AA Car Care: Vehicle registration 101
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The AA Motoring team has experienced a greater number of enquiries lately from members who are no longer able to re-licence their vehicle due to lapsed licensing and cancelled plates. This is generally due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Vehicles may not have been used since the first lockdown from late-March 2020, perhaps due to redundancy and, in some cases, vehicle owners having left the country.
We’ve put together a guide on how this issue arises, what to do if it has - and how to avoid the potential expense.
Registration versus licensing
In order to drive a vehicle on the road in New Zealand, it must first be registered and then remain licensed at all times.
Although often referred to collectively as a “registration”, they are two different products.
Vehicle registration is achieved after entry compliance of a vehicle whether it be NZ new or an import. The registration form called an MR2A is printed, and from there you can register a vehicle for either six or 12 months and obtain new standard issue government number plates.
The combination of numbers and letters on the plate is used to identify the vehicle, and enables it to be traced to an owner. The one-off registration fee covers the cost of the plates and administration.
Listed on the Waka Kotahi NZTA website for a standard private passenger vehicle, you should expect to pay just under $300 for a 12-month registration (including number plates).
Licensing means paying a fee to use your vehicle on public roads. This is the label that is displayed on your windscreen. This is an ongoing fee you pay (continuous vehicle licensing) for your vehicle to remain on NZ roads. It’s this fee that used to have the Vehicle Risk Rating (VRR) applied by ACC and the amount paid was dependant of the safety rating a vehicle was given. This contingency has since been removed.
A 12-month license for a private passenger petrol vehicle will cost from $109.16, and the same criteria in diesel costs from $176.56. You can, however, choose your licence term anywhere from three to 12 months, and you can renew it easily online.
If you’re not going to use your vehicle on the road for at least three consecutive months, you can (and should) apply for an exemption from licensing.
You can select a term between three and 12 months, and this is free to do if your licence hasn’t yet expired. If it has expired, you’ll need to pay what’s in arrears before placing it on hold. You won’t pay an administration fee if you do it online.
There’s no limit to how long you can keep a vehicle licence on hold, but you must renew it every year. If you licence your vehicle within the first three months of your exemption period, the licence will start from the expiry date of the previous licence/exemption or when the vehicle was put into your name (whichever is most recent).
If a vehicle licence hasn’t been placed on hold and remains expired for more than 12 months, it’s then dropped from the register and the plates effectively expire.
In order to get the vehicle back on the road, the original compliance/re-compliance inspection will need to take place again, and the process must start over in order to obtain new registration and number plates.
The AA is authorised by Waka Kotahi NZTA to be a Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agent. For more information click here.
The compliance inspection is not like your average WoF inspection. It’s much more invasive and requires that your vehicle brakes are stripped and checked. Some interior elements can also be removed for structural inspection.
This inspection can take three to five days, so, unlike a regular WoF inspection, it can’t be completed while you wait.
The AA has Vehicle Inspection Centres that carry out WoF and Entry Compliance Inspections. More information can be found here.