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Road user charges: Light vehicles (Factsheet 38)

Published: 05 2013

The information in this factsheet applies to all vehicles of 3.5 tonnes or less powered by fuel not taxed at source.

Road user charges: light vehicles

The information in this factsheet applies to all vehicles of 3.5 tonnes or less powered by fuel not taxed at source.

For information about other vehicle types and road user charges, refer to the Road user charges booklet.

What are road user charges?

All users of New Zealand’s roads contribute towards their upkeep. Most road users pay levies in the price of their fuel. Others, such as users of diesel-powered vehicles, pay through road user charges (RUC).

All the revenue collected from road user charges goes into the National Land Transport Fund.

Road user charges are administered by the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) and enforced by the New Zealand Police.

Who must pay road user charges?

The law says that persons operating vehicles powered by a fuel that isn’t taxed at source (eg diesel), regardless of the weight of the vehicle, must pay road user charges. The exception to this is vehicles powered solely by electricity. Vehicles with a manufacturer’s gross laden weight of more than 3.5 tonnes (3500kg) also incur road user charges.

How do I pay for a RUC licence?

To pay the charges, the person registered in respect of the vehicle or the applicant purchases a road user charges licence (RUC licence), based on the vehicle type and RUC weight.

Where should I display my licence?

Your RUC licence details must be displayed at all times on the inside of the passenger’s side of the front windscreen. The face of the licence, which shows the registration plate number, must be visible from outside the vehicle.

What type of RUC licence do I need?

Distance licence

If you own a diesel car, ute or van, you need a distance licence. A distance licence is purchased in 1000km units (or multiples of 1000). Your vehicle must be continuously licensed. This means that you must buy a new licence before you’ve driven all the distance covered by the previous licence.

Is there a transaction fee?

There is also a transaction fee when you buy each licence, regardless of the distance you purchase. The fee is based on how you pay.

  • Online at $4.80 per licence
  • Counter sale through a RUC agent: $7.80 per licence
  • Phone or fax: $5.90 per licence
  • RUC card at BP shops and truckstops: $6.20 per licence
  • Direct connects (for fleet vehicles only):
    $2.10 per licence

(All road user charges include GST.)

You can minimise the transaction fees if you buy licences that cover larger distances.

When do I get my tax invoice?

Tax invoices are generally printed at the point of sale. However, for some transactions you will not receive an automatic tax invoice (eg online or direct debit transactions, off-road travel, miscellaneous refunds and card management fees). Invoices for these transactions are mailed to your postal address within seven days of the transaction taking place.

When can I get a refund?

Refunds of road user charges may be paid in certain circumstances – for example:

  • when a vehicle is destroyed, exported, permanently taken off the road and its registration is cancelled
  • when the licence details are incorrect
  • if the vehicle will be used wholly or partly for off-road travel
  • if you have an unused distance licence.

Refunds will not normally be paid on a RUC licence with a purchase date more than two years old.

Note: The transaction fee paid at the time the RUC licence was purchased is non-refundable.

Send a letter and the original RUC label to RUC Refunds, PO Box 1947, Palmerston North 4440.

You can also use the RUC OR form (Off-road refunds), which is available from the NZTA or from NZTA agents. Claims should be submitted when each RUC licence expires.

What do I look out for if I'm buying a vehicle?

If you're buying a used vehicle that is subject to RUC, make sure it is displaying a current RUC licence.

If you buy a vehicle that doesn’t have a current RUC licence, you will be liable for any outstanding charges. The NZTA does not involve itself in negotiations concerning reimbursement between the previous and new owner.

If you’re considering buying a vehicle that needs a RUC licence, call our contact centre on 0800 655 644 to find out whether the RUC licence is current.

Note that the sale of a vehicle on an 'as is, where is' basis doesn't absolve the seller from liability for providing a current RUC licence.

If a vehicle is being reregistered, any outstanding RUC will be payable at the time of reregistration.

What actions incur penalties?

Actions vehicle owners or operators may be fined for include:

  • operating a vehicle on the road without a current RUC licence
  • tampering with or having an incorrect distance recorder
  • displaying a RUC licence with incorrect details
  • selling a vehicle without a current RUC licence.

Where can I get a RUC licence?

You can purchase RUC licences at

Licences can also be purchased from selected branches of the following NZTA agents:

They are also available from some independent agents that display the NZTA logo. To find your local RUC agent, check the phone book or call the RUC contact centre on 0800 655 644.

Table of road user charges

Road User charges – rate per unit light vehicle – effective 1 August 2012
Distance Licences – rates are in 1000 kilometre (621 mile) units
RUC vehicle type number Description Weight bands RUC rate ($ per 1000km GST inclusive)
1 Powered vehicles with 2 axles (except type 2 vehicles) Not more than 3.5 tonnes $53
More than 3.5 tonnes and not more than 6 tonnes $60
More than 6 tonnes and not more than 9 tonnes $119
Any RUC weight of more than 6 tonnes $255
2 Powered vehicles with 1 single-tyred spaced axled and 1 twin-tyred spaced axle Not more than 6 tonnes $57
More than 6 tonnes and not more than 9 tonnes $87
More than 9 tonnes and not more than 12 tonnes $123
Any RUC weight more than 12 tonnes $262

For more detailed information about vehicle types please refer to the pages 19–29 of the Road user charges booklet.

Where can I find out more?

Call our contact centre on 0800 655 644.

About factsheets

The information in this factsheet is a general guide only. It is not the source of the law.