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Extension of overseas driver licences

Due to the closure of international borders as a result of COVID-19, many people on overseas licences are unable to leave New Zealand and are fast approaching the end of their 12-month period of being able to drive on their overseas licence.

Because of this, the rules around the eligibility period for driving in New Zealand on an overseas driver licence have been temporarily changed.

The temporary extended period for driving on an overseas licence is up to a maximum of 24 months after arrival and will expire on 31 March 2022. At that time the eligibility period will then revert to 12 months.

This change was brought about by the Land Transport (Driver Licensing) (COVID-19 – Temporary Extension of Deemed Licences) Amendment Rule 2020.

Overseas driver licence extension

Driving on an overseas licence while converting to a New Zealand driver licence

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Overseas driver licence extension

How long can you drive in New Zealand

Usually, you can only drive in New Zealand on an overseas licence for 12 months from your last date of entry into New Zealand.

The government has now extended this period for some overseas licence holders.

If you last entered New Zealand between 2 January 2019 and 17 December 2020 (inclusive of those dates), you can drive in New Zealand on your overseas driver licence for up to 24 months OR until 31 March 2022, whichever comes first.

If your last date of entry into New Zealand was outside of these dates, you can only drive in New Zealand on your overseas licence for 12 months.

Driving in New Zealand on a valid overseas driver licence

If you last entered New Zealand then you
on or before 1 January 2019 can't drive on your overseas licence as you've been here more than 12 months.
from 2 January 2019 to 17 December 2020 (inclusive)

can drive on your overseas licence for:

  • up to 24 months from your last date of entry into New Zealand, or
  • until 31 March 2022

whichever comes first. 

on or after 18 December 2020 you can drive on your overseas licence for up to 12 months form your last date of entry into New Zealand. 

Extension end date

This extension only applies until 31 March 2022. From 1 April 2022 the rules will return to normal and you'll only be able to drive in New Zealand for 12 months from your last date of entry into New Zealand.

Valid overseas driver licence

To use your overseas driver licence to drive in New Zealand:

  • your licence must be current (eg not expired)

  • your licence must not be disqualified or revoked in the country of issue

  • you must not have been disqualified in the country the licence was issued in

  • you must not have been suspended or disqualified in New Zealand 

  • you must not have been given a New Zealand driver licence since you last entered New Zealand (but read the Driving on an overseas licence while converting section if you've already started your overseas conversion).

If you or your licence don't meet these requirements, you can't use that licence to drive in New Zealand. 

Find out more about converting your overseas driver licence instead


Flowchart showing whether you can drive in New ZealandConverting your licence

If you're staying in New Zealand, we recommend you convert your overseas driver licence to a New Zealand licence. 

Find out more about converting your overseas driver licence instead

The government has also changed the rules around being able to drive on your overseas licence while converting to a New Zealand licence. 

Driving on an overseas licence while converting to a New Zealand licence

The eligibility period for driving in New Zealand on an overseas driver licence has been temporarily extended. This provides overseas licence holders with more time to apply to convert to a New Zealand licence.

If you’re converting an overseas driver licence, you’ll get a New Zealand driver licence after you’ve passed a theory test. If you still need to pass a practical driving test, that New Zealand driver licence will have a supervisor condition on it.

This New Zealand licence usually over-rides your overseas driver licence, and you must only drive with a supervisor next to you in the front seat until you’ve passed the practical driving test.

If you passed the theory test on or after 18 December 2020, and you last entered New Zealand between 2 January 2019 and 17 December 2020 (inclusive of those dates), you can continue to drive using your overseas licence while you’re partway through the overseas conversion process.

Who can still use their overseas licence

Usually, if you passed a theory test and still need to sit a practical test to convert your overseas licence, you won’t be able to use your overseas licence anymore and will have to have a supervisor with you when you drive.

Now, you can continue to drive on your overseas licence IF:

  • you passed the theory test on or after 18 December 2020 AND

  • you last entered New Zealand between 2 January 2019 and 17 December 2020 (inclusive).

This only applies until you sit the practical driving test to complete your overseas conversion OR your overseas licence becomes invalid.

You’ll have a supervisor condition showing on your New Zealand licence, but you can drive using your overseas licence (without a supervisor) instead.

Note: If you sit and fail the practical driving test, you can’t use your overseas driver licence anymore and will need to drive with a supervisor at all times.

Valid overseas driver licences

If you passed the theory test and you last entered New Zealand then you
on or before 17 December 2020 - can’t drive on your overseas licence, you must have a supervisor with you at all times.
on or after 18 December 2020 from 2 January 2019 to 17 December 2020 (inclusive)

can drive on your overseas licence until:

you sit the practical driving test to complete your
conversion, OR

your overseas driver licence becomes invalid, OR

31 March 2022.

You don’t need a supervisor.

Note: if you sit and fail the practical driving test you can't use your overseas licence anymore and will need to have a supervisor at all times. 

on or after 18 December 2020 on or after 18 December 2020 can’t drive on your overseas licence, you must have a supervisor with you at all times.


Flowchart showing whether you can drive on an overseas licence while converting to a New Zealand licence

End date 

This change to the overseas conversion process only applies until 31 March 2022. From 1 April 2022 the rules will return to normal and you’ll have to drive with a supervisor.

Process to convert an overseas driver licence

Read the full process to convert an overseas driver licence

More information 

Read the Land Transport (Driver Licensing) (COVID-19 temporary extension of deemed licences) Amendment Rule 2020(external link)

Download Extension of overseas driver licence (Factsheet 81) [PDF, 73 KB]

Driving on New Zealand roads

Frequently asked questions

What is the Amendment Rule?

The Amendment Rule temporarily extends the period that overseas driver licence holders can drive in New Zealand from 12 to up to 24 months after their arrival into New Zealand and will expire on 31 March 2022. At that time the eligibility period will then revert to 12 months. 

When will it come into effect?

The change came into effect on Friday 18 December 2020. 

Who will the extension apply to?

All overseas licence holders in New Zealand that do not hold a current New Zealand driver licence. 

Please note that the proposed Amendment Rule impacted temporary visa holders only, however the rule change approved by Cabinet now applies to all overseas driver licence holders not driving on a New Zealand driver licence. 

Was there are consultation process for this rule change?

Yes. Waka Kotahi began public consultation on the proposal on 19 October 2020 for three weeks.  Submissions on the rule change closed on Monday 9 November. 

Read about the consultation on the Land Transport (Driver Licensing) (Covid-19 Temporary Extension of Deemed Licences) Amendment Rule 2020

Is there a change to fees?

No.

Where can I read the Amendment Rule?

Read the Land Transport (Driver Licensing) (COVID-19 – Temporary Extension of Deemed Licences) Amendment Rule 2020(external link)

What is a valid overseas driver licence?

To use your overseas driver licence to drive in New Zealand:

  • your licence must be current (eg not expired)

  • your licence must not be disqualified or revoked in the country of issue

  • you must not have been disqualified in the country the licence was issued in

  • you must not have been suspended or disqualified in New Zealand 

  • you must not have been given a New Zealand driver licence since you last entered New Zealand (but read the Driving on an overseas licence while converting section if you've already started your overseas conversion).

 

 

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