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Will I need an International Driving Permit to rent a car in New Zealand?

International driving permit in NZ banner

If your driving licence is not printed in English, you will need an International Driving Permit to rent a car in New Zealand. Licences from Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada are all generally accepted, however, there may be some exclusions.

If you have an International Driving Permit, there are still some important things you need to know before you pick up your car:

  • The International Driving Permit serves as a translation document only. Therefore you will need to also provide a copy of your original driving licence from your country of residence.
  • Restrictions will still apply if you have a provisional or probationary licence. Many of our suppliers in New Zealand do not accept licences with restrictions.
  • Take note that a translation of your overseas licence or permit must be issued by:
    • A NZ Transport Agency authorised translation service
    • A diplomatic representative at a high commission, embassy or consulate
    • The authority that issued your overseas licence.
  • In NZ, the following documents may also be acceptable as a translation:
    • An international driving permit – issued in accordance with a United Nations Convention on road traffic
    • A translation document issued by a Notary Public Office in China.

​What will happen if I get caught driving without an IDP?

If a police officer catches you without an acceptable English translation of your licence or an IDP, you may be prosecuted for driving without a valid licence. ​You will need to pay an infringement fee of at least NZ$400, or up to NZ$1,000 if you have been convicted in court. Note that the New Zealand police can restrict you from driving until you have an appropriate licence. If you drive again after being fined, your rental vehicle can be impounded for 28 days.​ You may also risk not being covered by your insurance if you are involved in a crash.

Can I use NAATI translation instead of Driving Permit?

If you want to rent a car in New Zealand but your driver's licence is not in English, you will still need to carry your original driver licence along with an accurate English translation. You can use an accredited translation service approved by the NZ Transport Agency. Note that for car rentals in Australia, the driver's licence translations will only be accepted if they are translated and approved by a National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) and signed by the translator.

Note also that sometimes this may depend on the supplier or at the depot you will be hiring from, so it might be best to contact our expert Customer Care Team to confirm if your driver's licence or translation will be accepted in New Zealand.

Click here to learn more about other licence requirements when renting a car.

For example:

When you present your International Driving Permit . . .

If you have a driving licence printed in Japanese, you will also need to present an International Driving Permit. When you present the permit at the depot you will also need to present your original licence to be eligible to rent a car.