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P endorsements for carrying passengers (Factsheet 42)

Published: 11 2013

This factsheet advises when you need to have a passenger endorsement on your driver licence (eg when driving a bus or taxi) and provides information on how to get one.

P endorsements for carrying passengers

People who hold a passenger (P) endorsement usually drive buses, shuttles or taxis, but some other drivers need a P endorsement too.

You need a P endorsement if you drive a small or large passenger service vehicle where passengers are carried for hire or reward.

  • A small passenger service vehicle has a maximum of 12 seats (including the driver).
  • A large passenger service vehicle has more than 12 seats

To drive a small passenger service vehicle you need:

  • a current P endorsement, and
  • a current driver identification card, and
  • a current licence of the appropriate class for the weight/type of the vehicle being used (eg a class 1 licence if driving a car or van)

To drive a large passenger service vehicle you need:

  • a current P endorsement, and
  • a current licence of the appropriate class for the weight of the vehicle being used (ie a class 1 licence if driving a bus with a GLW of no more than 6000kg, class 2 if the GLW is more than 6000kg but not more than 18,000kg or class 4 if the GLW is more than 18,000kg).

This means the holder of a P endorsement and an ID card can also drive large passenger service vehicles - provided they also hold the correct class of licence eg class 2 or 4.

See factsheet 11, Driver licence classes for more detailed information on the correct class of licence required.

You also need a P endorsement if you:

  • drive a motor vehicle that is provided by one of the passengers, and
  • you are paid for driving that vehicle.

An example of this type of situation is a 'dial-a-driver' operation.

You do not need a P endorsement if you drive in an exempt passenger service or are exempt by the Land Transport (Driver Licensing) Rule 1999. See factsheet 18, Volunteer drivers and exempt passenger services. If you are not sure whether you need a P endorsement, call our driver licensing contact centre on 0800 822 422.

How to get a P endorsement

To get a P endorsement, you must hold, and have held for at least two years, a full New Zealand Class 1 driver licence. Holding an equivalent overseas licence will not meet this requirement.

The application form for a P endorsement is DL20. If you're going to be driving a small passenger service vehicle, the form will ask you to provide a unique identifier for your driver ID card. A unique identifier is a name comprising of a combination of letters that will be sufficiently memorable so as to be easily recalled by users of the service to identify the driver. Where the unique identifier chosen is already allocated to another driver, the NZ Transport Agency will assign numbers to the chosen name to avoid duplication. If your identifier can't be easily remembered by your passengers, the Transport Agency willask you to select another one.

Completing a course

You'll need to provide a certificate showing that you've successfully completed an approved P endorsement course. See the options box below.

To find out about courses:

Area knowledge certificates

To drive a taxi, you may also need to hold an area knowledge certificate, depending on where you drive (see factsheet 4, Area knowledge certificates).

Applying for a P endorsement

You can't drive a passenger service vehicle on the road just because you've got the necessary certificates. You must successfully complete the application process, which includes a 'fit and proper person' check, and get the P endorsement on your driver licence.

You can apply for a P endorsement at any Transport Agency driver licensing agent.

You'll need:

  • a completed DL20 application form (available from the agent)
  • evidence of your identity, such as your New Zealand driver licence
  • evidence of your name and current address, such as a bill or account statement (see factsheet 20, Identification for driver licensing for more information).
  • a medical certificate (if applicable)
  • a certificate showing you have successfully completed an approved P endorsement course
  • a Notice of determination (if applicable – you may not need to have the 'fit and proper person' check again if you hold a current V, I or O endorsement – see below for information on the check)
  • a means of paying the fees (cheque, cash or EFTPOS card).

You should allow six to eight weeks for your application to be processed (providing you have supplied all the necessary information and documentation), because of the requirement to carry out a 'fit and proper person' check.

Note: If you're not a New Zealand citizen or don't hold a residence permit, you will need a work permit or some other temporary permit to show that you may work in New Zealand.

Options when you apply

Every applicant for a P endorsement is subject to the ‘fit and proper person’ requirements. You may not want to complete the required course until you've passed the 'fit and proper person' check.

When you put your application in, you can either:

  1. provide a certificate showing you've successfully completed an approved course (and book your practical driving test), or
  2. submit your application without having completed an approved course and either
    • wait for a Notice of determination advising the result of your 'fit and proper' check before doing an approved course (and booking the practical driving test) , or
    • complete an approved course (and book your practical driving test) while you wait for the result of the 'fit and proper person' check.

About medical certificates

You need to present a medical certificate for a P endorsement if:

  • you haven't submitted a medical certificate for classes 2 to 5 or a P, V, I or O endorsement in the last five years
  • you've developed a medical condition that could adversely affect your ability to drive safely, or a condition has worsened
  • you are requested to by the Transport Agency (regardless of when you last presented a medical certificate).

A medical certificate must be from a New Zealand-registered medical practitioner and dated no more than 60 days before the date of your application.

Eyesight requirements

You must prove that your eyesight meets the required standard each time you apply for a new class or endorsement or renew your licence. To do this, you can:

  • present a satisfactory eyesight certificate issued by a New Zealand-registered optometrist (this certificate must not be more than 60 days old), or
  • present a satisfactory medical certificate issued by a New Zealand-registered medical practitioner (this certificate must be no more that 60 days old and must specifically cover eyesight), or
  • pass an eyesight screening check at a driver licensing agent.

