Overseas Drivers in NZ

Before you start to drive in New Zealand

Please study the NZ Roadcode

Vehicle drivers from overseas may use their current overseas driver licence for a maximum of 12 months after their arrival in New Zealand, or they may use an International Driving Permit (IDP) for 12 months. After 12 months a conversion must be made to a New Zealand Driver Licence. The 12 months starts  from your most recent arrival into New Zealand.

You must carry your licence with you at all times when you are driving.

If your overseas licence is not in English, you are required to carry an English translation.

Driver Licences from many countries are now recognised in New Zealand so all you may have to do is pay a sum of money and receive your New Zealand licence.

However if your country is not included:

This is the procedure

  • Study the New Zealand road code - in your highest class of licence - truck licences are harder to convert.

  • Pass a theory test at the local AA office and be issued with a temporary NZ driver licence.

  • Once you have this temporary licence you must drive with a supervisor until the practical on-road test is passed, you can no longer drive using your overseas licence. A definition of a supervisor is 'someone who has held a full licence from New Zealand (or equivalent overseas licence) for at least 2 years'. So it is sensible to sit and pass the theory test then book in for the practical test for the next available date. Make sure that you have the skills to pass the on-road test before you book.
  • The on-road test is a high skill level -  30 minutes in duration - identifying and responding to hazards is a requirement, so some talking is required.

  • I would suggest that you take a coaching session with me before you sit the theory test to make sure that your skills are up to the standard required by the Testing Officer for the on-road test.

  • If English is your second language you may take an interpretor in car with you - but that person must speak your language and English and they can only give you directions from the Testing Officer - you are not allowed to carry out a conversation.

Remember there are penalities

After one year in New Zealand you will be considered to be an unlicensed driver, unless you have applied for a New Zealand driver licence. If you are stopped by the Police, they could charge you or even seize your car at the roadside and detain it for 28 days. You may also not be covered by your insurance if you are involved in an accident.

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