Government to tackle driver licence wait times

The Government is rolling out changes to the driver licencing system to tackle the unacceptable wait times facing New Zealanders trying to sit their driver licence tests across the country, Transport Minister Simeon Brown says.

“Since the previous government’s decision last year to remove re-sit fees for theory and practical tests, demand for driver licence test bookings have increased significantly, as have test failure rates and no-shows. This has led to unacceptable delays for Kiwis trying to book a test for their driver licence.

“Demand for overseas driver licence conversions has also grown significantly, adding to the pressure on the driver licence test system. This, coupled with unlimited free re-sits, has meant people applying to sit their driver licence tests have been waiting more than 60 days in parts of the country, which is totally unacceptable. This is up from an average wait time of 13 days in the three months prior to the previous government’s changes.

From 8 July, the Government is implementing the following changes to reduce the unacceptable driver licence wait times facing New Zealanders:

  • Class 1 driver licence test applicants sitting a theory or practical test will be eligible for one free re-sit and will be required to pay for any additional test following this.   
  • Overseas driver licence conversions will no longer be eligible for free re-sits and, if they fail the first test, will be required to pay for any additional test.

“Our Government has sought to take a balanced approach to this issue by limiting the number of free re-sits to get these wait times under control. These changes will reduce no-shows and incentivise driver licence applicants to prepare and pass their tests, reducing the driver licence backlog, while continuing to ensure that Class 1 applicants remain eligible for a free re-sit.

“Alongside these changes, NZTA is implementing operational measures to reduce wait times by recruiting more Driver Testing Officers (DTOs), expanding the available hours for theory and practical driving tests, and increasing the number of courses to train up DTOs. Text alerts have also been introduced to remind people of their driving test and ensure they turn up on the day.

“Getting a driver licence makes a big difference in a person’s life. We need to ensure that the process for getting a licence is efficient, while allowing learner drivers the time to develop their driving skills.”

There will be a three-month transition period for all drivers who have already paid an application fee under the previous system to ensure they can progress through their current licence stage before these changes give effect.