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Car Tax and Insurance

New Zealand - Car Tax and Insurance

Taxes which are applied to fuel are the way in which most road users in New Zealand pay for the use and upkeep of the roads. Heavy duty vehicles and vehicles which run on diesel or other fuels which are not taxed at the point of sale will need to pay the road user charges. This works by the driver purchasing an RUC licence, which is based on the type of vehicle and the weight. For most drivers this will be a distance licence and this is purchased in multiples of 1000km. When you have covered the distance stated on the licence you then need to purchase a new licence. This can be done through the New Zealand Transport Agency, which lists the outlets where the road user licence can be purchased.

The other payment which must be made by all drivers is the vehicle licensing fee. This money is used to fund many road projects and promote road safety in New Zealand. The licence is normally renewed annually and all drivers are given a label for the inside of the windscreen to show that their licence is up to date. If you allow the licence to expire then when you renew you will be expected to pay the fee from the date which the licence originally expired, rather than the date you are renewing.

Renewal notices are normally issued up to a month before the expiry date. This will give you the fees that need to be paid and the different renewal options which are available to you. Renewals can be done online at the New Zealand Transport Agency website or through one of the licensing agents, a list of which is available on the website. You do not need to take the renewal notice with you as the agents also have forms which can be completed as an alternative. In order to renew the car must have a valid warrant of fitness. The only time you are permitted to drive a car that is not licensed is if you are taking the vehicle to obtain a warrant of fitness and the license should be obtained as soon as possible after this time.

The licensing label should be clearly displayed in the windscreen of the car and if for any reason it becomes illegible then a replacement can be obtained from a licensing agent. If you do not renew then you will receive a notice around 6 weeks after the expiry date of the licence. After 6 months you will be sent a warning notice. Registration of the vehicle is cancelled 12 months after a failure to renew if there has been no contact with the vehicle owner.

It is important for every driver to have comprehensive car insurance while driving in New Zealand as it is not compulsory for a driver to have third party insurance. Without third party insurance you are not covered by another driver even if the accident is their fault. Comprehensive cover will cover all those who are driving your car with your permission, providing their licence is valid and they have never been refused insurance elsewhere. If you are going to allow a driver aged under 25 to drive your car or somebody who has had a licence endorsed or suspended then you need to check with the insurance company first to make sure that cover would be provided.

Third party insurance in New Zealand is normally arranged as separate cover so that any claims against you by another driver are covered without it costing you a great deal of money. If you are involved in an accident but you were involved in illegal activity at the time such as drink-driving or speeding then your insurance will not cover you and you will be liable for any costs.

Expats are advised when they move to the country that they bring with them any proof of a ‘no claims bonus’ from their current insurer as some New Zealand insurers are happy to accept these and offer similar insurance discounts. As with insurance in the UK, the cost of car insurance in New Zealand is calculated using your age, experience and driving history. Any endorsements or accidents can cause the cost of insurance to rise.

Useful Resources

New Zealand Transport Agency
Tel: 0800 655 644 (Road user charges)
Tel: 0800 108 809 (motor vehicle licensing and registrations)

Read more about this country

Expat Health Insurance Partners

Bupa Global

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Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.