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How to Translate an Overseas Driving License for New Zealand

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Driving License Translations for New Zealand

To legally drive in New Zealand you need either three things: an overseas driving license with an International Driving Permit (IDP), an overseas driver license with a translation approved by the New Zealand Transport Agency, or a New Zealand Driver License. If you have an overseas driving license that is not in English, then you will need to get it translated in order to legally drive or rent a car in New Zealand. This guide on how to translate your overseas driving license for New Zealand will show you how.

Before you arrive in New Zealand, you can get an International Driving Permit which you must bring to New Zealand along with your normal driving license. If you are already in New Zealand and have your overseas driving license with you, you can get a translation done in New Zealand.

From the moment you arrive in New Zealand, your driving license along with your IDP or translation is valid for one year. After that, you will be required to get a New Zealand Driver License.

5 Reasons to Get an International Driving Permit (IDP)

  • You get the IDP before leaving home so that you don’t waste your precious time in New Zealand sorting out a translation
  • It is valid for three years
  • The IDP can be used in most countries
  • You will be able to rent a vehicle if presented along with your overseas license
  • It does not require a driving test.

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Translate Your Driving License Before You Go to New Zealand

To be legally able to drive in New Zealand, you must have your driver license from your home country as well as a translation of your driver license in English. The best way to get a translation before leaving your country to come to New Zealand is to apply for an International Driving Permit (IDP), which acts as a legal translation for your driver license.

The International Driving Permit, accompanied by your normal driving license, is valid for one year once you arrive in New Zealand. After that, you will need to apply for a New Zealand driver license.

How to Get Your International Driving Permit

The method of getting an International Driving Permit varies between countries. In most cases, you can apply for your IDP through your country’s driving license authority or through their website. You can also apply at your local government or prefecture. For the International Driving Permit, you will need:

  • A copy of both sides of your driver license
  • A recent ID photograph
  • A filled out application form

Some countries will require you to also provide copies of your national identity cards. While some applications are free, others may involve a small fee.

Applications can take up to a month to process, so be sure to not leave the application until the last minute!

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How to Translate Your Driving License in New Zealand

If, for some reason, you did not manage to get an International Driving Permit before leaving home, then never fear! You can get your driving license translated in New Zealand.

How to Get Your Overseas Driving License Translated in New Zealand

There are three ways you can get your overseas driving license translated in New Zealand:

  • a New Zealand Transport Agency-approved translator
  • a diplomatic representative at an embassy, high commission or consulate (they are based in Wellington and it is likely that you will have to go there in person)
  • or the authority that issued your overseas driving license.

The easiest way to get your driving license translated is to use one of the approved translation services by the New Zealand Transport Agency. These translation services exist all across New Zealand. For a complete list and contact details of the approved translators, check the NZ Transport Agency’s website.

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Converting Your Overseas Driving License to a New Zealand Driver License

Another way to legally drive in New Zealand is to get a New Zealand Driver License. If you are in New Zealand for more than 12 months, your overseas driver license and its translation are no longer valid. You will have to get a New Zealand Driver License. Nevertheless, this is a pretty quick and simple process of converting your overseas driving license, along with the valid translation, into a New Zealand Driver License.

If you are from one of the following countries, you will not need to take a theory or practical test: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The United Kingdom, United States of America.

The New Zealand Driver License is also a legal form of ID in New Zealand, so a New Zealand Driver License is certainly handy to have.

How to Get a New Zealand Driver License

For the full guide on converting your license to a New Zealand Driver License, see Converting Your Driver License into a New Zealand Driver License.


Robin C.

This article was reviewed and published by Robin, the co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. He has lived, worked and travelled across 16 different countries before calling New Zealand home. He has now spent over a decade in the New Zealand tourism industry, clocking in more than 600 activities across the country. He is passionate about sharing those experiences and advice on NZ Pocket Guide and its YouTube channel. Robin is also the co-founder of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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