📙 Glossary

    Alternative Fuel Type

    This refers to the secondary fuel used by a vehicle which normally operates on another fuel type such as petrol.

    Assembly Type

    Indicates whether a motor vehicle has been:

    • Imported Built-Up, or
    • NZ Assembled

    Assembly type "UNKNOWN" indicates that this information was never recorded at the time of registration.

    Axle Group Rating

    The maximum design weight (in kilograms) for a group of axles on a heavy vehicle. The group of axles is not to be used for loads that exceed this value (including that share of the GVM of the vehicle that is borne by the axle group) The Axle Group Rating for a Vehicle consists of:

    • Front Axle Group Rating: the combined weight rating of the group of axles at the front of the vehicle;
    • Rear Axle Group Rating: the combined weight rating of the group of axles at the rear of the vehicle.

    Axle Type

    The axle configuration, or "axle type" is crucial is determining the Road User Charge (RUC) classification of a motor vehicle subject to RUC fees.

    CC Rating

    Total displacement in cubic centimetres of all cylinders of the engine of a motor vehicle.

    Some older vehicles may show incorrect values depending on whether or not the original displacement measurements had been converted from cubic inches or other measurement units before introduction of the metric system.

    Cause of Registration

    A vehicle can be registered as follows:

    • New — new vehicle never registered before
    • Used — used vehicle previously registered in another country
    • Re-registered — vehicle previously registered in New Zealand.
    • Scratch Built — a motor vehicle which is either:
      • Assembled from previously unrelated components and construction materials which have not been predominantly sourced donors of a single make or model and which, in its completed form, never previously existed as a mass-produced vehicle, although the external appearance may resemble or replicate an existing vehicle; or
      • a modified production vehicle which contains less than the following componentry from a mass-produced vehicle of a single make and model:
        • 40% of the chassis rails and 50% of the crossmembers, or alternatively 40% of a spaceframe, or 40% of the floorpan of a unitary constructed body, which ever is appropriate: or
        • for light vehicles, 40% of the bodywork (based on surface area of body panels but does not include the floorpan, internal bracing, sub panels, bulkheads or firewall)

    Certificate of Fitness (COF) Inspection

    Certificate of Fitness inspection is normally applicable to heavy vehicles such as Trucks, Articulated Trailers etc. COF Inspections are required for vehicle safety purposes.

    A vehicle that requires a COF cannot legally be used on the road unless it has a current COF.

    Change of Ownership

    Prior to 30 October 1995, the seller of a vehicle was entirely liable for the lodgement and payment of the "Notice of Change of Ownership".

    As from 30 October 1995, the responsibility is shared between the seller and the buyer. This new "Change of Ownership" process occurs in 2 steps:

    1. Lodgement of the seller's notice of disposal (normally by the seller).
    2. Lodgement of the buyer's notice of acquisition (normally by the buyer).

    The seller does not pay any fee for the "Change of Ownership" when lodging the seller's notice of disposal (on form MR13A).

    A fee is payable by the buyer on lodgement of the Buyer's notice of acquisition (on form MR13B).

    A new owner is:

    • Unconfirmed — when a form MR13A has been lodged by the seller, but the MR13B has yet to be lodged by the buyer;
    • Incomplete — when the buyer has lodged the MR13B, but failed to produce a valid ID at the time of lodgement of the form;
    • Complete — when a form MR13B has been lodged and a valid ID has been produced, either together with the MR13B, or with a form MR34 if is presented at a different time after lodgement of the MR13B.


    Prior to 1990, only chassis numbers were recorded. These cannot be used to uniquely identify a vehicle. With the introduction of the VIN system in 1990 a unique number is now being recorded.

    Most vehicles registered before 1990 will have only the chassis number recorded unless the vehicle has had a VIN applied by a VIN agent.

    Vehicles that were registered after 1990 may have both a VIN and a chassis number in cases where the manufacturer has not applied a VIN. However, most manufacturers now use VIN's in place of chassis numbers. It is now compulsory for every vehicle that is registered in NZ for the first time to have a VIN. This includes used imported vehicles.

    It is in the interests of vehicle owners to have a VIN on their vehicle as a protection against vehicle fraud since it gives a unique reference to a vehicle.

    Continuous Vehicle Licensing

    As from 1 September 1997, the law requires the majority of vehicles to be licensed continuously. The Continuous Vehicle Licensing (CVL) requirement means all vehicle owners pay the required amount and people who pay late pay the same as everyone else.

