Restricted driver licences

The second step in New Zealand’s three-step graduated driver licensing system (GDLS) is getting your restricted licence.  It's a practical in-car driving test. 

The information below is a guide to getting your restricted licence.

Book your test through the AA

Visit your nearest AA Centre, AA Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agent or Rural Mobile Unit to book a restricted licence test (tests must be pre-booked). We can't accept phone or email bookings for the test.

You'll need to:

The restricted driver licence test takes around 1 hour. The car you use for the test must have a current warrant of fitness, car registration, working brake and indicator lights. It must also have L plates on display.

If you need to change or cancel your test please visit your AA Driver Licensing outlet or call 0800 822 422 (Monday - Friday, 8am - 6pm). The NZTA require a minimum of two working days notice and a fee will be charged.

Eyesight screening check

When applying for or renewing any driver licence or endorsement, you'll need to prove your eyesight meets the required standard. You can undergo a basic eyesight screening check at your nearest AA Centre, AA Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agent or Rural Mobile Unit.

The equipment used in the test is a screening device which 96.9% of all motorists pass each year. The remaining 3.1% may or may not have a problem with their eyes. If this is the case you'll need to provide an eyesight certificate from your doctor or optometrist.

Read more about the eyesight screening check on the NZTA website.

Restricted driver licence test eligibility

You can apply for your restricted driver licence at the AA after you've held a learner driver licence for at least six months and you're at least 16 and a half years old.

After the practical test

Restricted driver licence conditions

A supervisor is a person who has a full New Zealand licence for the same class of vehicle you're learning to drive and who does not have a supervisor condition.

They must have held their New Zealand licence (or an equivalent overseas licence) for at least two years.

For more information, visit the NZTA website.

If you pass the test you can drive a car subject to the following restrictions:

  1. You must always carry your restricted licence when you are driving.
  2. You must not drive on your own between the hours of 10pm and 5am unless you have a supervisor beside you when you are driving.
  3. If you sat your restricted test in an automatic vehicle, your restricted licence will say that you can only drive automatic vehicles (unless accompanied by a supervisor).
  4. You cannot normally carry passengers unless you have a supervisor with you. The only passengers you can carry without a supervisor are:
    • your spouse, or the person you live with as if you were married or with whom you are joined in a civil union
    • children who live with you and are under the care of you or your spouse (that is, you or your spouse are their parent or guardian
    • your parent or guardian
    • relatives who live with you and who are on a social security benefit
    • someone you look after as their primary caregiver.
  5. If you are under 20, there is a zero alcohol limit. If you're 20 or older, the legel alchohol limit is 400 micrograms per litre of breath or 80 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood.

The driving hours condition was set in 1987 when the Graduated Driver Licensing System for car drivers was introduced. This time limit was based on research that looked at things like traffic flow, driving habits and driver suitability. Crash statistics demonstrate that driving late at night carries a much higher risk compared to driving during the day. The proposed time limit was selected after public consultation and then passed by parliament.

Read more about the restricted licence on the NZTA website.

Getting your full licence

If under 25 years old you can sit your full driver licence test after 18 months. However if you complete a Defensive Driving Course you will be able to sit your full driver licence test after 12 months. Both Learner and Restricted Licence holders can attend a Defensive Driving Course at any time and reduce the period on the restricted licence to 12 months.

Students who have attended a Defensive Driving Course are 10% more likely to pass their full licence test on the first try. Passing it will also mean you can sit your full driver licence test after 12 months.

If over 25 years old you can sit your full driver licence test after 6 months. If you pass a Defensive Driving Course you'll be able to sit your full driver licence test after 3 months.

If you don't pass your restricted driver licence test, you can re-sit the test an unlimited number of times. You will need to bring proof of identity and pay the test fee for each restricted licence test re-sit.

Any questions?

If you have questions about driver licensing rules or restrictions, please call the NZTA Driver Licensing helpline on 0800 822 422.

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