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Forklifts, bulldozers, trams & other special vehicles

Vehicles such as forklifts, trams and traction engines have features that may affect the standard driver licence requirements. There are also additional requirements for driving with loads that are above the legal maximums. To drive these vehicles or in these situations you may need a licence endorsement or additional qualifications to verify you have the skills to operate your vehicle safely.

Special-type vehicle endorsement

If you drive a special-type vehicle on the road, you must have an F, R, T or W endorsement on your driver licence.

  • The F endorsement is for vehicles that are forklifts.
  • The R endorsement is for vehicles that run on rollers.
  • The T endorsement is for vehicles that run on self-laying tracks.
  • The W endorsement is for vehicles that run on wheels that aren't forklifts, passenger vehicles, tractors, fire engines, trade vehicles or vehicle recovery service vehicles.

What you can drive

This table tells you what vehicles you can drive depending on which licence class and which endorsement you have.

If you have a... and a... you can drive special-type vehicles with a GLW... at a speed...
F, R or T endorsement Class 1 18,000kg or less any speed
Class 2 over 18,000kg any speed
W endorsement Class 1 6000kg or less any speed
    6001kg to 18,000kg 30km/h or less (or up to 40km/h if it is an agricultural motor vehicle)
  Class 2 18,000kg or less any speed
    over 18,000kg 30km/h or less
  Class 4 over 18,000kg any speed

Note: You do not need a W endorsement to drive a special-type vehicle that is an agricultural motor vehicle that runs on wheels with a GLW of more than 6000kg but not more than 18,000kg, at a speed not exceeding 40km/h.

Download Factsheet 11: Driver licence classes [PDF, 94 KB]

Overseas experience may be recognised

Contact us if you'd like recognition of your overseas experience as a special-type (F, R, T or W) vehicle operator.

Load pilots and overdimension permits

The standard dimensions of vehicles, loads and how much loads can overhang are set by law. However, the law also provides for occasions when loads and vehicles exceed the standard limits.

There are four categories of overdimension vehicles and loads.

In each case you must apply to us for an overdimension permit which sets a number of requirements, including:

  • pre-travel route checks
  • required permissions, eg from railway operators
  • vehicle lighting
  • emergency service notifications.

You may also have to engage one or more suitably qualified load pilots to supervise the journey. There are two classes of load pilots each requiring different levels of training.

Detailed requirements for pilots and for overweight and oversize vehicles

Traction engines

To steer or direct a traction engine you must hold a valid driver licence and one of the following:

  • A unit standard relating to steam driven vehicles (11157 or other equivalent unit standard).
  • An appropriate qualification or certificate of competency under the Boilers, Lifts and Cranes Act 1950 that was current immediately before 16 January 2006 and allowed you to steer a traction engine.

To drive, fire or operate a traction engine's pressure equipment and manage the engine's steam pressure levels you must hold a valid driver licence and one of the following:

  • A unit standard relating to steam driven vehicles (21754, 21755, or other equivalent unit standard).
  • An appropriate qualification or certificate of competency granted under the Boilers, Lifts and Cranes Act 1950 that was current immediately before 16 January 2006 and allowed you to operate traction engine pressure equipment.

Trams

A tram is a passenger vehicle that travels on rails, primarily on streets. Trams are not motor vehicles, but rather rail vehicles. The driver requirements for trams are based on an approved safety case developed and maintained by the tram operator. This safety case determines:

  • whether the tram driver requires a driver licence
  • whether the tram driver requires a passenger endorsement.

As a result the driver requirements can differ depending on the operation. Contact the particular service operator to see what requirements apply.

Imitation trams

An imitation tram is a bus that looks like a tram, running on tyres rather than rails. These vehicles fall into the same category as trolley buses.

Trolley bus

A trolley bus is a cross between a conventional bus and a tram. They look like a bus. But like trams, these buses operate on electricity through connection to overhead wires via trolley poles. Unlike trams, trolley buses are free to move, from lane to lane and in traffic and to the kerbside to pick up passengers.

To drive a trolley bus you need:

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