Three changes will take effect from 1 December 2014, as part of the Driver Licensing Amendment Rule (the Rule):
- Time limits - place a five-year time limit on new learner or restricted car or motorcycle driver licences.
- Flexible transactions - enable the NZ Transport Agency to eventually allow for driver licensing and driver testing transactions that can be completed online and via kiosk channels (instead of just in person)
- Evidence of identity - strengthen the identity evidence requirements for a licence applicant.
A five-year time limit will be placed on all new learner or restricted car or motorcycling driver licences.
Why is this change being made - what was the problem?
As novice drivers and motorcyclists acquire the skills and driving experience needed to drive safely on the road, they’re expected to graduate from a learner (L) licence to a restricted (R) licence, and then a full licence, within a reasonable timeframe.
However, many haven’t done this and are ‘pooling’ (staying on their learner or restricted licences for extended periods of time). This can mean that they haven’t demonstrated they have the skills and competence to drive safely on our roads.
What impact does pooling have on the Graduated Driver Licensing System (GDLS)?
The aim of the GDLS is for novice drivers and motorcyclists to progress from a learner licence to a full licence. To achieve this, drivers must gain the necessary skills and driving experience to pass the appropriate tests. Certain restrictions apply to the learner and restricted licence stages to ensure novice drivers gain the necessary driving skills and experience under low-risk conditions. Not progressing may mean drivers aren’t learning and demonstrating the skills and knowledge needed to be safe drivers. This defeats the purpose of the GDLS.
Why a restriction of five years for new Learner or Restricted licences?
A five-year limit is considered a reasonable time for licence holders to progress through each stage of the system without prematurely forcing those who aren’t sufficiently competent to progress too quickly.
Five years is also the maximum period that applies to other aspects of driver licensing. This includes endorsements and medical certificates, or the renewal of expired licences without testing.
The intent is to discourage licence holders from renewing their Learner or Restricted licences, and to move on to the next phase of the GDLS. For this reason, if a licence holder wants to renew his or her 5 year licence, then they’ll have to sit a theory test.
I already have an existing Learner or Restricted licence. What do the changes mean for me?
The new 5 year limit will not be applied to you retrospectively. However, if you haven’t progressed to a full licence, when you renew your licence you’ll be issued with a 5 year Learner or Restricted licence.
Also, if you’re reinstating an existing Learner or Restricted licence following a sanction (for example, suspension or disqualification) and the licence being reinstated has expired or will expire within 12 months, you’ll be issued a 5 year licence.
When will my current Learner or Restricted licence expire?
On the date stated on the licence card.
Will I have to do a test when my current Learner or Restricted licence expires?
Will I have to do the restricted test to renew my Restricted licence?
Will I lose my Learner or Restricted licence if I don’t progress before 1 December 2014?
AFTER 1 December 2014:
When you renew your current learner or restricted car or motorcycle licence, you’ll be given a licence that has a five year term not a ten-year one.
If you get a new learner or restricted licence you will be given a licence that has a five year term.
When you renew a learner or restricted licence that has been issued for five years then you do have to pass a theory test before renewing for a further five years.
What are the new requirements for renewing a five-year Learner or Restricted licence?
The purpose of the new time limit is to encourage moving on to the next stage of the GDLS. You’ll only be able to renew a 5 year Learner or Restricted licence once it has expired and you’ll need to pass the appropriate car or motorcycle theory test. In the interim, you won’t be able to drive.
Why can’t I renew a 5 year Learner or Restricted licence before the date it expires?
The renewal restriction (only being able to renew your 5 year licence on or after the date it expires) provides you with an additional incentive to progress to the next licence stage.
I am converting an overseas driver licence to a New Zealand licence. Am I affected?
Yes. If you convert your overseas licence to a New Zealand Learner or Restricted licence, you’ll be issued with a licence that has the 5 year limit.
Who isn’t affected by the new requirements for Learner or Restricted licences?
Holders of a heavy motor vehicle licence (Classes 2-5) or a zero alcohol licence, older drivers (aged 75 and over), diplomatic and consular personnel, and people getting a replacement licence involving a Learner or Restricted licence (if they had lost it, for example), aren’t subject to the new 5 year limit.
How does the Rule allow for more flexible transactions?
