Driving tests

How to Get Your Learner Licence in New Zealand

Car, motorbike, SUV, truck and other heavy vehicles – driving any of these requires having a driver’s licence. Driving tow trucks, forklifts, buses, taxis; vehicles that either transport hazardous material or carry passengers for a fee requires not only having a driver’s licence but also a licence endorsement.

To become a driving instructor or a testing officer you will also need to have both driver’s licence and licence endorsements.

Follow this step-by-step process to getting your driver’s licence.

Car licence

A learner’s licence is the first requirement before one can start learning how to drive.

There are three car licence stages

  1. Learner licence
  2. Restricted licence
  3. Full licence

Where can I apply for a driver’s licence?

You may apply at any NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) licensing agent below:

  • Vehicle Testing NZ (VTNZ)
  • Vehicle Inspection NZ (VINZ)

See the Yellow Pages to find a branch nearest to you.

1. Getting a Learner Licence

Before getting a learner licence, it is essential to know and understand the conditions that come with it.

A learner licence falls under the following conditions:

  • You must be accompanied by a supervisor at all times when driving
  • Display learner (L) plates on both the front and rear of the vehicle whenever you drive (L plates are available from driver licensing agents, supermarkets, some vehicle spares outlets and other specialty stores).
  • You are only allowed to carry passengers with the approval of your supervisor.
  • You do not need a supervisor if you are learning to drive a moped, however, an L plate should be displayed on the rear of the vehicle. You are also not allowed to ride between 10pm and 5am, and you should not carry any passenger at all times
  • It’s preferable for you to use a driving instructor to learn – check out our list of driving instructors.

Who can apply for a learner licence?

You should be at least 16 years old to be able to apply for a learner licence.

How can I get a learner licence?

  1. Go to an NZTA licensing agent
  2. Fill out the application form DL1
  3. Present both identity and address evidence
  4. Meet the eyesight standard requirements
  5. Let your photo be taken
  6. Provide your signature
  7. Pay both learner licence test and application fees
  8. Take and pass the learner licence theory test

2. Getting a Restricted Licence

A restricted licence has the following conditions:

  • You are not allowed to drive on your own between 10pm and 5am and must be accompanied by a supervisor with a full licence.
  • If you use an automatic vehicle for the restricted driving test, it will be indicated in your restricted licence that are only allowed to drive automatic vehicles (except when accompanied by a supervisor)
  • With the absence of a supervisor, you are allowed to carry only the following passengers:
    1. parent or guardian
    2. spouse or partner (de facto or civil union partner)
    3. a child who is under your spouse or your custody
    4. a relative living with you and receiving a social security benefit
    5. someone that you are looking after as their primary caregiver

When and who can apply for a restricted licence?

You should be at least 16½ years old and have held a learner licence for six months to apply for a restricted licence.

How can I get a restricted licence?

  1. Go to an NZTA licensing agent
  2. Fill out the application form DL1
  3. Present both identity and address evidence
  4. Meet the eyesight standard requirements
  5. Let your photo be taken
  6. Provide your signature
  7. Book a schedule for the restricted practical test
  8. Pay both restricted licence test and application fees
  9. Take and pass the restricted licence practical driving test

3. Getting a Full Licence

When and who can apply for a full licence?

For drivers under 25 years old: you have to be at least 18 years old and have held the restricted licence for 18 months to apply for a full licence.

By presenting an approved certificate of the advanced driving course (either a Street Talk or a Defensive Driving) , the minimum age requirement is reduced to 17½ years old, therefore making the time that you must have held the restricted licence reduced to 12 months.

You can also take an advanced driving skills course after obtaining your learner licence – more information is available here.

For drivers 25 years old and older: you must have held the restricted licence for at least 6 months to be qualified to apply for a full licence.

How can I get a full licence?

  1. Go to an NZTA licensing agent
  2. Fill out the application form DL1
  3. Present both identity and address evidence
  4. Meet the eyesight standard requirements
  5. Let your photo be taken
  6. Provide your signature
  7. Book a schedule for the full practical test
  8. Pay both full licence test and application fees
  9. Take and pass the full licence practical driving test

If you learn in an automatic vehicle you will be restricted to driving automatic vehicles until you get your full licence.

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