International Drivers licence
How to Convert Your Driver License in New Zealand
To be able to drive on New Zealand’s roads, you need a valid driver license. It must either be in the English language, be accompanied by an approved translation, or accompanied by an international drivers permit. However, for those staying for longer than 12 months in the country, getting a New Zealand driver license is essential and is required to legally drive on New Zealand roads after 12 months of being in the country. Even if you are not staying that long, a New Zealand driver license is one of the rare valid forms of ID in New Zealand, plus it makes a great souvenir to take home with you! But how to convert your driver license in New Zealand?
How to Translate an Overseas Driving License for New Zealand
There are three ways you can get your overseas driving license translated in New Zealand:
- a New Zealand Transport Agency-approved translator
- a diplomatic representative at an embassy, high commission or consulate (they are based in Wellington and it is likely that you will have to go there in person)
- or the authority that issued your overseas driving license.
The easiest way to get your driving license translated is to use one of the approved translation services by the New Zealand Transport Agency. These translation services exist all across New Zealand. For a complete list and contact details of the approved translators, check the NZ Transport Agency website
International Driving Permit
If your driving license is not in English and you want to be able to drive in New Zealand then you need an International Driving Permit! Before leaving for New Zealand, you need to apply for an International Driving Permit with your local transport authority.
If your overseas driving license is in English, however, getting an International Driving License is not necessary – you are legally allowed to driver with an overseas driving license that is from an English-speaking country.
- The first condition of having an International Driving Permit is that you must travel with it along with your current and valid driving license from home.
- You cannot use an International Driving Permit for commercial use.
- Although IDPs are usually valid for three years, you can only use an IDP for up to 12 months in New Zealand.
- You can only drive vehicles in New Zealand that your current and valid overseas license allows you to in your own country.
How to apply
You need to apply for an International Driving Permit before you leave home to come to New Zealand. It must be done in the country that your overseas license is from.
How you apply for your International Driving Permit varies between countries. While some countries only allow you to apply in person at a local transport authority or government, others can simply apply online or by post.
The best way to find this information out is to contact your country’s transport authority.
In most cases, the following is required to apply for an International Driving Permit:
- A coloured photocopy of both side of your driving license
- A recent passport-style photograph
- A completed application form
- Some countries may require a copy of your national identity card
- Some countries may require a fee
Be aware that your application could take up to a month to process so be sure to sort this out as soon as possible! Your IDP is usually valid for three years since the date it is issued.
Classes of Driving Licence
The most common driver license class is Class 1. However, there are different classes for driving different vehicles. The classes 2, 3, 4 and 6 all require you to provide a medical certificate when applying to convert your driver license.
- Class 1 – Car
- Class 2 – Medium rigid vehicle
- Class 3 – Medium combination vehicle
- Class 4 – Heavy rigid vehicle
- Class 5 – Heavy combination vehicle
- Class 6 – Motorcycle
Where to Get Your New Zealand Driver License
There are three agents you can get your New Zealand driver license from:
- The Automobile Association (The AA)
- Vehicle Testing New Zealand (VTNZ)
- Vehicle Inspection New Zealand (VINZ)
What to Bring
You can either get the Application for the conversion of an overseas driver license form from one of the agents mentioned above or print out the form from the NZ Transport Agency website. The form is quick to fill out so it is not much trouble to complete the form when you visit the agent.
The information you need to provide on the form is:
- Overseas driving license/original translation of driver license. [Update: Note that your overseas driver license needs to be at least 2 years old]
- Valid evidence of your identity your passport will be the easiest option
- Photocopies of both of the above. However, most agents will photocopy this for you
- If required, a current medical certificate.
You will only need a medical certificate if you have a medical condition that could affect your ability to drive safe or if you are applying for a Class 2, 3, 4 or 6 license. To get the certificate, you must see a New Zealand registered medical practitioner basically, go to a New Zealand medical centre and ask your doctor to complete an NZ Transport Agency medical certificate.
Complete the Application for Conversion of an Overseas Driver License Form (DL5)
- If you have ever had an NZ driver license before
- Willing to donate organs in the event of death
- Date of birth, town and country you were born
- Physical address and/or mailing address
- Your overseas license details, such as license number, issue date and expiry date. (Note that your license needs to be at least two years old)
- What type of license you are applying for. In most cases, if applying for a standard car driving license, tick “full license” in Class 1
- Tick the relevant boxes for your medical fitness. Most people who are medically fit will need to tick: “have never been aware of or told by a doctor that you have a medical condition that could affect your driving.”
- Whether you wear contact lenses or glasses for driving.
- Sign and date the form.
Do You Need to Complete a Theory and Practical Driving Test?
If you come from the following countries, you do not have to pass a theory or practical driving test in New Zealand: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK or the USA.
You will need to pass the theory and practical if you do not come from the countries above, or if you are converting a heavy vehicle license from any country. Finally, you may have to take a driving test if your overseas license is less than two years old.
Hand in the Paperwork and Do the Eyesight Test
At your selected agent, you must go to the desk with the application form (DL5), passport, ID, photocopies (if you have them), and a medical certificate (if relevant).
The agent will type your details into their system from your form, and all that good stuff. Until you are asked to complete an eyesight screening check. This quick check requires you to look into a machine, much like a pair of giant binoculars. When looking into the machine, you will be asked to read some letters and say whether the flashing light is on your left or right. Quick, easy, done!
You’ll now provide a signature and have your picture taken for the driver license.
Pay the Fee
Last of all, you need to pay the fee for the New Zealand driver license. For an overseas driver license conversion, the fee is NZ$52.10. Yes, very specific.
The agent at the desk will give you a temporary New Zealand driver license, which you will need to sign. Then your license should arrive within 20 days.