Do I need an International Driving Permit for New Zealand?

Many New Zealand visitors decide early on to book a rental car – and we think that’s a great idea.

Hiring a rental car (or purchasing your own vehicle if you plan to be in New Zealand for a longer period) provides the flexibility and freedom that we really value.

But there’s one question that’s asked time and time again… do I need an International Driving Permit (IDP)?

For some the answer is yes, for others it’s a no.

However, the answer is much more straightforward that many expect – so, let’s get to it…

Driving along the road from New Plymouth to Te Kūiti in New Zealand. Grass on one side and forest on the other.

Do you need An International Driver’s Permit to drive in New Zealand?

No, you don’t need an IDP if your licence is in English

You only need an IDP if your licence is in a different language to the language spoken in the country you’re visiting.

New Zealand licences are in English, so if your valid driver’s licence is also in English, you do not need an international licence.

The same applies worldwide – with only a few exceptions.

Yes, you need an IDP for New Zealand if your licence isn’t written in English

If your license isn’t in English, you’ll need an IDP or an approved translation.

You’ll need to carry both your original driver’s license and your IDP/translation whenever you’re on the road.

What is an Internation Driving Permit (IDP)?

An IDP, or International Driving Permit is an official translation of your driver’s licence. It goes alongside your normal licence – it does not take the place of one.

Where can I get an IDP?

You’ll need to organise your IDP in advance, assuming you need one – remember, not everyone does.

You can check this site to learn where to organise your IDP.

Check your licence is good to go for New Zealand

Now you know if you need an IDP to go alongside your driver’s licence, let’s check your normal licence is ok to drive on in New Zealand.

Firstly, it needs to be valid for the duration of your stay. If it’s due to expire, we recommend renewing it before your visit.

As a visitor, you can drive on your home licence for up to 12 months from your arrival date in New Zealand.

Remember to carry your home licence at all times, along with a copy of your IDP if required.

Lady sitting in a Mitsubishi car, looking out to a lake and mountains.

And there you have it – if your licence is in English, there’s no need for an IDP.

However, if your licence is in another language, you’ll need to prepare an IDP prior to your arrival in New Zealand.

Happy travels!

If you’d like to learn more about driving in New Zealand, we suggest you join our travel community. There, you’ll find a treasure trove of insider tips, fascinating experiences and practical information on driving here.

“Thank you, NZTT, for all the discounts we were able to secure for our bookings. it really made a difference.” – Sue Smith, NZTT member

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