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Changes to learner and restricted driver licence expiry dates

On 4 November 2019, a two-year extension to many five-year learner and restricted driver licences was announced.

The extension provides drivers additional time to progress to the next level of licence.

Drivers holding a current five-year learner or restricted car or motorbike licence that was issued from 1 December 2014 and expires before 2 December 2021 have received an automatic two-year extension. They won’t have to renew their licence until the end of that two-year period.

The extension, part of a change to the Land Transport (Driver Licensing) Rule 1999, addresses the significant number of expiring learner and restricted driver licences and low awareness of the five-year licence limit and expiry date. It will enable the Ministry of Transport to do further work to understand why many drivers choose not to promptly progress through the licensing system.

Information about the Driver Licensing Rule change (external link)

Information about renewing learner or restricted driver licences, for licence holders who didn’t meet the extension criteria

New driver licence cards

New driver licence cards have not automatically been sent (and will not be automatically sent) to these licence holders.

If your licence expiry date has been extended, we strongly encourage you to apply for a replacement driver licence card with your new expiry date on it. If you don’t, you might get caught out if you want to use your driver licence for identification, because some places may not accept a licence card that appears to be expired.

A replacement card will cost $38.20 – that’s less than the amount you’d have had to pay to renew your licence if we hadn’t extended it ($65.80).

To apply for a replacement card, go to a driver licensing agent and complete an Application for replacement driver licence and/or driver ID card form (DL2). The online form has info about what you’ll need to take with you.


Please note that if you’re sitting a practical driving test, there are particular requirements about the licence you show the testing officer before the test.

  •  Read more

    When you sit a practical driving test, you need to show your licence card to the testing officer. If the expiry date on your current licence card is before the day you sit the test, you may not be able to sit the test. If you book (or have already booked) a practical driving test, check your licence card.

    • If the expiry date is before the day you’re going to sit the test but your licence has been extended, go to an agent and do the paperwork in advance. Take the letter we sent about the extension with you (if you didn’t receive the letter, don’t worry – it might just take a bit longer to complete the paperwork). The agent will be able to give you a temporary licence to cover the day you sit your test. Make sure you allow plenty of time to do the paperwork and get the temporary licence before your test. While you could apply for a replacement licence card before your practical test, getting a temporary licence using this process will cost you less and mean less paperwork.
    • If the expiry date is after the day you’re going to sit the test, you don’t need to do anything extra.
    • Note that if your licence was not extended and has expired before the day of the test, you need to renew your licence before the day of the test.
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Driver licensing agents and course providers
Application for replacement driver licence [PDF, 117 KB]

Licence holders not granted an extension

The following licence holders with licences expiring in the period between 1 December 2019 and 1 December 2021 have not received the two-year extension:

  • learner and restricted licence holders who hold a 10-year licence
  • learner and restricted licence holders with zero alcohol or alcohol interlock sentences
  • learner and restricted licence holders suspended or disqualified from driving as at 30 November 2019
  • learner and restricted licence holders aged, or turning, 75 before 1 December 2019 (those turning 75 after 1 December 2019 but before 1 December 2021 will receive a proportionate extension until their 75th birthday)
  • learner and restricted licence holders who are unlicensed as at 30 November 2019 (because they may have served a disqualification or suspension at some time and have not reinstated their licence before that date).

Other important points to note

  • If you’re stopped by the police after the expiry date on your current card, they’ll be able to see your new, extended expiry date in the Driver Licence Register.
  • This extension is a one-off, meaning it won’t be extended again after two years, so we encourage you to plan ahead and move on to the next stage of licence.
  • If you have other licence classes on your licence as well, such as learner or restricted car or motorcycle classes issued before 1 December 2014, or a full car or motorcycle class, or any heavy vehicle classes, the extension does not apply to these classes (meaning their expiry dates will stay the same). If you hold any of these classes, make sure to check the back of your licence card for their expiry dates – you may still need to renew them.

Questions and answers

Last updated: 28 November 2019

  • What were the old rules?

    Previously, these licence holders would have needed to renew their licence and could only start the renewal process on the date their licence expired or after it had expired.

    There was no ability to be proactive about renewing a licence, or any flexibility about when they could sit the required theory test. The previous rules placed an unfair burden on licence holders who may have had genuine reasons for not moving up a licence level (such as financial constraints or not having access to a vehicle).

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  • Why are you making people pay for a replacement licence instead of just sending one to everyone?

    This would cost the Transport Agency, and therefore the public, a significant amount of money and be inconsistent with our usual practice of passing on driver licensing transaction costs to users. Licence holders are benefiting from their licence being valid for longer, and the cost of a replacement licence card is less than the costs would have been if they’d had to renew their licence under the old rules.

    The option to send thousands of new licence cards was also dismissed because there were serious concerns raised about privacy and the potential for fraud, especially if address details weren’t up to date.

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  • Can I sit a practical driving test using my current licence card?

    When you sit a practical driving test, you need to show your licence card to the testing officer. If the expiry date on your current licence card is before the day you sit the test, you may not be able to sit the test. If you book (or have already booked) a practical driving test, check your licence card.

    • If the expiry date is before the day you’re going to sit the test but your licence has been extended, go to an agent and do the paperwork in advance. Take the letter we sent about the extension with you (if you didn’t receive the letter, don’t worry – it might just take a bit longer to complete the paperwork). The agent will be able to give you a temporary licence to cover the day you sit your test. Make sure you allow plenty of time to do the paperwork and get the temporary licence before your test. While you could apply for a replacement licence card before your practical test, getting a temporary licence using this process will cost you less and mean less paperwork.
    • If the expiry date is after the day you’re going to sit the test, you don’t need to do anything extra.
    • Note that if your licence was not extended and has expired before the day of the test, you need to renew your licence before the day of the test.
    Close Back to top
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