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If you drive a taxi, shuttle, private hire vehicle, vehicle associated with app-based bookings, or work for a dial-a-driver service, you have new responsibilities – effective from 1 October 2017. These services are known collectively as ‘small passenger services’ (SPS). 

You have revised responsibilities because of changes to legislation (external link) and changes in three related rules.

Driving a passenger service vehicle with 12 seats or less (including the driver)

If you are driving for one of the services above, please familiarise yourself with the key information in the table below. If you drive for a facilitated cost-sharing service or a dial-a-driver service you have fewer requirements - check the information following the table.

Please note: if you drive for a small passenger service previously operating a service model without a PSL, you have a transition period of 28 days from 1 October to:

  • have a small passenger service licence; or
  • drive on behalf of the holder of a small passenger service licence; or
  • have been facilitated to connect with passengers by a facilitator who holds a small passenger service licence.

In addition, here are some safety suggestions:

  • Before you drive, check you know where your passengers’ destination is.
  • Drive fresh. Ensure you get good quality sleep before you begin driving to help prevent fatigue.
  • Minimise the risk of fatigue by stretching your legs and having refreshments during any downtime. Find out more about fatigue.

What you need to know as a driver

A new class of licence - a Small Passenger Service Licence - is required for passenger services using vehicles of 12 seats or less, including the driver. As a driver, you must hold or drive for a person who holds a Small Passenger Service Licence. The licence holder is required to ensure any vehicle operated under that licence displays the relevant transport licence card card (commonly referred to as a label), such as a Small Passenger Service Licence card/label. There are no regulatory distinctions between service categories, meaning taxi, shuttles, private hire and app-based services will all work to similar rules.

You must be, and continue to be, deemed a ‘fit and proper person’ to hold a passenger endorsement. You can only drive a small passenger service vehicle if you hold a passenger endorsement. If your endorsement application is approved, you’ll receive an ID card issued by the Transport Agency for display to your passengers (either facing the passenger at the front of the car or, for dial-a-driver services, around your neck).

Note: you are no longer required to pass an endorsement course as part of obtaining your small passenger endorsement.
You must be medically fit to drive and must submit a medical when you first apply for a passenger endorsement. When renewing your endorsement, a further medical certificate will be required if it is a special licence condition, or a new relevant medical condition is disclosed on the application, or if it is five years since a previous medical certificate had been presented. Even if a medical certificate is not required on renewal of the endorsement, a medical declaration is required for each renewal application.
You and your passengers cannot smoke in any vehicle used in a SPS (under the Smoke-free Environments Act 1990).
You do not have to provide child restraints used in a SPS vehicle. However, you may choose to provide them as a safety benefit for customers.
The vehicle you drive must have a current Certificate of Fitness, meaning it is legal for commercial use.
You must drive for or be a SPS licence holder. The Transport Service Licence (SPS licence) card (commonly referred to as a label) relating to that licence must be displayed facing outwards on the bottom right-hand edge (passenger side) of the vehicle’s windscreen, above the rego label.
You must have held a full New Zealand driver licence for two years before you can be granted a passenger endorsement. A driver will no longer be required to re-sit a full licence test if five years has passed since the test was taken.
Signage on SPS vehicles, including company name, brand or braille, is allowed.
You must keep your logbook up to date and comply with work times.
You can work without a break for up to 7 hours if you undertake short fares in a town or city (ie fares up to 100 km). This recognises that as a SPS driver, you naturally have periods of downtime while waiting for jobs and passengers.
Fares do not need to be published but you must agree the scale of or basis of the fare with your passenger before you start the trip – for example you can either agree to a total price or use an agreed meter rate (meters are not mandatory, but you can choose to use them).
At the end of a trip, payment demanded must be the amount agreed to or less, including any deductions for pre-payment made by the passenger. You must be able to issue a receipt for the trip, either manual or electronic, or cause a receipt to be issued (including GST if registered).
You can only take up a position at a designated small passenger service vehicle stand if your vehicle is available for hire. These are currently referred to as ‘taxi stands’ and current signage will remain until a road controlling authority (such as a council) changes them to the new wording.
You must accept the first hire unless there is lawful reason to refuse the hire, or the service you work for is one that only provides services to registered passengers and the prospective hirer is not registered with your service. You must take the route that best suits the customer unless your vehicle is specifically designated to take multiple passengers and have several destinations (eg shuttle van), or the passenger agrees to another route.
You are no longer required to have an area knowledge certificate (this was required for taxi drivers only and included English language competency).
You can refuse to accept a hire or refuse to continue the hiring of the vehicle after picking someone up if you believe that your personal safety will be compromised.

If you drive for a facilitated cost-sharing service, the details in the above table are not applicable to you.

  • You must drive for a person who holds a Small Passenger Service Licence (or hold an operator licence yourself) but the licence card (commonly referred to as a label) does not need to be displayed on the vehicle.
  • You need a Warrant of Fitness (WoF) for your vehicle.
  • You are not required to have a passenger (P) endorsement, keep a logbook or comply with work times.

If you drive for a dial-a-driver service, you also have fewer requirements.

  • You must drive for a person who holds a Small Passenger Service Licence (or hold an operator licence yourself) but the licence label does not need to be displayed.
  • The vehicle used to meet the customer requires a WoF, not a CoF.
  • You must have a P endorsement on your driver licence and display a driver identification card in a position clearly visible to a front seat passenger such as on a lanyard worn around your neck or pinned to a jacket. (Note that these requirements only apply to the person who will be driving the customer’s car)

Changes for large passenger services (13 seats or more)

Read more detail about changes for large passenger services.

Helpful information

This printable guide [PDF, 2 MB] pulls together all the relevant information in one place. An overview of the changes is also available in this leaflet [PDF, 1.2 MB].  There is also some more safety reminders for passenger service drivers in this flyer [PDF, 30 KB].

These resources are consistent with the legislation and relevant rules, which you can also refer to:

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