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Volunteer drivers and exempt passenger services

If you are a volunteer driver of a passenger service, you might need to have a passenger (P) endorsement on your driver licence. And organisations that run a passenger service may need a passenger service licence. However, there are some exemptions.

Volunteers

If you are a volunteer driver of a passenger service that is not an exempt service, you are required to have a P endorsement. If you don't, it could matter if you have a crash – the insurance company might decline your claim. You could also be held criminally liable if you didn't have the required passenger service licence or endorsement.

Find out more about P endorsements

If you use your own vehicle for volunteer work (whether you carry passengers or not), it would be wise to check your insurance policy carefully.

 

Drivers who might be exempt from a P endorsement

The Driver Licensing Rule exempts certain drivers from holding a P endorsement in some situations, including volunteer drivers who drive a motor vehicle to assist an incorporated charitable organisation or a hospital, regardless of the size of the vehicle used.

Read the Driver Licensing Rule

Drivers may still need to hold a Class 2 driver licence and to comply with driving hours and logbooks requirements, depending on the size of the vehicle being driven.

Find out more about driver licence classes

Note that if the organisation you are driving for uses vehicles with more than 12 seats, the organisation will need to have a passenger service licence.

Who needs to hold a transport service licence

The Operator Licensing Rule applies to the person (individual, partnership or company) who 'carries on' a transport service.

Read the Operator Licensing Rule

If an employed driver is using a work vehicle in their employer's transport service, the employer needs a transport service licence.

If a driver is a self-employed owner-driver, the driver needs to hold a transport service licence.

A key factor in determining if a passenger service licence is required is the number of passengers the vehicle can carry. If the vehicle seats more than 12 people (including the driver), the owner or operator must have a passenger service licence.

If the vehicle has seats for 12 or fewer people, then the owner or operator only needs a passenger service licence if the passengers are carried for hire or reward.

Find out more about transport service licences
Read a definition of 'hire or reward'

Exempt passenger services

The Operator Licensing Rule exempts the following passenger services from holding a passenger service licence:

  • services operated by or under the control of a district health board, local authority, an incorporated charitable organisation, or an incorporated organisation registered under the Charities Act 2005 where:
    • the vehicles used are designed or adapted to carry 12 or fewer persons (including the driver), and
    • the vehicle used is provided by the organisation or the driver, and
    • the driver is either a volunteer or a staff member of the organisation whose primary responsibility is not driving, and
    • the only payments made by the organisation to a driver who provides the vehicle is for reimbursing the running costs of the vehicle and does not include payment for the driver's service, and
    • the only payment made by the passenger is for reimbursing the organisation or the driver for the running costs of the vehicle, and does not include payment for the driver's service
  • car pooling under a cost-sharing arrangement between occupants of a vehicle designed or adapted to carry 12 or fewer persons (including the driver) – cost-sharing arrangement includes fuel costs and wear and tear of a vehicle
  • passenger service provided by a person providing a home or community support service, where:
    • the vehicle used is designed or adapted to carry 12 or fewer persons (including the driver), and
    • transport is provided to clients as an incidental part of the service, and
    • a fee or fare is not required of the client for the provision of transport
  • the transporting of school children by parents or caregivers in a vehicle designed or adapted to carry 12 or fewer persons (including the driver) in return for a Ministry of Education private transport allowance
  • the transporting of pupils and their escorts to or from any activity of a school, kindergarten, play-centre or other institution providing pre-school education, where:
    • the vehicles used are designed or adapted to carry 12 or fewer persons (including the driver), and
    • the vehicle used is provided by the institution or the driver, and
    • the driver is a staff member of the institution, or a person approved by the institution, or a parent or caregiver of one of the children being carried, and
    • the only payment made by the institution to a driver who provides the vehicle is for reimbursing that person for the cost of the running the vehicle, and does not include payment for the driver's service
  • passenger services provided by an organisation offering liquor, meals or refreshments for consumption on licensed premises, where a fee or fare is not required of its passengers.

Drivers of vehicles used in an exempt passenger service don't require a P endorsement and vehicles used only require a warrant of fitness (not a certificate of fitness).

Section 12 of the Operator Licensing Rule contains the full list of exempt passenger services.

Passenger service vehicles

Vehicles used under a passenger service licence have to meet higher safety requirements than other vehicles. 

Find out more about passenger service vehicles

For more information 

Download Factsheet 18 – Volunteer drivers and exempt passenger services [PDF, 68 KB]

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