Before now, licence applications have had to be made in person. The changes have been made to reduce the time and cost burden on customers of doing this. The changes allow for the NZ Transport Agency to introduce options for applications to be made in ways that aren’t face-to-face (such as online or kiosk channels).
When will online transactions become available?
Online driver licence transactions will become available when all the necessary system changes have been made, and robust business processes are in place to manage identity-related risks. Online services are expected to become available over several years, with simpler (lower-risk) transactions moving online first.
It’s expected that, eventually, most common driver licence transactions will be available online. However, at this stage first enrolments won’t be available online because of the higher risks involved around verifying identity. Some low volume (and complex) transactions may continue to be face-to-face, only because the cost of providing this service online would be excessive.
Evidence of identity
How does a licence applicant establish their identity?
To establish your identity as part of a licence application, you need to provide documentary evidence from the list of acceptable documents listed in the Rule (eg a current New Zealand passport).
As part of these changes, the list of acceptable documents has been updated using guidance from the Evidence of Identity Standard developed by the Department of Internal Affairs(external link). This Standard is used by government agencies to establish and confirm the identity of individuals who are accessing government services in person or online. The Standard ensures consistent use of processes to manage identity-related risks.
When applying for a licence, you’ll now be asked to present an identity document that includes your photograph. If you can’t do this, you’ll need to provide a recent photograph verified by an identity referee (a similar process to when you first get your passport).
Why have the evidence of identity requirements been strengthened?
Driver licences are widely accepted and used for purposes other than driving. Under the previous requirements, it was possible to provide 2 documents without photographs to prove your identity. However, these requirements are now out-dated and don’t align with the guidance in the Evidence of Identity Standard.
Why does the Rule have a list of acceptable documents?
The Land Transport Act 1998 requires the Rule to specify acceptable types of documentary evidence of identity.
Why are there special (and more rigorous) evidence of identity rules when you first get your driver licence?
First-time applications carry a much higher risk of identity fraud. This is because the applicant is establishing who they are, rather than re-confirming an existing identity that’s already in the system.
Why has the requirement to provide proof of address been removed?
Some customers find it difficult to provide proof of address using an original utility bill or bank statement showing their name and address, particularly those who live in a flat or make online payments.
From 1 December, the home and postal addresses you list on your application form will be sufficient. Licence cards are sent out to this listed address, which should encourage applicants to ensure it’s valid.
Have the fees increased?
No. The existing fees haven’t changed. The relevant fees regulations will be adjusted slightly to ensure that drivers are charged the correct test fee in the licence renewal process.
Was the public consulted on the changes to the Driver Licensing Rule?
The draft amendment rule, an overview document and questions and answers were released for public comment on 29 April 2014. The NZ Transport Agency received 36 submissions on the proposed changes which were taken into consideration in finalising the changes.
What issues were raised by submitters?
Submitters agreed with allowing more flexible transactions. Most supported the move to restrict time on learner and restricted licences to 5 years. A number of comments regarding the Evidence of Identity proposal asked that the list of documents should be made more flexible, especially in regard to producing ID with a photograph. The amendment Rule reflects those suggestions.
Does the amendment Rule give me all the information I need to fully understand the changes?
This is an amendment Rule and, therefore, contains only the amending provisions. The amendment Rule should be read in conjunction with the principal Rule; Land Transport (Driver Licensing) Rule 1999. Both the amendment Rule and the principal Rule are available on the Parlimentary Counsel Office website(external link).
How can I obtain a copy of the amendment Rule?
A copy of the amendment Rule is available for purchase from selected bookshops that sell legislation or from Legislation Direct (telephone (04) 568 0005). The Rule is also available on the NZ Transport Agency’s website(external link).
Rules may be read, free of charge, at the national and regional offices of the NZ Transport Agency.
Where can I get more information?
Further information about how these changes affect you is available on the NZ Transport Agency's website(external link) or call our Contact Centre, Freephone 0800 822 422.
How does the Transport Agency ensure people know about Rule changes?
When a rule change is put in place, the NZ Transport Agency website is updated, and a media statement is issued. A newsletter outlining the changes is sent to the groups and individuals who registered their interest in the Rule that’s being amended. Where necessary, the NZ Transport Agency advises relevant industry groups of the changes.
Where required, the NZ Transport Agency updates factsheets and other information about the changes.