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Specialist vehicle permits

From 1 February 2017, if you operate a specialist vehicle and you want to take advantage of axle mass limits above general access limits, you need to apply for a permit.

Read the Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Dimensions and Mass 2016.

Find out more about specialist vehicles

When are permits required?

There are controls on the weight and axle loads of vehicles. This is to ensure safety is maintained through proper use of New Zealand’s road network.

If your vehicle exceeds the axle mass limits set out in the rule, you need to apply for a specialist vehicle permit. Permits are only able to be issued for route(s) that are suitable and safe for your vehicle and load.

To be eligible to apply for a specialist vehicle permit your vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • Vehicle type is:
    • passenger service vehicle
    • rubbish truck with compactor
    • concrete truck
    • ground spreader truck.
  • Has no more than two rear axles, and four axles in total

  • Is a single unit (ie no heavy trailer)

  • The maximum axle set weight sought is within the specialist vehicle axle mass limits

What are the axle mass limits that apply?

Check to see specialist vehicle axle mass limits on New Zealand roads(external link).

Applying for a permit

From 1 February 2017, you can apply for a specialist vehicle permit by submitting an application to the road controlling authority(external link) of the road network you want to use, or through the online permit portal(external link). You will also need to apply for a specialist vehicle road user charges (RUC) licence (see below for more information).

Permits are issued at the discretion of road controlling authorities.

Download the application form for a specialist vehicle permit [PDF, 87 KB] or find it on the heavy vehicle permit portal from 1 February 2017. Please note that applications to the NZ Transport Agency must be made through the permit portal.

Road user charges (RUC)

Specialist vehicles operating at higher axle mass limits under permit are required to carry RUC licences covering the extra weight allowed (and reflecting impact to the road network). This ensures there is a level playing field for everyone in terms of weight limits and paying a fair contribution to the cost of maintaining New Zealand’s road network.

From 1 February, temporary RUC rates are in place for specialist vehicles that are not covered by existing RUC type definitions. Permanent RUC rates will be set during the next rate review process.

The rates are available on the specialist vehicle RUC application form [PDF, 84 KB].

Read questions and answers [PDF, 186 KB] about specialist vehicle RUC rates or find out more about road user charges.

Public transport service buses

A public transport service bus is defined as a passenger service vehicle that is operating in a public transport service that is identified in or under a regional public transport plan as defined in the Land Transport Management Act 2003.

From 1 December 2018, 2-axle public transport services buses will not require permits for axle weights up to 9,000 kg. Prior to that date specialist vehicle permits are required. This provides time for road controlling authorities to assess bridges and post any restrictions required to maintain safety.

Other public transport service buses, and 2-axle buses over 9,000kg axle weights, can continue to utilise increased axle mass limits under permit.