Vehicle identification number (VIN)

A VIN is a 17 character ID number that identifies your vehicle.


Vehicle identification numbers (VINs) help combat fraud and are the main way we identify vehicles for registration and other processes.

Warrant of fitness and certificate of fitness inspections check the VIN. The police or vehicle inspectors may also check the VIN during roadside inspections.

Vehicles that require a VIN

Most vehicles require a VIN. It’s the manufacturer’s or importer’s responsibility to ensure a new vehicle has a VIN.

Some vehicles already have VINs assigned and attached overseas before they get to New Zealand. Otherwise, an entry certifier will issue and attach a New Zealand VIN at entry inspection.

Your vehicle may not need a VIN, if it has a frame or chassis number and:

  • was first registered before 1 April 1994
  • entered or was manufactured in New Zealand before 1 February 1994.

But, if the frame or chassis number has been removed, your vehicle must have a VIN.

Only entry certification agents can allocate and fix VINs onto your vehicle.

VIN requirements

VINs must conform to International standards as well as New Zealand Legislation.

  • ISO 3779 – Road Vehicles – VIN Content and Structure
  • ISO 3780 – Road Vehicles – World Manufacturer Identifier (WMI) code.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency issues WMIs to New Zealand vehicle manufacturers – who can apply online for a WMI. Manufacturer is a person, firm, or corporation that issues the certificate of conformity or that demonstrates compliance and assumes product liability for a vehicle ready for operation, independent of the location of the assembly plant.

Importers or owners may be required to provide information to decode a VIN during the Entry Certification and Registration process. Manufacturers VIN decode information can be emailed directly to

  • To obtain the manufacturer’s VIN decode information, importers or owners may have to contact the vehicle manufacturer’s franchise dealer or their homologation department in the country of origin.
  • Acceptable VIN decode information:
    • must be clearly sourced from the manufacturer
    • must also relate to the characters of the VIN affixed to the vehicle requiring entry certification
    • will show the VIN structure and the decode data for each position of the VIN as in the examples below for Chevrolet and Jaguar.

A person must not remove, erase, alter, deface, obscure, destroy or obliterate a VIN or chassis number.

A vehicle inspector must not issue a WoF or CoF to a vehicle with a removed, erased, altered, defaced, obscured, destroyed or obliterated VIN or chassis number.

However, if a vehicle can be appropriately identified Waka Kotahi will authorise the affixing or re-affixing of a new VIN.

These vehicles should be referred to a VIN issuing Agent (AA, Drivesure, Nelson Vehicle Testing Centre Ltd, VINZ, and VTNZ). They will inspect the vehicle and seek approval from Waka Kotahi to issue or re-issue a VIN plate.

Where to find the VIN on your vehicle

VINs can be:

  • stamped into the vehicle structure (often the firewall) during manufacture

  • stamped on a metal plate and fixed onto the vehicle body

  • etched onto the rear window of the vehicle.

What to look for

Used import: Waka Kotahi-assigned VIN before 29 November 2009

USED IMPORT NZ Transport Agency assigned VIN prior to 29 November 2009

Used import: Waka Kotahi-assigned VIN from 29 November 2009

USED IMPORT NZ Transport Agency assigned VIN from 29 November 2009

Factory-issued VIN for a truck

Factory-issued VIN for a car