Licensing in New Zealand

All radio transmitters in New Zealand must either be licensed by a radio licence, spectrum licence or general user licence, or have an exemption from licensing.

Radio licences

Anyone can hold a radio licence. Types of radio licence include:

  • aeronautical
  • amateur repeaters
  • fixed radio link that connects two fixed locations
  • land mobile (including cellular services)
  • maritime coast station repeaters
  • radio paging
  • satellite earth station.

Radio licences are recorded in the Register of Radio Frequencies (RRF).

Spectrum licences

Spectrum licences are granted by the owner of a management right for a defined period of time. Management rights can be owned by the Crown or private entities. Types of spectrum licences include:

  • broadcasting licences (FM, AM, digital television)
  • 3G and 4G cellular licences
  • Managed Spectrum Park licences.

Spectrum licences are also recorded in the Register of Radio Frequencies (RRF).

Licence fees

Annual fees are charged for radio and spectrum licences.

See Annual licence fees for more information.

These cover the costs of interference management, international co-ordination, technical standards, enforcement, and compliance. However, there are some frequencies that you can use for free (see below).

Frequencies (licences) anyone can use

You can operate radio equipment on assigned frequencies without the need to get a licence in your own name or pay licence fees. To do this you need to use the General User Radio Licences (GURL) and General User Spectrum Licences (GUSL).

To use these frequencies:

  • your equipment must meet the technical standards
  • you must only operate on the allocated frequencies, or within the allocated bands
  • you must abide by any other requirements specified in the licence.

Choosing a licence type

We've developed a tool to help you figure out which licence type you need.

Find out which licence you need

Licence exemptions

If your radio transmitters are not covered by the above licence categories, you can apply to RSM Licensing for an exemption under Regulation 10 of Radiocommunications Regulations 2001. We'll only consider an exemption if a radio licence is not required for the efficient and effective management of the radio spectrum.

Contact us to find out more about eligibility for a licence exemption.