Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 15

Thread: Converting my drivers license

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    808

    Thumbs down Converting my drivers license

    I am currently going through the conversion of my USA drivers license, which is unexpectedly complex, because my current license has a recent issue date (I thought it would be a good idea to renew before I moved away). Even though I still have my old license, which I thought would prove I have been driving for at least 2 years (in one of the "right" countries...), there have been many phone calls and visits to the AA office involved.

    Here is a general guide for the process:
    https://www.backpackerguide.nz/conve...river-license/

    So my particular situation is that right before we moved to NZ in October 2018, we moved our official residence from California to Washington state. We don't have a house anymore, so we "moved in" with my sister-in-law for various reasons of convenience. The unfortunate part is that I had to get a hole punched in my California license in order to get a Washington license. (Otherwise the CA license would still be good, and would have been easy to convert in NZ). So, AA wanted me to call NZTA for a "reference number" to see if I could use both licenses together to get my conversion, and NZTA wanted AA to look at them and decide, basically punting the decision to each other. AA was also confused by the "enhanced drivers license" label on my Washington one, they had never seen that before and didn't know if it was the proper kind.
    (See this link for the mess that is "REAL ID," supposed to be a requirement for domestic travel in the US starting in 2020... https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/dvs/rea...al-id-faq.aspx Again I thought it would be smart to get one before moving away, so I don't have to use a passport to fly in the US)

    Long story short, the AA lady decided to approve me without making me get a certificate from the California DMV, which would be a nightmare from overseas. Hooray! Then...I failed the vision test. With my glasses on. There is apparently a trick to focusing the right way in the little box, otherwise your brain might turn the three columns into two columns. It's basically an optical illusion, because it's designed to simulate something far away, but some brains thinks - no, I'm looking into a little box, so that can't be right. Article here... https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/101...eening-machine)
    Now I have to go to an optometrist to confirm that yes, I can see just fine with my glasses on. I'm not allowed to try again at AA. Good news is that AA members get a free eye exam at Specsavers, so ask about that.

    Neat. So as I was trying to facilitate my husband's license conversion, I brought the licenses in to AA so they could call NZTA again and get the necessary "reference number" to proceed. It turns out that in the last few weeks, the process changed, and I now have to fill out another form "application for an exemption," and send both ORIGINAL licenses in the mail (not photocopies) to NZTA using a "track and trace" bag, and enclose another track and trace bag so they can return the licenses to me. Arg...

    Throughout this process, I have been trying to avoid having to get the dreaded "certificate of particulars" from the California Department of Motor Vehicles, which is some sort of document that includes the key information: how long have you had a driver's license? I really really don't want to wait on hold for hours on Skype, which is no longer free. And I suspect the DMV would want to mail stuff to our old CA address, if they even know what this certificate of particulars thing is. Not an option.

    Now, the "application for an exemption" form has a checklist indicating that we need to include the certificate of particulars. ARG!! But, I called NZTA and explained my situation, the lady said just the two licenses should be okay. Crossing my fingers.

    In the meantime, our overseas license is good for 12 months from our last entry date, and that 12 months apparently renews every time you leave and come back to NZ.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    35,542

    Default

    Oh, WHAT a palaver... Best wishes for pushing it through in the end.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    162

    Default

    Yikes! Sorry to hear you're having such a struggle. We were in the country last June and I wanted to get a bank account opened up, and two banks that I went to said that I absolutely needed to have a document showing that I had a residential address in country (even though clearly they had provisions to support off-shore account holders, but, I digress...), so in order to generate something showing that I went an applied for my NZ license.

    I was in the same situation with a recently renewed license with less than two years on the issue date, but I was able to just show both licenses to the agent at the AA office, she made a call, and they approved it without an issue. Then, came the eye exam. My near-vision is terrible, but I can drive and see in the distance fine, and I've had no problem for my other license(s) passing the eye exam for driving. Well, as you know, they have that tricky little machine which appears to not have a single focal point, and I overlooked about half of the letters when reading them back. But, I think the woman at the counter was sympathetic to this challenge, and she gave me an "you sure about that?" and let me adjust my head position so I could see all of the letters. That thing is a pain, and she definitely could have failed me--even though I can see to drive just fine.

    Sorry to hear that you're having to go it the hard way, but I can definitely recommend the AA office in Rotorua!

    (And, the license turned up the day after we returned home, but I was finally able to find a third bank that was very helpful with opening an account up without the local address information!)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    UK->CA->NZ
    Posts
    85

    Default

    Hi Juniper, unrelated to driving licence, I always call Canada or US via google phone services. It is free to call Canada and US. Used it to call 1-800 numbers all the time. Saved me lots of $$$, one time when I called the Canadian bank to sort out something, they put me on hold for 45 mins! Hope this information is useful to you :-D

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    808

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Auckland2016 View Post
    Hi Juniper, unrelated to driving licence, I always call Canada or US via google phone services. It is free to call Canada and US. Used it to call 1-800 numbers all the time. Saved me lots of $$$, one time when I called the Canadian bank to sort out something, they put me on hold for 45 mins! Hope this information is useful to you :-D
    Thank you, I’ll try it!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    808

    Default

    Just got hubby’s license squared away today. I had to send in an application to get an exemption, which permitted using two licenses proving he’d been licensed at least two years. I had a scare when I called in to do the payment, and the operator told me the chances of getting the exemption approved were slim at best, AND his manager said we wouldn’t even be able to use a “certificate of particulars” from the old state, since that license was no longer considered valid. That would have left us with no option but to do a behind-the-wheel test.

    Whatever, I sent the application and both original licenses in the mail, with a track-and-trace bag enclosed to make sure they were returned safely. It took about 3 weeks but we got the approval.

    Besides that, make sure you have a good 90 minutes budgeted when you walk in to AA, they still took a really long time to verify and input everything.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    162

    Default

    I'm happy to hear that you were able to get the licence, but this truly sounds like a case of your mileage may vary. We were in nearly the exact same situation and were in and out of the Rotorua office with my paper provisional licence in about 20 minutes, and the permanent one showed up at her brother's house just a few days later.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    808

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by diallta View Post
    I'm happy to hear that you were able to get the licence, but this truly sounds like a case of your mileage may vary. We were in nearly the exact same situation and were in and out of the Rotorua office with my paper provisional licence in about 20 minutes, and the permanent one showed up at her brother's house just a few days later.
    Yup. Seems like judgment calls all the way, so depends who you get. They did say the need to apply formally for an exemption was new, so it might not even be implemented that consistently.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    128

    Default

    It’s such a pain in the ass.

    I wanted to convert my Dutch driver license (which is the same as any EU license - it doesn’t have a description of what each characteristic is, instead it has a number for each item that you can look up online so “1” is “first name”, “5” is “date issued” for example).

    I had a Dutch international license as a translations which according to the AA website might or might not be accepted.

    It was not, first because the vertical letters on the side weren’t in English. I said: “that’s the copyright notice”.

    He then pointed to the date of birth. I said: “sir, I understand you don’t speak Dutch but these are NUMBERS”.

    I made a scene and eventually I didn’t have to get a 50 dollar translation and stand in line for an hour again to produce something they have seen thousands of times already as it is exactly the same translation as any other EU citizen’s license.

    The next part was that I made a mistake filling in the form and the (non-Dutch speaking) clerk was able to point out exactly which detail on the license I needed to fill in there.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    808

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Nether111 View Post
    The next part was that I made a mistake filling in the form and the (non-Dutch speaking) clerk was able to point out exactly which detail on the license I needed to fill in there.
    Ugh, facepalm! It really just depends who you get, doesn’t it...

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •