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Converting to a New Zealand driver licence

If you have a valid* overseas driver licence you can convert it to a New Zealand driver licence. You can also convert the classes on your overseas licence to the equivalent classes for your New Zealand licence.

*A valid overseas driver licence means that your licence must not be suspended, disqualified or revoked in the country of issue and must be either current or expired within the last 12 months.

If you've been in New Zealand for more than 12 months, you won't be able to drive on your overseas licence anymore. You must have a New Zealand licence.

How to convert to a New Zealand licence

You must apply at a specialist overseas conversion site.

You'll need to:

You may also need to pass theory and practical tests. If you do, you'll also have to pay the test fees.

You can't convert to a New Zealand licence using only an international driving permit. You must present your physical overseas driver licence.

Find a specialist overseas conversion site in your area

Your application will be assessed by the Transport Agency

Once you've made your application at the specialist overseas conversion site, your application will be sent to the Transport Agency to be assessed.

It could take up to three weeks for your application to be assessed and for your new driver licence to arrive (if your application is approved). If your application isn't approved, we'll send you a letter explaining our decision, and what you can do next.

Make sure you allow enough time for your application to be assessed before your 12 months of driving in New Zealand runs out. The agent won’t be able to give you a temporary driver licence to allow you to continue driving.

If you need to sit a practical test

Don’t book your practical test until after we've assessed your application and you've received your New Zealand photo driver licence.

The New Zealand driver licence we send you will have a supervisor condition on it. This means you must be accompanied by a supervisor at all times when you drive.

Find out more about who can be a supervisor

Once you've received your New Zealand photo driver licence, you can return to a specialist overseas conversion site and book your test. If you're paying by debit or credit card, you can call us on 0800 822 422 to book your test. 

Once you've passed your practical test, we'll send you a New Zealand driver licence without a supervisor condition.

If you don't need to sit a practical test

If your application is approved, we'll send you a New Zealand driver licence.

The overseas conversion application process

Flowchart for converting a driver licence

Theory and practical tests required for drivers from some countries

Theory tests

You do not have to sit a theory test if:

  • your licence is current (or has expired within the last 12 months), and
  • you're converting a car or a motorcycle licence only, and
  • you have a licence from one of the following countries:
Australia France Japan South Korea
Austria Germany Luxembourg Spain
Belgium Greece Netherlands Sweden
Canada Hong Kong Norway Switzerland
Denmark Ireland Portugal United Kingdom
Finland Italy South Africa United States of America.

You do have to sit a theory test if:

  • you have a licence from a country not listed above, or
  • you're converting a heavy vehicle licence from any country.

Find out all about the driver licence theory tests

Practical tests

You do not have to sit the practical test if:

  • your licence is current (or has expired within the last 12 months), and
  • you've held that licence for more than two years, and 
  • your licence is from one of the following countries:
Australia France Japan South Korea
Austria Germany Luxembourg Spain
Belgium Greece Netherlands Sweden
Canada Hong Kong Norway Switzerland
Denmark Ireland Portugal United Kingdom
Finland Italy South Africa United States of America.

You may need to provide proof of the issue date of your overseas licence.

You do have to sit the practical test if:

  • you have a licence from a country not listed above, or
  • you have a licence from a country which is listed above but you've held that licence for less than two years, or
  • you have a licence from Hong Kong or South Korea and you're converting a heavy vehicle licence.

Find out all about the driver licence practical tests

You must follow the conditions

If your New Zealand driver licence has been issued with any conditions, you must follow them.

For example, if you're required to pass the practical test but haven't yet done so, you'll have a supervisor condition. This means you must be accompanied by a supervisor at all times while driving.

Who can be a supervisor?

If you're converting a motorcycle licence, you won't have a supervisor condition on your licence. Instead, you'll be given a learner licence. You must follow all the conditions of a motorcycle learner licence until you've passed your practical test.

Check out the conditions of a motorcycle learner licence

If you fail the test, you may not be able to drive

  • If you fail the theory test, but you've been in New Zealand for less than 12 months, you can still continue to drive on your overseas licence.
  • If you fail the theory test and you've been in New Zealand for more than 12 months, you can't drive in New Zealand. You can apply to sit the theory test again.
  • If you fail the practical test, you must only drive with a supervisor. Once you've re-sat the test and passed, you'll be able to drive alone.

Different types of licence require different tests

Different types of vehicles are grouped into classes. There are different theory and practical tests for different classes:

  • Class 1 covers cars and light-weight motor vehicles (eg vans and utilities).
  • Classes 2–5 cover different types of heavy vehicles (eg trucks).
  • Class 6 covers motorcycles.

Please note that New Zealand licence classes are not an exact match to those that apply overseas.

See the full definition of New Zealand driver licence classes

Most people will sit the theory and practical tests for a car licence.

If you want a motorcycle licence as well, you'll have to sit another set of tests.  If you also want a truck licence, you'll need to sit a different set of tests.

Make sure you tell the driver licensing agent which types of licence you want to convert.

There's a minimum age

These are the minimum ages you must be before getting each type of driver licence:

Class

Minimum age (years)

Car

Learner licence

16

Restricted licence

16 ½

Full licence (without an approved course certificate)

18

Full licence (with an approved course certificate)

17 ½

Motorcycle

Learner licence

16

Restricted licence

16 ½

Full licence (without an approved CBTA course certificate)

18

Full licence (with an approved CBTA course certificate) 17 ½

Truck

Learner licence

18

Full licence

18

This means that if you're under 18 years of age, you can only convert your overseas licence to the equivalent age-related New Zealand licence class.

Overseas driver licence no longer valid in New Zealand

If you've been issued with a New Zealand driver licence, you'll no longer be able to use your overseas driver licence for driving in New Zealand.

Download Factsheet 72: Converting to a New Zealand licence [PDF, 89 KB]

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