    Most Vehicles are subject to CVL. Some Vehicles that are used only seasonally (such as Caravans) are not subject to CVL. The Continuous Licence flag will show either YES or NO to indicate whether a Vehicle Type is subject to CVL or not.

    CVL means that if a person fails to renew their licence by the expiry date, they will be required to pay for the licence back to the expiry date until the vehicle is given an exemption or ceases to be registered.

    Country of Origin

    Country where the vehicle is built or manufactured (not merely assembled). Vehicles assembled in New Zealand are put together from CKD packs ("Completely-Knocked-Down"). They are not made in New Zealand — their Country of Origin will be the country from which the CKD packs are imported.

    Crown Plates

    Crown Plates are Plates reserved for Motor Vehicles registered for use by Government officials. Crown Plates are issued from the range: CR1 - CR9999. Crown Plates can be returned and re-issued to different vehicles.

    Damaged flag

    The imported damaged flag will display as 'Yes' only in the case of "obvious structural damage or deterioration" of a vehicle recorded at the Bordercheck inspection. Damage that is merely cosmetic will not be recorded. The information is held against the vehicle record once the vehicle is registered on the Motor Vehicle Register. Where a vehicle has not been identified as imported damaged or a flag is subsequently removed due to further inspection, this field will not be displayed.

    Date and Time of Issue of Latest Licence

    The date and the time when a Licence application is processed by an Authorised Agent of Land Transport New Zealand.

    Date of Odometer Reading

    Date when the odometer reading was recorded. Since November 1995, odometer readings have been obtained from WOF inspections. These are recorded at the time a vehicle is licensed but the odometer reading date is the date of the WOF inspection.

    Date of first Regisrtation in New Zealand

    The date the vehicle was registered in New Zealand for the first time.

    Date of first Registered Overseas

    The date the vehicle was first registered overseas. If this information is unavailable and has not been recorded for a vehicle on the Motor Vehicle Register the message no info will be displayed. All available data will be displayed, this can be the day, month and year the vehicle was first registered overseas, only the month and year or just the year.

    Date of latest COF Inspection

    Date of the last recorded COF inspection for the vehicle. All COF inspections (both passed and failed) have been recorded in the vehicle register since February 1997. Before February 1997, only passed COF inspections were recorded when a vehicle was licensed.

    Date of latest WOF Inspection

    Date of the last recorded WOF inspection for the vehicle.

    Successful WOF inspections have been recorded in the vehicle register since November 1995, at the time a vehicle is relicensed. Only the most recent WOF prior to the relicensing is normally recorded.

    Since licensing is often done on an annual basis and WOF's are often required bi-annually, this item of information does not necessarily show if the vehicle has a current WOF.

    It is intended to begin recording all WOF inspections, both passed and failed, in the near future.

    Engine Number

    The serial number of the engine of a self-propelled vehicle. This information is normally supplied by the vehicle manufacturer.

    Fleet Vehicle

    A Fleet Vehicle forms part of a number of vehicles registered to one person or organisation.

    Fleet vehicles are re-licensed by way of "Re-license Schedule" with payment made by direct debit. There is no mandatory requirement for fleet owners to register vehicles as "fleet vehicles". They do this because they wish to use the time saving bulk re-license facilities that the Transport Registry Centre provides.

    Fuel Type

    The type of fuel used in the engine of a motor vehicle. This refers to the primary fuel type if the vehicle also runs on an Alternative Fuel Type such as LPG or CNG.

    Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM)

    The manufacturer's gross laden weight of a vehicle in kilograms. Some older vehicles may show incorrect values as GVM, depending on whether or not the original weight measurements had been converted from non-metric values.

    Highest Plate Number Issued

    The latest plate in the "General Purpose" standard series, issued to a currently licensed vehicle as at the end of the previous day. This information relates to the last plate in the alphanumeric listing of all current GP standard series plates recorded in the system.

    Plate stocks held by various plate issuing agents around the country are made up of plates from more than one alpha-numeric range. Fluctuating demand means that some agents use their stocks more slowly than others. For this reason, a plate from an earlier range can be issued much later than the so-called "latest" plate number.

    Hubodometer Serial Number

    This displays the serial make and serial number of the hubodometer affixed to the RUC vehicles.

    Individual owners or legal entities

    • Individual If the vehicle owner is an individual (legally defined as a "natural person"), the sex will be shown.
    • Company Where the vehicle owner is a company, we will indicate this fact and link it to the New Zealand Companies Register.
    • Other entities We could also indicate "organisation" for non-natural person entities which are also not companies.

