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If you are visiting from another country or have recently arrived in New Zealand, and you have a current and valid driver licence or international driving permit (IDP), you can drive for a maximum of 12 months from the date you arrive in New Zealand. (Each time you visit New Zealand, you may drive for a further 12-month period on a valid overseas driver licence or IDP, as long as you stay for no more than a year at a time.) If you are driving using an IDP you must also carry your overseas licence with you.

Note: if your licence or IDP isn't in English, you must carry an accurate English translation issued by:

  • a translation service approved by the NZTA (phone the NZTA's driver licensing contact centre on 0800 822 422 for a list of approved translation services), or
  • a diplomatic representative at a high commission, embassy or consulate, or
  • the authority that issued your licence.

Note: if your driver licence is not in English, an IDP in English may be acceptable as a translation.

If you don't have a current and valid overseas driver licence or IDP then you cannot drive in New Zealand. If you want to drive then you must apply for a New Zealand driver licence.

Converting to a New Zealand Class 1 or 6 driver licence

If you have an overseas driver licence, but want to drive for longer than one year in New Zealand, you must convert to a New Zealand driver licence. You should apply early to make sure you have a new licence before you have been in New Zealand for 12 months.

Applications forms are available from driver licensing agent or phone the NZTA's driver licensing contact centre on
0800 822 422.

Some countries require similar driving skills and have similar licensing systems to New Zealand's. Because of this you don't have to sit a theory or practical test if:

  • you have a licence from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom or the United States of America, and
  • your licence is current (or has expired less than 12 months ago), and
  • you are converting a car or a motorcycle licence, and
  • for the practical test, you have held that licence for more than two years.

If you have a licence from a country not listed above you will need to pass the theory and the practical test.

If you are converting a heavy vehicle licence, the requirements are different.

More information about this can be found in The official New Zealand road code for heavy vehicle drivers, or by phoning the NZTA's driver licensing contact centre on 0800 822 422.

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