Road user charges (RUC) are paid on all diesel vehicles and on all vehicles over 3.5 tonnes.

The Ministry of Transport is responsible for creating and maintaining the legislation and Regulations for road user charges.

The New Zealand Transport Agency is responsible for collecting (and enforcing) road user charges.

Legislation and Regulations

The Road User Charges Act 2012 was passed on 14 February 2012 and came into force on 1 August 2012.  It replaced the Road User Charges Act 1977 and is part of a package of reforms to simplify and modernise the road user charges (RUC) system.  Regulations associated with the new Act also came into force on 1 August 2012.

An initial evaluation of the changes in August 2013 found changes to the RUC system have been relatively successful in creating greater equity, and that based on both industry and government perceptions, the new RUC system has more integrity than the previous one.

About road user charges

Why do we pay road user charges?

All the revenue collected from road user charges goes into the National Land Transport Fund. This Fund is used mainly for road construction and maintenance, along with other activities benefiting road users. 

For example, during 2009-2012 expenditure on roads was distributed to:

  • State highways: 53 percent
  • Local roads: 22 percent
  • Road policing: 10 percent
  • Public transport: 10 percent
  • Other: 5 percent

How does the government decide how much we pay?

RUC rates are set according to what type of vehicle you drive, and how much it weighs. The heavier a vehicle is, the more damage it does to the road surface. Other factors are also considered, such as the number of axles and tyres your vehicle has. A four-axle truck with two double sets of wheels at the rear will cause less damage to a road, for example, because it spreads its weight across the ground more evenly than a truck with fewer axles and wheels. 

A cost allocation model is used to indicate what the rates should be.

Find out more about the cost allocation model.

How do we pay our road user charges?

RUC can be paid to NZ Transport Agency via its website, or through its agents such as NZ Post shops, and the Automobile Association.  It’s a bit like car registration except that you do not get a reminder, and you have to pay it according to the distance on your odometer (or hubodometer for vehicles over 3.5 tonnes). It is enforced through NZ Transport Agency and Police checks.   

Where can I find more information about RUC?

You can look at the NZ Transport Agency website (external link) , or ring the help-desk at the RUC Contact Centre on 0800 655 644, Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm.

Diesel car users

Why isn’t diesel taxed at the pump like petrol?

An estimated 36 percent of diesel is used off-road, such as on farms, by manufacturing, industrial and commercial ventures, and boats. Taxing this would impose an unfair burden onto these sectors. Operating a refund system would be costly and cumbersome to administer and involve compliance costs without any related benefit.

Am I still better off driving a diesel car?

The average petrol car uses about 10 litres of petrol to cover 100 kilometres. Following the 1 July 2013 increases in petrol excise duty, this will result in total tax of $6.16, including GST.

The cost of RUC to cover the same 100 kilometres, under the new rate, is $5.30 including GST.

The benefits of running a diesel vehicle increase further once their superior fuel economy is taken into account. Fuel consumption tests generally give results between 20 and 30 percent better for a diesel engine car compared to the same model with a petrol engine.

Why not take diesel cars out of the RUC scheme?

An independent review of the RUC system considered this option carefully, but decided that, on balance the existing RUC scheme should be retained.

Taking diesel cars out of the RUC scheme would mean placing a tax on diesel.

An estimated up to 36 percent of diesel is used off-road, such as on farms, by manufacturing, industrial and commercial ventures and boats. Taxing this would impose an unfair burden onto these sectors. Operating a refund system would be costly and cumbersome to administer and involve compliance costs without any related benefit. A refund system would also potentially be susceptible to fraudulent claims. 

Read about the 2008/09 Road User Charges Review

Historical information

2012

2009