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High demand for overseas licence conversions

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Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is working hard to process a significant increase of applications from overseas driver licence holders who need to convert their licence to a New Zealand driver licence.

Drivers who hold an overseas driver licence and meet certain criteria may drive in New Zealand without a New Zealand driver licence for a maximum period of 12 months from the date they arrive.

If a driver will be in New Zealand for more than 12 months, they need to obtain a New Zealand driver licence. If their overseas licence is not suspended, disqualified or revoked in the country of issue and is still current or has expired less than 12 months ago, they can apply to convert it to a New Zealand licence using the following DL5 form:

Application for conversion of an overseas driver licence (DL5)(external link)

While licence holders from 24 countries are exempt in most licence classes from resitting a theory test and - if they have held a licence for two years - a practical test, licence holders from other countries must undergo additional assessments such as theory and practical tests at specialist overseas conversion sites. These additional tests ensure that these licence holders drive safely on our roads.

“The number of current applications for conversions for drivers from non-exempt countries is significantly higher than usual, likely as a result of COVID-19 restrictions on international travel,” Senior Manager, Vehicle & Driver Licensing, Sue Hardiman says.

“This has meant that during the period of June and July the processing time for these applications was nearly 30 days.

“Many overseas drivers who are nearing the end of the 12-month validity period for their overseas licences may not be intending to leave New Zealand due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. This means they now need to convert to a New Zealand driver licence to continue driving on our roads.

“Our team is balancing the need to conduct these assessments accurately and consistently with processing times that give our customers the peace of mind they will be able to drive legally.

“We’re doing everything we can to clear the backlog and reduce the processing time and will update our website with the latest information.”

Drivers also have the option to apply for a New Zealand driver licence rather than converting their overseas driver licence. Theory and practical driving tests are continuing under Alert Level 2 at specialist overseas conversion sites.

Exempt 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

More information

How to apply for the New Zealand driver licence

Application for conversion of an overseas driver licence (DL5)(external link)

Current application processing times

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