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Over the past few years, we’ve seen a spike in demand for heavy vehicle drivers in New Zealand, with truck, trailer, bus, and heavy forklift operators in high demand. To operate any of these, you must possess a heavy vehicle licence. There are four types of licences for heavy vehicles one can opt for in New Zealand, each with a different licence based on the type and weight class of the vehicle.

If you intend to apply for a heavy truck driver’s licence in New Zealand, you must first clarify the basics. At Roadtrain, we’ve put together a series of courses to allow aspiring newbies and experienced drivers with hands-on training, guiding them through the licencing process. We also help simplify a complex (and lengthy) procedure so that people from all walks of life can get started on this exciting career path.

This blog post is a basic guide on how to get a heavy vehicle driver’s licence. It explains which vehicle weights are covered by each heavy vehicle class and how to advance to the next class once you’ve achieved your licence. It also contains valuable information on medical requirements for obtaining your heavy vehicle licence.

Heavy vehicle driver licences

To drive a heavy motor vehicle, you must have a class 2, 3, 4, or 5 driver’s licence.

Each type and weight of heavy vehicle demands an appropriate driver’s licence, so make sure you qualify for the right one. For certain specialised vehicles, drivers must also possess the necessary endorsements.

How to get a heavy vehicle driving licence?

Before even applying for a heavy vehicle, the driver must have a licence and experience in driving a lighter vehicle. Once this can be proved, you must pass a practical exam or complete an authorised course to establish your heavy vehicle competency.

Get in touch with Roadtrain experts to find out how to get a heavy vehicle driving licence in New Zealand.

Getting a class 2 licence

Before getting a class 2 licence, you must first get a class 2 learner’s licence.

For that, you need

  • To have held a full class 1 licence for at least six months;
  • A medical certificate (if necessary); and
  • To have passed a theoretical exam.

To get a complete class 2 licence, you must show the following documents:

  • A medical certificate (if required)
  • A class 2 learner’s licence that has been held for at least six months 
  • Proof that you’ve passed a practical test in a class 2 vehicle; or
  • A class 2 learner licence, followed by the authorised training programme for advancement to a class 2 complete licence.

Make your preparation strong with our heavy vehicle licence practice test.

Getting a class 3 licence

To get a class 3 heavy vehicle licence, you must first get a class 3 learner’s permit.

To do so, you must have:

  • Held a valid class 2 driver’s licence for at least six months (or at least three months, if you are aged 25 or over) 
  • A medical certificate (if required)
  • Passed a theoretical exam.

For further information, get in touch with a Roadtrain expert.

For a complete class 3 licence, you must show the following documents:

  • A medical certificate (if required)
  • A class 3 learner licence held for at least six months, followed by a practical test in a class 3 combination vehicle; or
  • A class 3 learner licence, followed by an authorised course for advancement to a class 3 full licence.

Getting a class 4 licence

Before applying for a class 4 heavy traffic licence, you must first get a class 4 learner’s licence. For that, you need:

  • To have held a full class 2 licence for at least six months (or three months if you are 25 or older); and
  • A medical certificate.

You won’t need to take a theoretical exam since you already passed it when you got your class 2 licence.

To get a complete class 4 licence, you must show the following documents:

  • A medical certificate (if required)
  • A class 4 learner licence held for at least six months, followed by a practical exam in a class 4 vehicle; or
  • A class 4 learner licence, followed by an authorised course for advancement to a class 4 full licence.

Can someone apply for a class 4 licence directly without having a class 2 licence? Get in touch with us for clarity.

Give an edge to your licence preps. Take this heavy vehicle licence practice test.

Getting a class 5 licence

The same process applies to a class 5 licence as well; that is, you need to get hold of a class 5 learner’s permit before applying for the complete licence.

You will also need:

  • To have been in possession of a class 5 licence for at least six months (or at least three months, if you are aged 25 or over)
  • A medical certificate (if required)
  • To have passed a theoretical exam (unless you have previously passed a theory test for a class 3 licence).

You’ll also need the following documents: 

  • A class 5 learner’s licence held for at least six months, followed by a practical test in a class 5 combination vehicle; or
  • A class 5 learner’s licence, followed by an authorised course for advancement to a class 5 full licence.

About approved driving training courses

Some drivers may want to get their next licence class without waiting the required amount of time. There are two types of courses that may help you do this:

Courses for those aged 25 and over who want to get their class 3, 4, or 5 learner’s licence early.

Suppose you are over 25 years old and wish to receive your class 3, 4, or 5 learner licence without fulfilling the minimum time on your prior licence class. In that case, you must complete an authorised driver’s licencing course that evaluates your driving experience, knowledge, and abilities. For classes 3, 4, and 5, there are multiple courses to get a learner licence.

Courses for progression to a class 2, 3, 4 or 5 full licences.

If you’ve successfully completed an authorised driving licencing course, you will not need to wait six months or take the practical full licence exam. There are various courses to take to get a complete licence in each class (classes 2, 3, 4 and 5). You must take your course certificate to a driver’s licencing agent, apply to have the additional class added to your driving licence and pay the required price after finishing the proper course.

Contact Roadtrain to learn more about our course costs, location and schedules.

Make sure there are no loose ends in your preps. Take our heavy vehicle licence practice test

Can I convert my overseas heavy vehicle licence to a class 2 licence?

All heavy vehicle drivers must take and pass a heavy vehicle theory exam to convert a valid foreign heavy vehicle licence to a New Zealand heavy vehicle licence.

If you have held your licence for more than two years, and it is from one of the following countries, you do not need to take a practical test: 

  • Australia 
  • Austria
  • Belgium 
  • Canada 
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Luxembourg
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • South Africa
  • Spain
  • Sweden 
  • Switzerland
  • UK 
  • Or the USA 

We hope that this guide helps you get a clear idea of how to get a heavy vehicle driving licence. For more help, get in touch with us today!