Steps To Getting Your Driver’s Licence In New Zealand

March 09, 2015 at 1:18 PM

To some, acquiring a driving licence may be a step towards freedom while to others it may be a necessary work tool. Whatever the reason, there are necessary steps to be followed for you to finally get that driving licence and be able to drive legally in New Zealand.

Since being on the road poses a risk for both you and other drivers, it is important that you prove to the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) that you have the adequate skills and physical capability to drive on public roads safely. The necessitated requirements ensure that you have the knowledge and skills to properly handle your vehicle.

The driver licencing system is divided into three stages, namely; learner, restricted and full. All stages have a test that you have to pass for you to move on to the next one: a theory test for you to start stage 1 and a practical driving test for stage 2 and three each. With the graduation to the next stage, a new driving licence is issued with different sets of requirements and responsibilities to match your new driving status.

The steps are as follows:

Step 1 – Learner licence

This licence is necessary for all would-be drivers to allow them to drive on roads. The applicant must be at least 16 years of age in order to be eligible for this licence. To obtain the licence, you will be required to make an application to a licencing agent authorized by the NZTA.

You will need to:

-    Satisfy all application requirements which include: presenting identification documents, proving your eyesight, have a photograph of yourself taken and then pay the required application fee.

-    Pass the theory test provided by scoring at least the minimum points.
The licence is not full and, therefore, comes with several conditions.

-    A supervisor must accompany you at all times when you are driving.
-    When you are training on a light motor vehicle, you can have passengers on board if your supervisor allows.

-    ‘L’ plates obtained from a licencing agent must be displayed at the front and rear of the vehicle you are driving.

-    For a moped, you are not required to have a supervisor with you but you must display the learner plates and only ride between 10am and 5pm.

The learner licence is valid for a period of five years during which you can drive on roads and gain the necessary knowledge and skills to help you pass the test for the next stage. If the licence expires before you move on to the next stage, you will be required to take another theory test for the licence to be renewed.

Step 2- Restricted licence

For this licence, you will have to be at least 16 ½ in age and must have had your learner licence for a period not less than six months. To get this licence, you must:

-    Meet the application requirements similar to those required for the learner permit.

-    Book, take and pass a practical test.

As the name suggests, this type of licence has restrictions which must be adhered to at all times. The following restrictions are provided:
-    Driving hours are between 5am and 10pm.
-    A supervisor must accompany you if you are driving outside the allowed hours.

-    If you used an automatic vehicle for your test, then the licence only allows you to drive automatic vehicles unless you are accompanied by a supervisor.

-    Passengers are not allowed unless you are accompanied by a supervisor.

This condition however does have exceptions. They include: spouses, parents or guardians, children under your care, relatives living with you who are recipients of social benefits, and people to whom you are the primary care giver.

Like the learners licence, the restricted licence is only valid for five years. If the licence expires before you get the full driving licence, you will have to take a theory test for another one to be issued.

Step 3- full licence

For drivers under the age of 25, you must be over the age of 18 and had a restricted licence for a period not shorter than 18 months.

Presenting an approved certificate for an advanced driving course will slash 6 months out of the required restricted-licence period of 18 months.

For drivers over the age of 25, you must have had your restricted licence for at least 6 months before you are eligible for a full licence.

If you have an advanced driving course certificate, the period reduces by half to 3 months. Advanced driving courses include defensive driving and Streettalk.

To obtain the full driving licence, you have to apply from a licencing agent and must:
-    Satisfy all requirements provided by the NZTA (similar in all licence levels).
-    Book, sit and pass the practical test for the full licence.

The full licence eliminates all restrictions placed by other licences and also allows you to drive both automatic and manual vehicles regardless of the vehicle you used for your test.

Other Important details include:

1.    Identification documents- Evidence of your identity must be provided each time you apply for a driving licence regardless of the stage. A current New Zealand passport will suffice. If you don’t have one, a New Zealand birth certificate accompanied by a student ID, utility bill or 18+ card will do. Name change must also be proved with supporting documents.

2.     Eyesight checks can be done by the licencing agent or a certified medical practitioner or optometrist.

3.    A driving supervisor must; hold a valid New Zealand drivers licence for the class you are training for, have held their full licence for more than 2 years and are not required to be under supervision themselves.


To improve your chances of passing your practical tests for the restricted and full driving licence, get lessons from a professional driving instructor who will guide and help you prepare for the test. At A1 driving school, we have a team ready and willing to help you achieve your goals.

Category: The Drivers Licence