FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How is the process, what you get and when
Regarding bringing foreign drivers that are not used to the left side of the road: Are they a good choice for New Zealand?
Although it is confusing at first and the brain needs extra focus for a couple of hours, it takes less than you think: especially for a professional driver. It depends on the person, but the brain switches naturally in less than 2 days.
Why European truck drivers? Are all European drivers good for New Zealand?
Not all European truck drivers are equal. Some countries have had a strong accent on Health and Safety at work since the year 2000 and a strong focus on risk assessment (Germany, Netherlands, UK, Spain, France, Portugal, Austria, Benelux countries, and Scandinavian countries...). Other countries are barely starting on those kinds of regulations (Eastern Europe). We only bring you the ones that have solid H&S training. Not the "she'll be all right" people. Nor the ones from countries where tailgating is a national sport.
If European drivers are only used to European trucks, can they drive a Road Ranger?
Those older than 45 will most likely have experience with a double de-clutch gearbox similar to Road Rangers: (Barreiros, Avia, Pegaso, Americans Mack and REO, European brands old models from Setra, DAF, FIAT trucks, Iveco and Continental).
Younger drivers will have experience with manual Synchro 18 speed which is very similar to an American crash box, but they will need to pick up a few skills: 1) using the clutch pedal midway, rather than at the bottom, and 2) there is no synchro-mesh so they must synchronize the gears themselves, taking into account how they handle the revs, especially to down gear. The average time for these skills to "click in" is between 2 and 8 hours if you come from driving an 18-speed synchro.
Why are European drivers not as interested to immigrate to New Zealand as other European professionals?
Work-life balance. The EU countries have tackled fatigue going to the cause of the problem: working hours.
Truck drivers in Europe can only work 96 hours fortnightly although they usually count the waiting times as resting time to maximize their performance. The digital tachograph is almost impossible to fiddle with and very high fines are given to those who try, starting at €1,000. Even seconds of driving beyond your allowed minutes result in a big fine too. This allows truck drivers to have good protection against exploitation and fatigue. They have plenty of free time to rest and they can enjoy family life. When you explain to a European driver that the driving week could be 70 hours and they will use a paper logbook, they may feel like the move might not be worth it.
Offering a European driver the promise that he will be given only around 55 hours a week will attract truck drivers that want to have a life outside of their job, enjoy New Zealand and spend time with their families. Work-life balance is very important for them.
Are European drivers used to narrow roads? I only see them in motorways
European drivers are used to all kinds of roads, as loading and unloading will not necessarily happen in an Industrial State near the motorway: that land is too expensive for most businesses. European drivers go everywhere: crossing medieval villages almost touching balconies, over craggy mountains to load from an old factory, into old industrial states that were designed for long-gone smaller trucks, reversing 100 meters into old factories because it is the only access, rural roads with one lane but two-handed as some examples. They are used to maneuvering in tight spots, in fact, it’s the norm.
How do European drivers get their licence?
In the European Union, class 2 is not popular, as you can go from driving a car to a class 4 license.
A driver must sit 3 exams for a class 4 license (theory, maneuvering, and a road test) and another 3 for class 5, always with a recognized Driving School. The Driving School will provide him with at least 20 hours of driving practice per license accompanied by a professional instructor. The instructor decides when the student is ready and registers them for their exams.
The theory exam takes place in a classroom at the nearest Department of Transport office. The practical exams are assessed by an Examining Officer from the Department of Transport who is extremely demanding. It is common to fail at least once. If that happens then the driver will go back to driving school, book a few more hours of driving and book his exam again. You do not pass until the Examining Officer is satisfied. He works for the government and only has the safety of everyone in mind. He does not care if you spend thousands of euros and have tried 5 times.
The class 5 licence follows the same process.
The driving schools work hard to prepare their students to pass every exam on the first try.
However, the license does not allow you to drive a truck. You then need a professional course called CPC in the UK ( called CAP in Spain, FIMO in France,...) which is 130 hours of theory and 10 hours of practice. It includes law, tachograph, defensive driving, fuel-saving techniques, etc in detail. There is an exam to pass after this and it is not an open-book exam. Companies will pay for the course and if you do not pass it you cannot drive trucks/buses. Every 5 years it is renewed with a 35-hour refresher course in person.
The "Dangerous Good course" takes 50 hours and has a very demanding exam. It is renewed with a 21-hour course every 5 years.
For driving tankers, they need to pass a "tankers course" of 10 hours or they cannot legally drive a tanker.
When they land their first job, they are very prepared in theory, they know what they are handling, and they have robust basic driving skills that need to be improved with the right habits over time. One to three-month tandem driving is the norm. When they finally drive as a solo driver they are very well prepared.
