Licensing criteria for centre-based ECE services

Section 10 of the Education and Training Act 2020(external link) defines an early childhood education and care centre as a premises that is used regularly for the education or care of 3 or more children (not being children of the persons providing the education or care or children enrolled at a school who are being provided with education or care before or after school) under the age of 6 years by day (or part of a day) but not for any continuous period of more than 7 days.

Centre-based ECE services have a variety of different operating structures, philosophies and affiliations, and are known by many different names – for example, Playcentres, early learning centres, Montessori, childcare centres, Kindergartens, crèches, preschools, a’oga amata, Rudolf Steiner etc.

These centres are licensed in accordance with the Education and Training Act 2020 under the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008(external link), which prescribe minimum standards that each licensed service must meet. Licensing criteria are used to assess how the centres meet the minimum standards required by the regulations.

For each criterion there is guidance to help centres meet the required standards.

The publication of the criteria on its own can be downloaded as a PDF [PDF, 1.8 MB] and printed. 

The licensing criteria were last updated in September 2022. 


HS18 Travel by motor vehicle

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Health and safety practices criterion 18

      If children travel in a motor vehicle while in the care of the service:

      • each child is restrained as required by Land Transport legislation;
      • required adult:child ratios are maintained; and
      • the written permission of a parent of the child is obtained before the travel begins (unless the child is travelling with their parent).

      Documentation required:

      Evidence of parental permission for any travel by motor vehicle. In most cases, this requirement will be met by the excursion records required for criterion HS17. However, services that provide transport for children to and/or from the service must also gain written permission from a parent upon enrolment.


      The criterion aims to uphold the safety of children while travelling in motor vehicles. Linking the restraint of children to licensing requirements allows Ministry of Education to put a regulatory intervention in place for non-compliance, as opposed to fines given by Police.

  • Guidance
    • Guidance

      Any examples in the guidance are provided as a starting point to show how services can meet (or exceed) the requirement. Services may choose to use other approaches better suited to their needs as long as they comply with the criteria.

      If there are not sufficient child restraints or cars/vans available for any excursion, then other transport options need to be considered.

      Ensuring children are properly restrained according to traffic law while travelling in a car is a bare minimum requirement.

      Taxis and shuttles have different legislative requirements for child restraints. Ensure children travelling in taxis are restrained as if they were in a private car or van.

      If travelling by bus where children are not restrained ensure there is adequate supervision.

      If a centre is looking at transporting children to and from the centre, the accountability for regular transport (outside enrolled and licensed hours) is to be agreed between parents and the ECE centres concerned.

      ECE centres should employ "best practices" and have procedures in place that focus on health and safety, such as

      • Who the adults will be – including any qualifications (teaching, first aid), if they have been police vetted/safety checked
      • Appropriate adult:child ratios
      • Supervision arrangements
      • Alternative arrangements if parents are not at home when children are dropped home
      • Sign-in procedures
      • Parental permission upon enrolment.

      NZTA provide more information on the NZTA website.(external link)

      Find out more information on Transporting children to and from ECE services and kōhanga reo.

  • Things to consider
    • Things to consider

      Other things to consider when arranging travel in motor vehicles include:

      • All drivers must have a current full New Zealand driver’s licence, and how this will be checked.
      • Each vehicle must be registered and have a current warrant of fitness, and how this will be checked.
      • As safe practice, have two adults accompanying the children travelling in a private vehicle. The exception to this would be where a parent was transporting only their own children.
      • All private vehicles must have the appropriate safety restraints for adults and children in accordance with the NZ Transport Agency regulations. See this fact sheet for more details(external link).