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Reregistering your vehicle (Factsheet 9)

Published: 12 2012

This factsheet provides an explanation on what reregistration is, when a vehicle needs to be re-registered and the process of re-registration.

Reregistering your vehicle

If your vehicle's registration has been cancelled and you want to use the vehicle on the road again, it must be reregistered.

This factsheet covers light vehicles that were previously registered in New Zealand. (Light vehicles have a gross vehicle mass of 3500 kilograms or less eg cars, vans and utility vehicles.)

If you need information on reregistering other types of vehicle (heavy vehicles, trailers, tractors or all-terrain vehicles etc), please phone our motor vehicle registration contact centre on 0800 108 809.

What is the difference between registration and licensing?

Registration is the process of adding a vehicle to the motor vehicle register and issuing it with registration plates. Vehicles must be registered to be used on the road and only require reregistration if the registration has been cancelled.

Vehicle licensing is often incorrectly called 'registration'. It is the payment of a fee to use of a motor vehicle on public roads. When the fee is paid, you receive a label indicating the expiry date of the licence.

Why do vehicles need to be registered?

One reason vehicles need to be registered is to ensure that only those meeting New Zealand's safety standards are on the road. When a vehicle is registered, it undergoes safety and identification inspections.

Registration also allows information about the vehicles on our roads to be recorded on the motor vehicle register. The information helps enforcement.

When do vehicles need to be reregistered?

If your vehicle's registration has been cancelled and you want to use the vehicle on the road again, it must be reregistered.

When is a vehicle cancelled?

Common reasons for cancelling registration include vehicles being 'written off' by insurance companies, destroyed or rendered permanently useless, or permanently removed from New Zealand's roads.

In these situations, you need to fill out a form to cancel the registration and hand over the registration plates (also called 'number plates').

Cancelled because of unpaid licensing fees

If a vehicle is subject to continuous vehicle licensing and remains unlicensed for more than one year, its registration will be cancelled.

If your vehicle doesn't need to be licensed continuously, the registration will be cancelled after the vehicle has been unlicensed for two years.

The reregistration process

The reregistration process involves a safety inspection, certification, registration and licensing. A Transport Service Delivery (TSD) agent can carry out all of these steps. You need to provide proof that the vehicle has previously been registered in New Zealand.

Transport Service Delivery (TSD) agents

TSD agents are organisations appointed by the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) to carry out a range of functions, including vehicle certification inspections. They employ vehicle inspectors (who are approved by the NZTA) to inspect and certify vehicles for reregistration.

In addition to certification inspections, TSD agents also assign and validate vehicle identification numbers (VINs), register new vehicles, relicense vehicles, carry out warrant of fitness and certificate of fitness inspections, issue road user charges (RUC) licences and process notices of sale and acquisition transactions.

TSD agents are:

All main towns and cities have TSD agents that can help you with the reregistration process. To locate your nearest TSD agent, contact the agencies directly or look in the Yellow pages.

About specialist certifiers

If the vehicle being reregistered has been structurally damaged or modified, the TSD agent may refer the vehicle to a specialist certifier. Specialist certifiers are appointed by the NZTA to assist in vehicle certification. A TSD agent may refer a vehicle to one of the following specialist certifiers:

  • a repair certifier, if a vehicle has structural damage or deterioration or previous structural repairs that could affect its safety
  • a low volume vehicle (LVV) certifier, if a vehicle has been modified in a way that could affect its safety.

What if I'm not sure if it's worth reregistering my vehicle?

It can be costly to restore or repair a damaged or deteriorated vehicle to a condition where it's suitable for reregistration. In some cases, the costs could be higher than the value of the vehicle. Some TSD agents may offer a preliminary check (for a fee) to give you an indication of the work needed to bring the vehicle up to the necessary standard.

What if my vehicle is roadworthy but no longer registered?

There are five steps to follow to reregister your vehicle if it isn't registered but:

  • has been registered in New Zealand before, and
  • hasn't been structurally damaged or deteriorated, and
  • hasn't been modified.

Five steps to reregistering a vehicle

Step 1

Take the vehicle to a TSD agent with proof that it has been previously registered in New Zealand and that you're the person entitled to reregister the vehicle.

The proof of previous registration can be old registration papers or documentation that verifies the vehicle's VIN or chassis number, eg registration plates and a warrant of fitness checksheet, or registration plates and insurance policy documents that show the VIN or chassis number.

The TSD agent will need to be satisfied that these documents demonstrate that the vehicle, when originally registered, was designed and constructed according to the requirements applying at that time. For example, vehicles manufactured before 1991 don't need to meet as many vehicle standards.

Step 2

The TSD agent will inspect the vehicle, attach a VIN to it if necessary, and issue a record of certification for compliance with registration requirements. The TSD agent will charge a fee for the vehicle inspection and certification. Information about the vehicle will be added to the motor vehicle register.

Step 3

The vehicle qualifies for a warrant of fitness from the date it passes the TSD agent's inspection.

Step 4

The TSD agent can reregister and license the vehicle for you so that you can legally drive it on the road. The reregistration and licensing fee includes the cost of the new registration plates and the necessary licence labels. The vehicle can be reregistered immediately by the TSD agent, or within the period for which the record of certification is valid.

Step 5

Your vehicle may be driven on the road when it has its new registration plates, licence label, warrant of fitness label and (if applicable) RUC licence attached.

Note: Until the reregistration and relicensing process is complete, a vehicle can't be driven on the road – it must be towed or transported by another means.

The process may be more complicated and costly if the vehicle has been structurally damaged, deteriorated or modified in a way which could affect its safety performance, and the TSD agent refers it to a specialist certifier.

What if my vehicle has structural damage or deterioration?

It's advisable to go to a TSD agent before the vehicle is repaired. The TSD agent will assess if the repair needs to be certified under the supervision of a specialist repair certifier. The repair certifier is responsible for ensuring that the repair is carried out correctly.

If the vehicle has already had structural repair, the TSD agent will assess whether the repair needs to be certified. If it does, the repair certification may involve taking parts of the vehicle apart, because the repair certifier has to be satisfied with the quality of the repair.

Once the repair certifier is satisfied, they issue a repair certificate, which will be sent with the vehicle back to the TSD agent.

You'll need to pay the costs of repair and the costs of repair certification, in addition to the cost of certification for registration.

If a vehicle is so severely damaged or so poorly repaired that it's unsuitable for repair certification, it won't be given a repair certificate. The vehicle will be released to you but you can't, by law, register the vehicle or drive it on the road in New Zealand until it meets the appropriate standard.

What if I've modified or rebuilt my vehicle?

Modifications to a vehicle may affect its safety performance to the extent that it needs to be certified by a specialist low volume vehicle certifier. The TSD agent will assess whether this is necessary or not.

When the LVV certifier is satisfied with the safety performance of the vehicle, the vehicle returns to the TSD agent. There will be a charge for LVV certification, in addition to the TSD agent's certification costs.

What about costs?

Most of the services mentioned in this factsheet are provided for a fee. Fees vary depending on the organisation and the specific service being offered.

The costs for registration and licensing are set by legislation and vary according to vehicle type, engine size and vehicle use. See our website, phone our motor registration contact centre or talk to a TSD agent to find out more about the costs of registration and licensing.

Where can I find out more

  • Email us:
  • Call our motor vehicle registration contact centre on 0800 108 809.
  • Write to us: NZ Transport Agency, Transport Registry Centre, Private Bag 11777, Palmerston North 4442.