Anyone using New Zealand’s roads contributes towards their upkeep. Most road users pay levies in the price of their fuel. Others pay through road user charges (RUC).

The revenue collected from road user charges is dedicated to the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF). The NLTF funds new roads, improvements and maintenance, public transport, road safety, and walking and cycling.

Who pays road user charges?

Vehicles over 3500kg

You must buy RUC if your vehicle weighs over 3500kg GVM (manufacturer’s gross vehicle mass).

Vehicles 3500kg or less

You must buy RUC if your vehicle is powered by:

  • diesel
  • electricity
  • another fuel not taxed at source.

This includes diesel hybrids and plug-in hybrids.

RUC for electric vehicles

Fuels taxed at source 

You don’t have to buy RUC if your vehicle only uses:

  • petrol
  • compressed natural gas (CNG)
  • liquified petroleum gas (LPG).

This includes petrol hybrids that can’t plug in to charge.

Some vehicles are exempt

Some vehicles are exempt from RUC if they’re:

  • unsuitable for road use, or
  • used almost exclusively off-road.

Electric vehicles are also exempt from RUC if they weigh:

  • 1000kg or less (very light electric vehicles), or
  • over 3500kg (heavy electric vehicles).

Vehicles exempt from paying RUC

How you pay the charges

You need to buy a RUC licence based on your vehicle’s RUC weight and RUC vehicle type.

Distance licences

Every RUC vehicle needs a distance licence.

  • You buy this in 1000km units (621 miles) or multiples of 1000.

  • When you buy RUC you pre-pay for the distance you're going to travel. You must buy a new licence before you’ve driven all the distance covered by your current licence. 

Additional or H type licences

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

  • apply for an additional licence, or

  • change your towing vehicle to an H vehicle type.

Over the RUC weight

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 or twin tyred.

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

RUC vehicle types

Change in RUC vehicle type

You might be able to change 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 can only operate in the specified combinations.

You'll need to complete an application to change your RUC vehicle type to a 308, 309, 408, 929 or 939 vehicle type. 

Application to change RUC vehicle type (RUCCV)

RUC weight

Every vehicle is allocated a RUC weight.

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

  • gross vehicle mass (GVM) for the RUC vehicle. Every vehicle should have a manufacturer's recommended maximum weight

  • maximum allowable mass for the RUC vehicle under Part 3 schedule 3 of the Vehicle Dimensions and Mass Rule 2016.

Vehicle Dimensions and Mass Rule 2016 (VDAM Rule).

The RUC weight of your vehicle determines the band your vehicle will fit in, which determines the rate you'll pay.

RUC rates 

Over the RUC weight

If you're using a permit allowing you to carry loads heavier than your RUC weight, you must either:

  • apply for an additional licence covering the extra weight for each individual load carried under the permit. This is for vehicles that carry overweight loads once in a while. You'll need to buy an additional licence from one of our agents using a RUCAD form


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

H RUC vehicle type

You'll need to complete an application to change to an H RUC vehicle type.

Application to change to H RUC vehicle type (RUCCV-H).

The permit must be issued under the Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Dimensions and Mass 2016. You can find out more about this and high productivity motor vehicles (HPMV) on the HPMV page. 

High productivity motor vehicles

Current road user charges rates

RUC rates and transaction fees

If you know your RUC type and weight, you can use our RUC calculator to see your rate.

RUC calculator

Buying or selling a diesel vehicle


If you buy a RUC vehicle, make sure it has a current RUC licence displayed - that means the vehicle hasn't travelled past the max distance on the label. You'll become liable for any unlicensed distance if the licence isn’t current. Waka Kotahi doesn't get involved in negotiations of reimbursement between the buyer and seller of the vehicle.

If you can't check the RUC licence on the vehicle, call 0800 655 644 to check the licence is current.

Buying a vehicle


If you're selling a RUC vehicle you must make sure the RUC licence is current. It's an offence to sell a vehicle without a current RUC licence.

Unused road user charges licences should be sold with the vehicle. RUC licences belong to the vehicle they were bought for and can't be transferred to another vehicle. It's your responsibility to make sure the buyer reimburses you for any unused distance as you can't get a refund.

Selling a vehicle 


If a vehicle has a major modification that changes the GVM or the axle and wheel configuration, your RUC vehicle type or weight could change. This may also change your RUC rate. 

You'll need to complete an Application to change motor vehicle details (MR16).

Download an MR16 form [PDF, 81 KB]


Electronic RUC provides a simple, more efficient way of administering RUC. It automates the purchasing process, has better accuracy when recording distance, and provides supporting records for any off-road running to help with off-road refund claims. 

Approved eRUC providers

RUC Contacts

Contact Waka Kotahi

RUC counter agents

More information

Read Road user charges: light vehicles (Factsheet 38) [PDF, 630 KB]