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At Roadtrain, we are often asked about the steps for obtaining a heavy vehicle licence in New Zealand. The following blog is an attempt to answer all questions surrounding the subject. It explains which vehicle weights are covered by each heavy vehicle class and how to advance to the next one. It also contains useful information about medical requirements, including necessary eyesight ability.

Heavy vehicle driver licences

To operate or drive a heavy motor vehicle, you must have a class 2, 3, 4, or 5 driver’s licence. You must also have the appropriate driver’s license class for the type and weight of the vehicle you intend to operate.

Some specialised vehicles demand that the driver also have the necessary endorsements.

How do I get a heavy vehicle license?

People who want to drive heavy vehicles in New Zealand must first demonstrate their experience with smaller vehicles as a class 1 licence holder. You’ll then need to show that you can drive heavy vehicles by passing a practical test or taking a course approved by the NZ government. To do this, you’ll need to apply to New Zealand Transport Agency driver licensing agents in person.

How to get a class 2 heavy vehicle driver’s licence

A pre-requisite for a full class 2 heavy vehicle licence is to get hold of a class 2 learner’s licence. For that, you need the following:

  • To have held a full class 1 licence for at least six months.
  • To have submitted a medical certificate (if needed).
  • To have passed the theory test for the full class 2 licence.

To get a full class 2 licence, you must:

  • Present a medical certificate (if required)
  • Have held a class 2 learner’s licence for at least six months and then,
  • Pass a practical test in a class 2 vehicle,

OR

  • Hold a class 2 learner’s licence and then,
  • Complete an approved training course for the direct transfer to a full class 2 licence.

For class 2 truck driving courses in Invercargill, Arrowtown or Cromwell, click the following link.

Getting a class 3 licence

The basic pre-requisite for a full class 3 licence is to get a class 3 learner’s licence. To get hold of that, you need to have completed the following:

  • A full class 2 licence is held for no less than six or three months if you are aged 25 or over.
  • A medical report (if required)
  • A theory test.

Note: You can apply for a class 3 learner’s licence with no minimum time on a full class 2 licence if you are 25 or older and successfully complete the approved over 25 class 3L course.

For a class 4 licence

The prerequisite for a full class 4 heavy vehicle licence is first to secure a class 4 learner’s licence. For that, you need to do the following:

  • Hold a full class 2 licence (for a minimum of six or three months, if you are 25 or over).
  • Provide a medical report.

You won’t need to take a theory test because you already passed it when you got your class 2 licence.

Note: You can apply for a class 4 learner’s licence with no minimum time on a full class 2 licence if you are 25 or older and have successfully completed the approved over 25 class 4L course.

To apply for truck driving courses in Invercargill, click here.

How to get a full class 5 heavy vehicle licence?

In order to ensure you successfully complete your class 5 vehicle licence, you need to have completed the following:

  • A full Class 4 licence is held for no less than six or three months if you are aged 25 or over.
  • A current medical report (if required)
  • A theory test with a passing grade. You can skip the test if you have already passed a theory test for a class 3 licence.

Note: You can apply for a class 5 learner’s licence with no minimum time served on your class 4  licence, provided you are 25 or older and have successfully completed the approved over 25 class 5L course.

Want to apply for a truck driving course in Invercargill, Arrowtown or Cromwell? Click here.

Terms and conditions for a learner’s licence:

You must be accompanied by a supervisor when driving a vehicle other than a motorcycle, moped, or ATV (all-terrain vehicle) for which you have a learner’s licence. 

A supervisor is someone who:

  • Has a current full New Zealand driver’s licence for the class of vehicle you’re learning to drive in.
  • Has held their full New Zealand driver’s licence for at least two years (or has held an equivalent overseas driver’s licence for at least two years, if their full New Zealand licence has been held less than two years).
  • Does not have a supervisor condition on their New Zealand Licence.

Medical certificates

Medical certificates are usually required when applying for (or renewing) a heavy vehicle driver’s license. If you have already presented a medical certificate for a class 2, 3, 4, or 5 application, or a P, V, I, or O endorsement application within the last five years with signed a declaration, you may not be required to do so again. You must confirm that any condition you may have had has not worsened and that you have not been diagnosed with any other condition(s) since you presented that medical certificate on the declaration.

Medical certificates must:

  • Be original.
  • Come from a New Zealand-registered health practitioner. This could be your regular doctor (GP), a registered nurse or nurse practitioner, or a specialist if necessary.
  • Be less than 60 days old.
  • Declare that you can drive safely, or specify the conditions under which you can drive.

Eyesight requirements

To drive a vehicle safely, you need good vision. When you get your medical certificate, your doctor might check your eyesight. If they don’t, you can show that your eyesight is acceptable by:

  • Submitting an original eyesight or medical certificate issued by a New Zealand registered optometrist or health practitioner, or
  • Passing an eyesight check at a driver’s licencing agent (no more than 60 days old).

The vision test can be taken by keeping your glasses on while wearing contact lenses. However, you’ll be required to mention that you wear these at all times when you’re driving. If you fail to pass an agent’s eyesight test, you must provide satisfactory proof of eyesight or a medical certificate. Until you provide the certificate, your application will not be completed and you will not be issued a licence.

When you only have one eye, your ability to judge distance can be extremely limited. If you can only see out of one eye or if you only have one eye, you must present an acceptable certificate stating that you are safe to drive.

Cost of licencing in New Zealand

The table below sets out the fees for obtaining a heavy vehicle licence (class 2, 3, 4 or 5).

Application for the learning licence: $48.20

Fee for the theory test fee: $45.70

Application for the full licence: $49.60

Fee for the practical test: $59.90

All fees are inclusive of GST and are not refundable.

Changing or cancelling your test

You’ll need to pay a fee for rescheduling or cancelling your practical or theory test dates. This is required if:

  • The gap between your test date and the date of cancellation/rescheduling is two or more working days (weekends and public holidays excluded), in which case, you’ll need to pay a fee of $16.40.
  • The gap between your test day and the date of cancellation or rescheduling is less than two working days (public holidays and weekends excluded). In that case, you won’t need to pay a rescheduling fee, but you’ll have to pay a further test fee, which is non-refundable.

If another person later fills the cancelled test time, you may be eligible for a refund of the first test fee paid. A $16.40 processing fee will be deducted if the test fee is refunded.

Approved truck driving courses

To book your first truck driving courses in Invercargill, Arrowtown or Cromwell from an NZTA organisation, click the link here.