Getting your full licence - how it works

If you have a restricted licence, you can start getting ready for your full.

The main thing is to remember you’re still learning. Drive within your limits and ask for help or advice if you need it. If you have a close call, talk it through with an experienced driver so you’re confident you can do the right thing next time. 

Here’s some information to help you get ready
Facts & Figures

Licence test pass rates

What's the pass rate for your age and gender? Find out here

Since January 2016

Last month

Did you know that students who attended a Defensive Driving Course (DDC) are 10% more likely to pass their full licence test? They can also get their full licence 6 months earlier.

What you’re allowed to do

The law is very clear about what you can and can’t do on a restricted licence. If you break any of the conditions you could get demerit points and a fine. Here are the main points to help keep you safe and legal:

  1. You must have your restricted licence with you whenever you are driving
  2. You can drive on your own, but not between 10pm and 5am. During these times you must have a supervisor with you
  3. A supervisor must:
    • sit in the front passenger seat
    • have a full licence, which they've held for at least two years
    • be in the car if you are carrying passengers
  4. The only passengers you can carry without a supervisor are:
    • your spouse
    • children who live with you under your care
    • your parent or guardian
    • relatives who live with you and who are beneficiaries
    • someone you look after as their primary caregiver
  5. If you sat the restricted test in an automatic, you're only allowed to drive automatic vehicles, unless you have a supervisor with you
  6. Adhere to alcohol limits:
    • If you are under 20 years of age, there is a zero alcohol limit. That means if you drive after drinking alcohol you can be charged with drink driving, which could result in losing your licence
    • If you’re 20 or older, you must be within the adult alcohol limit

Getting ready

Apart from getting as much experience as you can and regularly reviewing the road code, it’s a good idea to drive with a practice supervisor from time to time so they can spot anything you could improve. You could also brush up with an occasional AA driving lesson.

If you took up our AA Ignition special offer (three free driving lessons), now’s a good time to book a defensive driving course. It’s a great investment in skills and safety, plus it will let you sit your full licence earlier (see below).

During the test you’ll be expected to name and respond appropriately to road hazards without any hints from the testing officer. Hazards include things like other vehicles, children playing on the footpath, pedestrians, animals not on a leash and cyclists.

Practise describing the hazards you see and your response, out loud. It is also a good idea to ask an experienced driver to help with this. Ask the person to sit in the front passenger seat and let you know about any hazards they saw but you didn’t mention out loud.

When you can sit

To sit this test, you must be at least 18 years old and have held your restricted licence for 18 months, or six months if you are aged 25 or more.

However, if you complete the AA Defensive Driving Course you can sit six months early at 17½ years old, or three months early if you are aged 25 or more.

Booking your full licence test

You need to meet the age requirements and restricted licence period mentioned above before you can book for your full licence driving test. When you're ready to book, you can do this:

  • By visiting your nearest AA Centre
  • Online
  • By calling 0800 822 422

If you choose to book online or through the call centre, you will be required to pay with a Credit or Debit card. You will also need to arrive 30 minutes prior to your test to complete the application requirements.

Here’s what to do:

  • Bring your current New Zealand Passport or New Zealand photographic licence.  If you don’t have either of these documents you will need to provide two other forms of acceptable identification to confirm your identity.  Check evidence of your identity for the full list
  • Bring your ID to your nearest AA Centre
  • Pay (Check NZTA for current cost)
  • Pass an eyesight screening check, we do them onsite
  • Have your photo taken by us
  • Book a time to do your test (if booking at an AA Centre)

Not all AA Centres are suitable for full licence tests, so you may need to do your test at a different place. If so, we'll help you find one when you book or you can check the service details now for your local AA Centre.

AA Driving


We recommend that you take a refresher driving lesson with an AA driving instructor before your full licence test to help identify any errors that might have crept in and they will let you know whether you’re ready to sit your full licence test or not.


Eyesight screening check

When anyone applies for a driver licence, renews one or adds an endorsement they have to show their eyesight is up to the required standard. To make this easy, our AA Centres have the equipment to give you a basic eyesight screening check, provided you have vision in both eyes. If you wear glasses or contact lenses when driving, you can wear them for the test and your licence will show you need them to drive.

Almost 97% of people pass the screening test. If you don’t pass, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a problem with your eyes. It just means you’ll have to get an eyesight certificate from your doctor or optometrist. If you need an eyesight certificate, and are an AA Member, you are entitled to one free eye examination at Specsavers every two years.

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

Doing your test

The full licence practical test is done in your car and will take about 30 minutes. This includes time to check your car, do the test and give you feedback at the end.

Your car must have a current warrant of fitness, registration, and working brake and indicator lights. Remember to bring your restricted licence, because you’re not allowed to drive if you don’t have it with you.

During the test you’ll be expected to demonstrate safe driving in a wide range of situations. You’ll be asked to do a number of tasks and describe the hazards you see as you do each task (see getting ready above).

You’ll be marked on how well you do the task, plus how well the hazards you describe compare to those seen by the testing officer. All tasks will take place in busy built-up areas in a city, town or suburb.

The test will end and you will not pass, if you:

  • Drive recklessly, dangerously or inconsiderately
  • Are involved in a crash for which you are wholly or partly responsible
  • Can’t carry out the testing officer’s instructions because you lack driving ability
  • Drive faster than the speed limit
  • Don’t obey give way rules or give way signs
  • Don’t obey traffic signals or stop signs

At the end of your test the officer will tell you whether you’ve passed. They’ll also explain any errors you made, so you can continue learning.

If you don’t pass, the officer will give back your restricted licence, so you can continue practising. When you’re ready to re-sit, come and see us with photo ID to make a booking. You’ll need to pay another test fee of $61.70.

If you pass, we’ll be the first to say ‘good work!’. We’ll also give you a 21-day temporary full licence to use until your photo licence arrives in the mail. Congratulations! You can now drive at any time and with passengers in the car.

Learning to drive doesn’t stop with your full licence. You can keep adding to your skills, get other licences or even make driving your profession. See Driving beyond the tests.


Any questions?

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

Where do I start?

If you or the learner driver in your family is an absolute beginner, start here.

Getting your learner licence

The first stage on the journey is to pass a road code theory test.

For experienced drivers

With your full licence safely in your wallet, embrace all the possibilities of the on-road world.

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