Getting your Learner Licence
Image provided by NZTA
Learning the Road Code
There are three stages of getting a drivers licence. The first of these stages is to get a Learner Licence. You will need to get a learner licence before you start driving on the road. You need to apply for your licence and then pass the driving theory test, which is based on the road code. Once you receive your learner licence, you can start learning to drive in a car or other light vehicle.
We highly recommend and advise that you begin learning to drive with professional Driving Lessons through a Registered Driving Instructor such as ShoreDrive Driving School.
Who can apply for a learner licence?
To apply for a learner licence, you have to be at least 16 years old.
How do I apply for a learner licence?
You'll need to go to a driver licensing agent. Driver licensing agents include selected branches of:
You can also find the number for your local branch in your local phone book or you can phone the NZTA's contact centre on 0800 822 422
At the driver licensing agent, you will need to fill out an application form and present evidence of your identity. You will have to present the original of one of the following kinds of identification, confirming your full name and date of birth:
- A New Zealand driver licence, with a photo, that is current or has expired within the last two years
- A current temporary driver licence that is accompanied by a form of photographic identification of the applicant that is acceptable to the Licensing Agency
- A New Zealand or overseas passport that is current or has expired within the last two years
- A full birth certificate issued in New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Niue or Tokelau
Note: older-style birth certificates that do not include your parents’ details are no longer accepted by the NZTA as evidence of
- A New Zealand photo firearms licence that is current or has expired within the last two years
- One of the following certificates issued under the Citizenship Act 1977:
- A certificate of New Zealand citizenship
- A certificate confirming New Zealand citizenship
- A certificate confirming registration of New Zealand citizenship by descenta current certificate of identity issued under the Passports Act 1992
- A current refugee travel document issued by or on behalf of the government of New Zealand
- A current certificate of identity as defined by the Immigration Act 1987
- A New Zealand Defence Force photo identity card issued to non-civilian staff that is current or has expired within the last two years.
Then you will need to present evidence of your address - suitable documents include:
- an account statement issued within the last 12 months by your bank, building society, credit union or credit card company that has your name and address on it
- a telephone, gas or electricity account issued within the last six months that has your name and address on it
- other acceptable evidence of your address issued within the last 12 months that has your name and address on it – check with the NZTA’s contact centre on 0800 822 422.
The next step is to book a time to take the theory test.
- Learner licence theory test
This test is designed to test whether your knowledge of the road rules is good enough for you to learn to drive on the road. Knowing the road code is vital for you to become a safe driver.
You will sit the theory test at a driver licensing agent’s office. For many driver licensing services you will need to visit an NZTA driver licensing agent, as per the ones listed earlier.
: you should not have anyone else with you, while you are sitting the test. If you do take dependent children (under the age of eight) with you, it is at your own risk as they may distract you, which could cause you to fail the test.
Computerised theory test
The test is made up of 35 questions about road rules, road hazards and safety practices that relate to the type of vehicle licence you are applying for (see the different classes of licence you can apply for at the end of this article). The questions will appear in a random order.
The questions have a mix of multi-choice and true/false answers. You select the answer you think is most correct by clicking on it. You can change your mind after clicking an answer but it will be locked in when you decide to move on to the next question. You will know if you have correctly answered the question before the next question displays.
To pass the theory test you need to get at least 32 questions right out of 35. If you get more than three questions wrong, you will need to book to take the test again at another time, and you'll need to pay another test fee.
If you pass the test, you'll be given a temporary learner licence, which is valid for 21 days. Use that temporary licence until you receive your photo driver licence in the mail.
How should I prepare for the theory test?
Before you book your theory test, you need to be thoroughly familiar with the road rules. There is no point in not being fully prepared and having to resit the theory test. You will need to read and learn everything in the official New Zealand road code. You will need to read it several times to know and understand everything you need to know to be a safe driver.
To help you learn the road rules you can test yourself against the questions from the theory test on the website: http://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/roadcode/theory-test-questions/index.html.
