What License Do You Need to Drive in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands?
You’re ready to hit the coastal road around Rarotonga, but what license is required to legally drive? For most visitors, your overseas license will be just fine for renting and driving a car in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands. If, however, you’ve read our What You Need to Hire a Car in the Cook Islands, you may have noticed that a small selection of visitors actually needs a visitor driver’s license in order to rent and legally drive a car. We go through it all and clear up any confusion in this complete guide to using your overseas license to drive in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands.
For more car hire tips, be sure to head to the 10 Best Car Rentals in the Cook Islands.
Overseas Licenses Accepted in the Cook Islands
The drivers’ licenses from the following countries are accepted in the Cook Islands:
- EU Members
- New Zealand
- United States of America
The overseas licence must be in English or else you need to have a certified translation to accompany your license, such as an IDP (International Driver’s Permit).
Conditions of Driving in the Cook Islands on an Overseas Driver’s License
Driving in the Cook Islands with an overseas license has a few conditions and restrictions. These include that you can only drive:
- if you’re over the age of 16 years old,
- for up to six months in the Cook Islands,
- if your license is not revoked, suspended or disqualified,
- and only the motor vehicle class that you are entitled to drive in your home country.
Cook Islands Visitor Driver’s License
In some rare instances, some visitors will need to apply for a visitor driver’s license to legally drive in the Cook Islands. In this section, we go over who this applies to, as well as how to obtain a visitor driver’s license.
Who Needs to Apply for a Cook Islands Driver’s License?
There are a few instances where you will need to apply and purchase a Cook Islands visitor’s license to legally drive in the Cook Islands. This applies to:
- Visitors who have an overseas driver’s license that is not from one of the accepted countries (Australia, Canada, EU Members, Japan, New Zealand, Norway or the US)
- Those on an overseas restricted license
- And those wishing to drive a vehicle that their overseas license is not valid for, for instance, riding a scooter/motorcycle.
How to Apply for a Cook Islands Visitor Driver’s License
You can apply for a visitor driver’s license at the Rarotonga Police Station in the town centre of Avarua. There is a paper form to complete, while visitors are also required to undergo a theory and a practical test and pay all of the appropriate fees.
Driver’s License Application Form
For the application form, you will need to provide the following:
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Place of birth
- Name of accommodation in the Cook Islands
- Overseas license number (if known)
- Overseas contact details and next of kin contact.
You will also need to tick the appropriate box for the type of license you are applying for, for example, “B” for any type of motor car and/or “A1” motorcycle class for an engine capacity not exceeding 125cc. You’ll then tick the appropriate boxes for the fees you’ll be paying under “cash” or “cheque”. For example, most visitors will be selecting “Visitor”, “Police Theory” and “Police Practice”.
You’ll then need to sign and date the application and hand it over to the Driver’s License desk at the Police Station, located in a small room to the righthand side of the main entrance.
For the theory test, you must provide your passport or a notarised copy of your birth certificate. Tests are available to take from Monday to Thursday at 9am, 11am and 1pm and on Friday at 9am and 11am. Theory tests cost NZ$10. If you fail, you can re-take the test at another time and date.
If you pass your theory test, you will be allocated a time and date for your practical. Practical testing takes place from Monday to Thursday at 10am and 2pm and on Friday at 10am and 1pm. Practical tests cost NZ$10 and you need to provide the vehicle (there is vehicle hire next door to the Police Station). If you fail, you can re-take the test at another time and date.
Once you have passed your test, you will be given a visitor’s driver’s license at the cost of around NZ$20.
How Long is a Cook Islands Driver’s License Valid For?
Visitors’ licenses for the Cook Islands are valid for up to 30 days from the date of issue. One-year, five-year and 10-year driver’s licenses are also available to apply for.
More About Applying for a Driver’s License
Want to know more about applying for a driver’s license in the Cook Islands? Check out How to Get a Rarotonga & the Cook Islands Scooter License, which is the most common type of license visitors get in the Cook Islands. This guide goes into much more detail on the application process with many steps similar to getting a car license.
More About Driving in the Cook Islands
Now that you know whether or not you need a visitor license for driving in the Cook Islands and whether your overseas license is accepted, here are some guides with tips on how to drive, rent a vehicle and more!
- How to Drive in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands + 10 Road Rules You Need to Know
- 10 Safety Tips for Driving in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands
- The Cost of Renting a Car in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands: Full Car Rental Cost Breakdown
Finally, check out more ways of getting around the country in our Cook Islands Transport Guide: 15 Best Ways to Get Around the Cook Islands.