Do You Need A License To Go Off Roading?

Off-roading is quickly becoming one of the most popular outdoor activities in the world. Almost every country has a thriving off-roading community, and everyone with an off-road capable vehicle knows that there is no more fun to be had than thrashing around an off-road trail. However, every off-roader must understand the laws associated with the activity for the safety and enjoyment of everyone involved.

You do not need a license to go off-roading on private property. Off-roading on government land or driving on public roads requires a license or a permit. Off-roading anywhere without permission is illegal. Only off-road on property where it is permitted or with permission from the landowner.

Person driving off road with mountains in the background

The legalities of off-roading can be challenging to understand, but there are a few key rules to understand to ensure that you are off-roading within the confines of the law. This practice will ensure that your trip is not cut short by local authorities and that everyone involved is kept safe. Let’s answer some of the more common law-related off-roading questions.

Is Off-Roading Illegal?

Off-roading is tremendous fun, and if it is done right, it is one of the safest outdoor activities as well. There are many places to experience off-roading and several designated off-roading locations, but understanding the legalities of off-roading is vital for everyone involved in the activity.

Off-roading is not inherently illegal. There are situations where it can be illegal or can become illegal, but most off-roading is perfectly legal. However, the fact that it can be illegal means that everyone who goes off-roading must understand how to remain on the right side of the law.

Off-roading is legal so long as it is conducted with permission or on designated off-roading trails. This means that it is illegal to go off-roading no private property without permission and on government or state-owned land without a permit or without conforming to what the local authorities allow.

Going off-roading on private land with permission is the safest way to go off-roading. With the landowner’s permission, anything goes. You can drive anywhere and experience any part of the property that you can reach.

However, if you find yourself simply driving off the road into the wilderness, you may very well be trespassing on land where off-roading is not permitted.

For this reason, it is crucial to find out the local laws, restrictions, and regulations regarding off-roading in your area. Some government parks and areas of land allow off-roading in designated areas, but most state parks strictly prohibit the activity for the sake of conservation.

However, most off-roading trails are privately owned and specially designed and designated for off-roading. The best way to go off-roading legally is to find some designated off-road trails in your area and stick to them without deviation.

Can You Go Off-Roading Anywhere?

The fact that off-road vehicles are designed to conquer the earth and everything that the landscape has to offer sometimes makes drivers feel like they can drive off-road wherever they may like to. This, however, is not the case.

You cannot go off-roading anywhere. It is illegal in many places to simply drive off the road onto the dirt and see how far you can go. There are some locations where this is allowed, but most regions have designated off-roading areas that are designed for this activity, minimize negative environmental impact and avoid private property.

Simply driving off the road into the unknown may result in trespassing or even entering restricted land. This is highly illegal and may cause some real problems.

It is always best to find out where it is legal to go off-roading in your area and to not deviate from those paths and trails.

If you do find an area of land that is ideal for odd-roading, but you are unsure about whether or not you, or anyone else, is permitted to drive there, search for a landowner or caretaker and obtain permission before tackling the terrain.

This will prevent any legal issues, and most landowners have no objection to off-roading, so this is a way to experience areas that you may otherwise have never seen before.

Can Kids Drive Cars Off-Road?

Everyone knows that operating a vehicle requires a valid driver’s license. However, off-roading takes place away from public roads and is a family activity, which leads many to wonder if kids can drive a vehicle off-road without a license?

Kids can drive a vehicle off-road so long as they drive on private property only, with permission from the landowner. A license is only required to drive on public roads and government-owned land.

If you are on a trail within the bounds of private property, and the property owner gives permission, your capable kid can drive the vehicle off-road. Be sure to be safe and teach the kids the ins and outs, and never let them do it alone, but overall, this practice is perfectly legal.

Do You Need A License For A Dirt Bike In NZ?

One of the best places in the world for off-roading, particularly with dirt bikes, is in New Zealand. This island nation is home to amazing best off-roading locations, and many people are drawn here for the incredible experiences offered by the beautiful landscape.

It is not required by the New Zealand government or authorities to have a valid license to purchase or operate a dirt bike off-road. A license is required for riding the bike on public roads, and other safety requirements must be met in this instance as well.

However, if the bike is not used on the road but rather on off-road trails on private property, no license is required at all. This makes off-roading very accessible in New Zealand, which is why the off-roading community thrives in this nation.


At the end of it all, one question remains: do you need a license to go off-roading? The answer is no, as long as you do not drive on public roads or government-owned land, it is legal to go off-roading without a license.

Stick to private property and designated off-roading areas, and off-roading is perfectly legal. Always be sure to understand your local laws and restriction regarding this activity, and you will never find yourself on the illegal side of off-roading laws.

James with daughter on the trails

About James...

Hi, I’m James. If I’m not working on this site, you can often find me outdoors roaming the trails. I’m an avid hiker, mountain biker, and overlander. I’m excited to share my passion for the outdoors with you.