Frequently Asked Questions - Road User Charges

New Zealand Road User Charge (RUC) system is one of a kind in the world. It can be difficult to grasp, especially when you have a large varied fleet. With this mind, we've written up a FAQ page, to help you get your head around the law.

Q: What is a Road User Charge?
A: The upkeep of roads in New Zealand is partially funded by fuel levies or, in the case of some vehicle types, a road user charge (RUC). This charge is based on distance travelled. Eligible vehicles need to display a RUC licence as proof of payment. 

Q: Who needs a RUC licence?
A: RUC Licence fees are based on multiple factors. The first is gross vehicle mass (GVM), which is the manufacturer’s determination of the maximum operating weight, including not just the vehicle itself, but fuel, occupants and anything it’s carrying. Any vehicle with a GVM above 3.5 tonnes needs to pay a RUC. The rate varies depending on weight, the number of axles and tyres per axle. 
For vehicles under 3.5 tonnes the decision is based on fuel type. Light diesel vehicles need a RUC but petrol, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and compressed natural gas (CNG) are already taxed at the pump so don’t attract an additional charge. Operating without the required licence, or distance recording technology to support your claims, attract fines of up to $3000 for individuals and $15,000 for organisations. 

Q: Are there any exemptions?
A: Electric cars powered at least partially from an external source don’t have to pay a RUC. Other vehicles that are not designed for regular road use – including some used in construction, forestry, industry and agriculture – are also exempt.

Q: How often do I need to buy a licence?
A: RUC Licences are sold in multiples of 1000 km units and operators buy ahead according to their expected usage. It then becomes a balance between not overspending and leaving yourself vulnerable to fines. 

Q: Do I need to track the distance I travelled?
A: Yes. For light vehicles, the dashboard odometer is adequate, but heavy vehicles need to use a distance recorder such as the increasingly old-fashioned hubodometer, which reads the kilometres travels according tyre size, or an approved electronic distance recorder to keep track it. 

Q: If I have a hubodometer or distance recorder, is that all I need to meet my compliance obligations?
A: There are a host of other records that need to be kept on for heavy vehicle with a RUC licence, including logbooks, permits, maintenance schedules and fuel use. If you can’t produce these records when asked, you may be fined up to $25,000 for an individual and up to $100,000 for organisations. 

Q: Is there a way I can streamline my RUC compliance?
A: Yes, a GPS fleet management system like Teletrac Navman’s DIRECTOR stops you from drowning in paperwork. An NZTA-approved distance tracker can integrate with Teletrac Navman technology to give you real-time overview of the distance your vehicles have travelled so you can ensure you are adequately covered. DIRECTOR’s Maintenance Module provides the visibility you need to ensure maintenance schedules meet your obligations. The reporting tools put information at your fingertips to save you hunting through filing cabinets for an old receipt or maintenance book.

Q: If off-road vehicles are exempt, what happens when my fleet operates both on and off road?
A: Your licence only needs to cover the vehicle while it’s on the road, so if your fleet is used in construction, forestry or agriculture, your distance tracker will record kilometres that unnecessarily eat into your licence fees. You can apply for a refund on this portion of your licence, but you need to supply evidence. 

DIRECTOR, when used in conjunction with Off-Road Tracker, cuts down on the labour and paperwork that this process requires. Using accurate GPS tracking, it records the location of your assets and the distance they’ve travelled, automatically identifying any use that’s eligible for a refund. Off-Road Tracker then fills those details in on a claim form and generates a report to back it up. Since DIRECTOR captures data for both trucks and trailers, you can easily capture travel data even for a mixed fleet.