What License Do You Need to Drive in Tonga?
Renting a car gives you the ultimate freedom to explore the islands of Tonga. However, while some visitors can drive in Tonga on their foreign driving license, some may need to get a Visitor’s Driving License. So can you drive in Tonga with an overseas license? Only those with a full valid driving license from selected countries can legally drive in Tonga. We go over the rules for what driving license to use, as well as how to get a Visitor’s Driving License (if you need one) in this guide.
Do You Need to Get a Visitor’s Driving License?
Drivers from the visitor visa-exempt countries with a valid full driving license are entitled to drive in Tonga. Overseas driving licenses are valid for driving in Tonga for up to 12 months from the date of arrival. Visitors with licenses from non-visa-exempt countries will need to obtain a Visitor’s Driving License.
The Visitor’s Driving License in Tonga is legally required for visitors from non-visa-exempt countries to drive in Tonga. It is valid for three months. The applicant must be over the age of 18 (although you need to be over 21 to hire a car in Tonga) and hold a valid and full driving license, no matter which country it is from. Find more information on what driving license you need below. Otherwise, skip to How to Get a Tonga Visitor’s Driving License for more details on the Visitor’s Driving License.
What Driving License Do You Need to Drive in Tonga?
If your overseas driving license is from a visitor visa-exempt country (see the list below), your driving license is valid to drive in Tonga. Your foreign driving license must be full (i.e. not a learner’s or provisional license, etc.) and you can only drive the class of motor vehicle that your license entitles.
However, driving licenses issued by countries not stated on the visitor visa-exempt list are not likely to be valid. In this case, drivers will need to get a Visitor’s Driving License to legally drive in Tonga.
Overseas Driving Licenses Accepted in Tonga
The drivers’ licenses from the following countries are accepted in Tonga:
- Brunei Darussalam
- China (mainland)
- Cook Islands (New Zealand Passport)
- Czech Republic
- Federated States of Micronesia
- Hong Kong
- Marshall Islands
- New Caledonia (French Passport)
- New Zealand
- Niue (New Zealand Passport)
- Papua New Guinea
- Russian Federation
- Solomon Islands
- South Korea (Republic of Korea)
- St. Kitts & Nevis
- St. Lucia
- St. Vincent & The Grenadines
- Tahiti (French Passport)
- Tokelau (New Zealand Passport)
- United Kingdom
- United States of America
- Wallis & Futuna (French Passport).
Can I Drive in Tonga with an NZ License?
Yes, New Zealand driving licenses are accepted in Tonga as long as they are a full valid license, i.e. not a learner or provisional license.
What Type of Driving License Do You Need for the Visitor’s Driving License Application?
To get the Visitor’s Driving License in Tonga, you will still need to bring your foreign driving license for the application. Your driving license can be from any country, but if the license is not in the English language, an International Driving Permit (IDP) is also required. See Do You Need an International Driving Permit for Tonga? for more advice on the IDP.
You will need to present your overseas driving license (and IDP, if necessary) when applying for your Visitor’s Driving License. You’ll also need these documents available when driving in Tonga.
How to Get the Visitor’s Driving License
For driving in Tonga if your license is not from a visitor visa-exempt country, you will need your overseas driving license, your IDP if your license is not in English, and a Tonga Visitor’s Driving License. The latter can only be obtained once you are in Tonga.
Where to Apply for the Visitor’s Driving License
A Visitor’s Driving License can be obtained in Nuku’alofa on Tongatapu and Neiafu in Vava’u.
In Nuku’alofa, get your Visitor’s Driving License from the Ministry of Infrastructure building at the Land Transport Division. It’s located on Alaivahamama’o Bypass Road after turning off Taufa’ahau Road at the corner with the Little India restaurant. Keep going past the BP gas station and you’ll see the building clearly labelled.
Alternatively, there is a Ministry of Infrastructure downtown office located on the second floor of the O.G. Sanft Building, corner of Taufa’ahau and Wellington Roads.
In Neiafu, Visitor’s Driving Licenses are available to apply for at the Police Station on the corner of Tu’i and Fatafehi Roads.
How to Apply for a Visitor’s Driving License
To apply for the Visitor’s Driving License, you need to present your overseas driving license, as well as your IDP if required. Your details will be written onto a piece of printed cardboard which is your Visitor’s Driving License. You will then need to pay a fee of around TOP$40. Finally, you will receive your Visitor’s Driving License and your receipt.
For a more detailed description of obtaining a Visitor’s Driving License, see How to Get a Tonga Visitor’s Driving License.
More on Driving in Tonga with an Overseas License
That’s it for our guide to driving in Tonga on an overseas license. For more on the subject, take a look at the following guides:
- How to Drive in Tonga + 10 Road Rules to Know
- What You Need to Hire a Car in Tonga
- The Driving Times in Tonga You Need to Know
Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in our Tonga Transport Guide: 10 Ways to Get Around Tonga.