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All vehicles that are required to pay road user charges must display distance licences.

If your vehicle will be carrying loads over its permanent RUC weight, you will also need an additional licence or H distance licence.

All licences issued must match the vehicle concerned, ie RUC vehicle type, number plate, distance recorder serial number and distance recorder readings.

Distance licences

Distance licences are purchased in units of 1000km (621 miles). How much a unit will cost you depends on your RUC vehicle type and RUC weight. 

Vehicles must always have a current distance licence. When the finish distance is reached a new licence is required.

Temporary licences

If you purchase a RUC licence for a vehicle in another location, an identical copy of the RUC licence may be used as a ‘temporary licence’ for up to seven days. As it can sometimes take a few days for the RUC licence to reach its destination, a temporary RUC licence may be used as evidence of purchase of the actual RUC licence.

The identical copy may be presented in a number of ways, including (but not limited to):

  • printed format, such as a photocopy or facsimile copy of the original licence

  • digital format, for example a scanned version or photo of the original licence on a smart phone, tablet or laptop. The licence must be presented as a complete image on a single screen.

The identical copy must be sufficiently clear to ensure the smallest print on the original licence is clearly visible. The image may be enlarged to ensure all details are clearly visible.

RUC vehicle type

Your RUC vehicle type is determined by:

  • whether the vehicle is powered or unpowered

  • the number of axles on the vehicle

  • the spacing between each axle
  • the number of tyres per axle: either single tyred or twin tyred.

Note: Single large-tyred axles are classified as single tyred axles for the purposes of the Road User Charges Act 2012.

See the definitions of each RUC vehicle type

RUC weight

Every vehicle has been allocated a permanent RUC weight.

The RUC weight of the vehicle is the lesser of the:

The RUC rates tell you how much you will need to pay depending on the permanent RUC weight of your vehicle.

Over the permanent RUC weight

If you have a permit allowing you to carry loads heavier than your permanent RUC weight, you can:

  • apply for an additional licence for the towing vehicle for each individual load that covers the additional weight carried under the permit, or

  • change your towing vehicle to an H RUC vehicle type and have an H distance licence. This option is designed for vehicles that run overweight most of the time.

To change to an H RUC vehicle type, you need to complete an Application to change to H RUC vehicle type (RUCCV-H).

The permit must have been issued under the Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Dimensions and Mass 2002 (for more information, see our page on High productivity motor vehicles).

Example of a RUC licence label

Purchasing options

You can buy RUC:

  • online

  • at a Transport Agency agent

  • by phone: 0800 00 28 28

  • by fax: 06 953 6406

  • by RUC card at authorised service stations and truckstops

  • by direct connects – mostly commercial transport operators.

You can set up direct debits for licences purchased by RUC card, fax, phone and direct connect (this method of payment is not available for agent purchases). A credit application will need to be completed.

RUC card applications are available on 0800 800 027, or fax 04 499 5669. Credit application forms to purchase RUC over the phone or by fax are available on 0800 00 28 28, or fax 06 953 6406.

Change in RUC vehicle type

You have the option of changing your RUC vehicle type to minimise costs if your vehicle:

  • will be the towing vehicle in a vehicle combination with a total of 8 or 9 axles, or
  • is a leading trailer in a B-train combination.

Vehicles which are changed to types 308, 309, 408, 929 or 939 may only operate in the specified combinations.

You will need to complete an Application to change RUC vehicle type (RUCCV) to apply to change your RUC vehicle type to a 308, 309, 408, 929 or 939 vehicle type. Or call us 0800 655 644.

Displaying your RUC licence

RUC licences must be carried on the vehicle and displayed behind the inside of the windscreen on the passenger side of the vehicle.

In the case of a trailer or a vehicle not having a windscreen, it must be displayed either at the front of the left side of the vehicle or behind the windscreen of the towing vehicle.

The face of the licence which shows the plate number must be visible from outside the vehicle.

Any additional licences and the current distance licence must both be displayed.

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