If you wish to test your knowledge of the Road Code further, or familiarise yourself with the computerised theory test, you can do this by going to www.roadcodepractice.co.nz
Speech or language difficulties
If you are having difficulty preparing for your theory test because of a reading or language difficulty, there are several organisations that may be able to help:
- Literacy Aotearoa
phone:0800 678 910
- English Language Partners New Zealand (formerly ESOL Home Tutors)
phone: (04) 471 2382, or look in your phone book for your local branch
- Citizens Advice Bureau
phone: 0800 FOR CAB (0800 367 222), or look in your phone book for your local branch
People with reading difficulties can also apply for:
- extra time to complete the theory test
- to have the theory test be given orally.
Besides English, the computerised theory test is available in the following languages:
- Chinese (simplified and traditional)
For more information about these options, talk to a driver licensing agent when you book your test.
There are also options for people with English language difficulties when taking the practical driving tests. You can read about that test on this website:
Talk to a driver licensing agent or contact the NZTA's contact centre on 0800 822 422 for more information.
You then need to:
- pay for the theory test and the learner licence application
- meet the eyesight requirements
- present a medical certificate if required
- provide a signature
- have your photograph taken.
To ensure all drivers on our roads are medically fit to drive, the driver licence application form contains a medical declaration.
Every applicant has to complete this declaration. If you have any of the conditions listed below, you may need to provide a medical certificate.
The declaration asks you to declare these types of medical condition:
- diabeteslocomotive joint or limb problems
- nervous or mental disorders
- high blood pressure
- seizures, fits, convulsions, epilepsy
- serious injuries (for example, head or spinal injuries)
- visual disturbances (for example, cataracts, double vision, glaucoma)
- cerebral vascular accidents or disease
- cognitive impairment
- any other condition that may affect your ability to drive safely.
When you fill out your driver licence application form, you'll be asked the following question:
‘Would you be willing to donate organs in the event of your death?'
The NZTA can't produce a driver licence for you until you have ticked either ‘Yes' or ‘No'.
By ticking the ‘Yes' box and signing the form, you are indicating your wish to be identified as an organ and tissue donor and have the word ‘DONOR' printed on your driver licence. (It's also put on your record on the driver licence database.)
In the event of your death, your family may be asked for their agreement before organs or tissue are removed for donation. That's why it is very important to discuss your decision with your family.
It's a good idea to think about organ donation before you go to the driver licensing agent.
If you would like more information about organ and tissue donation, contact Organ Donation New Zealand on 0800 4 DONOR (0800
436 667) or visit their website at www.donor.co.nz.
Learning to drive
Learning to drive is a big responsibility and it is important that you develop good driving skills so you will be a safe driver on our roads.
Professional or private instruction?
You can decide whether to get training from a qualified professional driving instructor or whether you want to get a friend or family member to teach you (a driving coach).
Many people do a mixture of both, getting lots of practice with a driving coach but having some lessons with a driving instructor to improve their skills.
Learning to drive with an instructor
Driving instructors charge a fee for training and must:
- hold a driving instructor (I) endorsement for each class of licence they want to teach
- sit in the front passenger seat when they're instructing you.
Before your first lesson, ask the instructor to show you proof that they hold a current driving instructor endorsement.
Learning to drive with a driving coach
A driving coach is someone you know who is willing to teach you how to drive.
Like any driving supervisor, they must hold a current and valid full New Zealand car licence (without a supervisor condition) and have held this (or an equivalent overseas licence) for at least two years.
Your coach should:
- carry their driver licence at all times when supervising your driving
- be prepared to commit to the time needed for you to practise
- be a responsible, skilled and confident driver
- be an effective communicator, able to get information and ideas across clearly
- have the patience to instruct you effectively
- be able to teach and build on previous lessons
- review, evaluate and assess your progress.
- Your coach can use the driving skills syllabus to help them teach when you're learning to drive.
What is a supervisor?
When you drive on your learner licence, you must always drive with a supervisor.
Your supervisor must:
- hold a current and valid full New Zealand licence (which does not have a supervisor condition) for the same class of vehicle you’re learning to drive
- have held their New Zealand full licence (or an equivalent overseas licence) for at least two years
- sit in the passenger seat next to you at all times when you are driving
- carry their driver licence with them.