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This page explains how to get a limited licence and the criteria you must meet to get one. It also explains how to reinstate your licence after your limited licence has expired and your suspension or disqualification has ended.

If your suspension or disqualification will cause you extreme hardship, or another person undue hardship, you might be able to get a limited licence.

Step 1: Apply to the court

A lawyer can assist you to apply for a court order authorising you to get a limited licence. They'll get the documents ready and present them to the court. Applications are considered by the courts on a case-by-case basis, using the criteria in sections 103 to 105 of the Land Transport Act 1998. If the court order is granted, then you must get a limited licence from the Transport Agency before you can drive.

Step 2: Apply to the Transport Agency 

To get the limited licence issued, you must apply at a driver licensing agent

You will need to:

The agent cannot issue you with a temporary licence when you submit your application. This is because section 30(5) of the act places responsibility on the Transport Agency to be satisfied that you're entitled to a limited licence before issuing any limited licence (including any temporary limited licence).

Step 3: The Transport Agency will assess your application

The agent will forward your application to the Transport Agency for processing. Your application will be assessed within four days of being received.

Step 4 option A: The Transport Agency declines your application

When assessing your application, the Transport Agency must consider the criteria in sections 103 and 104 of the act. If your application and/or the court order don't comply with the criteria in these sections, your application may be declined or delayed.

Examples of where the Transport Agency may decline issuing you a limited licence include when:

  • your licence is suspended under a driver licence stop order (DLSO)
  • your licence is suspended or revoked on medical grounds
  • you're serving a 28-day licence suspension for excess speed or alcohol
  • you're indefinitely disqualified for repeat alcohol and/or drug driving offences
  • your court order indicates you may drive vehicles for which you didn't hold a current licence at the time your suspension or disqualification started
  • your court order indicates you may conduct driving tests or act as a driving instructor
  • your court order indicates you may drive in a passenger service (except where demerit points were the only reason for the licence suspension and where you can prove that no more than 20 of these points were accumulated while driving in a passenger service)
  • your court order indicates you may drive in a transport service, if you were disqualified for excess alcohol while operating a transport service vehicle
  • you're disqualified for driving while already disqualified or suspended
  • you're disqualified for certain offences causing death or injury
  • you received another disqualification after the court order was granted
  • you've been given an alcohol interlock sentence by the court and haven't yet been issued an alcohol interlock licence  
  • you've been issued an alcohol interlock licence and haven't been approved to exit the alcohol interlock programme.

Examples of where the Transport Agency may delay issuing you a limited licence include when:

  • section 104(1) of the act requires you to serve a 28-day stand-down period*
  • you haven't provided all the necessary information or your application is incomplete.

* If a 28-day stand-down period applies, you can still apply to the court within that 28-day period. However, any court order issued within the 28-day stand-down period should clearly state that no limited licence can be issued within that 28-day period. The Transport Agency will apply the 28-day period even if it's not stated on the court order.

If your application isn't granted, you'll be sent a letter outlining the reasons why and advising you of your right of appeal to the District Court.

Step 4 option B: the Transport Agency grants your application

If your application is granted, the Transport Agency will issue you a temporary limited licence to use while your photographic limited licence is being made and mailed to you.

When driving, you must carry both your limited licence and your court order at all times.

If you hold a limited licence and receive a further disqualification, your limited licence is automatically revoked and you're no longer entitled to drive. You must surrender your revoked limited licence to the court, the police, the Transport Agency or an authorised agent of the Transport Agency.

If you hold a limited licence and you're subsequently suspended under a DLSO, your limited licence is automatically revoked and you're no longer entitled to drive. You must surrender your revoked limited licence to the Ministry of Justice.

Overview of the limited licence application process

Limited licence application process

Reinstating your licence

After your limited licence has expired, and at the end of your suspension or disqualification, you'll remain unlicensed and are not entitled to drive until you've applied at a driver licensing agent to have your licence reinstated and a new licence has been issued. Any licence card held by you at the time of your suspension or disqualification will have been permanently cancelled.

Find out how to reinstate your licence

If you drive after your suspension or disqualification has ended but before your licence has been reinstated you could be fined and forbidden to drive. If you then continue to drive without reinstating your licence, you could be charged with driving while forbidden and have the vehicle impounded. 

More information about roadside vehicle impoundment

Download Factsheet 50: Limited licences [PDF, 61 KB]

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