Greg Hewgill (ghewgill) wrote,
Greg Hewgill

bureaucracies are the same everywhere

Last saturday, I got all my paperwork together and wandered down to the LTSA (kiwi equivalent of DMV) office to convert my Canadian driver's license to a New Zealand one. In order to convert an existing license without having to do the practical driving test, you need to have held your overseas license for at least two years. Since I had just converted my Texas license to a British Columbia license in November 2005, I also brought confirmation from my TX insurance company that I had an automobile policy (with no claims). I figured that would be as good as anything to show that I had a driver's license there.

The agent wasn't sure about the insurance letter so she called to the LTSA office who said that wouldn't be acceptable. So, I went home empty-handed. Later that day I realised that I had a couple of previous licenses, one from BC valid from 1990 to 1995, and one from California valid from 1996 to 2000. With that, I figured I was set.

Yesterday, I went back and tried again, presenting all three licenses to the agent (different agent from the previous time). This time, she called the LTSA main office and spoke to somebody, but they weren't able to give a definite answer because there was no "team leader" there at the time. The problem was that even though my original BC license was issued in 1990, has the same name, address, birthdate, photo likeness, and license number, I still don't have any documentation that links them up and shows that I have held a valid driver's license for that whole period of time! Even if I still had every single license I had been issued between those times (three in California and one in Texas), they wouldn't be able to accept them all as me, because they have different numbers. Nor would it be possible to get confirmation from the BC DMV (who issued my only currently valid license) that I have had a license for more than two years, because I wasn't licensed in BC due to not actually living there. Confirmation from Texas wouldn't work either because although my license would still be valid if I still had it, I had to surrender it when getting my BC license last November. Surrendering a license invalidates it.

It turns out that you can drive for 12 months on an overseas license after arriving in New Zealand. One piece of information I found out from the LTSA agent was that every time you arrive in New Zealand, that 12 month timer starts again. So, as long as we take a trip outside the country (oh, say, to Australia) before March 2007, we can drive for another 12 months after that. Then, in November 2007 I will finally be able to apply for a New Zealand license.

Dealing with the LTSA (to get a driver's license) makes the dealing with the NZIS (New Zealand Immigration Service) look easy! It will take longer to get a driver's license here than it did to get permanent residency. Oh, and I got confirmation of the right to vote the other day. But I still can't get a piece of plastic with my name and address on it.

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