Driver licence endorsements & classes 

Do I need a special licence to drive a vehicle which isn't a car?

It’s quite likely you will, though it will depend on the type of vehicle you want to drive.
For example: 

  • if you will only be driving cars, you will need a class 1 driving licence - and this class of driving licence will also allow you to drive a campervan with a GLW of 6000kg or less (or a GLW of 6000kg or less and an on-road weight not exceeding 4500kg if you have a restricted licence), a moped and an all-terrain vehicle.
    GLW means Gross Laden Weight - this is the total weight of the vehicle including fuel, the driver and the contents of the vehicle.
  • if you will be driving a heavy vehicle (eg truck, tractor) you will need class 2, 3, 4 or 5 licence. Also, you must have a full class one licence before you can apply for a heavy vehicle licence class. Information about obtaining a heavy vehicle licence is on the NZ Transport Agency website.
  • If you will be riding a motorcycle you will need a class 6 licence - and this licence will also allow you to ride a moped or all-terrain vehicle.

This is because different skills are needed to drive the different types of vehicles. 

If you’re not sure of the weight class of the vehicle you will drive, detailed information on driver licence classes is available on the NZTA website. You can also find more information about heavy vehicle driver licences, or a list of providers of courses that will give you the skills to get a higher class of licence. 

For some types of vehicles you will probably also need one or more endorsements on your licence. Read on for more information about this.    

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Do I need a special licence to drive professionally?

Your driver licence will generally need the appropriate endorsement if you want to drive professionally.

If you will be driving a bus, truck or other heavy vehicle you will also need the appropriate licence class.

For example, you must get special driver licence endorsements if you’re going to be carrying paying passengers or dangerous goods, or instructing other people how to drive.

There are specific rules for each endorsement, and for most endorsements you will need to complete an approved course. You will normally be required to hold the appropriate endorsement and class to drive a specific sort of vehicle professionally as well as any other licences or certificates that are necessary.

For more general information on endorsements, you can see the NZTA fact sheet on classes and endorsements. You can also find out what you need to do to renew your endorsements.

If you need help with this, or have any questions, you can call the New Zealand Transport Agency on 0800 822 422. Your local CAB may also be able to help you with information on driver licence classes and endorsements.  

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What are my licencing requirements if I want to earn money from driving people in my car?

To drive passengers commercially you need to obtain a P endorsement.

Before you can apply for a P endorsement, you need to have had a current New Zealand full class one licence for at least two years, as well as a current licence for the vehicle class you will be using in the passenger service (e.g. bus).

When you apply for a P endorsement you will need to include some proof of identity (e.g. passport) and a medical certificate. (If you are not a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident, you will also need a work visa that allows you to do this kind of work in New Zealand.) 

When your application is received, NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) will arrange for a ‘fit and proper person check’ which checks what, if any, previous traffic and criminal convictions you have had. 

You can choose whether you want the P endorsement to last for one year or five years, after which you must get the endorsement renewed.

More information about applying for a P endorsement is on the NZTA website.

You also need to operate under a small passenger service licence holder.

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What is a "Fit and Proper person" check?

This is a check into your background to see if there is any reason why you would not be suited for the type of driving you want to do. The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) does a Police vetting check to find out whether any of the following apply to you: 

  • transport related offences, especially any that are related to safety;
  • any history of behaviour problems;
  • past complaints about a transport service you may have operated;
  • history of persistent failure to pay fines for driving related offences; or
  • criminal convictions.

If you are applying for an I endorsement to teach any class of heavy vehicle or motorcycle, you will also have to provide evidence of your driving experience when you apply for an I endorsement.

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I’m applying for a P endorsement on my driver licence – will I have to include convictions that are covered by the Clean Slate scheme?

If you are eligible for your convictions to be concealed under the Clean Slate scheme, then in effect you have no criminal record.

There are some jobs where you will have to provide your full record in your application, even if the Clean Slate scheme applies to you – however these do not include the job of transporting passengers. If you want to check whether you have a clean slate, request a copy of your criminal record from the Ministry of Justice.

You will also need to either hold a current Small Passenger Service licence yourself, or be driving for someone who does.

Your car will need to meet certain requirements if you’ll be using it to transport passengers commercially, including regular Certificate of Fitness inspections.

More about the requirements for operating or driving a commercial passenger service is on the NZ Transport Agency website.

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I want to be a driving instructor. What endorsements might I need?

You’ll need an I endorsement for each class of driver licence you want to teach.

If you haven’t passed the relevant practical full licence test in the last five years, you must take the test again before you can get the I endorsement to teach that licence class.

You will also need to complete an approved instructors’ course. You can find one at your nearest NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) agent, call the licensing department of the NZTA on 0800 822 422, or find one online.

Every applicant for an ‘I’ endorsement must pass a ‘fit and proper person’ check. More information about applying for an I endorsement (including fees) is available on the NZTA factsheet, I endorsements: how to become a driving instructor.

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I want to be a tow truck driver. What endorsement do I need?

The V endorsement allows you to tow and move vehicles commercially. To get the V endorsement, you will need: 

  • a current New Zealand Class 1 licence and have held it for at least 2 years; 
  • a current licence for the class of vehicle you will drive;
  • to pass an approved vehicle recovery course; 
  • to undergo a “fit and proper person” check.

You may also need to provide a medical certificate.

If you will be the operator of the towing service you’ll also need the appropriate Transport Service licence.

More information about running a vehicle recovery business is on the NZ Transport Agency website.    

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I want to be able to drive a forklift for my work. What do I have to do?

If you’re going to be operating a forklift at work, you will need a class 1 or class 2 driving licence, with an F Endorsement.

The F endorsement entitles you to drive a forklift subject to your licence class: 

  • Full class one in combination with an F endorsement entitles you to drive forklifts with a gross laden weight of up to 18,000 kg. 
  • Class two with an F endorsement entitles you to drive forklifts with a weight over 18,000 kg.

To get the F endorsement, you need to hold a current New Zealand driver licence for at least a full class one and pass an approved course. More information about applying for an F endorsement (including fees) is available on the NZ Transport Agency website.