Full Overseas licenses are accepted in the Cook Islands. Whatever vehicle visitors are permitted to drive overseas, whether motorcycle or car, that license will be accepted. In this instance, there is no need to obtain a Visitor’s License to hire or drive in the Cook Islands.
However, should a visitor wish to drive a scooter or motorcycle and is not licensed, they must obtain a Visitor’s License. This includes all car drivers on probationary or learner’s licenses. Helmets are compulsory for all non-residents of the Cook Islands, and for 16-25 year old residents, travelling on a motorcycle – driver and passenger.
There are two phases of testing in order to obtain a Visitor’s License. Firstly, you must pass a Theory Test, the cost of which is NZD10.00. Once a driver passes the Theory, they can then move on to the Practical Test – cost NZD10.00. The actual license is a further NZD20.00, bringing the total cost to $40.00.
In terms of process, all visitors requiring a license must appear at the National Police Headquarters in Avarua, and report to the Police Officer in charge of Licensing. Once reported in, you will be allocated a time to sit your Theory Test. This timing is largely based on the number of drivers as testing is conducted in batches of up to 10 drivers at a time. Fewer numbers will be processed but generally, there will need to be a justifiable number to proceed as Police Officers are often diverted to attend to other duties.
Given the large number of visitors each day requiring testing and licenses, there will be periods of waiting. There are also quieter periods when processing can be dealt with more quickly. This is out of the control of the Police Service. Should you fail any of the tests another day and time can be allocated for you to repeat the procedure.
The Cook Islands Police Service has a high priority for road safety – for you as a driver and for others using the road. As such, visitors undergoing testing will also receive a full briefing from a Police Officer on the conditions and rules of Rarotonga’s road system. For the benefit of all drivers, a Road Code is available from the Licensing Office for a cost of NZD20.00. It is advisable to be familiar with the Code as relying on assumptions and pre-conceived notions may cause failure during testing.
Given the high priority for your safety, the Police Service upholds a stringent process and does not apply leniency with the required tests. Your competency to drive on Rarotonga safely is vital.
Our road fatalities and statistics on motor vehicle crashes are among the highest in the world, on a per capita basis. The Police advise all motorists to treat the road environment with respect and not with a misplaced complacency that may be associated with a tropical paradise.
Drive safe and with care. We want all our visitors to return home happy and comfortable in the airplane seat they arrived in.