Do I need a special licence to drive a vehicle which isn't a car?
If you want to drive a truck you’ll need a special “class” of licence. This is because different skills are needed to drive large vehicles and vehicles with trailers. If you want to drive a truck, you will have to know the weight of the vehicle to know what class of licence you need. (If the vehicle weighs more than 3500 kg, its Gross Vehicle Mass or Gross Combined Mass will be on the certificate of loading, which is normally displayed on the front windscreen.)
A Class 1 licence is the standard driver licence which allows you to drive standard cars that have either a ‘rigid’ wheel base, or a ‘combination’ wheel base (i.e. a car and trailer) up to a set laden weight limit, including mopeds, all-terrain vehicles and campervans.
Classes 2-5 allow you to drive various weights of vehicle e.g. trucks, buses. (You need to hold a Class 1 licence before you can apply for one of these, so holders of Class 2-5 licences are also licenced to drive a standard car, moped or all-terrain vehicle.)
Class 6- allows you to drive a motorcycle, moped or all-terrain vehicle.
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.
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Do I need a special licence to driver professionally?
Endorsements are generally required for people who drive as part of their job, e.g. tow truck drivers, taxi drivers and instructors. You must get special driver licence endorsements if, for example, 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 example, a tow truck driver must hold the right class of licence for their vehicle, a transport service licence, and a V endorsement to move vehicles commercially.
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 endorsements do I need to drive passengers commercially?
To drive passengers commercially you need to obtain a P endorsement. The P endorsement allows you to carry passengers commercially or drive customer vehicles e.g. taxis or tour buses.
In order to get a P endorsement you'll need to provide a certificate showing that you've successfully completed a ‘P’ endorsement course. You can find course providers in the Yellow Pages of your phone book, find a course providers online, or visit your nearest NZTA driver licensing agent.
Taxi drivers may also need to get area knowledge certificates.
To get a P endorsement, you need to have a current full Class 1 licence for at least two years, as well as a current licence for the class of New Zealand driver licence you will be using in the passenger service (e.g. bus). If you hold an overseas licence, you will need to apply for a New Zealand licence. You must also hold a Transport Service Licence.
As well as this, you must undergo an investigation into your personal history – what’s referred to as a ‘fit and proper person check’ which takes into consideration any previous traffic and criminal convictions. A medical certificate is required too.
More information about applying for a P endorsement is on the NZTA factsheet, P endorsements for carrying passengers.
Some passenger services do not require a P endorsement, for example, if you are a volunteer who provides passenger transport service for a charitable organisation and the vehicle holds no more than 12 passengers. The Operator Licensing Rule specifies the passenger services for which you don’t need to hold a passenger service licence. More information about exempt passenger services is on the NZTA factsheet, Volunteer drivers and exempt passenger services.
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What is a "Fit and Proper person" check?
A fit and proper person check will take your background into consideration to see if there is any reason why you would not be suited for the type of driving you want to do. The NZ Transport Agency will be interested to know any of the following
- transport related offences
- mental health history
- past complaints about a transport service you may have operated
- history of persistent failure to pay fines
- criminal convictions
If you don’t get clearance as a ‘fit and proper person’, you’ll receive a letter explaining why. If you’re not satisfied with the decision, you can appeal to a district court under the Land Transport Act.
If you meet the 'fit and proper person' requirements and have completed the 'fit and proper person check' before the other tests are done, you'll be sent a Notice of determination that is valid for 90 days. Show the notice to the driver licensing agent when you go to complete your application. (If the notice expires before you finish the relevant courses or tests, you should contact your nearest NZTA office).
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What is a Transport Service Licence?
A Transport Service Licence is needed for anyone who will be transporting passengers, goods, or vehicles. Examples of people who need a Transport Services Licence are tow truck drivers, shuttle bus drivers, and logging truck drivers.
To apply for a Transport Service Licence you’ll need to complete the appropriate application forms and obtain a Certificate of knowledge of law and practice.
You can find the application forms for a Transport Services Licence, instructions on how to complete them, and more information at the NZTA 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 NZTA agent, call the licensing department of the NZTA on 0800 822 422, or find one online.
Every applicant for an ‘I’ endorsement is subject to 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 to have a current New Zealand Class 1 licence and have held it for at least 2 years. You'll also need a current licence for the class of vehicle you will drive, pass an approved vehicle recovery course, and obtain a Transport Service licence.
More information (including fees) is available on the NZTA factsheet, V endorsements for vehicle recovery services.
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Do I need an endorsement for dangerous cargo such as explosives?
If you are going to be carrying goods classified as dangerous by the NZTA, in large quantities or for other than your own or household use, you probably need to obtain a D endorsement. Whether you require one or not depends on the circumstances.
For example you will need a D endorsement if :
- you will be transporting dangerous goods for hire or reward (e.g. as a petrol tanker driver or courier)
- you will be transporting dangerous goods as tools-of-trade (i.e. for agricultural use or a commercial purpose, but not for hire or direct reward) and in quantities exceeding set limits.
You won’t need one to transport dangerous goods for domestic or recreational use.
You will need to have completed the appropriate courses before you can get a dangerous goods licence, and you will need a Transport Service licence before you can drive dangerous goods commercially. The NZTA will be able to inform you of course providers in your area.
To find out exactly what you need to do to get a D endorsement, you should read the NZTA factsheet, D endorsements for carrying dangerous goods.
The D endorsement lets you transport dangerous goods commercially and/or in large quantities. Information on quantities allowed and what is considered dangerous for recreational or domestic use is on the NZTA webpage, Transporting dangerous or hazardous goods.
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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 to obtain an F Endorsement.
The F endorsement entitles you to drive a forklift subject to your licence class. Class 1 in combination with an F endorsement entitles you to drive forklifts with a gross laden weight of up to 18,000 kg. Class 2 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 driver licence (of Class 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5) and pass an approved course. More information about applying for an F endorsement (including fees) is available on the NZTA factsheet, F endorsements for driving forklifts.
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What are ‘R/T/W’- Rollers, Tracks, or special Wheels endorsements for?
These endorsements, allow you to drive a special-type vehicle which isn’t a forklift on the road e.g. a steamroller or digger, though you must also have the licence class for the weight of vehicle you will be driving.
To get any of these licences, you must complete an approved course at your local NZTA agent.
- The R endorsement allows you to drive vehicles that run on rollers, such as a steamroller.
- The T endorsement allows you to drive vehicles that run on self-laying tracks, such as diggers.
- The W endorsement allows you to drive vehicles that run on wheels that are not forklifts, passenger vehicles, tractors, fire engines, trade vehicles or vehicle recovery service vehicles. The W endorsement is used for vehicles with controls that are substantially different from a normal vehicle, i.e. with steering done by pedals and levers or a joystick.
More information about these endorsements is on the NZTA factsheet, RTW endorsements for special-type vehicles.
If you are still unsure whether you need an endorsement or what type, you can contact the NZTA:
NZ Transport Agency
Palmerston North Office
Private Bag 11777
Palmerston North 44422
freephone: 0800 822 422