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Is your vehicle over 3.5 tonnes
Buy RUC in units of 1000 kilometres

Anyone using New Zealand’s roads contributes towards their upkeep. Most road users pay levies in the prices of their fuel. Others, such as drivers of light diesel vehicles and diesel-powered heavy vehicles like trucks, 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 road improvements and maintenance, public transport, road safety, and walking and cycling.

Who pays road user charges?

You must pay road user charges if your vehicle:

  • is over 3.5 tonnes manufacturer’s gross laden weight, or
  • uses diesel or another fuel not taxed at source.

Fuels taxed at source are:

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

Electric vehicles are currently exempt from paying RUC, along with some other vehicles unsuitable for road use or used almost exclusively off-road. 

Vehicles exempt from paying RUC

How you pay the charges

To pay the road user charges you purchase a RUC licence based on the vehicle’s RUC weight and RUC vehicle type.

  • For most diesel cars, utes and vans, you need a distance licence, which you purchase in 1000km units (or multiples of 1000). You must buy a new licence before you’ve driven all the distance covered by the previous licence.

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

RUC weight

All vehicles are assigned a permanent RUC weight.

The RUC weight will be the lesser of the:

For light vehicles and smaller trucks, this will usually be the GVM rating, while for larger vehicles it is likely to be the maximum allowable mass under the VDAM Rule 2016.

What are the current road user charges?

RUC rates and transaction fees.

Refunds that may apply to RUC vehicles

In some circumstances you may be eligible for a refund of RUC – for example where you regularly use the vehicle off-road.

Refunds will not normally be paid on a RUC licence with a purchase date more than two years old.

You may also be eligible for refunds if you’re using petrol, LPG or CNG in your RUC licensed vehicle as you’ve already paid the tax on these fuels when you purchased them.

See whether you’re eligible for an excise duty refund

Before buying a diesel vehicle

Make sure the vehicle has a current RUC licence. If you do buy a vehicle without a current RUC licence you'll become liable for any unlicensed distance if the licence isn’t current.

Call us to check the licence is current

It is an offence for a person to sell a vehicle without a current RUC licence.

Download Factsheet 38: Road user charges for light vehicles [PDF, 365 KB]