Businesses involved in the sale, manufacturing, repair and maintenance of vehicles often need to move vehicles when they are unregistered. These businesses can apply to use trade plates. 

Who can use trade plates?

You can apply for trade plates if you're:

  • motor vehicle trader

  • a manufacturer, assembler, distributor or importer of motor vehicles

  • a car wrecker (if you have a second-hand trader licence)

  • a government department

  • delivering unregistered motor vehicles

  • a motor vehicle repairer

  • an owner or manager of a transport museum.

Find more about who might be eligible in the Land Transport (Trade Plates) Notice 2011(external link)

Not sure if you're eligible? Contact us to find out.

Using trade plates

You can only use trade plates for the purpose for which we supply them. If you use the plates for any other purpose, you can be fined.

Most  trade plates are used on unregistered vehicles. Only vehicle repairers, local authorities and vehicle inspection certifiers can use trade plates on vehicles that are registered but unlicensed.

More information about using trade plates on uncertified vehicles

Types of trade plates

Trade plates are available for:

  • standard vehicles (3500kg or less)
  • heavy vehicles (over 3500kg)
  • standard trailers
  • heavy trailers
  • motorcycles and mopeds.

Standard trade plate

  • For light vehicles only (vehicles with a gross vehicle mass of 3500kg or less).
  • Must not be used for a heavy vehicle.

Heavy trade plate

  • Must be used for heavy vehicles (vehicles with a gross vehicle mass over 3500kg).
  • May also be used for a light vehicle.

How to apply for trade plates

To apply for trade plates, complete an Application for trade plate form (MR5) [PDF, 72 KB] and send it in to our Palmerston North office with the following proof:


Documents we require 


Trader registration number 
(You can get this from the Ministry of Economic Development(external link))


Business card or business letterhead paper

Car wrecker

Copy of second-hand trader licence and business card

Government department

Business card or business letterhead paper

Delivering unregistered motor vehicles

Business card or business letterhead paper

Motor vehicle repairer

Business card/business letterhead paper and advertising

Proprietor of a transport museum

Business card/business letterhead paper and advertising

If you've already been approved for a trade plate, you can also apply for additional or replacement trade plates. 

 Application for additional trade plate form (MR5A) [PDF, 79 KB]

Application for replacement trade plate form (MR5R) [PDF, 64 KB]

Trade plate fees

Application and renewal fees

When applying for or renewing a trade plate you will need to pay an administration fee as well as any applicable licence fees and ACC levies. The application fee of $32.30 is included in the table below. 

The fee you will pay depends on which month you apply in. All the prices below are inclusive of GST.

For use on Category January 2023 February 2023 March 2023 April 2023 May 2023 June 2023 July 2023
Cars/trucks 3500kg or less $135.13 $126.92 $119.50 $111.28 $103.35 $95.12 $87.18
Standard trailers 3500kg or less $88.45 $84.21 $80.37 $76.12 $72.01 $67.75 $63.65
Heavy trucks over 3500kg $366.86 $338.97 $313.77 $285.88 $258.88 $230.99 $204.00
Heavy trailers over 3500kg $320.18 $296.26 $274.64 $250.71 $227.55 $203.62 $180.47
Mopeds less than 61cc $209.58 $195.05 $181.92 $167.39 $153.31 $138.78 $124.70
Motorcycles 61cc and over $552.11 $508.49 $469.08 $425.46 $383.23 $339.60 $297.38

Replacement fee

The fee for a replacement trade plate is $38.43.

Displaying trade plates

Trade plates have a reflective yellow background and black lettering. They start or end with the letter 'X' and are valid until 31 December of the year shown on the plate.

You must display the plates on the rear of your vehicle. The plates must be upright so that every letter and figure is easily visible.