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Renting a vehicle

Updated: 3 May 2012

If you're planning to rent (hire) a vehicle in New Zealand, there are some important things you need to know.

Businesses that hire vehicles must be licensed by us and are required to comply with a number of rules and regulations. Here we provide an overview of what you should expect from the hire company, your and the company's responsibilities, and how to make a complaint.

On this page

Your driver licence

You (and anyone else planning to drive the hire vehicle) must have a current and valid driver licence for the type of vehicle you're hiring. Find out more about which driver licence you need.

The vehicle's condition

The vehicle you hire must be in a safe and roadworthy condition when you pick it up. If you have any concerns about this, discuss it with the rental company before you accept the vehicle.

If you have any concerns about the vehicle's safety or roadworthiness during the hire term, contact the rental company straightaway (most rental companies give their contact phone numbers at the time of vehicle pick-up).

The rental company's obligations

Rental companies must meet a number of legal requirements that protect them, their customers and other road users.

For example, rental companies are required to:

  • keep a register of their vehicles and the people who hire them
  • sign written agreements with all vehicle hirers
  • explain the hire agreement if you ask them to
  • offer you insurance for your vehicle. You can choose your own insurance company, as long as it offers comparable insurance.

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Your obligations to the rental company

As a vehicle hirer, you must not:

  • use the hired vehicle to carry fare-paying passengers unless you tell the rental company beforehand
  • sublet or hire the vehicle to somebody else
  • allow anyone else to drive the vehicle unless they have a current and valid driver licence for the type of vehicle and are listed as authorised drivers in the contract
  • carry more passengers or goods than the vehicle is approved to carry, a breach of contract that could void insurance. Check the limits with the rental company.
Certificate of loading

Certificate of loading

The rental company will give you a copy of your rental agreement, which you must keep in the vehicle throughout the hire term. If an enforcement officer asks to see it, you must show it to them straightaway.

Driving the vehicle

You must comply with New Zealand's traffic rules and local bylaws whenever you drive a rental vehicle. Find out more about driving in New Zealand.

Identifying and preventing driver fatigue

Fatigue can affect anyone and is believed to be a contributing factor in at least 12 percent of motor vehicle crashes.

When you're fatigued, your judgement and decision making become badly affected and you react more slowly than you would normally. You're also less able to judge how tired you are, which means you're even more at risk of falling asleep at the wheel. This can have fatal consequences.

Find out more about identifying and preventing driver fatigue.

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Paying fines

If the driver of a hire vehicle incurs an infringement fee (instant fine) for a traffic offence that is not issued personally to the driver at the road side by an enforcement officer (eg parking and speed camera infringements), the rental company can charge the cost of this, plus an administration fee, to the hirer’s credit card.

However, they can only do this if they tell you this could happen when you pick up the vehicle, and you accept this. (Normally this is covered in the hire agreement that you sign when you collect the vehicle.)

Making a complaint

If you have any complaints about the vehicle you hire or the rental company, it's a good idea to discuss the matter first with the company concerned. Alternatively you can talk to our contact centre.

Visitors to New Zealand

A visitor to New Zealand can hire a vehicle as long as they have a current and valid driver licence. Learn about the other requirements you have to meet to drive in New Zealand.

We recommend that, before you agree to hire a vehicle, you confirm with the rental company that your overseas licence is all right to use for the type of vehicle you plan to hire. Alternatively you can talk to our contact centre.

How we can help

Call our motor vehicle licensing and registrations contact centre for advice on and help with complying with all transport-related rules, regulations, and vehicle standards and requirements.

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