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Road user charges: Light vehicles (Factsheet 38)

Published: 11 2014

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 vehicles with a manufacturer’s gross laden weight (GLW) of 3.5 tonnes or less, powered by a fuel not taxed at source.

If your vehicle weighs more than 3.5 tonnes, or you want more detailed information regarding road user charges, refer to the Road user charges handbook. You can view this at

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 and enforced by the New Zealand Police.

Who must pay road user charges?

Anyone operating a vehicle 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.

Note: Vehicles with a GLW of more than 3.5 tonnes, regardless of fuel type, must also pay road user charges. See the Road user charges handbook for more information.

What do I need to do?

If this applies to you, then you need to purchase a RUC 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.

Where can I get a RUC licence?

You can purchase RUC licences at

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

  • Automobile Association (AA)
  • BP Truckstops, some BP service stations and some BP fuel cardholders through the Palmerston North Office: 0800 00 28 28. (These agents require an approval process.)
  • Post Shops
  • Vehicle Inspection New Zealand
  • Vehicle Testing New Zealand

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

Is there a transaction fee?

There is 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
  • RUC card at truckstops: $6.20 per licence
  • Direct connects (for fleet vehicles only): $2.10 per licence

(The figures above 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.

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.

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.

The transaction fee paid at the time the RUC licence was purchased will not be refunded.

If you have been using your vehicle off-road, complete a Road user charges application for refund for off-road travel form (RUCOR) which is available at or from agents. Otherwise send a letter to RUC Assessments, NZ Transport Agency, Private Bag 11777, Palmerston North 4440 explaining why you want a refund.

Claims should be submitted when each RUC licence expires.

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

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 Transport Agency does not involve itself in negotiations concerning reimbursement between the previous and newly registered persons.

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.

What if my light diesel vehicle is used exclusively or almost exclusively off-road?

If your light diesel vehicle (3500kg or less) is used exclusively or almost exclusively off-road, you may be eligible for an exemption from paying RUC. For more detailed information go to

Table of road user charges

Road User charges – rate per unit light vehicle – effective 1 July 2014
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 $58
2 Powered vehicles with 1 single-tyred spaced axled and 1 twin-tyred spaced axle Not more than 6 tonnes $62

For more detailed information about vehicle types please refer to the pages 30-40 of the Road user charges booklet.

Where can I find out more?

  • Call our contact centre: 0800 655 644.
  • Visit our website:
  • Email us:
  • Write to us: NZ Transport Agency, Private Bag 11777, Palmerston North 4442.

About factsheets

The information in this factsheet is a general guide only. It is not the source of the law and should not be used in place of authoritative legal documents. Some factsheets are updated frequently and print versions can quickly become out of date. If the currency of the information you are reading is important, check the factsheet index on our website ( or call us on 0800 655 644.