Buying or selling a car - the process 

How do I check who owns a car and what its history is?

How do I find out whether a car for sale has money owing on it?
I have sold/bought a car. What paperwork needs to be done?

How do I check who owns a car and what its history is?

Access to who owns a car is limited, but it is easy to find out information about the vehicle itself as well as whether there is any money owed on it – and we recommend that you do check if you are thinking of buying a car privately.

There are many services available which check the car’s history thoroughly before you buy it.  These services can check government and private databases for records of stolen cars, money owing, accident history, odometer history, etc.  The cost of the report varies from service to service. To find a service to help you, enter 'vehicle history' as a search term on our database.

The Motor Vehicle Register, which is administered by the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA), holds information about who owns a particular motor vehicle, as well as information about the vehicle itself.  However access to this information is restricted.

If the vehicle is owned by an organisation, anyone can access the owner’s name and address. If the vehicle is owned by an individual, then you would have to apply to the NZTA to access it under the Official Information Act. More information about access to the Motor Vehicle Register is on the NZTA website.

How do I find out whether a car for sale has money owing on it?

A motor vehicle for sale by a motor vehicle dealer must all display a Consumer Information Notice (CIN). If there is money owning on it to a finance company, the CIN will display this statement -  "There is a security interest registered over this motor vehicle".

If the vehicle is being sold privately, you can check the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) online to find out if a motor vehicle has any security interest associated with it. They will require a $3 payment by direct debit or credit card for each vehicle you check. You can also text the registration number of the car to 3463, and receive a YES/NO answer along with a SMS report code to enter online at their website.

I have sold/bought a car. What paperwork needs to be done?

Each time a vehicle is sold, a new Certificate of Registration is issued. Both the buyer and the seller need to notify the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA).

As soon as possible, the buyer should:

  1. complete the Notice of Acquisition (M13B), available at any NZTA agent, and give the form to the NZTA agent; or notify the NZTA online
  2. pay the change of ownership fee (around $10)
  3. request an acquisition transfer receipt
  4. take the transfer receipt to the seller as proof of the change of ownership

    Before the seller hands over the vehicle to the buyer, the seller should ask to see one of the following as proof that the buyer has completed their part of the paperwork:

    • the acquisition transfer receipt or
    • an email confirmation page (if they notified the NZTA online) or
    • an completed MR13B with a receipt stamp on it

    The seller must then notify the NZTA of the change of ownership. They can do this online or by completing a Notice by Person Selling/Disposing of Motor Vehicle (MR13A) - also available at any NZTA agent - and sending it to:

       The Transport Registry Centre
       Private Bag 11777
       Manawatu Mail Centre
       Palmerston North 4442  

    The new Certificate of Registration will be posted to the buyer within 10 days.

    For more information, ring the NZTA Motor Registration Helpdesk on 0800 108 809