The New Zealand driver licensing system makes sure everyone driving on our roads has the skills and knowledge needed to be a safe driver.
To become a fully licenced car driver, a learner driver needs to pass through the three stages of the driver licensing system:
The learner needs to complete the requirements of each stage before they can move to the next.
Before a learner can start to learn to drive on the road, they’ll need to get a learner licence. To apply for a learner licence, they must be at least 16 years old.
Your learner will need to pass a theory test to get a learner licence. This is a computer-based multi-choice test of 35 questions they take at a driver licensing agent. It covers road rules, hazards and safe driving practices to make sure they have the knowledge to begin learning how to drive on the road safely. They’ll need to know the road rules and get 32 out of the 35 questions right to pass the test.
Once they get their learner licence, you can start coaching them on practical driving skills, under certain conditions. The conditions of driving on a learner licence that you and your learner need to know are:
Getting a learner licence – Waka Kotahi
Stage 1 – learner licence factsheet [PDF, 415 KB]
A learner licence holder can apply for a restricted licence once they have the driving skills to pass the restricted licence test. They must be at least 16 ½ years old and have held their current learner licence for at least 6 months.
To get a restricted licence, your learner needs to pass the restricted licence practical driving test. The test is designed to assess whether their skills are at a level where they can safely drive without a supervisor. The test takes about 60 minutes. This allows for vehicle checks before the test, the driving test itself (around 45 minutes) and time for the testing officer to give feedback after the test.
Once they get their restricted licence, they can begin to drive on their own, under certain conditions. The conditions of driving on a restricted licence that you and your learner need to know are:
Remember – just because they’ve got their restricted licence, it doesn’t mean they’re done with learning about driving. The restricted phase is about giving them opportunity to gain experience while avoiding the riskiest driving situations for new, young drivers – driving late at night and driving with passengers. It’s a good idea to continue to support your learner with check-in sessions throughout the restricted licence stage.
Getting a restricted licence – Waka Kotahi
Stage 2 – restricted licence factsheet [PDF, 325 KB]
A restricted licence holder can apply for a full licence once they have experience driving on their own and can show safe driving practices in a range of driving situations. They must be at least 18 years old. If they successfully complete an approved advanced driving skills course, this is reduced to 17½.
If they’re under 25, they must have held their restricted licence for:
If they’re 25 or over, they must have held their restricted licence for:
Getting a full licence – Waka Kotahi
Stage 3 – full licence factsheet [PDF, 286 KB]
Information for coaches