Note: The agents' eyesight screening machines eliminate the need for many drivers to be tested by an optometrist or medical practitioner. However, if you don't pass the screening check, then you must provide one of the certificates listed before your application can proceed. Some drivers choose to supply a certificate instead of taking a screening check. If you have vision in only one eye, you must present an eye certificate from a doctor or optometrist.

Sitting the practical driving test

As part of gaining your P endorsement, you must pass the Class 1 full licence practical driving test. Note: This isn't required if you've passed the test in the last five years.

If you have booked a full licence test and can't make the appointment, please contact your driving licensing agent.

Changing or cancelling your test

If you want to change or cancel your test, you will have to pay a further fee.

Where there are two or more complete working days (excluding weekends and public holidays) between the day you change or cancel your test and the date of your appointment, you will need to pay a rescheduling fee of $16.40.

This is a regulated fee to cover the time taken and costs incurred when a test is cancelled or rescheduled.

Where there are less than two complete working days (excluding weekends and public holidays) between the day you change or cancel your test and the date of your appointment, you will not pay a rescheduling fee but will need to pay a further test fee. This further test fee is not refundable.

You may be eligible for a refund of the first test fee paid where the cancelled test time was subsequently filled by another person. If the test fee is refunded, a processing fee of $16.40 will be deducted.

P endorsement fees

The table below sets out the fees for a P endorsement, which can be issued for one or five years.

Note that course fees vary between providers and aren't included in the table.

Endorsement ID card Vetting Full licence test*
1 year, small

$64.40

$8.60

$28.80

$59.90

5 years, small

$246.30

$8.60

$144.10

$59.90

1 year, large only

$64.40

$28.80**

$59.90

5 years, large only

$246.30

$28.80**

$59.90

* The full licence test isn't needed if you've passed a Class 1 full licence test in the last five years.

** If you drive a large passenger service vehicle only, you only pay the vetting fee once every five years.

About the 'fit and proper person' check

Your application will be sent to the Transport Agency office so that a 'fit and proper person' check can be undertaken. Some of the factors that may be taken into account are any:

  • transport-related offences, especially relating to safety
  • history of behavioural problems
  • past complaints about a transport service you may have operated
  • history of persistent failure to pay fines for transport-related offences
  • criminal convictions (in New Zealand or overseas), including charges or convictions relating to violence or sexual offences, drug or firearms offences, or offences involving organised criminal activity
  • serious convictions – persons convicted of the serious offences listed below and sentenced to imprisonment for more than 12 months are prohibited from holding a P endorsement. The specified serious offences are:
    • murder
    • a sexual crime under Part VII of the Crimes Act 1961 punishable by seven or more years' imprisonment, including sections 144A and 144C
    • crimes under any of the following sections of the Crimes Act 1961: 173, 174, 175, 176, 188, 189(1), 191, 198, 199, 200(1), 201, 208, 209, 210, 234, 235 and 236
    • any offence committed outside New Zealand that, if committed in New Zealand, would constitute one of the above offences.

Read a detailed list of offences in section 29A of the Land Transport Act 1998(on the Legislation website).

Read a detailed list of offences under sections 144A and 144C of the Crimes Act 1961 (on the Legislation website).

Any other information can also be taken into account in the 'fit and proper person' check where that information is relevant to the interest of public safety. This includes medical fitness – such as any medical conditions you may have and whether those conditions may affect your ability to drive safely.

Every P endorsement applicant, irrespective of their country of origin will be vetted by the NZ Police as part of the 'fit and proper person' check. This is arranged by the Transport Agency once you submit your application and pay the vetting fee.

If you have spent 12 months or more outside New Zealand, then you must also contact the appropriate authority (embassy, consulate or other approved government agency) of your country of origin and/or any countries you visited, and arrange for official documentation verifying the full details of any traffic offences and criminal history (or the absence thereof) to be made available to the Transport Agency.

This applies where:

  • you are applying for a new P endorsement, and
  • you have been overseas for a continuous period of more than 12 months, and
  • were at that time aged 14 years or older.

OR

  • you are applying to renew or requalify a P endorsement, and
  • you have been overseas for a continuous period of more than 12 months since you last held a P endorsement.

This ensures all applicants are assessed to the same standard and enables the Transport Agency to make the thoroughly informed assessment necessary before a P endorsement may be granted.

Note: The Transport Agency can only accept original documents that are received directly from the approved authority. However, copies of documents may be accepted directly from other New Zealand government departments (eg Immigration or Customs), where the department received the original document directly from the appropriate issuing authority and will verify any copy provided as true and correct.

Important: If you have any concerns about the 'fit and proper person' check, contact a commercial road transport administrator at the Transport Agency office before submitting your application.

Not cleared

If you're not cleared by the 'fit and proper person' check, you'll be sent a letter explaining why, with advice on your right of appeal to the district court.

Cleared

If you meet the 'fit and proper person' requirements, and all other relevant tests have been completed, your application will be approved and the new licence will be mailed to you. Where you have elected to have the 'fit and proper person check' completed before the other tests are done, you'll be sent a Notice of determination (valid for 90 days). Show the notice to the driver licensing agent when you go to complete your application. If the notice expires before you finish the relevant courses or tests, call our driver licensing contact centre on 0800 822 422.

Fee for the 'fit and proper person' check

The fee for the 'fit and proper person' check is called a vetting fee. If you hold a current V, I or O endorsement, you won't be charged for it again until you renew your endorsements.

Where you can find out more

Contact us

  • Email us: info@nzta.govt.nz.
  • Phone our driver licensing contact centre: 0800 822 422.
  • 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.