Agricultural vehicles on the road

What vehicles need to be registered and licensed?

Most vehicles travelling on the road need to be registered (have their own registration plates) and licensed (by payment of a licensing fee). Certain vehicles are exempt and certain vehicles may be licensed under exempt usage (EB).

Exempt vehicles need not be registered or licensed. These include vehicles only used on the road when going to or from a farm or to be serviced or repaired.

Exempt usage (EB) vehicles must still be registered but are exempt from payment of some charges (such as road user charges). Vehicles that qualify for EB registration include vehicles that:

  • Are farm vehicles used on a road only in connection with agricultural operations (e.g. used only to go from one part of a farm to another or from one farm to another owned or managed by the same person).
  • Are tractors used on a road only or mainly for agricultural operations.

Vehicle equipment

When driving vehicles with projecting parts, the law requires that the projecting parts must be:

  • Not likely to injure a person.
  • Positioned so that the risk of causing injury to a person is minimised.
  • Such that the risk of their hooking a vehicle or person is minimised.
  • Must not adversely affect driver vision or control.

Front mounted forks, tines, buckets etc should be positioned to minimise risk in the event of a head-on collision.

If projections can be removed and towed behind the vehicle this should be considered; if protective covers are available these should be fitted.

There are minimum requirements for lighting and signalling equipment on agricultural vehicles and with regard to towing connections (couplings and safety chains).

WoF and CoF and driver licensing

Tractors and agricultural vehicles do not need a WoF or CoF if they are operated on the road at 30km/hour or less.

The driver of a tractor or agricultural vehicle on the road must have at least a class 1 driver licence.

Different licences are needed for heavier vehicles.

Oversize vehicles or loads

The law around vehicle dimensions sets out the following maximum dimensions:

  • Width: 2.5m.
  • Length: 12.6m (no tow coupling fitted) or 11.5m (tow coupling fitted).
  • Height 4.25m.

There are also maximum allowances and other requirements for front and rear overhang and vehicle weights. There are travel time restrictions placed on overdimension vehicles so they do not delay other road users.

If a vehicle is overdimension, it will need to have appropriate signage, may require a pilot vehicle and is likely to require an overdimension permit from the Overdimension Permit Issuing Agency (OPIA).

Vehicles over 4.25m require written permission from the owner of any overhead obstruction that the vehicle may not clear safely (e.g., electricity lines). Such owners may require the vehicle to be escorted by a load escort to check clearances and assist with any disconnections or repairs (the function of a load escort is different to the traffic warning function a pilot vehicle plays). Vehicles over 5m must also have a permit from OPIA and vehicles over 6.5m need approval from the Director of Land Transport.

An overdimension vehicle must not interfere with or damage traffic control devices, bridges, tunnels or wires, cables, electricity lines etc. It must not damage trees or other foliage without the permission of the owner.

The operator of the overdimension vehicle is responsible for any damage.

It is important to check what permits and other requirements must be met before taking oversize vehicles on the road.


The content of this document is necessarily general and readers should seek specific advice on particular matters and not rely solely on this document.
If you would like more information on any of the topics in this document, please contact your usual Auld Brewer Mazengarb & McEwen adviser.






Return to previous page Print