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Licence and registration

Below is a list of alerts relating to vehicle licensing and registration.

1. Vehicle has previously been de-registered

The vehicle has been de-registered in the past and then registered again.

The vehicle may have been in an accident and written off by an insurance company, or the vehicle's registration may have expired because the licence was not kept current.

Passenger vehicles can only remain unlicensed for 12 months, or 24 months if currently owned by a vehicle trader. Non-passenger vehicles (trailers, ATVs, etc.) can remain unlicensed for 24 months.

The owner at the time may have asked that the licence and registration be cancelled because the vehicle would not be used for some time (for example while overseas).

Our recommendations

Try to contact the person who owned the vehicle just prior to the date of de-registration, for more information.

2. Vehicle is de-registered

The vehicle may have been in an accident and written off by an insurance company, or the vehicle's registration may have expired because the licence was not kept current.

If the vehicle is unlicensed for over 12 months it will be de-registered.

Our recommendations

Speak to the current owner or the person who owned the vehicle just prior to the date of de-registration, for more information.

3. Registration has been cancelled

This vehicle's registration has been cancelled by the vehicle owner, and is no longer allowed on the road.

There are a number of possible reasons for this, such as the vehicle:

  • has been destroyed or rendered permanently useless
  • was written-off by an insurance company due to major damage
  • is being permanently removed from New Zealand roads (for example sold for parts)
  • was not going to be used on the road for a reasonably long period of time (for example being restored, owner going overseas, etc.)

Our recommendations

If you wish to purchase this vehicle for use upon New Zealand roads, you will need to have the vehicle re-registered (new plates assigned), obtain a current WOF or COF, possibly have a VIN assigned, and purchase a current vehicle licence.

As part of the re-registration process, the vehicle will undergo a thorough safety inspection for frame damage etc. This inspection costs approximately $450.

You may also be responsible for paying overdue/unpaid licence or RUC fees if applicable to this vehicle.

4. Registration has lapsed

The vehicle's registration has been cancelled by the NZTA - not by the vehicle owner.

Passenger vehicles can only remain unlicensed for 12 months, or 24 months if currently owned by a vehicle trader. Non-passenger vehicles (trailers, ATVs, etc) can remain unlicensed for 24 months.

Our recommendations

If you wish to purchase this vehicle for use on New Zealand roads, you will need to have the vehicle re-registered (new plates assigned), obtain a current WOF or COF, possibly have a VIN assigned, and purchase a current vehicle licence.

As part of the re-registration process, the vehicle will undergo a thorough safety inspection for frame damage etc. This inspection costs approximately $450.

You may also be responsible for paying overdue/unpaid licence or RUC fees if there are any outstanding.

5. Registration will lapse, unless re-licensed.

This vehicle does not have a current licence and the NZTA will cancel the vehicle's registration if the vehicle is not re-licensed by the specified date.

Passenger vehicles can only remain unlicensed for 12 months, or 24 months if currently owned by a vehicle trader. Non-passenger vehicles (trailers, ATVs, etc) can remain unlicensed for 24 months.

Our recommendations

It can be costly to re-register a vehicle, so if you are looking to buy this vehicle make sure the owner has it re-licensed before the indicated date. You should also inquire why the vehicle is currently un-licensed.

If you need to have the vehicle re-registered (new plates assigned) you will have to obtain a current WOF or COF, possibly have a VIN assigned, and purchase a current vehicle licence.

As part of the re-registration process, the vehicle will undergo a thorough safety inspection for frame damage etc. This inspection costs approximately $450

6. Vehicle has never been registered

The vehicle has been through the pre-registration process but has not yet been registered (i.e. had a plate number assigned). The vehicle is new from the factory, or has recently been imported into the country.

It is also possible that the NZTA does not have full registration details if the vehicle was registered before 1995.

The vehicle cannot be used on the road until it has been registered, licensed and had a safety inspection.

7. Cannot check if the vahicle is a damaged import as it has never been registered

Damaged import information can only be checked by registration plate and this vehicle has never had a registration plate.

8. Vehicle has exemption licence

The owner has asked that the vehicle's licence (registration sticker) be 'put on hold' for a period of time so that it will not expire.

This is usually done if the vehicle is not going to be driven on the road for some time (for example: the owner will be overseas on a long holiday, the vehicle requires major repairs, or the vehicle is just not required).

The vehicle cannot be driven on the road while it has an exemption licence.

The exemption licence will be changed back to a regular licence if the owner contacts the NZTA, or when the exemption licence expiry date is reached.

9. Licence (registration sticker) expired on...

A vehicle must have a licence to legally be driven on the road. Licences can be purchased for a period of 3 to 12 months.

When this period passes, the licence has expired and must be renewed if the vehicle is to be used on a public road.

Most vehicles need to be continuously licensed (there are some exceptions) and must have a valid WOF or COF to be relicensed. This means that if the licence expired say 2 months ago, this 2 month period must still be paid for. You cannot save licensing fees by delaying your licence renewal.

The current owner (vehicle seller) is responsible for paying all licence fees that are due up until the date that the change of ownership officially takes place. The new owner (vehicle buyer) is only responsible for licence fees incurred after this point.

10. Current number plate differs from searched number plate

The searched number plate was previously registered to the vehicle, but should no longer be attached to it.

The VIR® will automatically check the number plate that is currently registered to the vehicle.

If an the incorrect number plate is attached to the vehicle, you should ask the current owner why.

Keep in mind that it's possible the current vehicle owner is trying to hide the true status of the vehicle.

11. No licence found

The vehicle does not have a licence (registration sticker). This vehicle will require a new licence before it can be legally driven on the road.