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Driving in New Zealand

Updated: 22 July 2014

You need to meet a number of requirements to drive on New Zealand roads. Just like other drivers, you must have a current driver licence; but you will also need an approved translation or international driving permit if your licence isn't in English. 

You'll need to consider more permanent arrangements if you're in New Zealand for more than 12 months.

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Permit or licence?

While most countries use the term 'driver licence', some countries use the term 'driver permit'. It's important not to confuse a 'driver permit' with an 'international driving permit'.

Can you drive in New Zealand?

You can drive in New Zealand if you hold a driver licence or driving permit from another country and:

  • your overseas licence or driver permit is current and valid, and
  • you've not received a disqualification or suspension in New Zealand, and
  • you entered New Zealand less than 12 months ago, and
  • your overseas licence is in English; if it's not, you must have an accurate translation, and
  • you've not been granted a New Zealand driver licence, and
  • you have not renewed, requalified or reinstated a New Zealand driver licence since you last entered New Zealand.

You can drive for a maximum period of 12 months from the date you arrive in New Zealand. Each time you arrive in New Zealand you can drive for a further 12-month period.

If your overseas licence or driving permit doesn't meet these requirements, you must apply for a New Zealand driver licence to drive in New Zealand.

Here for a year or more?

If you'll be in New Zealand for more than a year, you need to obtain a New Zealand driver licence. If your overseas licence is still current or has expired less than 12 months ago you can apply to convert it to a New Zealand licence.

How to convert your overseas driver licence to a New Zealand licence

Depending on the country you come from, you may have to pass theory and practical tests.

Planning to bring your vehicle with you?

Find out the requirements you'll have to meet to bring your vehicle into New Zealand.

Tips for driving in New Zealand

New Zealand road rules and driving behaviours may be different to those in your home country. For example:

  • we drive on the left side of the road
  • we have many hilly, narrow or windy roads that mean your journey make take longer than you expect.
  • you must carry your driver licence on you at all times. If your licence is not in English, you must carry a translation from an approved translator.

Before you venture out on our roads