About driver licences


Stage 1 – learner licence

Before you can apply for a heavy vehicle learner licence, you must first hold another class of licence for the required length of time. You'll then need to apply for your learner licence at a driver licensing agent and sit any applicable theory tests.

Who can apply for a heavy vehicle learner licence?

The table below shows the licence class and experience you must have before you can apply for each class of heavy vehicle learner licence.

Licence class applied for Prerequisites
Class 2 learner licence Must have held a full Class 1 licence for at least 6 months
Class 3 learner licence Must have held a full Class 2 licence for at least 6 months*
Class 4 learner licence Must have held a full Class 2 licence for at least 6 months*
Class 5 learner licence Must have held a full Class 4 licence for at least 6 months*

* If you are aged 25 or older, you can apply for the next class of licence after 3 months or, if you successfully complete an approved ‘accelerated over 25’ course, the 3-month time requirement does not apply.

How do I apply for a heavy vehicle learner licence?

You'll need to go to a driver licensing agent, to:

  • fill out an application form (you'll be asked if you want your licence to identify you as an organ donor; see page 178 for more information)
  • present evidence of your identity
  • book a time to take the theory test, unless you are applying for a Class 4 licence, which does not have a theory test, or if you are applying for Class 5 and have already passed the Class 3 theory test
  • pay for the theory test (where one is required) and the learner licence application
  • meet the eyesight requirements
  • present a medical certificate
  • provide a signature
  • have your photograph taken.

How much does it cost?

Type of application/test Amount
Learner licence application (per class) $48.20
Learner licence theory test (per class) $45.70*
Total $93.90

All fees include GST and are non-refundable.

* If you have already passed the Class 2 theory test, you do not need to sit the Class 4 theory test. Also, if you are applying for a Class 5 licence and have already passed the Class 3 theory test, you do not need to sit the Class 5 theory test.

Note: the total amount doesn't include fees for re-sitting tests if you fail the first time. If you need to re-sit a test, you will need to pay another normal test fee, but you won't be charged another application fee.

If you want to change or cancel your test, you will have to pay a further fee.

  • Where there are two or more complete working days (excluding weekends and public holidays) between the day you change or cancel your test and the date of your appointment, you will need to pay a rescheduling fee of $16.40.
  • This is a regulated fee to cover the time taken and costs incurred when a test is cancelled or rescheduled.
  • Where there are less than two complete working days (excluding weekends and public holidays) between the day you change or cancel your test and the date of your appointment, you will not pay a rescheduling fee but will need to pay a further test fee. This further test fee is not refundable.

You may be eligible for a refund of the first test fee paid where the cancelled test time was subsequently filled by another person.  If the test fee is refunded, a processing fee of $16.40 will be deducted.

Learner licence theory tests

The learner licence theory tests are designed to test whether your knowledge of the road rules is good enough for you to drive on the road. Knowing the road rules is important for you to become a safe driver.

You will sit the theory test at a driver licensing agent's office.

Note: you shouldn't take anyone else with you while you are sitting the test. If you do take dependent children (under the age of eight) with you, it is at your own risk as they may distract you, which could cause you to fail the test.

Computerised theory test

The test is made up of 35 questions about road rules, road hazards and safety practices that relate to the type of vehicle licence you are applying for. See page 12-15 for the different classes of licence you can apply for. The questions will appear in a random order.

The questions have a mix of multi-choice and true/false answers. You select the answer you think is most correct by clicking on it. You can change your mind after clicking an answer but it will be locked in when you decide to move on to the next question. You will know if you have correctly answered the question before the next question displays.

To pass each theory test, you need to get at least 33 questions right out of 35. If you get more than two questions wrong, you will need to book to take the test again at another time and you’ll need to pay another test fee, but not another application fee.

If you pass the test, you’ll be given a temporary learner licence, which is valid for 21 days, to use until you receive your photo driver licence in the mail.

How should I prepare for the theory test?

Before you book your theory test, you need to be thoroughly familiar with the road rules. You will need to read and learn everything in The official New Zealand road code for heavy vehicle drivers. You will probably need to read it several times to know and understand everything you need to know to be a safe driver.

To help you learn the road rules, you can test yourself against the questions from the theory test, Learner licence theory test questions.

If you wish to test your knowledge of the road code further, or familiarise yourself with the computerised theory test, you can do this by going to www.roadcodepractice.co.nz.

