Understanding your Transport Service Licence


Image result for tsl structure nzta


At Truck & Digger Hire Limited we would like you to know all of the laws and regulations that apply to you when hiring our equipment.

We will try to cover these applicable laws and regulations in a series of blogs and how you can best comply with them.

To start lets explain just what is a Transport Service Licence (TSL).

A TSL is an additional license to your standard drivers licence.  It is issued by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) and it comprises of five other licences depending on your commercial activity.  These are:

  • Rental Service Licence
  • Goods Service Licence (GSL)
  • Small Passenger Service Licence
  • Large Passenger Service Licence
  • Vehicle Recovery Licence

For example Truck & Digger Hire Limited requires two TSL’s, these are a GSL (# 0248172) and a Rental Service Licence (#0248320).  A Rental Service Licence is fairly self explanatory but a GSL isn’t.

To start lets describe one of the more common scenarios which applies to hiring a vehicle with a GLW (Gross Laden Weight) of 6000kg or more.  Which is incidentally the maximum weight that the holder of a class 1 drivers licence (car) can operate.

Often customers ring requiring a 5 tonne tipper truck.  This means they want a truck that can carry a load of 5 tonne which makes the typical GVM (Gross Vehicle Mass) of those trucks in the range of 9 – 11 tonne.  Well over the class 1 licence limit.

When asked if they have the appropriate licences and the tell me they have their class 2 licence ( a rigid vehicle with a GLW of 6001kg – 18000kg) or class 4 licence (a rigid vehicle with a GLW of more than 18000kg).  This is great, it means they have the appropriate drivers licence to operate the truck.  But when asked if they have a GSL they say no or aren’t sure what we’re asking about.

So what is a goods service?

A goods service delivers or carries goods, whether or not for hire or reward, using a motor vehicle that has a gross vehicle mass of 6000kg or more, including one that is on hire’to carry goods.” From NZTA

So this means that if you for example are a contracting company, drainlayer, landscaper or basically anyone else who moves goods about in a commercial capacity (GLW of 6001kg or more) you need a GSL.

To get a GSL, it says on page 82 of the NZTA 2017/18 official road code for heavy vehicle drivers,

For a goods service, large passenger service or vehicle recovery service, either the licence holder or some other person in control of the transport service must have a certificate of knowledge of law and practice.”

To get this certificate of knowledge of law and practice you need to sit a test arranged by a subcontractor of NZTA called Aspeq.  It is open book test which you are given 2.5 hours to complete, and you need to get 80% or more of the questions correct.  There is a fee of course which at the time of writing (6/08/18) was $449.80

Once you have your GSL it is displayed on the bottom RH (looking at the windscreen standing in front of the truck) and you can get multiple labels to put one in each of your trucks.  Consequences of failing to display a TSL label is outlined here http://police.govt.nz/sites/default/files/publications/display-of-tsl-label-and-enforcement-consequences-guide.pdf

What if I have a class 2 licence and just want to hire a truck for jobs around the home?

This is of real concern to the those of us who want a bigger truck to do larger jobs around the home, or maybe to help a friend or family member with one of their projects.

Some vehicles with a Gross Laden Weight (GLW) of 6000kgs or more do not require a goods service licence:

  • a service involving the carriage of goods for personal domestic purposes where the service is not operated for more than a total of seven days in any 12-month period;
    • For example – person wants to move his household furniture in the weekend and wants to hire a > 6000kg truck. They can hire the vehicle from a rental company without having to supply a Goods Service Licence (GSL) as the vehicle is being used for domestic purposes and is not being operated for more than a total of seven days in a 12 month period. All the hire company would need to ensure is that the hirer has the appropriate driver’s licence to drive a heavy class vehicle.

What is the chain of responsibility?

The chain of responsibility holds that all the people who influence a driver’s behaviour and compliance should, and must, be held accountable if that influence results in non compliance with traffic rules and laws.

From https://www.nzta.govt.nz/commercial-driving/chain-of-responsibility/

This basically means that a hire company cannot provide a rental truck with a GLW over 6000kg without the customers provision of a GSL, unless they plan to use it for domestic purposes.  The penalties of which the hire company would be liable if convicted could be a fine of up to $25,000.

In conclusion

So as you can see if you are a commercial operator of a goods service you will need to seriously consider getting yourself or your company a GSL, or face fines of up to $10,000 (for first offence, up to $25,000 for subsequent offences).  Or in addition the court may impound vehicles used in an unlicenced service for up to 90 days (no matter who owns them).

How to apply for a GSL, click on the link below.



Thank you for taking the time to read this post and we hope it has helped inform you of your obligations when operating a truck for your commercial activity.


Ian J.

6 thoughts on “Understanding your Transport Service Licence”

    1. Hi Rick,

      To answer your question, if the vehicles GLW (gross laden weight) is over 6000kg and you’re doing the job as a commercial activity (for hire or reward), yes you would require a Goods Service Licence.
      This is copied & pasted from https://www.saveonemorelife.co.nz/resources/rules/operator-licensing-2007-qa.html and might be useful to you:
      A change in the definition of goods service means that the carriage of goods using vehicles with a gross laden weight (GLW) of under 6000 kg no longer requires a goods service licence (GSL), but drivers of heavy motor vehicles (i.e. with a GLW of more than 3,500 kg) used to carry goods for hire or reward are still subject to the new work time requirements.

    1. Hi Albert,
      Thanks for your question. I understand that you are employed as a driver to carry out a transport service on behalf of a licensed holder. So I believe the following from the Land Transport Act 1998 on the NZTA site describes your situation.

      Driver must have or drive under transport service licence
      A transport service driver must, when using a vehicle in a transport service,—
      have the relevant transport service licence; or
      drive on behalf of the holder of the relevant transport service licence; or
      have been facilitated to connect with passengers by a facilitator who holds a small passenger service licence.
      Section 30P: replaced, on 1 October 2017, by section 69 of the Land Transport Amendment Act 2017 (2017 No 34).

      I hope this helps.
      Ian J.

  1. Hi, so if I have 2 TSLs, and operate one vehicle, do I need to display both or just one at a time as I am in the service of one of them?

    1. Hi Dave,
      I assume one TSL is under you or your companies name and the other is one you use on behalf of another entity that you sub contract for. You would use the appropriate TSL number depending on who you are working for, yourself or another entity. You would only need to display the one TSL number that applies.
      I hope this helps.

      Ian J.

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