The safest way to buy a car

Let MotorWeb guide you through the minefield of buying a used car


1. Why don't I get the name and address details for the current and previous owners?

As of May 2011 the Government has imposed restrictions on ownership details.

  • VIRs still show the total number of owners
  • Current and past private ownership details are suppressed
  • Full name and address details are still shown for companies who have owned the vehicle
  • Where the current owner is a private individual, you can confirm the person's name using their first and last name(s). Simply click on the 'Click to verify' link within the VIR® report
  • You cannot confirm past or joint owners or the current registered person for unregistered vehicles

2. Current owner of this vehicle is not yet known to the NZTA

Both MR-13A and MR-13B forms are required to complete the Change of Ownership transaction.

In this case the previous owner has completed the MR-13A form advising that they have sold the vehicle to another party. However, the current owner has not completed an MR-13B form to agree to accept ownership and liability for the vehicle. Hence the current vehicle owner is not yet officially known, and the previous owner is still technically responsible for the vehicle's parking tickets, fines, etc'

Our recommendation

We suggest that both you (the new buyer) and the current owner (seller) visit an NZTA agent (for example VTNZ or NZ Post) and complete the Change of Ownership procedure. Having the seller present is not a legal requirement.

3. Identity of current owner has not been confirmed

The current owner has completed the required MR-13B form indicating that they have taken responsibility for the vehicle.

However, they have not proved conclusively who they are by presenting suitable identification to an NZTA agent (for example driver's licence or passport).

Our recommendation

We suggest that both the seller and the new owner visit an NZTA agent (for example VTNZ or NZ Post) and complete the Change of Ownership procedure.

4. Vehicle's ownership has recently changed

The current registered owner has owned the vehicle for only a short period of time.

If they are not a registered motor vehicle trader then you should question why they are selling the vehicle so soon after purchasing it.

There could be mechanical or legal issues that you need to be aware of.

Our recommendation

  • have an independent mechanical inspection from Vehicle Testing New Zealand (VTNZ) to check for mechanical faults
  • establish proof of ownership
    • When there is a change of ownership, the NZTA automatically advise the seller of the change in ownership to ensure it was authorised. However this process can take several weeks and it is possible that the previous owner has not yet been made aware of the change, and therefore has not had a chance to dispute the change of ownership, or worse, report the vehicle stolen.
    • In this case we advise you to contact the previous owner and confirm the change of ownership was legal (e.g. the vehicle has been purchased correctly and was not stolen).