Running a vehicle rental business

Starting a new vehicle rental business – whether with one vehicle or many – is a major decision that should be based on quality advice and information.

We recommend that very early in your planning process, you get professional advice from people and organisations such as lawyers, accountants, insurance agents and Inland Revenue.

You can also contact us for advice on the vehicle use rules and regulations you must follow.

Getting a transport service licence

You'll need a transport service licence to own and manage a vehicle rental service business. 

Find out how to get a transport service licence

Understanding the Operator Licensing Rule

Section 4 of the Land Transport Rule: Operator Licensing 2017 specifies the minimum legal standards and requirements you must meet in operating a vehicle rental business.

Most importantly, it requires you to:

  • keep a register of your vehicles and the people who hire them
  • sign a written agreement with each vehicle hirer and provide them with a copy
  • explain the hire agreement if the hirer asks you to
  • ensure the hirer and/or anyone who intends driving the vehicle has a valid driver licence for the vehicle
  • offer the driver insurance for the vehicle for the term of their hire.

Land Transport Rule: Operator Licensing 2017
Find out more about driver licence classes

Peer to peer

Sometimes a rental service may use privately owned vehicles to rent online. These are commonly known as “Peer to Peer” rental vehicles and are popular overseas. 

Under the Land Transport Act 1998 and Transport Rule: Operator Licensing 2017, a “rental service vehicle” means a vehicle used or available for use in a rental service for letting or hire for the carriage of passengers or goods or both, or a person who drives the vehicle or provides a driver for a vehicle, but not including a vehicle specified as an exempt vehicle. 

“Rental service” means the letting of a motor vehicle on hire for the carriage of passengers (including the driver) or of goods or both to a person who drives the vehicle or provides a driver for the vehicle. It does not include:

  • the letting of a motor vehicle under a hire purchase agreement or a bailment that is for a period exceeding 6 months
  • the hiring of trailers with a gross vehicle mass not exceeding 3500 kilogrammes
  • any service specified as an exempt rental service.

Vehicle owners who rent out their vehicle/s, either directly or indirectly, should have a rental service licence.

Meeting vehicle requirements

The vehicles you rent to customers must meet higher safety standards. These include registration and annual licensing requirements and routine certificate of fitness inspections. Your vehicles must continue to meet these safety standards while operated in a transport service.

When buying vehicles for your business, you should also be aware of the safety features common in many modern vehicles and any features that could affect the environment.

Find out about registration and annual licensing requirementsMore about choosing a safe vehicle

If you need more help

Call our contact centre for advice on and help with complying with all transport-related rules, regulations, and vehicle standards and requirements.