Standards that apply to your vehicle

Technical standards set out the requirements vehicles must meet when manufactured.

To apply the standards, we group vehicles into two categories – light and heavy. We measure this in terms of a vehicle’s gross vehicle mass (GVM), which the manufacturer specifies as the maximum allowed weight of the vehicle when loaded. Light vehicles have a GVM of 3500kg or less. Heavy vehicles have a GVM of more than 3500kg.

Standards for light vehicles

Light vehicles include cars, motorcycles, mopeds, vans, people-movers, trailers including horse floats and caravans, and small buses. These vehicles can be particularly vulnerable in crashes with heavy vehicles. That’s why vehicle manufacturers invest significantly in occupant protection systems. These include safety belts and frontal impact systems. 

Learn more about choosing a safe vehicle
Check the standards for your vehicle type

Standards for heavy vehicles

Heavy vehicles include heavy buses, trucks and trailers. With their large mass, these vehicles have added challenges in braking effectively and within safe stopping distances. That's why heavy buses and trucks first registered in New Zealand after 1 July 2008 have to meet an approved heavy brake standard. Additionally, most heavy trucks used to tow heavy trailers need to be fitted with ABS, ESV or LSV. This section sets out the specific requirements the different classes of heavy vehicles must meet.

Many heavy vehicles need modification to meet additional New Zealand requirements. These include:

  • load anchorage standards
  • drawbeam/drawbar standards
  • logging bolster attachments
  • chassis modifications
  • stability and rollover.

You can make these modifications once you’ve imported your vehicle to New Zealand. In most cases, a heavy vehicle specialist certifier must certify the vehicle before it can be registered for use on the road. 

Find out more about heavy vehicle modifications
Learn more about choosing a safe vehicle
Check the standards for your vehicle type

Before you can register your heavy vehicle

It must have a chassis rating. Contact an entry certifier for the chassis rating application forms and procedure. 

Frontal impact standards

Frontal impact systems are a key safety feature because they can reduce the trauma and level of injury in crashes. The systems include:

  • advanced safety belts
  • airbags
  • crumple-zones at the front of the vehicle
  • head restraints.

Manufacturers submit prototype vehicles for crash-testing with instrumented crash-test dummies. Where ‘injury’ to the dummies proves acceptably low, the vehicle is certified as meeting the standard and the manufacturer must apply the prototype design to all vehicles in the production run. Vehicles from that production run are then considered to meet a frontal impact standard.

All class MA passenger vehicles entering New Zealand must have been manufactured to meet a frontal impact standard if they are to go on the road, unless they are more than 20 years old. You may be able to check whether your vehicle complies from our frontal impact lists. These lists include vehicles manufactured during 1994–96 when frontal impact standards were still being developed. 

Frontal impact standards are also required for class MB and class MC vehicles entering New Zealand if they were manufactured after 1 October 2003.

Find out how you can show your vehicle was manufactured to meet a frontal impact standard.

Find out about other vehicle safety features on the Rightcar website(external link)