This rule specifies the requirements for obtaining and renewing a driver licence or licence endorsement in New Zealand. It also specifies the requirements for driver licensing service providers.
Note: Both of these pages will also provide links to the consultation material – such as summary of submissions and FAQs (questions and answers) – for each version and amendment.
Questions and answers are provided to accompany a new rule or amendment when they are signed. These and other consultation documents on this page have not been updated to take into account any later rule amendments and are retained for historic interest only.
Time limits, flexible transactions and evidence of identity
Three changes will take effect from 1 December 2014, as part of the Driver Licensing Amendment Rule (the Rule):
A five-year time limit will be placed on all new learner or restricted car or motorcycling driver licences.
As novice drivers and motorcyclists acquire the skills and driving experience needed to drive safely on the road, they’re expected to graduate from a learner (L) licence to a restricted (R) licence, and then a full licence, within a reasonable timeframe.
However, many haven’t done this and are ‘pooling’ (staying on their learner or restricted licences for extended periods of time). This can mean that they haven’t demonstrated they have the skills and competence to drive safely on our roads.
The aim of the GDLS is for novice drivers and motorcyclists to progress from a learner licence to a full licence. To achieve this, drivers must gain the necessary skills and driving experience to pass the appropriate tests. Certain restrictions apply to the learner and restricted licence stages to ensure novice drivers gain the necessary driving skills and experience under low-risk conditions. Not progressing may mean drivers aren’t learning and demonstrating the skills and knowledge needed to be safe drivers. This defeats the purpose of the GDLS.
A five-year limit is considered a reasonable time for licence holders to progress through each stage of the system without prematurely forcing those who aren’t sufficiently competent to progress too quickly.
Five years is also the maximum period that applies to other aspects of driver licensing. This includes endorsements and medical certificates, or the renewal of expired licences without testing.
The intent is to discourage licence holders from renewing their L or R licences, and to move on to the next phase of the GDLS. For this reason, if a licence holder wants to renew his or her five-year licence, then they’ll have to sit a theory test.
The new five-year limit will not be applied to you retrospectively. However, if you haven’t progressed to a full licence, when you renew your licence you’ll be issued with a five-year Learner or Restricted licence.
Also, if you’re reinstating an existing Learner or Restricted licence following a sanction (for example, suspension or disqualification) and the licence being reinstated has expired or will expire within 12 months, you’ll be issued a five-year licence.
On the date stated on the licence card.
No, but your new learner or restricted licence will only be issued for five years.
No, but once you have been issued with a five year licence you will need to do a theory test for any future renewals.
No, you will continue to have your learner or restricted licence.
AFTER 1 December 2014:
When you renew your current learner or restricted car or motorcycle licence, you’ll be given a licence that has a five year term not a ten-year one.
If you get a new learner or restricted licence you will be given a licence that has a five year term.
When you renew a learner or restricted licence that has been issued for five years then you do have to pass a theory test before renewing for a further five years.
The purpose of the new time limit is to encourage moving on to the next stage of the GDLS. You’ll only be able to renew a five-year Learner or Restricted licence once it has expired and you’ll need to pass the appropriate car or motorcycle theory test. In the interim, you won’t be able to drive.
The renewal restriction (only being able to renew your five-year licence on or after the date it expires) provides you with an additional incentive to progress to the next licence stage.
Yes. If you convert your overseas licence to a New Zealand Learner or Restricted licence, you’ll be issued with a licence that has the five-year limit.
Holders of a heavy motor vehicle licence (Classes 2-5) or a zero alcohol licence, older drivers (aged 75 and over), diplomatic and consular personnel, and people getting a replacement licence involving a L or R licence (if they had lost it, for example), aren’t subject to the new five-year limit.
Before now, licence applications have had to be made in person. The changes have been made to reduce the time and cost burden on customers of doing this. The changes allow for the Transport Agency to introduce options for applications to be made in ways that aren’t face-to-face (such as online or kiosk channels).
Online driver licence transactions will become available when all the necessary system changes have been made, and robust business processes are in place to manage identity-related risks. Online services are expected to become available over several years, with simpler (lower-risk) transactions moving online first.
It’s expected that, eventually, most common driver licence transactions will be available online. However, at this stage first enrolments won’t be available online because of the higher risks involved around verifying identity. Some low volume (and complex) transactions may continue to be face-to-face, only because the cost of providing this service online would be excessive.
To establish your identity as part of a licence application, you need to provide documentary evidence from the list of acceptable documents listed in the Rule (eg. a current New Zealand passport).
As part of these changes, the list of acceptable documents has been updated using guidance from the Evidence of Identity Standard developed by the Department of Internal Affairs. This Standard is used by government agencies to establish and confirm the identity of individuals who are accessing government services in person or online. The Standard ensures consistent use of processes to manage identity-related risks.
When applying for a licence, you’ll now be asked to present an identity document that includes your photograph. If you can’t do this, you’ll need to provide a recent photograph verified by an identity referee (a similar process to when you first get your passport).
Driver licences are widely accepted and used for purposes other than driving. Under the previous requirements, it was possible to provide two documents without photographs to prove your identity. However, these requirements are now out-dated and don’t align with the guidance in the Evidence of Identity Standard.
The Land Transport Act 1998 requires the Rule to specify acceptable types of documentary evidence of identity.
First-time applications carry a much higher risk of identity fraud. This is because the applicant is establishing who they are, rather than re-confirming an existing identity that’s already in the system.
Some customers find it difficult to provide proof of address using an original utility bill or bank statement showing their name and address, particularly those who live in a flat or make online payments.
From 1 December, the home and postal addresses you list on your application form will be sufficient. Licence cards are sent out to this listed address, which should encourage applicants to ensure it’s valid.
No. The existing fees haven’t changed. The relevant fees regulations will be adjusted slightly to ensure that drivers are charged the correct test fee in the licence renewal process.
The draft amendment rule, an Overview document and Questions & Answers were released for public comment on 29 April 2014. The Transport Agency received 36 submissions on the proposed changes which were taken into consideration in finalising the changes.
Submitters agreed with allowing more flexible transactions. Most supported the move to restrict time on learner and restricted licences to five years. A number of comments regarding the Evidence of Identity proposal asked that the list of documents should be made more flexible, especially in regard to producing ID with a photograph. The amendment Rule reflects those suggestions.
This is an amendment Rule and, therefore, contains only the amending provisions. The amendment Rule should be read in conjunction with the principal Rule; Land Transport (Driver Licensing) Rule 1999. Both the amendment Rule and the principal Rule are available here(external link).
A copy of the amendment Rule is available for purchase from selected bookshops that sell legislation or from Legislation Direct (telephone (04) 568 0005). The final rule is available on the Transport Agency’s website.(external link)
Further information about how these changes affect you is available on the Transport Agency website (URL) or call our Contact Centre, Freephone 0800 822 422.
When a rule change is put in place, the Transport Agency website is updated, and a media statement is issued. A newsletter outlining the changes is sent to the groups and individuals who registered their interest in the Rule that’s being amended. Where necessary, the Transport Agency advises relevant industry groups of the changes.
Where required, the Transport Agency updates factsheets and other information about the changes.
Page created: 30 July 2014