck licence, you'll need to sit a different set of tests.

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

Can I convert to a New Zealand licence using only my international driving permit?

No. You must present your physical overseas driver licence at the driver licensing agent when you are applying to convert to a New Zealand licence. You can’t present your international driving permit on its own.

More information

Download Factsheet 72: Converting to a New Zealand licence [PDF, 103 KB]

Download Factsheet 81: Extension of overseas driver licences [PDF, 73 KB]