COVID-19 SERVICES UPDATE: Information on Waka Kotahi services.

SCAM ALERT: Vehicle licence (rego) renewal phishing emails.

WAITANGI DAY – PLAN AHEAD: Heading away for the long weekend? Check our holiday journeys tool(external link)


This page explains what the exemptions are and what you'll need to show when applying for them.

The law provides for some exemptions to certain legal requirements. When applying for an exemption you're seeking to avoid a legal requirement so you need to prove why you shouldn't have to comply. Exemptions aren't granted automatically – you have to meet the grounds set out in law. 

Only some exemptions allowed under law

The driving exemptions allowed by law relate to:

How to apply for an exemption

You need to prove to us that giving you the exemption will not put you, or other road users, at significantly greater risk. 

You also need to prove one of the following:

  • you already largely meet the legal requirement and that further compliance is unnecessary, or
  • the action you're taking or providing for is at least as effective as actually complying with the legal requirement, or
  • the legal requirement is clearly unreasonable or inappropriate, or
  • events have made the legal requirement unnecessary or inappropriate. 

To apply:

  1. Print and complete the application form [PDF, 131 KB] to make your case.
  2. Attach any supporting evidence, eg a letter from your doctor or overseas licensing authority.
  3. Send the application to the address on page 1 of the application form.
  4. Pay the $27.20 fee (this is non-refundable). You can pay by credit card over the phone, or send a cheque or money order with your application.

If your exemption is approved, we'll write to you. Where applicable, we will provide you with a certificate or letter of exemption which you must carry at all times while driving. 

Possible exemption from wearing a bicycle helmet

You must wear a bike helmet if you're:

  • riding a bicycle
  • being carried as a passenger, or
  • being towed in a trailer by a bicycle.

You might be able to get an exemption due to:

  • religious beliefs
  • physical disability, or 
  • medical conditions or other such reasonable grounds.

Possible exemption from wearing a motorcycle helmet

You must wear a motorcycle helmet if you're travelling on a:

  • motorcycle
  • moped
  • all-terrain vehicle (ATV)
  • motorcycle sidecar.

However, you don't have to wear a helmet if you're on a motorcycle, moped or ATV and:

  • you're travelling from one part of a farm to another on the same farm, or an adjoining farm owned or occupied by the same person, and you're only travelling up to 30km/h, or
  • you can prove you are a member of the Sikh religion, and you're only travelling at up to 50km/h.

You don't have to wear a helmet if you're on an ATV and:

  • it is fitted with a roll bar, and
  • you're occupying a seat fitted with a seat belt, which is correctly fastened.

Possible exemption from using safety belts and child restraints

We do not issue exemptions for the use of safety belts and child restraints. You must wear a safety belt where one is provided and you must secure children under the age of seven in child restraints. 

Detailed requirements for safety belts

 However, the law provides for some exceptions to these requirements:

  • Where the person has a certificate from a medical practitioner confirming use of a seatbelt or child restraint is impracticable or undesirable for medical reasons.
  • If wearing a seatbelt the driver could not reasonably operate effectively the footbrake, handbrake, direction indicator, horn, windscreen wiper, choke or sun visor.
  • If travelling in reverse and is unable to operate the vehicle in a safe manner.
  • Where the person is a taxi driver plying for hire.
  • If the person is:
    • delivering newspapers, mail or other goods, or
    • servicing the vehicle, or
    • meter reading or other similar duties, or
    • spraying or other similar duties, and
    • is required to alight and re-enter the vehicle frequently, and
    • the vehicle does not exceed 50km/h.
  • If the person is an enforcement officer or prison officer travelling with another person who is not an enforcement officer or prison officer in circumstances in which it is impracticable or undesirable to wear a seatbelt.
  • If the person is a driver or passenger on a bus.
  • Passenger service vehicles where no appropriate child restraints are available.
  • Goods service vehicles with an unladen weight exceeding 2000kg in which no seat belts are available.
  • Motor vehicles first registered before 1 January 1955 in which no seat belts are available.
  • Driving a motor vehicle that is being used by an enforcement officer in the execution of the enforcement officer's duty.

Possible exemption from driver licence requirements

What we consider when you apply for an exemption

  • Any traffic infringements or driving offences you may have incurred.
  • The results of any previous tests that you may have sat.
  • The length of time that you have held your licence.
  • What has changed in your current situation that is motivating you to apply for an exemption.
  • Any driving experience that you have.
  • Any risk to the safety of yourself, your passengers or other road users.

If you're applying for an exemption from any conditions of the graduated driver licensing system, we'll also consider any alternative transportation that may be available to you (eg, bus services, taxi services and parents).

We will not grant an exemption if we consider it will increase the risk to road safety

Also, we don't grant exemptions where you:

  • are claiming on grounds of inconvenience or financial hardship
  • want to apply for a licence and are less than 16 years old
  • have already held a learner or restricted licence for the required amount of time and are eligible to apply for the next stage of your licence
  • want to be exempt from having a photo or signature digitally captured or stored
  • want to be exempt from re-sitting the tests after being disqualified for more than 12 months.

We’re unlikely to grant exemptions for:

  • learner car driver licences (class 1)
  • learner motorcycle licences (class 6)
  • the first six months of your restricted licence
  • work purposes only (for example nanny, security, deliveries).