New Zealand has a driver licensing system to make sure that everyone who drives on our roads has the skills and knowledge necessary to be a safe driver. The safer drivers are, the safer our roads will be.
A licence to drive a motor vehicle is a privilege that is only given to people who pass the driver licence tests and demonstrate respect for the rights and safety of others.
Photo driver licences help identify drivers. They are one of the best ways to catch unlicensed and disqualified drivers.
Licences with photos help the police to check that new and inexperienced drivers (people on learner and restricted licences) don't break the conditions of their licence.
Photo side - driver identity information
Reverse side - driving entitlement information
A special condition may apply to all or to only some of the classes and endorsements held. If no specific classes or endorsements are listed, the special conditions recorded apply to all.
If your licence is issued with conditions on it you must follow them when you drive.
The reason some people have conditions on their licence is because they may not be a safe driver unless they follow the conditions. If you do not follow the conditions you could be issued with a ticket and receive demerit points and a fine. See Demerit points for more information.
A common example of a licence condition is that the driver must wear correcting lenses (eg glasses) when they drive. Other conditions include driving only automatic vehicles or driving only specially adapted vehicles. Licence conditions are printed on the driving entitlement side of your photo driver licence.
Note: additional conditions that must be followed by drivers on a learner or restricted licence are not recorded on the driving entitlement side of your licence. See Stage 1 - Learner licence for details of learner licence conditions and Stage 2 - Restricted licence for details of restricted licence conditions.
To drive a car you will need to get a Class 1 licence, but there are actually six classes of licence in New Zealand. Each class covers different types and weights of vehicle. That's because the skills you need to drive a car are different from the skills you need to drive a heavy vehicle or motorcycle.
You can apply for a Class 6 (motorcycle) licence or a Class 1 (car) licence without holding any other class of licence. But if you want a class 2, 3, 4 or 5 licence, you will need to get a full Class 1 licence first.
A holder of a Class 1 learner or restricted licence can drive:
A holder of a restricted Class 1 licence can also drive:
A holder of a Class 1 full licence can drive:
A Class 1 full licence with an F endorsement will permit you to operate a forklift with a GLW of not more than 18000kg.
A Class 1 full licence with an R endorsement will permit you to operate a special-type vehicle that runs on rollers with a GLW of not more than 18000kg.
A Class 1 full licence with a T endorsement will permit you to operate a special-type vehicle that runs on tracks with a GLW of not more than 18000kg.
A Class 1 full licence with a W endorsement will permit you to operate special-type wheeled vehicles:
A Class 1 full licence with an F, R, T or W endorsement will also permit you to operate:
Class 2 is the medium rigid vehicle licence. A holder of a Class 2 learner or full licence can drive:
In addition, a holder of a Class 2 full licence can also drive a special-type agricultural motor vehicle that runs on wheels with a GLW of not more than 18000kg if driven at a speed not exceeding 40km/h. Note that a W endorsement is not required.
A Class 2 full licence with an F endorsement will permit you to operate a forklift with a GLW exceeding 18,000kg.
A Class 2 full licence with an R endorsement will permit you to operate a special-type vehicle that runs on rollers with a GLW exceeding 18,000kg.
A Class 2 full licence with a T endorsement will permit you to operate a special-type vehicle that runs on tracks with a GLW exceeding 18,000kg.
A Class 2 full licence with a W endorsement will permit you to operate special-type wheeled vehicles:
Class 3 is the medium combination vehicle licence. A holder of a Class 3 learner or full licence can drive:
Class 4 is the heavy rigid vehicle licence. A holder of a Class 4 learner or full licence can drive:
A Class 4 full licence with a W endorsement will permit you to operate a special-type wheeled vehicle with a GLW exceeding 18,000kg.
Class 5 is the heavy combination vehicle licence. A holder of a Class 5 learner or full licence can drive:
Class 6 is the motorcycle licence. The holder of a Class 6 learner or restricted licence can ride a LAMS-approved motorcycle or any moped or all-terrain vehicle.
The holder of a Class 6 full licence can ride any motorcycle, moped or all-terrain vehicle.Certain kinds of vehicles require you to have a licence endorsement, as well as having the correct class of licence, before you can drive them. Some examples are special-type vehicles, passenger service vehicles and tow trucks. See the following definitions for more information.
An articulated special-type vehicle can be driven on a Class 2 or Class 4 licence, depending on its weight. This is because its handling characteristics are determined by it being a special-type vehicle, not because it’s articulated.
If you’re a tractor driver, you simply need to hold the right class of licence for the weight of the tractor. You don’t need a W or any other special-type endorsement.
Gross combined weight (GCW) is the sum of the GLW of the vehicles that make up a combination vehicle.
Special-type vehicles are motor vehicles that are forklifts or vehicles that run on rollers or self-laying tracks. It also includes motor vehicles that run on wheels but that aren’t passenger vehicles, trade vehicles, tractors, fire engines or vehicle recovery vehicles.
You must carry your driver licence with you at all times when driving. Drivers are required by law to produce their driver licence to an enforcement officer on request.
To safely drive some kinds of vehicles, or to provide certain kinds of services, you need to have special knowledge or training. A licence endorsement on your driver licence shows that you have completed whatever courses or qualifications you need for that endorsement.
The types of endorsement you can get on your New Zealand driver licence, and what they allow you to do, are shown in the table below.
|Endorsement||Allows you to|
|D||Drive a vehicle that is carrying dangerous goods *|
|F||Drive a forklift|
|I||Be a driving instructor|
|O||Be a driver testing officer|
|P||Drive a passenger service vehicle, eg a bus or taxi|
|R||Drive a special-type vehicle that runs on rollers|
|T||Drive a special-type vehicle that runs on tracks|
|V||Drive a tow truck|
|W||Drive a special-type vehicle that runs on wheels|
* Retested every five years.
To find out how to apply for endorsements, phone the NZTA's driver licensing contact centre on 0800 822 422 or visit the Licence endorsements section of our website.
One photo driver licence for all classes and endorsements
Rather than getting an extra driver licence every time you get a new class of licence or new licence endorsements, you will be issued with a new licence that lists all your classes of licence and any endorsements.
This way you only need to carry one licence.
Last updated: 1 April 2019