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Buying a Car in New Zealand Step 3: The Paperwork

You’ve looked at it, tried it, now it’s time to sign for it!

This is the last leg of our guide to buying a backpacker car in New Zealand. It is the toughest of them all: the paperwork for buying a car 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?
  • What should you look for when filling out the paperwork?

Before you hit the road, make sure you have a legal driver license. Find out more in How to Drive in New Zealand and Converting Your Driver License into a New Zealand Driver License.

Buy a car in three steps

The three steps of buying a car in New Zealand are below. Make sure to check all our articles on the subject.

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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.

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The Warrant Of Fitness (WOF)

Any vehicle sold in New Zealand should have a valid Warrant of Fitness less than one-month-old. (Or a COF, which means Certificate of Fitness, that is used for heavy vehicles like campervans). A WOF is a document certifying that the car has passed the inspection of safety and road-worthiness.

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.

Our advice: do not buy a car without a WOF.

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Consumer Information Notice (CIN)

If dealing with a professional car dealer, you should be given a Consumer Information Notice (CIN). This document will only be provided by a professional dealer, not a private seller. It includes the price of the vehicle and all information relating to it.

Information included on the Consumer Information Notice (CIN)
  • 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

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Debt Check

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.

Run a vehicle history check online for free on the New Zealand Ministry of Business’ Personal Property Securities website.

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Sales agreement

The sales agreement is an agreement that will disclose all the terms of the sale. It will only be provided by professional dealers.

There may be a fee along with it called a “documentation fee” as part of the negotiation. However, it may be waived, so try it. As with any agreement, make sure to read it carefully before signing it.

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Certificate of Registration

This is a very simple form that will display the list of all the current owners of the car. You simply have to 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.

On the subject of ID, make sure you have a valid driving licence for driving in New Zealand, whether it is a driver licence in the English language, an international driver licence, or a New Zealand driver licence.

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Change of Ownership

This is one of the most important documents of this list. The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) Change of Ownership form will state who is responsible for the car and who will pay fines and other fees. This can be done online on the NZTA website  (note that you will need to a New Zealand driver license to complete the form online). You and the seller will have to complete this form.

If you prefer good old paper form or if you don’t have a New Zealand driver license, you can find the paper forms in any NZ Post office or AA insurance centre.

Buyer’s form: MR13B
Seller’s form: MR13A

Get insurance!

Although it is not mandatory to get insurance when driving in New Zealand, we strongly recommend that you get some. 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. Backpacker 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 Buying a Car in New Zealand Step 4: Backpackers Car Insurance

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