Passenger service vehicles (PSVs) are:

  • small passenger service vehicles with 12 seats or less, including the driver
  • large passenger service vehicles with more than 12 seating positions

PSVs are vehicles used in an operation where carrying passengers is an integral part of the business. The most obvious passenger service vehicles are buses, taxis and shuttles. Increasingly private vehicles are being used to provide a passenger service (eg app-based services). These vehicles may be considered a passenger service vehicle and need to meet requirements.

What is a passenger service? 

A passenger service is principally carrying passengers in a motor vehicle for hire or reward including when the vehicle is hired out and a driver is provided. Vehicles capable of carrying more than 12 people (including the driver) are also considered to be passenger services whether for hire or reward or not. This includes private and rental vehicles where exemptions do not apply. 

Find out more about passenger services

Read a definition of ‘hire or reward’

Read more information about volunteer drivers and exempt passenger services

What requirements does my vehicle need to meet?

 All PSVs have to meet the requirements of the Land Transport Rule: Passenger Service Vehicles 1999 (the PSV Rule).

The purpose of the PSV Rule is to ensure that all PSVs meet general safety requirements and vehicle standards. It covers in detail, for example, emergency exit requirements and measures to prevent overloading. Areas included are:

  • entrances and exits (doors and doorways)

  • aisles (space, steps and ramps)

  • seating (passenger and drivers seats, access and vision)

  • emergency exits (location, signs and design)

  • safety features (vehicle body, fire-fighting, baggage, signage and more)

  • stability and structural strength (including roof-racks)

  • special equipment for persons with disabilities (including wheelchair hoists and ramps)

  • certificate of loading (maximum number of passengers and maximum loaded weight). 

The PSV Rule covers both light PSVs (those with a gross vehicle mass of 3500 kilograms or less) and heavy PSVs (those with a gross vehicle mass over 3500 kilograms).

The PSV Rule specifies the legal requirements for PSV design and construction (eg structural strength and roll-over protection, audible reversing alarms and safety requirements for special equipment such as wheelchair hoists and ramps when present).  

If you want to operate a PSV, we strongly recommend you read the PSV Rule. If you don’t read it you may face some unexpected requirements and therefore expenses. Copies of the PSV Rule are also available in some libraries and in bookstores that sell legislation.

Land Transport Rule: Passenger Service Vehicles 1999

Certificates of fitness 

PSVs have to be inspected to make sure they meet the requirements of the PSV Rule before they can be operated in a passenger service.

The initial inspection to make sure the vehicle is up to the required level of safety before it can be registered is called entry certification and will also cover the loading of the vehicle. The certificate of loading must be displayed on the vehicle at all times. The on-going regular checks are certificate of fitness (CoF) inspections. All PSVs must have a current CoF. 

 When a vehicle is entry certified it must meet two sets of requirements. The first are the vehicle standards and other safety requirements that apply to any vehicle of its class. The second are the requirements in the PSV Rule.

 The PSV Rule includes some requirements for specialist certification. For instance, the roll-over strength requirement and the safety of any equipment for people with special mobility needs must be checked by specialist certifiers appointed by the NZ Transport Agency.

Find out more about CoFs

Find a CoF inspection provider in your area(external link)

Change of use certification

If you want to start using your own vehicle as a small passenger service vehicle it will already be registered, but it will still have to undergo a change of use certification. The vehicle will also need to meet CoF and PSV Rule requirements.

Operating a passenger service

If you want to operate a passenger service, making sure your vehicle complies with the PSV Rule is just one part of the process. In the interests of public safety there are requirements for the vehicle, and a range of different requirements for you, too. You will need a small or large passenger service licence and the driver needs the correct passenger (P) endorsement on their licence. The endorsement process includes a police check of infringements pending court cases and criminal convictions both in New Zealand and abroad.

More information about running a passenger service