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The warrant of fitness process

Updated: 9 February 2015

Legally, you must have your vehicle inspected for a warrant of fitness (WoF).

Here you can find out where to go to have your vehicle inspected, what aspects the inspecting officer will examine, such as tyre condition and safety belts, and what to do if your vehicle fails to get a WoF.

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How often a warrant of fitness (WoF) is required

From 1 July 2014, vehicles first registered anywhere in the world on or after 1 January 2000 will move to annual WoF inspections for their lifetime.

For new vehicles, after an initial inspection, another WoF inspection won't be required until the 3rd anniversary of their first registration.

The length of time a WoF is issued for is calculated based on the vehicle's date of first registration in New Zealand or overseas, and are described in more detail in the table below.

Length of WoF for light motor vehicles from 1 July 2014

Excludes agricultural motor vehicles.
Note that changes come into effect once the current WoF expires.

When was the vehicle first registered anywhere in the world

How long the WoF is issued for

New vehicle that's never been registered

WoF is issued for three years

Less than two years ago

WoF is issued to the vehicles third 'birthday' (third anniversary of when it was first registered)

More than two years ago, but less than three years ago

WoF is issued for 12 months

On or after 1 January 2000

WoF is issued for 12 months

Before 1 January 2000.

WoF is issued for 6 months

Where to go for vehicle inspections

There are around 3200 WoF agents in New Zealand. Look in the Yellow Pages (external link) to find your nearest agent.

It's illegal to drive a vehicle…

  • If it doesn't meet WoF requirements.
  • If it doesn't display a valid WoF label.

You can drive your vehicle on the road under these circumstances only when taking it somewhere for repair or to get a new WoF – and it's safe to do so.

What a warrant inspection covers

The WoF inspection is a general safety check. The aspects checked are set out in our Vehicle inspection requirements manual (VIRM) and include:

  • tyre condition (including tread depth)
  • brake operation
  • structural condition (rust is not allowed in certain areas)
  • lights
  • glazing (is your windscreen safe?)
  • windscreen washers and wipers
  • doors (do they open and close safely?)
  • safety belts (must not be damaged or overly faded; buckles must work properly)
  • airbags (if fitted)
  • speedometer (must be working)
  • steering and suspension (must be safe and secure)
  • exhaust (there must be no leaks and the exhaust must not be smoky or louder than the original exhaust system)
  • fuel system (there must be no leaks).

If you've modified your car, motorcycle, van or other light vehicle you may need a low volume vehicle certificate. Find out if you'll need a certificate plate and how to get one.


What a warrant is not

A WoF is not a pre-purchase inspection. It doesn't include many areas of a vehicle's condition. For example it doesn't check:

  • engine, clutch, gearbox and differential
  • lubricant levels and condition
  • brake pad thickness or life expectancy
  • paint work condition and rust in non-structural areas.

Your WoF label

If your vehicle passes its WoF inspection, the inspector will apply the WoF label on the inside of your front windscreen, on the driver's side. The punched out circles show the month and year that your warrant expires. You need to get your next warrant before the expiry date on the label.

Warrant of fitness label.

Warrant of fitness label.

When your vehicle fails its WoF inspection

If your vehicle fails a WOF inspection you cannot drive it on the road unless you're taking it somewhere to get it repaired or get a new WoF – and it's safe to do so.

What you can do

If your vehicle fails because:

Have a question?
Contact us if you need more information about WoF inspections.