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RUC Road User Costs New Zealand

The most unknown part of all the things that you need to have or pay for while having a vehicle is the RUC. Anyone who's using New Zealand's roads contributes toward their upkeep. Most road users levies when they buy fuel. Others, such as drivers of light diesel vehicles and heavy vehicles like trucks, pay through road user charges.

Who pays RUC?

You need to pay RUC when your vehicle:

  • is over 3.5 tonnes manufacturer's gross laden weight

  • uses diesel or other fuel not taxed at source

The fuels that are taxed at source are petrol, compressed natural gas and liquified petroleum gas.

How you pay the charges?

You purchase a RUC licence which is 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 multiplies of 1000). You need to buy a new licence before you have driven all the distance covered by the previous licence.

The label must be displayed behind the inside of the windscreen on the passenger side of the vehicle.

RUC weight

All vehicles are assigned a permanent RUC weight which will be the lesser of:

  • the gross vehicle mass (GVM)

  • or the maximum allowable mass for the vehicle

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.

Distance recorders

All vehicles that operate with distance licences must be fitted with a distance recorder that is of a type and accuracy sufficient to provide a reliable record of distance traveled. When your vehicle has a gross laden weight over 3.5t it has to be fitted with an approved hubodometer or an approved electronic distance recorder. Hubodometers must be calibrated to read in km for the appropriate sized tyre and have a unique manufacturer's serial number inside of the casing of the meter and must be fitted at all time (on the left hand side). If there is unused distance left on the licence the amount may be refunded once the RUCHO form is received at the Transport Agency and audited.


Vehicles which are exempted are light electric RUC vehicles (whose motive power is derived whole or partly from an external source electricity) or those which belong to a class of vehicles whose purpose or design means it is unsuitable for regular roads such as tractors, forklifts etc.

These purposes are: agricultural, defence, educational, forestry, industrial, medical, search & rescue and tourism.

If your light diesel vehicle is used at least 90% off-road and does not travel more than 10km from the boundary of the address where the vehicle is normally kept you may be eligible to apply for an exemption from road user charges.

RUC licences for light diesel vehicles do not expire.


You are eligible for a refund when you regularly use the vehicle off-road. But normally a refund will not be paid on a RUC licence older than two years.

Before you buy a diesel vehicle

Make sure that it has a current RUC licence. Otherwise you will become liable for any unlicensed distance if the licence isn't current.

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

We hope this covers all of your concerns in regards what RUC are and how to deal with them. If you have any further questions contact us and we we would be happy to help.

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