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Buying or Selling a Car

New Zealand - Buying or Selling a Car


It is the responsibility of both the buyer and seller to inform the authorities of a vehicle’s change of ownership in New Zealand. This should be done immediately as there are fines which can be imposed if it is not. You may also find yourself liable for any outstanding costs which are connected to the car such as unpaid parking fines or registration fees. If you purchase a car from a motor dealership then you may find that they will deal with most of the paperwork on your behalf, but this is not the case with a private sale. It is also your responsibility to ensure that this has been done.

Buyers and sellers should be sure that the vehicle has a warrant of fitness, referred to as a WoF. This should have been issued no more than a month before the sale. A buyer should also ensure that the car has not been reported as stolen and there is the means to check this through the NZTA website. Each vehicle has a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) which can be used to check the history of the car. Registration plates can change so these are not always the best method of checking a car’s history.

A warrant of fitness can be issued at any one of the 3200 registered inspection stations in New Zealand. If a car is more than 6 years old it should be inspected every 6 months and if it is less, every 12 months. All cars should have a valid WoF label, which certifies that the car has been checked for essentials such as tyre condition, brakes, steering, exhaust and airbags, among others.

The seller can inform NZTA by sending a prepaid form to the registry centre or making the declaration online. Sellers will need to have their driver’s licence with them and simply enter details following the prompts onscreen. When this has been done you will receive a letter that will also tell you if the buyer has carried out their obligation to inform NZTA of the change. Sellers are advised to ask the buyer to show them the receipt of the acquisition transfer, a copy of the email notification if they have done the change online or form MR13B (Notice by person acquiring motor vehicle) that has been receipted.

As for sellers, the buyers can go online to complete the transfer of ownership. This can also be done at the office of an NZTA agent. There is a fee payable for this service and proof of ID will need to be produced. The ID will need to have your full name, date of birth and signature on it. The agent will hand over a transfer receipt which can be shown to the seller to prove that proceedings to transfer ownership have begun. Agents include the Automobile Association, PostShops and various branches of the Vehicle Testing New Zealand department and the Vehicle Inspection New Zealand department.

It is a good idea for the buyer to check the ID of the seller. This ensures that you are actually purchasing from the correct person. It is also a good idea to check the valuation of the car or similar cars so that you can be sure that you are not paying over the odds.

When the details have been processed a new registration certificate will be issued to the new owner. This should take up to 10 working days. The buyer must provide a certain amount of personal information such as full name, date of birth and New Zealand address. A buyer with no New Zealand address will not be permitted to purchase a vehicle legally.

If you are buying a car that has personalised licence plates then you are able to negotiate separately for these with the seller, although most sellers will prefer to keep them and sell the car with general purpose registration plates.

It is the responsibility of the buyer to check that there are no outstanding monies connected to the vehicle such as outstanding road user charges and to ensure that the vehicle has a current registration. However, the seller should not attempt to sell a car that has outstanding fees connected to it.

Useful Resources

New Zealand Transport Agency
http://www.nzta.govt.nz/vehicle/registration-licensing/buying-selling.html


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Expat Health Insurance Partners


Bupa Global

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