The steps to register or change ownership and keep your new car lawfully and safely up to standard with a warrant of fitness, licence and insurance.
Once you buy a car, you will want to get it legally and safely on the road as soon as possible. This means:
Register your car after purchase
You must notify the NZ Transport Agency of your purchase as soon as possible. Do this within seven days to avoid fines or infringements.
If you have bought a used car, both you and the seller must notify NZ Transport Agency of the change of ownership. The easiest way to do this is online and on the spot. Both buyers and sellers can use NZ Transport Agency’s Online services to notify a change of registered person.
Online services(external link) — NZ Transport Agency
Bring your mobile phone and complete NZ Transport Agency’s change of registered person on the spot.
If you have bought a new car or a vehicle imported to New Zealand for the first time, you must register the vehicle. NZ Transport Agency will then issue the vehicle number plates and add it to the Motor Vehicle database.
See NZ Transport Agency’s website for more information on how to register a new car.
Registering your vehicle(external link) — NZ Transport Agency
Once you have changed ownership or registered the vehicle, you will receive a Certificate of Registration in your name. Keep this document in a safe place.
Keeping your car legal
Owning a car requires ongoing updates and maintenance to keep it legally on the road.
When you own and drive your car, you must always have a valid:
Warrant of Fitness (WoF)
A regular inspection to make sure the vehicle meets all safety requirements.
How often you will need to get a WoF inspection depends on how old the vehicle is. You can get a WoF check done by mechanics or auto repair shops who are authorised warrant of fitness inspectors. Display your WoF sticker inside the windscreen on the driver’s side.
See NZ Transport Agency’s website for more information on keeping your WoF up-to-date.
Warrant of Fitness(external link) — NZ Transport Agency
Licence, or ‘rego’
Also known as your ‘rego’, your licence is the ongoing fee you must pay to use your car on public roads.
Your vehicle must be licensed at all times. NZ Transport Agency will send you a renewal notice before your current licence expires. Display your licence sticker inside the windscreen on the passenger’s side. See NZ Transport Agency’s website for more details.
Vehicle Licensing(external link) — NZ Transport Agency
Distance licence for diesel vehicles
You must pay road user charges (RUC) if your vehicle uses diesel.
Any diesel vehicle must have a current distance licence with paid RUC mileage at all times. You can purchase a licence in 1,000km units. Display your distance licence inside the windscreen next to your licence. See NZ Transport Agency’s website for more details.
About Road User Charges(external link) — NZ Transport Agency
Getting car insurance
There are two types of insurance related to motor vehicles:
- insurance on the car, eg in case of accidents or damage
- insurance to cover your loan payments in case you have a change in your situation, eg losing your job or becoming sick.
Only insure your car for its current market value. Include the value of fixed accessories such as a vehicle stereo system. If you insure the car for less than it is worth, you won't get its full value if it is 'written off'.
Each year the insurance company sends you a renewal notice to insure your vehicle for the coming year. They will adjust the premium based on the value they have placed on your vehicle. You can negotiate with them if you think this is too high.
If you’re paying for insurance as part of your loan, the insurance company must give you a separate document telling you about your rights in the disclosure document. Finance companies can't make you buy this insurance from them. You may get car insurance from a different company.
Read more about Insurance