What Paperwork to Check and Forms to Complete Before Buying a Car or Campervan in New Zealand?
You’ve looked at it, tried it and now it’s time to sign for it! This is the last leg of our guide to buying a car or campervan in New Zealand and it is the toughest of them all: the paperwork for buying a vehicle in New Zealand. You’ll find all the answers to these boring but necessary questions in this guide:
- What are the documents required to buy a car in New Zealand?
- Where should you do all the paperwork when buying your car or campervan?
- What should you look for when filling out the paperwork?
Before you hit the road, make sure you have a legal driver’s license and have wised up to all of New Zealand’s road rules by browsing our guide, Driving in New Zealand: Everything You NEED to Know.
Buy a Car or Campervan in New Zealand in 3 Easy Steps
The three steps of buying a car or campervan in New Zealand are below. Make sure to check all our articles on the subject:
- Step 1: Car or Campervan Inspection
- Step 2: Test Drive
- Step 3: Vehicle Purchase and Paperwork (this article)…
… Or Make the Whole Process Simpler by Buying a Pre-Serviced Car or Campervan with Backpacker Car
If the idea of going through a lengthy car or campervan buying process in a new country feels a bit daunting, opt for a pre-serviced car with Backpacker Car. All of their used vehicles for sale go through strict mechanical checks, have the WOF and REGO and an included 30-day mechanic warranty. Plus, there are options to reserve a vehicle before you arrive and even sell it back to the team after your trip, saving you weeks on the buying and selling process. Check out their cars and campervans for sale at backpackercar.co.nz.
Essential Documents to Check Before Buying a Car or Campervan in New Zealand
There are a few essential documents you will want to check before buying a car or campervan in New Zealand. These included a Warrant of Fitness (WOF) or a Certificate of Fitness (COF) and a vehicle registration (REGO). Campervan and motorhome buyers may also consider an electrical and self-containment certification essential depending on what living facilities their vehicle is supplied with.
The Warrant of Fitness (WOF) or Certificate of Fitness (COF)
Any vehicle sold in New Zealand should have a valid Warrant of Fitness (WOF) less than one-month-old. For heavy vehicles like a motorhome, this is instead known as a Certificate of Fitness (COF). A WOF or COF is a document certifying that the vehicle has passed the inspection of safety and roadworthiness.
You can check your chosen vehicle’s last WOF or COF inspection on the New Zealand Transport Agency‘s (NZTA‘s) website – you will need the vehicle’s plate number.
Be aware that a WOF is not a pre-purchase inspection, it is merely a compulsory check to see that the car meets the compulsory standards. For more on pre-purchase inspections, see Buying a Car or Campervan in New Zealand Step 1: Car Inspection.
The Vehicle Registration (REGO)
Does the vehicle have a current license? This is otherwise known as the vehicle registration or “REGO“. If it doesn’t have a REGO or it has expired, it is illegal to drive on New Zealand’s roads.
You can check the expiry of your chosen vehicle’s REGO on the NZTA‘s website – you will need the vehicle’s plate number.
Campervan Electrical Certificate and Self-Containment Certificate
If you are buying a campervan or a motorhome, there are a couple of additional documents you’ll want to have.
A Warrant of Electrical Fitness (WOEF) is required by law before a campervan can be connected to a 230-volt supply system (i.e. the electrical outlets from the grid in New Zealand).
For being able to freedom camp in New Zealand legally, you will also need a Self-Containment Standard NZS 5465:2001 along with its certificate and window card. Learn more about that in our How to Get Your Campervan Certified Self-Contained.
Paperwork When Buying a Vehicle from a Professional Dealer
When buying a vehicle from a professional dealer (not a private seller), you should be provided with a Consumer Information Notice (CIN) and sign a sales agreement.
Consumer Information Notice (CIN)
A Consumer Information Notice (CIN) includes the price of the vehicle and all information relating to it, including:
- Year of registration in New Zealand
- Odometer reading
- Mention of damage recorded at importation
- Make, model, year of manufacture and other legal info about the vehicle
- Dealer’s contact details and registration
- Any securities registered on the vehicle.
Vehicle Sales Agreement
The sales agreement when buying a car or campervan from a professional dealer is an agreement that will disclose all the terms of the sale. As with any agreement, make sure to read it carefully before signing it. You could be charged a “documentation fee” as part of the negotiation. However, it may be waived, so try it.
The Change of Ownership Form for Buying a Car in New Zealand
This is one of the most important documents on this list is the Change of Ownership form. This will state who is responsible for the car or campervan and who will pay fines and other fees. This can be done online on the NZTA website (note that you will need a New Zealand driver’s license to complete the form online).
If you do not have a New Zealand-issued driver’s license, you will have to complete a paper form either at an NZ Post Shop, AA, VINZ or VTNZ office. Both you and the seller will have to complete a form each:
Buyer’s form: MR13B
Seller’s form: MR13A
Just to make it clear, the usual order of this process is:
- The buyer pays for the vehicle
- The buyer and seller both complete their respective Change of Ownership forms (one doesn’t need to be done before the other; it should be done around the same time).
Optional Paperwork to Check Before Buying a Car or Campervan in New Zealand
Although we have gone through all of the essentials when it comes to paperwork and buying a car or campervan in New Zealand, there are a few optional extras that are worth looking into.
Check if Road User Charges are Owed
Road User Charges (RUC) is a tax on diesel vehicles which are levies paid determined by the distance driven. You may want to check if there are any outstanding RUC charges owed on the vehicle before purchasing it. Learn more about RUC on the NZTA website.
Check the Vehicle Ratings
Sitting down and looking at the paperwork is your chance to check the rating of the car that you are buying. There are five different ratings that you may want to have a look at:
- ANCAP test
- Used car safety rating
- Fuel economy rating
- Air pollution rating
- CO2 emission rating.
Ask your seller or search online for the model of the vehicle so you can get accurate ratings. The New Zealand government has its own website covering most of these ratings at rightcar.govt.nz.
Debt Check (Security Interest or Finance Owing)
When buying a car from a private seller, we strongly advise you to run a quick debt check on the car that you want to buy. It will allow you to see if the car has been used as security for any credit. Remember, if there is any outstanding debt on the car that you are buying, even if the debt isn’t yours, your car could be repossessed and you will have no way to contest it.
To check if a car in New Zealand has any money owing on it, you can run a vehicle history check online for free on the New Zealand Ministry of Business’ Personal Property Securities website. You will need the vehicle registration number (REGO), chassis number or VIN to check.
Certificate of Registration
This is a very simple form that will display the list of all the current owners of the car. You can compare it with your seller’s ID and see if it matches to make sure that you are buying the car from its rightful owner. If you suspect the vehicle is stolen, you can always check on the New Zealand Police website.
Although it is not mandatory to get insurance for driving in New Zealand, it is usually recommended. New Zealand’s roads are not the easiest to drive on. Even if you are a cautious driver, the person behind you might not be. Car insurance, and especially backpackers’ car insurance, is very reasonably priced in New Zealand, so get it sorted as soon as you have bought the car.
To find out more, check out How Car and Campervan Insurance Works in New Zealand…