In this post, we have given a list of important details regarding the Car registration and licensing in New Zealand.

  1. Vehicle is unregistered

If the seller has not licenced the automobile for more than twelve months, it will be de-registered. It could happen when the automobile has been destroyed in a collision and declared as totalled by the insurance company.

Or, its registration might have expired due to being unregistered. In such cases make sure ask questions from the seller or person who owned the automobile before the date of de-registration.

  1. Vehicle was not registered in the past

If the automobile was not registered previously and have been re-registered. There are higher chances that it might have been totalled in a collision. As a result the insurance agency might have declared it as written off.

On the other hand, the registration of vehicle might have been expired due to non-renewal of licence. Usually, every person who owns a passenger car cannot delay licensing for 1 or 2 years.

Whereas, automobiles that are non-passenger like ATVs, trailers, etc. can stay unlicenced for 2 years. Before buying any car make sure to contact the previous owner to get more information about it.

  1. If the vehicle was never registered, you cannot check its damaged import information

You can examine the vehicle’s damaged import details by checking the registration plate. But if the seller has never registered it, you won’t be able to verify its damaged import details.

  1. Have an expired registration sticker or licence

In order to lawfully drive an automobile on the roads of New Zealand make sure to get it licenced. You can buy a valid licence for a time period of three to twelve months. After it the licence will expire and should be renewed again in order to continuously drive the automobile.

Most often some automobiles require to be licenced after regular periods of time. In order to licence again you should have a valid COF or WOF. Don’t think of saving the fees of licensing by constantly delaying to get your licence renewed.

Remember that the seller will be liable to pay any overdue licence fees until you get the car’s ownership.

  1. Don’t have a valid licence

If the vehicle doesn’t have a registration sticker or a licence, make sure to get a new licence. Before getting it you cannot lawfully use the automobile on the road.

  1. Searched number plate is different from current number plate

  • If you searched number plate was previously attached to some other automobile. Make sure it is no more registered to it.
  • You can instantly check if the number plate is still registered to the vehicle by using VIR (Vehicle Information Report).
  • If the vehicle is registered with a wrong number plate, make sure to know the reason from its owner. As the current owner may be trying to hide the true condition of the car.
  1. Car’s registration has been cancelled

When the owner has cancelled the registration of automobile, it can be no more legally used the road. The existing owner might have cancelled the registration due to a number of reasons such as:

  • The vehicle has been rendered as totally useless or destroyed in an accident.
  • It has been permanently removed from the roads of New Zealand. For instance, it might have been sold for components.
  • It has gathered some major damaged and declared as totalled by your insurance agency.
  • The owner has decided to stop using it for a significant time period.
    Maybe the owner is planning to go overseas for work or want to restore the car condition.

If you want to buy a vehicle in New Zealand, make sure to get it re-registered. You will have to search for new number plates, get a VIN, a COF or WOF and buy a valid licence for automobile.

You will also need to get the automobile inspected for any damage in the auto body or any other part. The customer may need to pay approximately $450 for checking the vehicle’s condition.
Additionally, you will be also liable to pay any outstanding or overdue RUC or licence fees (If any).

  1. Vehicle registration have expired

In some cases the New Zealand Transport Agency may cancel the automobile’s registration without the request of the owner. Normally, you cannot keep a passenger vehicles licenced for more than 1 or 2 years, if it is currently in the ownership of a trader.

Whereas, automobiles that are non-passenger such as ATVs, trailers and more can stay unlicenced for 2 years. If you want to drive this car on New Zealand roads, make sure to get the following: Get it registered again, new VIN, buy a new auto licence, and current COF or WOF.

You will also need to get the automobile inspected thoroughly for any kind of damage. It is an important part of getting new registration process. It can cost you around $449. If there are any unpaid Road Use Charges or License, you may also be liable to pay it.

  1. Vehicle’s registration will expire, if not re-licensed

If the current owner don’t re-licenced the automobile up to a given date, the NZTA will cancel its registration. Vehicles like ATV’s, trailers and more that are non-passenger can stay unlicenced for two years.
On the other hand, passenger automobiles can remain unlicensed only for a period of 1 to 2 years. Provided it must be owned by an auto trader.

It can be really expensive to get a vehicle registered again. Therefore, make sure to ask the current owner why it is not-licensed. If you can’t get it registered again you will need to get a VIN, current automobile licence and a valid COF or WOF.

You will have to also perform a thorough inspection to identify any damage in the automobile. For this you may need to spend at least $449.

  1. Vehicle was never registered

If the automobile has been registered but have undergone a pre-registration process. It clearly indicates that the vehicle have been recently manufactured and imported in the country.

In some cases it is possible that the NZTA may not have complete information regarding registration. This mostly goes for vehicles that have been registered before 1995. You cannot use such type of automobiles before getting a licence, safety inspection and registration.

  1. Vehicle’s licence is put on hold

Sometimes the owner may have asked to get the car exempted from licence/registration sticker. It is usually indicates that its licence have been put on hold for a considerable time. In such situations the licence won’t expire.
Most owners do this when they have to move out of the country for a business holiday.

At that time they may not use the vehicle for a significant period of time. Though they can get a regular licence after the expiry of exemption licence date or by contacting the NZTA.

More information


August 2, 2018

Category: General



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