Learners Licence

You must be at least 16 years old before you can apply for your learner license.
To keep everyone safe on the road, you need to learn the road rules before you can get your learner license.
You’ll need to pass a test to prove that you understand the rules for driving safely in New Zealand.
You can prepare for this by reading the New Zealand road code, or by working your way through Drive’s online road code.
Drive’s online road code
You can sit practice learner tests using the officially approved questions on the Drive website.

How to apply
When you feel you’re ready, go to a driver licensing agent to make your application.
List of driver licensing agents

You’ll need to:

  • fill in an application form
  • provide proof of your identity, for example a New Zealand or overseas passport.
  • pass the eye test (you can do this at an optometrist too)
  • let the agent take your photo and signature
  • pay the application and test fees.

Make sure you have learned the road rules before you go, because the agent will book you in for your theory test. You might even be able to sit it straight away.

What is a theory test?
The learner license theory test is a computer-based, 35-question, multi-choice test that assesses your knowledge of road rules and safe driving practices. You will need to get at least 32 questions right to pass.

On the day of the test, plan to arrive at the testing agent early. If you’re late, you might not be able to sit the test that day. Try to avoid the stress by getting there at least 10 minutes before your test is due to start. When you arrive, let the agent know you’re there for your test. They’ll guide you through the next steps. Make sure you have your proof of identity with you to give to the person conducting the theory test.

What happens next
If you pass the test you’ll be given a temporary learner license. The New Zealand Transport Authority will send your driver’s license card to you in the mail. Start thinking about who you’d like to coach you. Make sure you understand the important conditions of driving on a learner’s license and stick to them.
If you don’t pass the test you can book another theory test. You’ll need to pay the test fee again, but you won’t have to pay another application fee.

Your learner license will expire
Your learner licence will expire after five years. You can either:

  • get your restricted licence before your learner licence expires
  • renew your learner licence up to 90 days before it expires.

Conditions of a learner licence

To keep you safe while you are first learning to drive, there are some conditions you must follow while on your learner license:

  • You can only drive a car when you have a supervisor sitting beside you. A supervisor is someone who holds a current full New Zealand driver’s license, has held their full New Zealand (or an equivalent overseas driver’s license) for more than two years, and does not have a supervisor condition on their own license.
  • Your car must display learner (L) plates(external link) front and rear.
  • You may carry passengers but your supervisor has to agree as they will be responsible for them.
  • You face severe penalties if you drive outside your license conditions.

Vehicles you can drive on the road
When you have your car learner licence you can drive:

  • Most ‘light’ vehicles – cars, vans and utes
  • Mopeds (but not motorcycles) can be driven on a car learner licence. There are some special conditions: between 10pm and 5am you cannot drive
    and you can’t carry a passenger when riding a moped.

Alcohol limits

  • If you’re under 20 years old, you must not drive if you have had any alcohol.
  • If you’re 20 or older, you must not drive if you have more than: 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, or 250 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath.

Restricted licence

You must be at least 16 ½ years old before you can apply for your restricted licence. You also must have held your learner licence for at least six months.
You’ll need to pass a practical driving test to show that you can drive safely on New Zealand roads.

What you need to do
Book your test: It’s easy to book the test online, or you can book it when you make your application at an agent. You need to pay for your test at the time you book it.

Make your application
Go to a driver licensing agent to make your application. You’ll need to:

  • fill in an application form
  • provide proof of your identity, for example your passport or birth certificate
  • pass the eye test. Alternatively you can get a letter from your optometrist stating that your eye site is good enough to drive.
  • let the agent take your photo and signature

Making your application will take at least half an hour.
If you booked your test online, you need to make your application well before your test time.

You might need a medical certificate
As part of the application, you’ll need to provide a medical certificate if:

  • you have a medical condition that affects your ability to drive, and:
    • your health has deteriorated since your last medical certificate, or
    • you haven’t presented a medical certificate within the last five years
  • you’re 75 years or older.