How good is their English level?
It mainly depends on the country of origin and their age (English was introduced in Schools replacing French as a foreign language at different times in different countries). Apart from UK drivers, the Scandinavian, Dutch and Swiss tend to have very good English. Germans and Austrians often have an intermediate level. Portuguese, Spanish and Eastern Europeans tend to have a low intermediate, but many have been or are currently working in the UK. We only consider drivers who have an adequate level of English and rest assured that the sponsoring company will have the last word on that.
Why Latin American truck drivers? Are all Latin American drivers good for New Zealand?
Not all Latin American truck drivers are equal. Those in the south (Chile, Argentina, Uruguay) have access to some Road Rangers, some Manual EuroSynchros and some Automatics. The rest might only have experience with Road Rangers (a 15-speed box is the most common) and some Manual Synchros Scania and Volvos.
The Health and Safety culture varies enormously, but generally, it is not as advanced as NZ standards. The standards are higher in Chile, Uruguay and northern Argentina, while drivers from Peru, Colombia, and Venezuela may have some good H&S skills depending on the companies they worked for, or if they had exposure to mines, oil or gas areas that are managed by western companies. Many have worked in Spain in past sponsorships given in the 2000s. We will only present you with the drivers with the right skills and mentality for adjusting to driving in New Zealand.
Are roads in Latin America similar to those in New Zealand?
Absolutely! Most countries have single-lane roads with no hard shoulders, plenty of mountain passes over 3000m and changing weather conditions. Colombia is a mountainous country with very similar roads and many all-weathered roads for trucks. It is similar, only lacking ice and snow, but it does have plenty of muddy roads. Perú has a flat coastal area and the humongous Andes mountains with roads going up and down 3000m mountain passes all day. They are not used to rain but they are used to ice and snow in winter. Chile and Argentina have flat dry areas on the coast, a wet climate in the south (similar to our West Coast) with plenty of rain, ice, and snow. Their border is the Andes mountains, with 9 passes over 5000m high. We will only consider the drivers with experience in all those areas, not the ones that roll in the flat. Uruguay has a very irregular topography and a subtropical climate. They do not have snow or ice but they suffer thick fog in some areas and strong winds in others. Many drivers go to Argentina or Brazil regularly to deliver goods and are exposed to other challenges on the roads. Venezuela has highly regarded truck drivers, sponsored all around South America and also in Spain. Despite having roads mostly on tropical plains, they do have 3000m passes in the North and they frequently deliver goods to Colombia, where there are varied and very challenging roads. They do not know ice or snow, but they know muddy roads very well.
Other countries like Mexico or Brazil have challenging roads that prepare their drivers perfectly well to fit in New Zealand however their road culture is radically different. H&S is non-existent and the use of drugs is deemed acceptable, so any driver that we accept from certain countries will be screened and handpicked.
How good is their English level?
This is their weakest point, as their passport does not allow them to visit USA or Canada without applying for a tourist visa and their currency is too weak to spend holidays or pay for an English course. It will depend on their country of origin and their age. Mexicans from the border with the USA regularly make deliveries across the border and practice English on a daily basis. Puerto Ricans are bilingual English/Spanish. Chileans, Argentinians and Peruvians that have worked in mines have had the chance to practice their English with foreign workers. The rest may have a low intermediate level.
But many Latin Americans have worked in the USA temporarily at some point or had a stint working in the USA islands on specific projects. Those with this experience have an upper intermediate level of English.
We interview in Spanish and English and we only accept candidates that have an adequate level of English. Rest assured that the company sponsoring them will have the last word on that.
How do Latin American drivers get their licence?
It depends on the country, as in many of them the level of corruption is such that it is possible to simply buy it at the Driving Schools. This is one contributing factor as to why those countries are red on our map, among other reasons.
In countries where they cannot buy it, they have to go through a course for class 4 and another course for class 5 through a Driving School only. There is a theory and a practical test for each class.
The examining officer comes from a government agency and is usually very strict.
Once the driver gets his license, they can begin work as a driver assistant with a veteran driver. It is common that the assistant stays for 6 months to a year until he is given a truck for him to drive on his own. This is dependent on the feedback from the veteran. If the veterans are not confident in their abilities then the rookie never gets his own truck.
In Argentina they also need to pass a professional driving course called LINTI: This starts with a thorough health check, a criminal background check, and a presentation of their high school certificate. When they have met these requirements, they begin a 40-hour course about professional driving techniques and health and safety on the road. If they pass this exam they get their LINTI permit and can drive trucks. The class 5 license alone is not enough in Argentina to be able to drive trucks.
