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Applying for an RTW Endorsement: General Tips and Things to Remember

Being able to drive is a privilege. After all, automobiles are large and complicated machines that require sufficient skill to be operated properly and safely. This is why you need to first secure a corresponding licence before you’re able to drive in New Zealand.

What Are the Types of Driver Licences in New Zealand?

There are 6 types of driver licences in New Zealand:

  • 1: Car licence
  • 2: Medium rigid vehicle licence
  • 3: Medium combination vehicle licence
  • 4: Heavy rigid vehicle licence
  • 5: Heavy combination vehicle licence
  • 6: Motorcycle licence

An L next to the licence number means you have a learner licence for that particular type of vehicle. Meanwhile, an R next to the licence number indicates a restricted licence.

In addition to a driver licence, there are certain permits or endorsements you need to have before you’re able to drive other classifications of vehicles. For example, a passenger endorsement is required for driving buses, taxis, or shuttles.

Those who work with special-type vehicles that are not forklifts also need a special endorsement on their driver licence called RTW endorsement. RTW stands for rollers, tracks, wheels (in some areas, this is called WTR).

It doesn’t matter if you’re driving in Christchurch or Tauranga. If you’re going to drive the above-mentioned types of vehicles on New Zealand roads, you’re going to need the corresponding RTW endorsement.

How Do You Get an RTW Endorsement?

Before you’re able to acquire a RTW endorsement, you first need to take a RTW course. This is to prove that you know what vehicles are classified as special-type roller, tracked, or wheeled, and that you know the procedures and considerations for driving them safely.

Other requirements include the following:

  • Duly accomplished application for endorsement form (DL19)
  • Your New Zealand full driver licence
  • In the absence of a full driver licence, you can provide two other forms of identification
  • An eyesight certificate or have an eyesight check performed
  • Application fee of $44 per endorsement

Do note that the application fee is a separate payment from the RTW course. Usually, this costs $350 plus GST for all three courses. In addition, your RTW endorsement will expire on the same date as your driver licence.

Another thing you have to remember is that a forklift is not included in RTW endorsements. If you are going to drive a forklift on a road, you will need to attend a forklift operator course and get licenced separately.

You can apply for an R, T, or W endorsement at your nearest driver licensing agent in Whangarei, Palmerston North, and other locations across the country.

What Is Considered a “Road”?

As earlier mentioned, endorsements on your licence are needed if you’re going to drive special-type vehicles on the road. The question is, what does “road” mean, exactly? Will you still need an endorsement if you’re going to drive the special-type vehicle on a reserve land?

When it comes to the application of transport laws, the definition of “road” is quite broad; essentially it is any place the public has access to, whether by right or not. More than paved streets and highways, “road” also covers beaches, bridges, culverts, riverbeds, and even road shoulders.

“Road” is also applicable to wharves and reserve lands. Even a property without a gate may be covered by this definition in some instances.

In short, driving a vehicle in these areas means that you have to have the proper registrations, licences, and endorsements. Of course, you should also practise exemplary driver behaviour at all times.

Which Vehicles Are Covered by RTW Endorsements?

Special-type vehicles covered by RTW include steamrollers, compactors, backhoes, graders, trenchers, loaders, excavators, and the like. Usually, these vehicles are used in mining, roadworks, and heavy construction. Again, do note that forklifts are not covered by RTW endorsements; you will need the separate F endorsement for this. In addition, tractors, fire engines, trade vehicles, and vehicle recovery service vehicles do not need the W endorsement. Other vehicles that need RTW endorsements include the following:
  • Agricultural tractors with or without an agricultural trailer, which are not classified as a special-type vehicle
  • Special-type agricultural motor vehicles that run on wheels

Who Needs RTW Endorsements?

Workers in the construction, farming, and mining industries will benefit the most from acquiring RTW endorsements. However, it’s also a good idea to get these endorsements to beef up your qualifications so you can easily expand your horizons when you’re job-hunting. If you’re already applying for a job that requires such an endorsement, then you’ll have an advantage over competitors who don’t have one yet.

The bottomline is that if you have to drive anything other than a car or a motorcycle for personal use, it’s a good idea to verify if you need special permits to operate them. RTW endorsements are some of the most common ones you’ll encounter, but there are also other driver licence endorsement types if you need them.