When you go for the test:
It’s a good idea to be early. Testing officers run to a tight schedule, so if you’re late you might miss out and have to rebook your test (and pay the test fee again).
Sitting the practical driving test will take at least an hour. There are a few important things to remember:

  • Make sure you have your learner license with you.
    • If you received a two-year extension to your learner license, you should note there are particular requirements about the license you show the testing officer before the test.
  • Bring L plates for the car you sit the test in (you’ll have to make sure they’re displayed on the car correctly).
  • The car must have a current license (rego) and warrant of fitness (WoF).
  • If your car runs on diesel, make sure its road user charges (RUC) label is current.
  • Make sure you have enough fuel to complete the test.
  • Make sure the passenger seat is clean and tidy for the testing officer.
  • You’re still on your learner license until you pass your test and are given a temporary restricted license, so you’ll need a supervisor to be in the car with you when you drive to the test.

The car you sit the test in must be up to Warrant of Fitness(WoF) standard
This means if you took your car for a WoF today it’d pass. Having a current WoF doesn’t mean your car is still up to WoF standard. Here are some of the things you should check before your test:

  • tyres and wheels
  • lights
  • indicators
  • wipers
  • body condition (eg dangerous damage like rust or missing bumper).

What the test includes
The test will take about an hour and will include:

  • meeting the testing officer
  • a pre-drive safety check (this is where the testing officer checks that your vehicle is up to WoF standard)
  • a 45 minute practical driving test (where your driving skills are tested)
  • giving you your results with feedback.

You can bring a support person
Under certain conditions, you may be able to take a support person, for example, if there is a language barrier.

What happens next
If you pass the test:

  • You’ll be given a temporary restricted license.
  • We’ll send your new driver’s license card to you in the mail.
  • Make sure you understand the important conditions of driving on a restricted license and stick to them.
  • Do more driving to get more confident behind the wheel.

If you don’t pass the test you can book another test. You’ll need to pay the test fee again, but you won’t have to pay another application fee.

Your restricted licence will expire
Your restricted licence will expire after five years. You can either:

  • get your full licence before your restricted licence expires
  • renew your restricted licence up to 90 days before it expires.

Restricted licence conditions

To keep you safe while you’re still learning, there are some conditions you must follow while on your restricted licence:

  • Between 5am and 10pm you can drive on your own.
  • Between 10pm and 5am you can only drive if you have a supervisor in the front passenger seat.
  • If you’re driving without a supervisor, you can only take a passenger if they are:
    • your spouse or partner (for example the person you live with as if you’re married or in a civil union)
    • a child who is financially dependent on you or your spouse (for example you’re their parent or guardian)
    • your parent or guardian
    • relatives that live with you and are on a social security benefit
    • someone you look after as their primary caregiver.

Be prepared to show evidence to a police officer if requested.

  • If you sit your restricted practical test in an automatic vehicle, you’ll have a condition on your license that means you can only drive automatic vehicles. This condition doesn’t apply if you have a supervisor with you.

    Alcohol limits
    If you’re under 20 years old, you must not drive if you’ve had any alcohol.
    If you’re 20 or older, you must not drive if you have:

    • more than 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, or
    • 250 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath.

Full license

If you haven’t completed an advanced driving course, then you must be 18 before you can get your full license. If you have completed an approved advanced driving course, you can get your full licence once you turn 17½.

You must hold your restricted license for a minimum time
Drivers under 25 years: If you have completed an advanced driving course, then you must have held your restricted license for at least 12 months before you can get your full license. If you have not completed a course, then you must have held your restricted license for at least 18 months.
Drivers 25 or over: If you have completed an advanced driving course, then you must have held your restricted license for at least 3 months before you can get your full license. If you have not completed a course, then you must have held your restricted license for at least 6 months.

How to get your full license
To get your full licence, you must apply at a driver licensing agent.
You will need to:

  • fill out an application form [PDF, 171 KB]
  • present evidence of your identity
  • prove your eyesight meets the required standard
  • let the agent take your photo and signature
  • present your approved course certificate (if you have completed a course)
  • pay the full licence application and test fee and book a test time
  • pass the full licence practical test.

Book the test online
You can book the test online before you go into the agent. If you book online, you’ll still need to go to a driver licensing agent before your test to make your application. Book a driver licence test

Full licence practical test
The full licence practical test is a 30 minute test with a testing officer, who will assess whether your driving is good enough to progress to the next level of driver license.

No more restricted conditions
Once you have passed the full license practical test, you don’t have to follow any of the restricted license conditions any more. You can drive any vehicle covered under a class 1.

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