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Trucks and other heavy vehicle licences

Updated: 13 January 2011

Heavy vehicle driver licences are needed to drive trucks and trailers, buses, large mobile homes, mobile cranes, fire engines, heavy forklifts, heavy tractors, self-powered agricultural and construction machines and vehicles with pivot steering.

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What you can drive on each licence class

There are four different heavy vehicle driver licences (classes 2-5), with two stages to each class: learner licence and full licence. Each class covers a specific type and weight:

  • Class 2 and 2L - Medium rigid vehicles
  • Class 3 and 3L - Medium combination vehicles
  • Class 4 and 4L - Heavy rigid vehicles
  • Class 5 and 5L - Heavy combination vehicles.

Check which licence is right for your vehicle.

How you get a heavy vehicle licence

There are two stages to getting your licence:

Stage one: learner licence
Stage two: full licence.

Before you get behind the wheel...

You must have experience of driving 'lighter' vehicles before you can apply for a particular heavy vehicle class. This means you need to hold:

  • a full car (class 1) driver licence for at least six months before applying for a class 2 learner licence.
  • a full class 2 licence for at least six months (three months, if you're 25 years or older) before applying for a class 3 or 4 learner licence.
  • a full class 4 licence for six months (three months, if you're 25 years or older) before applying for a class 5 learner licence.

Getting a learner licence

You must pass a theory test and present a medical certificate to get your learner licence.

While on a learner licence you can only drive under the supervision of a licensed driver (who's held a full New Zealand licence for the same class you're driving for at least two years).

Learn more details about the process for getting your learner licence.

Getting a full licence

To apply for a full licence you must either:

  • hold a learner licence for your vehicle class for at least six months and then pass a practical test, or
  • hold a learner licence for your vehicle class and complete an approved course for that class.Once you've completed the course you simply present your course certificate with your licence application. You don't have to sit a practical test.

Learn more details about the process for getting your full licence.

Accelerating progress through the different classes

If you're aged 25 years or older, you can accelerate your progress through the heavy vehicle licence classes by successfully completing an approved course that assesses your skills.

Learn more about accelerated learner licence courses and where you can find them.

Licence endorsements

Some activities involving the use of heavy vehicles carry additional licensing requirements. You're required to hold a licence endorsement if you:

To gain an endorsement you'll need to pass an approved course and present the course certificate when you apply for your endorsement.

Other requirements for operating trucks

Anyone operating a goods transport service must hold a current transport service licence. Find out more.

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