Speech or language difficulties

If you are having difficulty preparing for your theory test because of a reading or language difficulty, there are several organisations that may be able to help:

  • Literacy Aotearoa
    phone: 0800 678 910
    website: www.literacy.org.nz
  • English Language Partners New Zealand (formerly ESOL Home Tutors)
    phone: (04) 471 2382, or look in your phone book for your local branch
    website: www.englishlanguage.org.nz
  • Citizens Advice Bureau
    phone: 0800 FOR CAB (0800 367 222), or look in your phone book for your local branch
    website: www.cab.org.nz.

People with reading difficulties can also apply for:

  • extra time to complete the theory test
  • the theory test to be given orally.

Besides English, the computerised theory test is available in the following languages:

  • Arabic
  • Chinese (simplified and traditional)
  • Gujarati
  • Hindi
  • Korean
  • Māori
  • Punjabi
  • Samoan
  • Tongan

For more information about these options, talk to a driver licensing agent when you book your test.

There are also options for people with English language difficulties when taking the practical driving tests. Talk to a driver licensing agent or call our contact centre on 0800 822 422 for more information.

What are the conditions of a learner licence?

The following conditions relate to class 2-5 learner licences.

  • You must not drive on your own. You must always be accompanied by a supervisor, who must always sit in the front passenger seat beside you.
  • You must have your learner licence with you whenever you are driving.
  • There's no law stopping you from carrying passengers. However, if you do, your supervisor (who will, of course, be seated next to you in the vehicle) must agree to this - the supervisor is responsible for everyone in the vehicle and for what happens when you're driving.
  • There is a zero alcohol limit if you are under 20. That means if you drive after consuming even one drink you can be charged with drink driving.
    • If you have an alcohol level of less than 150 micrograms per litre of breath, or less than 30 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood, you could be fined and given 50 demerit points.
    • If your alcohol level is higher, you could be disqualified from driving, given 50 demerit points and either fined or imprisoned.
  • If you’re 20 or older, the legal alcohol limit is 250 micrograms per litre of breath or 50 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood.
    • If you have an alcohol level between 251 and 400 micrograms per litre of breath, or between 51 and 80 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood, you could be fined and given 50 demerit points.
    • If your alcohol level is higher, you could be disqualified from driving and either fined or imprisoned.

What is a supervisor?

When you drive on your learner licence, you must always drive with a supervisor.

Your supervisor is in charge of the vehicle and must:

  • hold a current and valid full New Zealand licence (which does not have a supervisor condition) for the same class of vehicle you’re learning to drive
  • have held their New Zealand full licence (or an equivalent overseas licence) for at least two years
  • sit in the passenger seat next to you at all times when you are driving
  • carry their driver licence with them.

Learning to drive heavy vehicles

Learning to drive a heavy vehicle is a big responsibility and it is important that you develop good driving skills so you will be a safe driver on our roads. There are three main ways you can learn to drive a heavy vehicle, which are outlined below.

Take an approved course

There are NZTA approved courses for each class of heavy vehicle.

These are aligned with unit standards on the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) framework. If you successfully complete a course, you have the opportunity to have the unit standard you’ve achieved count towards a national certificate as well as a driver licence. If you successfully complete an approved course for a Class 2, 3, 4 or 5 licence you are not required to comply with the requirement to hold the relevant learner licence for six months before obtaining a full licence of that class. Also you do not need to sit and pass the practical driving test for that class of licence. If you are aged 25 years or older and you successfully completed an approved accelerated course, you can progress through the heavy licence classes without waiting for three months between each class, eg from Class 2 to Class 3 or 4, and Class 4 to Class 5.

For information about approved courses available in your area, contact the NZTA’s driver licensing contact centre on 0800 822 422 or visit www.nzta.govt.nz/licence.

Industry-based training

Many companies provide on-the-job training for their staff.

Take lessons from an instructor

Driving instructors charge a fee for training and must:

  • hold a driving instructor (I) endorsement for the classes of licence they want to teach
  • sit in the front passenger seat when they're instructing you.

Not all driving instructors can teach you to drive all types of heavy vehicles. Check the Yellow pages for heavy vehicle instructors in your area.

Before your first lesson, ask the instructor to show you proof that they hold a current driving instructor endorsement.

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Last updated: 16 October 2017