Buyers' Guide: Importance of changing ownership
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Some AA members have been left in tricky situations after selling a car and having to deal with complications from a change of ownership.
In most cases, owners have sold their cars relatively cheaply because they are moving overseas or to a new area in New Zealand. Unbeknown to the previous owner, the buyer hasn’t re-registered the car in their name and they’ve been saddled with fines.
With a variety of ways to change ownership, it’s now easier to do than ever before and costs less than $10.
You can instantly change the ownership of a vehicle online on the NZTA website.
This is great for private sellers as no matter what time you sell your car, providing the buyer has a New Zealand driver’s licence, you can fill in the forms online and change ownership in minutes. We’d suggest filling out the forms together before the buyer drives away with your old car.
Over the counter operations
For buyers who don’t hold a New Zealand driver’s licence, or for those who prefer to manage their affairs face-to-face, you can change ownership over the counter at NZ Post or a licensing centre.
The seller needs to complete a MR13A form, confirming they’ve sold their vehicle and the new owner will need to fill out a MR13b form. These will be shared with the NZTA to confirm the change of ownership.
Unlike the online method, this process offers more payment options for the buyer and those who don’t have a New Zealand driver’s licence can use other forms of identification, such as a passport.
Look out for warrants and debt
If you’re buying a vehicle, remember to check its warrant of fitness. Any car that’s being sold must have a WoF no more than a month old by the time the buyer receives the vehicle.
For private sales this rule can be waived, providing the seller obtains a written agreement from the buyer.
Watch out for, particularly on diesel vehicles, road user charges (RUC). If the previous owner has fallen behind with these payments, it can cost a lot to get back up to date. This can be avoided by checking the vehicle’s road user allowance ticket to see if the vehicle has travelled beyond the mileage.
If you buy a used vehicle with outstanding fees, it will also become your responsibility to pay for them, so check the registration ticket to see it’s up to date before you hand over any money.
Who’s responsible for the change of ownership?
The responsibility of changing the ownership of a vehicle lies with the buyer and the seller. It’s the buyer’s responsibility to pay for the change of ownership.
Before the sale of the vehicle has been completed, the seller should ask to see proof the buyer has completed the required sections to confirm the change of ownership. This could be an email confirmation if done online or a completed MR13b with receipt stamp or transaction receipt, if it was done over the counter.
The misconception with change of ownership
There’s a myth that a change of ownership document confirms legal possession of a vehicle. A simple receipt is a good form of evidence to legally confirm possession and disposal. It should include the names of the seller and buyer, and needs to be signed and dated by both parties.
A record of the price, the vehicle’s make, model, registration number and VIN/chassis number if it has one, should also be noted on the receipt.
Include the odometer reading as well.
Changing ownership is not the most exciting part of buying a new car, but it’s the last piece of the puzzle and shouldn’t be ignored.