The graduated driver licensing system (GDLS) has changed
On 1 August 2011 the minimum age for obtaining class 1 (car) and class 6 (motorcycle) learner licences increased from 15 years to 16 years. New minimum ages for obtaining restricted and full licences also apply.
New minimum licensing ages
The changes to the minimum age at which learner, restricted and full car and motorcycle licences can be obtained are set out in the table below.
Existing licence holders aged 15
If you are aged 15 and already hold a licence when the law changed on 1 August 2011:
However, you cannot make any other type of driver licence application (e.g. applying for an exemption or applying for a restricted licence) while you are still aged 15.
Persons part way through a licence application
If you are part way through a licence application, when the law changed on 1 August 2011, you can complete that application after 1 August. This is because you met the minimum criteria on the date you first lodged your application.
Some examples of this are set out below:
Applying for an exemption
There is provision in law for the NZTA to grant exemptions in limited circumstances.
You must be at least 16 before applying for an exemption. The NZTA cannot grant you an exemption if you are only 15.
The NZTA will grant you an exemption to obtain a restricted car or motorcycle licence at an age younger than 16½ where:
The NZTA will grant you an exemption to obtain a full car or motorcycle licence at an age younger than 18 where:
To apply for an exemption you must:
Approved advanced driving courses
The time reduction to be gained by passing an approved advanced driving course has not changed.
This means that if you are aged under 25 you continue to have the option of passing an approved advanced driving course to reduce the minimum time you need to spend on your restricted licence from 18 months to 12 months.
Drivers converting an overseas licence to a NZ licence
The minimum age criteria for obtaining a learner, restricted or full NZ licence also applies to those drivers converting an overseas licence to a NZ licence.
This is to ensure novice drivers cannot use an overseas licence to circumvent the GDLS – thus gaining an unfair advantage over other drivers.
Drivers converting an overseas licence to a NZ licence will also be entitled to apply for an exemption. The same criteria will apply to these overseas drivers as applies to those progressing through the NZ GDLS. This ensures all drivers are treated equally.