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Land Transport (Driver Licensing) Rule 1999

This rule specifies the requirements for obtaining and renewing a driver licence or licence endorsement in New Zealand. It also specifies the requirements for driver licensing service providers.

Rule versions

  • The ‘Current rule’ will give you the most up-to-date version of the Rule and any amendments made to it. We recommend this as your reference point if you want to read the most current information.
  • The ‘Original rule and amendments’ will give you the very first version of the rule (as it was when it was first created) as well as links to all amendments made to it over time. We recommend this page as your reference page if you want to research the history of the rule.

Note: Both of these pages will also provide links to the consultation material – such as summary of submissions and FAQs (questions and answers) – for each version and amendment.

Questions and answers

Questions and answers are provided to accompany a new rule or amendment when they are signed. These and other consultation documents on this page have not been updated to take into account any later rule amendments and are retained for historic interest only.

Land Transport Rules - Questions & answers

Q&A for Land Transport (Driver Licensing) Amendment Rule (No 2) 2008

Rule 91001/5

Questions and answers

What are Land Transport Rules?

Rules are ‘second tier’ legislation (similar to regulations) that are written in plain language and go through an extensive consultation process with interested groups and the public. This is to ensure that they are easily understood and are widely complied with. Most Rules are drafted by the NZ Transport Agency under contract to the Ministry of Transport. The Driver Licensing Rule is one of two Rules that are drafted by the Parliamentary Counsel Office; the other being the Land Transport (Road User) Rule.

What is the purpose of this amendment Rule?

This amendment Rule makes changes to update the Land Transport (Driver Licensing) Rule 1999 (Rule 91001) (‘the Driver Licensing Rule’). The Driver Licensing Rule specifies the requirements for obtaining and renewing a driver licence in New Zealand. It sets out the requirements for the holder of a driver licence to obtain or renew a licence endorsement to use a motor vehicle for specified activities, driving a special-type vehicle. The Rule also sets out the requirements for providing services related to the licensing of drivers.

How did this amendment Rule originate?

The changes to the Driver Licensing Rule were included in the draft Land Transport Rule: Omnibus Amendment 2008 (the draft Omnibus Amendment Rule). The draft Omnibus Rule contained relatively minor changes to a number of Land Transport Rules.

Following consultation, the provisions in the draft Omnibus Amendment Rule were split into separate amendment Rules, including the Land Transport (Driver Licensing) Amendment Rule (No 2) 2008.

What is the legal basis for the Rule?

The Land Transport Act 1998 allows the Minister of Transport to make Land Transport Rules. Section 154 of the Act specifically allows the Minister to make Rules for driver licensing.

What is the main change in the amendment Rule?

The amendment Rule extends the types of vehicle that can be driven with a Class 1 licence to include tractors and combined tractor-trailers of higher weight limits.

What classes of licence are currently required for driving tractors?

Until the amendment Rule comes into force, the following licences are required to drive tractors with the weight limits indicated:

  • Class 1 - Gross laden weight (GLW) or gross combined weight (GCW) of up to 4,500 kg.
  • Class 2 - GLW of between 4,501 and 18,000 kg, or a GCW of up to 12,000 kg
  • Class 3 - GCW of between 12,001 kg and 25,000 kg
  • Class 4 - GLW of more than 18,000 kg
  • Class 5 - GCW of more than 25,000 kg.

What does the amendment Rule change?

  1. any tractor with a GLW of more than 4500 kg but less than 18,001 kg, if driven at a speed not exceeding 30 km/h;
  2. a combination vehicle, consisting of a tractor towing a trailer, with a gross combined weight (GCW) of not more than 25,000 kg, if it is being used in agricultural or land management operations and is driven at a speed not exceeding 30 km/h.

Why has this change been made?

The agricultural sector raised concerns that its transport needs are not always compatible with a “one-size-fits-all” driving hours system, because agricultural transportation can be affected by the volatility of the weather and the perishable nature of any harvest or crop. There was also concern about the lack of farm workers with the appropriate licence to drive heavier tractors and combined tractor-trailers. The changes in the amendment Rule will help address these concerns, by not requiring the drivers of these vehicles to comply with the provisions of Land Transport Rule: Work Time and Logbooks 2007.

Is this change likely to adversely affect road safety in New Zealand?

Tractors and tractor-trailers used in agricultural and land management operations are generally driven for short distances, from one farm to another, and at slow speeds.

To minimise any risk from these changes, the increased weight thresholds are limited to holders of a full Class 1 licence (provided that the vehicles concerned are not driven at more than 30 km/h). In addition, because these vehicles are regarded as being work places, the requirements of appropriate training in the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 would also apply.

What other change does the amendment Rule make?

The amendment Rule adds Japan to the list of exempt countries. Drivers who have an overseas driver licence or permit issued by an exempt country are not required to sit a theory test for a Class 1 (motor car) or Class 6 (motorcycle) licence when converting to a New Zealand driver licence. They are also exempt from sitting a practical driving test if they have held their overseas licence for two years or more.

How does the process for adding countries to the list operate?

A country that wants to be added to the list applies for licence recognition. The country must have a comparable driver licensing system to that of New Zealand. The Overseas Licence Assessment Panel, which includes representatives of the NZ Transport Agency and the Ministry of Transport assesses the application and sends its recommendation to the NZTA. The recommendation then goes to the Ministry, which seeks the Minister of Transport's approval. If the Minister accepts the recommendation, he or she will approve the amending of the Driver Licensing Rule.

When does the amendment Rule come into force?

The changes relating to the types of vehicle that can be driven on a Class 1 licence come into force on 15 January 2009. The addition of Japan to the list of countries whose driver licence holders are exempt from sitting the Class 1 or Class 6 theory test and the practical driving test, when obtaining a New Zealand licence, takes effect on 1 April 2009.

Where can I get a copy of the amendment Rule?

Final Rules are available on the website in the Resources & manuals section. Printed (bound) copies of the Driver Licensing Rule and its amendments can be purchased from selected bookshops that sell legislation or from Legislation Direct (telephone (04) 568 0005). Loose-leaf versions can be purchased by contacting Wickliffe Limited, telephone (06) 358 8231.

Final Rules may also be inspected at the National Office and regional offices of the NZ Transport Agency.

How can I get more information about the amendment Rule?

You can call the NZ Transport Agency Contact Centre on free phone 0800 822 422 for more information about the Rule. Fact Sheet 56 New Residents and Visitors will be amended to add Japan to the list of exempt countries.

Last updated: 5 January 2009