For many years it has been necessary to obtain a Cook Islands’ Driver’s licence to drive a vehicle, although many people seem not to know this.
Until now, you had to take your current licence from your country of residence to the police station, pay a fee (last I heard $20 on Raro and $5 on Aitutaki) and fill out a form (take your own pen).
On Raro your photo is then taken and a local driver’s licence is yours after paying the fee. On Aitutaki, the licence is a sheet of paper, but wherever issued the licence entitles you to drive anywhere in the Cook Islands. The process doesn't take long if there are no queues.
If you are intending to hire a scooter and do not have an overseas licence to drive one, you will be asked for your overseas licence and will then have to pass a short practical test before being issued with the licence.
But we are now informed that the situation has changed. Although you could not have entered Rarotonga on holiday without a valid passport to prove your identity, you now also have to show it at the police station. The fact that you may have a driver’s licence with your photo and date of birth which acts anywhere else as a satisfactory form of ID means nothing in the Cooks.
So now you need to take your overseas driver’s licence, your passport and, of course, a pen. Then the process happens as above. Even if you already hold a Cooks Islands licence and are wanting to renew it you still have to present your passport.
See earlier discussion on this thread.
It is interesting to note that Cook Islanders can drive on their local licence in NZ and elsewhere, but the reverse does not apply.Edited: 28 April 2013, 00:02