This is for all the people out there who want to drive in New Zealand. My first suggestion is to make sure that your PH license is updated before you leave. Yes, new residents and visitors are allowed to drive for a maximum period of 12 months from the date you arrived in New Zealand. Cool right? I have been using my PH license for about 4 months now but it will expire very soon. If you’re coming here with your family, then it’s advisable that you bring your driving skills with you for getting around and making errands (You’ll most probably be buying stuffs when starting out).
Just to let you know, the standard process for obtaining a driver licence in NZ has three stages:
Stage 1: Learner Licence – this is equivalent to a Student Driver’s Permit in the Philippines, but here in NZ, you have to pass the theory test before you can have one. A driving supervisor must accompany you all the time.
Stage 2: Restricted Licence – after six months with your learner, you can apply for restricted licence. You need to pass the 60 minute restricted licence practical driving test to get this one. If you pass, there are restrictions on your new licence (which is not that bad). You can not drive between 10pm and 5am. You are not allowed to have passengers other than your relatives living with you. These restrictions won’t apply if you have a supervisor with you.
Stage 3: Full Licence – the last stage. No more restrictions. You have to pass another 30 minute full licence practical driving test to get this.
You actually don’t need to start from scratch. If you already have a driver’s license (PH driver’s license) before moving here, then you can skip these and go straight to overseas licence conversion. However, you still need to take both the theory and practical test because Philippines is not in the list of exemption.
Here are the steps that I went through to apply for driver licence conversion:
- Completed DL5 application form. This form is also available on site for free.
- Original overseas driver licence (must be current or expired less than 12 months)
- Passport as evidence of identity
- Photocopies of your documents
Present your documents to officer in-charge for verification. Next step is to pay for the application fee and theory test (I paid $97.80 for both). Then, they will check your eyesight. You should bring your prescription glasses if you need one for driving. They will also take your photo. Lastly, they will book your theory test on your preferred date and time (You can actually take your theory test on same day if there is an available slot).
Step 2: Take the theory test. Don’t be late. The test officer will call your name a few minutes before your schedule, and will hand over the passkey for your test. It won’t start until your schedule. Exam is multiple choice. There will be 35 questions and you need to get at least 33 questions right to pass. You will know the result immediately at the end of the test. If you pass, then your testing officer will give you your temporary licence and practical test schedule (Fee for this is $59.90). Your actual licence will be delivered to you thru mail a few days after.
A few things to note:
- Your overseas licence is no longer valid (even if it is not expired) once you have your NZ licence.
- Your NZ licence will have a ‘supervisor’ restriction in it until you pass the practical driving test.
Step 3: Take the practical driving test. Usually, there is a long waiting list due to the high volume of applicants (waiting time could take weeks). My co-workers advised me to take driving lessons even if I’ve been driving for a couple of years now.
At this time, I am still on Step 3 which will be next week. My driving instructor will take me to the test center on the day of my practical test (because of the supervisor restriction). I will update this post after that.