Commercial transport

As part of Regulatory Services, the Safer Commercial Transport team regulates anyone who transports people or goods for a living.

Regulated parties

Those we regulate include:

  • class 2–5 licence-holders (all heavy vehicles): 390,400 licence-holders, of whom 230,000 are driving in the commercial sector
  • Transport Service Licence Holders (TSLs): 112,148 currently
  • goods services licence-holders: 25,807 active
  • large passenger service licence-holders (eg bus companies): 1370 active
  • small passenger services licence-holders: 9,858 active – mostly taxis and ride-sharing organisations
  • vehicle recovery service licence-holders (towing companies): 493 active
  • rental service licence-holders (for rental cars, motorhomes and truck rentals): 832 active.

We see everyone in the system as being part of a chain of responsibility, which means anyone in that chain can be held accountable for non-compliance or influencing someone to break the rules – including the driver, operator and dispatcher.

Commercial driving chain of responsibility

Safety risks for commercial operators

We focus on things that prevent harm to people, and have built our regulatory response around those safety risks. Our priorities are:

  • Speed – a significant determinant to the outcome and/or severity of crashes
  • Driver impairment – including fatigue, worktime breaches, alcohol, drugs and distraction
  • Restraints – wearing seatbelts can improve a driver’s chance of survival by 40 percent
  • Vehicle safety – regular maintenance, repairs and safety checks decrease the chances of a vehicle failing on the road and causing harm.

Regulatory mechanisms

As regulators, we use a range of approaches and interventions to ensure commercial operators and drivers are safe and comply with the law.

  • Licensing – commercial drivers must pass stringent tests to acquire the right licence for their commercial operations, whether that’s driving a truck, bus or taxi. We have the power to suspend, disqualify or revoke heavy vehicle licences (class 2-5) for up to 10 years if drivers consistently compromise road safety. We can also suspend or revoke transport service licences (TSLs).
  • Endorsements – to carry passengers, recover vehicles or become a driving instructor or testing officer, you’ll need to have a special endorsement from us. To apply, you’ll need to have the right kind of driver licence, have the right to work in New Zealand, pass our fit and proper person assessment and be in good health.
  • Worktime – to reduce fatigue, we set rules around work hours and rest breaks for commercial drivers. Hours must be recorded in a logbook, which we have the power to audit.
  • Road user charges (RUC) – safety improvements and maintenance to the roading network rely on users contributing their fair share. While most road users pay for this through levies at the pump, heavy vehicle drivers and other diesel fuel users are required to pay for their road use via RUC, which is worked out on the total kilometres travelled per vehicle each year.
  • Compliance action – we regularly review, audit and investigate safety practices of regulated parties. Where interventions are needed, we might educate them, impose conditions, suspend or revoke their licences or appointments, depending on the severity of the issue.
  • Certificate of fitness (CoF) and warrant of fitness (WoF) – all commercial vehicles must have a valid CoF or WoF to ensure they’re up to the right standard to be on the road.
  • Permitting – there are strict controls on the weight and axle loads of heavy vehicles, and any excess load requires a valid permit to ensure it’s safe.
  • Commercial Vehicle Safety Programme – the programme uses roadside technology and intelligent software to direct potentially non-compliant vehicles to commercial vehicle safety centres for assessment.

Read more about commercial transport, including permitting, RUC, worktime, Commercial Vehicle Safety Programme and more

Find out about commercial licensing and endorsements