Let's say I am interested in bringing in a driver with certain skills and an English level. Now what?
Contact us to discuss exactly the kind of driver you need, what he/she will drive, and details of the run that will be assigned. We will find you exactly what you need based on their experience. We screen our candidates before they join our Driver's pool so we know exactly what they have to offer.
You can also directly head to our pool of drivers and check the file of each driver yourself here: https://airtable.com/shrF30r4V8dKAdk3H
Once you choose the candidate/s we present to you, we will schedule an interview for you to assess the driver. If you decide to proceed, we will explain the process and present a contract for recruitment. We will organize his relocation (he will pay for the flight as the law states), coach your future driver about New Zealand road culture and take care of the licence conversion to New Zealand class 5 (theory and practical test, plus logbook course). This conversion will happen within the first 2 weeks. We will also ensure he has all the paperwork and we will take care of the visa application through an immigration adviser. The above services are all included in our flat fee package.
I am interested in importing some good drivers, but they need to be very specific: loggers with Road Ranger experience. Training is expensive, and it is too easy to damage trucks when you have no experience in logging. Do you have that kind of professional in your pool?
Yes, we do. Most Latin Americans have worked with Road Rangers (mostly 15-speed) and we have drivers with logging truck experience in our pool of candidates. Contact us and we will provide you with our list of available drivers so you can pick whoever matches your needs.
How much does it cost, per driver?
3900 NZD (non-including GST) We charge a flat rate for selecting, interviewing, Background checking, and coaching the driver (Road culture and cultural differences) and before arriving in New Zealand we prepare them to pass the theory test. We have a bilingual immigration adviser to take care of the visa application.
Once in New Zealand, they will pass the Theory and Practical test within a week
An Accredited Employer work visa takes an average of 25 working days to be approved so one month after the application your driver can be on his way to New Zealand. Immigration NZ is currently allowing truck drivers up to 3 years of temporary work visas.
It is more affordable than you think. You can have your trucks rolling with drivers that can handle these trucks and roads and have the peace of mind of a hassle-free visa process.
European or Latin American drivers do not face any requirements from their countries, it is only about getting all the standard documents from the applicant, providing the Job Check Number and applying for the visa.
Call us to talk pricing!
What if I think the driver is not up to the job? Do I get my money back?
Absolutely, in fact, we have a 30-day guarantee. We stand behind our recruiting standards. We are so sure of what we do and how we do it that if you are not happy with the driver after 30 days at work, we will refund your money 100% during the first month of employment or replace the driver for free.
Who is your recruiter?
My name is Silvia, I am a 46-year-old truck driver from Barcelona. I worked 4 years as a long-haul truck driver all around Europe. I used to drive a semitrailer reefer (semitrailers are the king of the road in Europe as often roads are too narrow for turning with longer units). I had exposure to all kinds of roads and all types of European drivers. I drove in the UK extensively too. I met many Latin American drivers in Spain as the Spanish firms are used to sponsoring them, especially Colombians.
I came to New Zealand in 2014 and I have driven many types of trucks in the North and South Islands, especially tankers. I currently work transporting beams and oversize metal structures in Taranaki.
When you send your profile to a recruiter, he/she will try to find a match based on specific words found in their CVs and might interview the candidate based on the questions you provided. The recruiter does not have the depth of knowledge of the industry abroad or in NZ to really know what you are looking for.
I do. When I interview I know what questions to ask. I know what the right answers are, and I can spot any inconsistencies. I have driven milk and oil tankers, reefers, double-driver tandem driving, live loads, couriers, curtain-siders, rural, oversize and flat decks. I know Europe extensively and I have a very good understanding of the topography and roads in Latin America, as I have many truck driver friends from there. I also know New Zealand quite well and the roads here are demanding.
I can tell a good driver from a bad driver. I know about attitudes and safety-based mindsets when I listen to drivers talk about their job. I know the kind of truckie New Zealand needs. I am only interested in the kind of professional whom I’d want to meet on the road when after a corner I am faced with a 2-lane bridge that is too narrow for 2 wide vehicles. Because I bet my life on it.
How much do I have to pay the driver?
The driver cannot get paid under 27,76 NZD an hour. That is what Immigration New Zealand states as a minimum wage for importing skilled workers. And they are worth it, they are highly qualified and need very little training to adapt to New Zealand. Mature and experienced drivers can train your recruits so that you can even have top skills passed on to your up-and-coming kiwis. When their visa finishes, they go home but their skills stay in your company.
Any other questions? Just ask