Getting your full licence - how it works

As soon as you have a restricted licence, you can start getting ready for your full licence.

The main thing to remember is that you’re still learning. Drive within your limits and ask for help or advice if you need it. Get as much practice as you can in all types of conditions, but take it slowly at first and build your knowledge and experience as you drive solo.

Download full licence test day checklist

When you can take the full licence test

To sit your full licence 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 your full licence six months early at 17½ years old, or three months early if you are aged 25 or more.

You need to be well prepared with the right level of driving skill and ability for your full licence. Having professional lessons with an AA Driving Instructor and taking a simulated full practical driving test will make sure you have the best opportunity of passing the full licence test. You can take a defensive driving course at any time on a restricted licence which also helps you prepare for the full licence test.


What you’re allowed to do

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
  • a child who is financially dependent on you or your spouse (for example you're their parent or guardian)
  • 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 for the full licence test

Apart from getting as much experience as you can and regularly reviewing the NZ 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 on before your full licence test. You could also brush up with an occasional AA driving lesson; taking the AA Defensive Driving Course will improve your chances of passing the full licence test.

During the full licence 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.


Booking your full licence test

The average pass rate is about 70%.

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:

If you choose to book your restricted test online, you will be required to pay with a credit or debit card. You will also need to complete the application requirements in person at a licensing outlet prior to sitting the test. Find your nearest licensing outlet here.

Here’s what to do to book your full licence test:

  • 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 with NZTA for current cost)
  • Pass an eyesight screening check - we do them onsite
  • Have your photo taken by us
  • Book a time to sit your full licence 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.


Eyesight screening check

When anyone applies for a driver licence (including full 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 full licence 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 full licence 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 to the test, because you’re not allowed to drive if you don’t have it with you.

During the full licence 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. If you make 2 critical errors or 1 immediate fail error at any time you will fail the full licence test.

The full licence 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 full licence 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 the full licence test, come and see us with photo ID to make a booking. You’ll need to pay another test fee.

If you pass, we’ll give you a 21-day temporary full licence to use until your photo licence arrives in the mail. You can now drive at any time and with passengers in the car.

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

Set yourself up to pass. Take a look at our test day checklist and you'll be putting your best foot forward.

Download test day checklist