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You must be at least 16½ years old

A restricted licence is the second step of the three-stage process to get a full driver licence.

16½ is the minimum age

You must be at least 16 ½ years old before you can apply for your restricted licence.

You also must have held your learner licence for at least six months.

Make sure you’ve practised your driving

You’ll need to pass a practical driving test to show that you can drive safely on New Zealand roads.

The more time you spend behind the wheel, the better. You can also take a look at Drive’s practical driving tutorials(external link) for good advice on real driving situations.

Don’t forget to keep the road rules in The official New Zealand road code fresh in your mind.

What you need to do

Book your test

It’s easy to book the test online(external link), or you can book it when you make your application at an agent.

You need to pay for your test at the time you book it.

Make your application

Go to a driver licensing agent to make your application.
You’ll need to:

Making your application will take at least half an hour.

If you booked your test online, you need to make your application well before your test time.
In some cases you may need to provide a medical certificate.

When you go for the test

It’s a good idea to be early

Testing officers run to a tight schedule, so if you’re late you might miss out and have to rebook your test (and pay the test fee again).

Sitting the practical driving test will take at least an hour.

There are a few important things to remember

  • Make sure you have your learner licence with you.
  • Bring L plates for the car you sit the test in (you’ll have to make sure they’re displayed on the car correctly).
  • The car must have a current licence (rego) and warrant of fitness (WoF).
  • If your car runs on diesel, make sure its road user charges (RUC) label is current.
  • Make sure you have enough fuel to complete the test.
  • Make sure the passenger seat is clean and tidy for the testing officer.
  • You’re still on your learner licence until you pass your test and are given a temporary restricted licence, so you’ll need a supervisor to be in the car with you when you drive to the test.

The car you sit the test in must be up to WoF standard

This means if you took your car for a WoF today it’d pass. Having a current WoF doesn’t mean your car is still up to WoF standard.

Here are some of the things you should check before your test:

  • tyres and wheels
  • lights
  • indicators
  • wipers
  • body condition (eg dangerous damage like rust or missing bumper).

What the test includes

 The test will take about an hour and will include:

  • meeting the testing officer
  • a pre-drive safety check (this is where the testing officer checks that your vehicle is up to WoF standard)
  • a 45 minute practical driving test (where your driving skills are tested)
  • giving you your results with feedback.

More information about the restricted licence practical test

You can bring a support person

Under certain conditions you may be able to take a support person(external link).

What happens next

If you pass the test

  • You’ll be given a temporary restricted licence.
  • We'll send your new driver licence card to you in the mail.
  • Make sure you understand the important conditions of driving on a restricted licence and stick to them.
  • Do more driving to get more confident behind the wheel.

Restricted licence conditions

If you don’t pass the test

You can book another test. You’ll need to pay the test fee again, but you won’t have to pay another application fee.

Driver licence fees

Your restricted licence will expire

Your restricted licence will expire after five years.

You can either:

  • get your full licence before your restricted licence expires
  • renew your restricted licence up to 90 days before it expires.

If you're ready for your full licence

If you’ve held your restricted licence for long enough and you’re a confident, safe driver, you can apply for your full licence.

Getting your full, if you’re ready, will give you more independence. It shows that you’ve gained even more experience and learnt the skills to become a responsible driver, to help keep everyone safe on our roads.

How to get a full licence

Note: in November 2019 many restricted licence holders were given an additional two years to move up to their full. This was a one-off extension to their licence expiry dates and further extensions will not be applied to those licences, or to any other existing or new restricted licences.

Information on changes to restricted driver licence expiry dates


If you want to stay on your restricted licence

If you haven’t got your full before your restricted licence expires, you’ll need to renew your restricted licence if you want to keep driving. You can renew up to 90 days before your expiry date, and you’ll have to sit and pass another theory test. Your restricted licence will be renewed for another five years.

How to renew your licence

You might need a medical certificate

As part of the application, you’ll need to provide a medical certificate if:

  • you have a medical condition that affects your ability to drive, and:
    • your health has deteriorated since your last medical certificate, or
    • you haven’t presented a medical certificate within the last five years
  • you’re 75 years or older.

You must hold your restricted licence for a minimum time

Drivers under 25 years

  • If you complete an advanced driving course, you must hold your restricted licence for at least 12 months before you can apply for your full licence.
  • If you don’t complete a course, you must hold your restricted licence for at least 18 months.

Drivers 25 or over

  • If you complete an advanced driving course, you must hold your restricted licence for at least three months before you can apply for your full licence.
  • If you don’t complete a course, you must hold your restricted licence for at least six months.