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New Zealand driver licence classes: what you can drive

This page tells you what you can drive with each New Zealand driver licence class.

What are the licence classes

These are the classes you could have on your New Zealand driver licence.

1

Car licence

2

Medium rigid vehicle licence

3

Medium combination vehicle licence

4

Heavy rigid vehicle licence

5

Heavy combination vehicle licence

6

Motorcycle licence

If you have an L next to the licence number (eg 6L), this means you have a learner licence for that class.

If you have an R next to the licence number (eg 1R), this means you have a restricted licence for that class.

Keep reading for details of what you can drive with each class.

What does each class of driver licence cover 

If you have a class…

then you can drive a …

with a weight of…

at a speed of…

1L or 1R

vehicle*

GLW or GCW 4500kg or less

 -

Moped or all-terrain vehicle

 

 -

Motorhome or tradesperson’s vehicle

GLW 6000kg or less, but with an on-road weight 4500kg or less

 -

1R

Agricultural tractor

GLW less than 18,000kg

40km/h or less

Agricultural tractor towing an agricultural trailer

GCW 25,000kg or less

40km/h or less

1

Any vehicle*

GLW or GCW 6000kg or less

 -

Moped or all-terrain vehicle

 

 -

Motorhome or tradesperson’s vehicle

GLW 6000kg or less

 -

Combination vehicle which is not a tractor/trailer or agricultural tractor/trailer

GCW 6000kg or less

 -

Tractor

GLW 6001kg to 18,000kg

30km/h or less

Agricultural tractor

GLW 6001kg to 18,000kg

40km/h or less

Agricultural tractor towing an agricultural trailer

GCW 25,000kg or less

40km/h or less

Tractor towing a trailer, that is being used in non-agricultural land management operations

GCW 25,000kg or less

30km/h or less

2

Rigid vehicle

GLW 6001kg to 18,000kg

 -

Combination vehicle (that is not a tractor/trailer combination)

GCW 12,000kg or less

 -

rigid vehicle (that is not a tractor) towing a light trailer

CLW of rigid vehicle 18,000kg or less

 -

Rigid vehicle with two axles or less

GLW over 18,000kg

 -

Tractor

GLW 6001kg to 18,000kg

30km/h or less

Any vehicle covered in Class 1

3

Combination vehicle

GCW 12,001kg to 25,000kg

 -

Any vehicle covered in classes 1 and 2

4

Rigid vehicle (including a tractor)

GLW over 18,000kg

 -

rigid vehicle towing a light trailer

GLW of rigid vehicle over 18,000kg

 

Vehicles covered in classes 1 and 2 (but not class 3)

5

Combination vehicle

GCW over 25,000kg

 -

Vehicles covered in classes 1, 2, 3 and 4

6L and 6R

Motorcycles acceptable under the learner approved motorcycle scheme (LAMS)

Moped or all-terrain vehicle

6

Any motorcycle

Moped or all-terrain vehicle

*includes tractors and combination vehicles, but not a motorcycle.

Endorsements

You will need a current endorsement, as well as a driver licence class, to operate some kinds of vehicles and services.

Check the endorsement requirements to drive special type vehicles and services

Vehicle weight: how to find it 

All vehicles over 3500kg must have a certificate of loading, which is usually displayed on the vehicle’s front windscreen. The certificate of loading will tell you the vehicle’s gross vehicle mass (GVM) or gross combined mass (GCM).

In most cases gross vehicle mass is the same as gross laden weight (GLW), and gross combined mass is the same as gross combined weight (GCW).

Don’t use the vehicle’s unladen weight, tare weight, or the weight on the road user charges (RUC) distance licence, as these are all different.

Towing a light trailer

A light trailer is a trailer with a GLW of 3500kg or less. If you have a class 2 or 4 licence, you can tow a light trailer behind your rigid vehicle. Don’t count the weight of the light trailer in any gross combined weight calculations.

Traction engines

A person steering (or directing) a traction engine must hold a New Zealand class 1 full licence and one of the following:

  • an NZQA unit standard 11157 or an equivalent unit standard, or
  • a qualification issued or certificate of competency granted under the Boilers, Lifts and Cranes Act 1950 that:
    • was current immediately before 16 January 2006 and has not been revoked or suspended, and 
    • allowed the holder to steer a traction engine, or
  • an equivalent foreign qualification recognised in writing by the NZ Transport Agency.

A person driving (firing or operating) a traction engine’s pressure equipment and managing the engine’s steam pressure levels must hold a New Zealand class 1 full licence and one of the following:

  • an NZQA unit standard 21754, 21755, or an equivalent unit standard, or
  • a qualification issued or certificate of competency granted under the Boilers, Lifts and Cranes Act 1950 that:
    • was current immediately before 16 January 2006 and has not been revoked or suspended, and
    • allowed the holder to fire or operate a traction engine’s pressure equipment, or
  • an equivalent foreign qualification recognised in writing by the NZ Transport Agency.

Overseas licence for agricultural vehicles

If you have a valid overseas agricultural motor vehicle licence (eg a UK tractor licence) you may be able to drive some of the same agricultural vehicles as the holder of a class 1 New Zealand licence. Call our contact centre for more information.

Definitions

Gross weight means the weight of a rigid or combination vehicle, together with any load it is carrying (including equipment and accessories).

Gross laden weight (GLW) is the greatest of the following:

  • any weight specified (following the latest modification, if applicable) as a vehicle’s gross laden weight by the vehicle’s manufacturer
  • any weight specified as the gross laden weight of a particular vehicle (or a vehicle of its kind) by the Transport Agency
  • the weight of a vehicle together with any load it is carrying, including any equipment and accessories.

Gross combined weight (GCW) is the sum of the gross laden weights of the vehicles that make up a combination vehicle.

Tare weight means the weight of the vehicle without any load.

On-road weight means the total weight of the vehicle and load at any particular time.

Mass means the quantity of material contained in or on that vehicle which, when subjected to acceleration due to gravity, will exert downwards on a level surface a force that can be measured as the weight of the vehicle.

Gross vehicle mass (GVM) is the greater of:

  • the mass specified as the gross vehicle mass of a particular vehicle, by the vehicle’s manufacturer
  • the mass specified as the gross vehicle mass of a particular vehicle (or a vehicle of its kind) by the Transport Agency.

Light trailer means a trailer with a GLW which does not exceed 3500kg.

Download Factsheet 11: Driver licence classes [PDF, 94 KB]

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