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Please note: the Land Transport Amendment Act 2017 (external link) has been passed by Parliament, meaning changes will be made to the regulatory framework for small passenger services, and from 1 October 2017  Approved Taxi Organisations (ATOs) will cease to exist. Instead, the same rules will apply across all small passenger services. Please consider these upcoming changes when thinking about making an ATO application.

Sections 30P and 30Q of the Land Transport Act 1998 set out the current minimum requirements ATOs must meet, while section 8 of the Land Transport Rule:  Operator Licensing 2007 details the current legal standards and requirements. The revised Operator Licensing Rule 2017 will also come into effect on 1 October 2017.

The information on this page is just an overview.

Read the Land Transport Act 1998 (external link)
Read the Land Transport Operator Licensing Rule


Operating a taxi service comes with many responsibilities, which is why you have to be an approved taxi organisation to provide this passenger service. ATOs coordinate taxi services operating under their name.

Making an application to become an ATO

To become an ATO you need to apply to us. You will need to contact your nearest Transport Agency office and speak to a transport officer, who will assist you through the application process for your area. You'll need to pay the required fee when you apply.

Find your nearest regional office

Certificate of knowledge of law and practice

At least one person who has a controlling position in your organisation must hold a Certificate of knowledge of law and practice to show they have an adequate knowledge of the legal requirements and responsibilities to operate an ATO.

To gain this certificate, our transport officers will assess you on your knowledge of the rules and legislative requirements.

As part of the assessment process, you’ll need to provide proof of your identity.

The study guide for the Certificate of Knowledge can be viewed on-line or downloaded using the links below. The study guide is available in printed format as part of the application process.

View the study guide – Part A [PDF, 21 MB]

View the study guide – Part B [PDF, 17 MB]

ATO operating rules

All ATOs must have operating rules. The rules, and any amendments to them, must be approved by us, and ATOs must ensure their members and drivers comply with them. Each ATO is responsible for developing its own rules.

We can only approve your application as an ATO if we’re satisfied your rules provide adequate control over your members and drivers.

Level of service

Unless exempted by us, you must provide your taxi service and take phone bookings 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week. You must also advertise your ATO’s telephone number in the White Pages as soon as practicable (in the next edition for the area(s) in which you will operate).

Notifying changes

You must notify us within 14 days if you change:

  • the person in control of your ATO

  • your business address or phone number

  • the areas in which you operate.

Passenger service licence

Passenger service licences must be held by:

  • ATOs that employ drivers – as employees – to drive taxis

  • members of ATOs who drive taxis.

Drivers who are employees of ATOs are not required to hold a passenger service licence. They are covered under the employing ATOs' licence.

Find out about your employer obligations on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website (external link)

Driver requirements

You and your drivers have a number of legal and other responsibilities in providing a safe and effective passenger service.

As an operator of an ATO, you must ensure all your drivers have:

  • adequate knowledge of your operating area(s) and, where required, hold an area knowledge certificate
  • adequate English language skills
  • a current driver licence, P endorsement and driver ID card.

Find out more about area knowledge certificates
Read about the requirements for driving a passenger service vehicle

Immigration law requires you to ensure your drivers can legally work in New Zealand, which means they must hold New Zealand residency or a work permit. Check the Immigration Service website for information.

Read Immigration New Zealand's Immigration guide for employers booklet (external link)

Driver misconduct

You must report to us within 48 hours if you:

  • terminate any member or employee because of improper behaviour, or
  • receive any complaints of a serious nature. You must also report the actions you’ve taken.

Incidents of misconduct could include driver violence, assault, sexual offences, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, dangerous or reckless driving.

Records ATO must keep

ATOs are required to keep a number of registers, which must be made available when requested by an enforcement officer, at any reasonable time of day.

You must keep registers of:

  • all members who hold passenger service licences, including licence numbers and vehicles operated by each
  • all drivers working for your organisation, Including driver licence and area knowledge certificate details
  • all vehicles operated under your organisation, including unique fleet and registration numbers
  • all complaints received.

Complaints register

As far as practicable, your complaints register must include:

  • the name and position of the person within your organisation who received the initial complaint
  • the name, address and contact telephone number of the person making the complaint
  • the date, time and location of the event or issue relating to the complaint
  • the name, or description of the person complained about
  • details about the complaint
  • details of your response to the complaint and any action taken
  • how you notified the complainant of your response to the complaint and the date you did this
  • the name and position in the ATO of the person who took action in response to the complaint (if different to the person who took the initial complaint).

Driver hour logs

Driver hour logs must:

  • record the log-on and log-off times of all drivers, and
  • be retained for 12 months.

These records of driver hours help demonstrate that you are maintaining adequate control of your drivers, which is an important consideration in the ‘chain of responsibility’. The chain of responsibility recognises that everyone who influences a driver’s behaviour and compliance should, and must, be held accountable if that influence results in non-compliance.

Find out more about the chain of responsibility


We must approve all ATO signage.

Signage includes:

  • the name of your ATO
  • business location
  • contact number
  • logo (including colour)
  • roof sign.

It also includes Braille information, which all taxis must display on the inside of either left passenger doors.

To get our approval, your new signage must be distinguishable from the signage used by other ATOs operating in the same area.

Your drivers must use the latest signage approved by us, including fare schedules. When you replace your signage, you must ensure use of the old signage is discontinued.

You may use more than one brand name or signage – and fares – provided they target different markets.

Read our brochure for more information on signage


Fare schedules

You must ensure that all your vehicles display your fare schedule – and only the schedule most recently approved by us. The fares schedule must state whether GST (goods and services tax) is included.

See the Operator Licensing Rule 2007 for detailed information on how you must display fare schedules.

Read the Operator Licensing Rule 2007


If you charge GST you must be registered for GST. If you or your operators are unsure of GST requirements, visit the IRD website.

Visit the IRD website (external link)

Fare receipts

Whether your receipts are handwritten or printed, each fare receipt must include:

  • the fare amount
  • any special charges
  • driver’s unique identifier (as shown on their ID card)
  • vehicle’s registration number
  • operator’s GST number (if GST is charged)
  • name of your ATO
  • date.

If the receipt is also a tax invoice, then IRD requirements will also apply.