The RUC temporary reduction scheme

In December 2023 - January 2024, Legal Lines5 MinutesBy Danielle BestonJanuary 22, 2024

All about RUCs now and in the future.

In New Zealand, anyone who uses the roads must contribute towards making sure those roads are in good condition. When you buy petrol, road user charges (RUCs) are included in the tax paid on the petrol. When you have a light-diesel vehicle or a heavy truck, you must purchase RUCs instead.

In March 2022, the government offered a transport relief package that reduced RUC rates by 36% to support New Zealanders through the global energy crisis. The RUC reduction scheme ran from 28 April 2022 to 31 January 2023 and from 1 March 2023 to 30 June 2023. This means that from 1 July 2023, the standard RUC rates applied once more.


If you made excessive purchases of RUCs during the discounted periods, you may be audited and invoiced by Waka Kotahi. It will look for any unusual or excessive purchases of the reduced RUCs.

If you have purchased an excessive amount at the reduced rate and have not applied for a new RUC licence by 31 July 2023, then Waka Kotahi can send a new invoice where you will be charged the standard rate for the excessive RUCs.


If you are a light-vehicle owner who purchased too many RUCs and your existing RUC licence lasted past 31 July 2023, you should have bought a new RUC licence in July. All heavy-vehicle owners needed to purchase a new licence by 31 July 2023. If you haven’t already, ensure you enter your current distance reading when you buy the new licence, and the system will credit you any unused RUCs.

Inputting your current hubodometer or odometer reading will result in the system crediting any unused distance. It is essential to use all credit in the same transaction and ensure your new licence extends beyond the end distance of your current licence.

Overlap licence

When purchasing a new RUC licence, you need to enter the current reading, and that will be your start distance. The system will then calculate what you have already used and what is left unused. The unused distance will be credited towards the new licence, and this is known as an overlap licence.

RUCs are sold in units of 1000km – your licence may need to be rounded up to the next unit. This means if you have a current RUC licence from 4000km to 5000km and your current hubodometer reading is 4250km, when you apply for your new RUC licence and input the start reading as 4250km, the 750km will be credited back at the RUC rate originally paid.

You will need to use all this credit on your new licence.

Surrendering your RUC licence

If you do not want an overlap licence but have brought RUCs in advance, you may be able to surrender your RUC licence and obtain a refund. You will get a refund under certain circumstances.

First, because you accidentally bought too much during the reduction period and will have more than 10,000km left over; and second, Waka Kotahi has already notified you by sending a letter that you have bought excess RUC, and you now need to surrender your licence.

Be aware that you cannot apply to surrender your RUC licence if it is over two years old or if you are selling your vehicle.


Beware that if you own an electric vehicle, one of the National Party’s policies is to make sure all vehicles pay road user charges, which includes EVs. They are currently exempt from RUCs until 31 March 2024, but it is proposed that owners of EVs will be charged $76/1000km from April 2024 onwards.


When applying, remember you will need your plate number, RUC licence label and number, the vehicle’s current hubodometer or odometer reading and proof of your bank account.

If you apply for a refund and get approved, destroy your current RUC licence, as it will no longer be valid. Most importantly, RUCs need to be purchased before travelling.