    Note, this information is not mandatory and is only recorded if the owner has provided it.

    Joint Owner

    The joint owner is the person who jointly owns a vehicle with another person. The Motor Vehicle Register can record a maximum of 3 joint owners in addition to the primary owner.

    Latest Odometer

    The odometer reading for the last recorded Certificate of Fitness or Warrant of Fitness inspection. This reading may be in miles or kilometres depending on the age of the vehicle.

    Lease Vehicle

    A lease vehicle indicates that the vehicle under query is leased from a vehicle lease/rental firm by the person or organisation recorded as the vehicle's registered owner. The law requires that the person or company using the vehicle be recorded as the "registered owner", not the vehicle lease/rental firm who legally "owns" the vehicle.

    The name of the vehicle lease/rental firm, if recorded, will also be shown. There is no legal requirement for a lease vehicle to be recorded as such as it is the registered owner (the user) who will be held liable in the event of a traffic offence.

    The lease owner name will continue to be shown in the ownership history until 12 months after a change of ownership.

    Licence Type

    There are 4 types of licences:

    • Licence for normal road use (L);
    • Exemption licence (X) when the vehicle has been exempted from normal road use licence: the expiry of an exemption licence is the date after which the vehicle must be relicensed for normal road use;
    • Restoration licence (R) when vehicle is under repair or restoration and has been exempted from normal road use licence: the expiry of a restoration licence is the date after which the vehicle must be relicensed for normal road use;
    • Licence for trade plate (T): this licence permits the licencee to use a vehicle without registering the vehicle. A trade plate is associated with a person/organisation, it cannot be associated with a vehicle and so any query on a trade plate will not return any vehicle details but provide owner details which are the details of the owner of the trade plate.


    The process of issuing a licence which allows the vehicle to be used on the road for a 6 or 12 month period. Vehicles are licensed after they are registered. The vehicle owner pays a licensing fee, and a licence label is attached is attached to the vehicle.

    Maximum Rated Towed Mass

    The maximum gross weight of a towed vehicle that the registered vehicle is permitted to tow.

    Motor Vehicle

    Vehicle drawn or propelled by mechanical power. For the purposes of Motor Vehicle Registration, this definition includes Trailers, but does not include contrivances such as a vehicle running on rails or a disabled person's motorised wheelchair.

    New Zealand Transport Agency

    New Zealand Transport Agency is a New Zealand government organisation. Everything New Zealand Transport Agency does must influence our transport partners and the users of the transport system towards sustainability and greater safety in land transport. It is the regulatory authority for ensuring the safe operation of motor vehicles in New Zealand. New Zealand Transport Agency appoints agents to perform certain functions on its behalf, such as motor vehicle registration and licensing, certifying motor vehicles and issuing vehicle identification numbers.

    Ownership Date

    The date of ownership of a Vehicle varies depending on the "Ownership Status" of the owner.

    • For unconfirmed owner: the date of sale from the MR13A advice.
    • For incomplete owner: the date of processing of the MR13B advice.
    • For complete owner: the date of processing of the MR13B advice.

    Plate Number

    The unique combination of characters, alphabetical and/or numeric, assigned to a motor vehicle registered in accordance with Transport Legislation. The maximum number of characters of a plate number is six. All motor vehicles registered in New Zealand must display the plate number on a metallic plate or plates affixed to the vehicles.

    Plate Style

    Different vehicle types requires different plate styles:

    • General Purpose (GP) plates are issued in sets of 2 for use on vehicles which require GP Plates (cars, trucks, etc.)
    • Motorcycle (MC) plates are issued in sets of 1 for use on vehicles which requires MC Plates (motorcycles, mopeds, tractors, etc.)
    • Trailer (TL) plates are issued in sets of 1 for vehicles which require TL Plates (trailers, towed caravans, etc.)

    Any plate type, except trade plates, can be in GP, MC or TL style.

    Plate Type and Personalised Plates

    Personalised Plates are plates with unique character combination chosen by the owners of the plates and purchased from Personalised Plates Limited. Personalised plates come in 3 main categories:

    • Standard — black characters on white background;
    • Investment — blue characters on white background;
    • Special Issue — as issued by Personalised Plates Limited.

    A personalised plate can be used on different vehicles. Appropriate change of plate transactions must be lodged to transfer a personalised plate from vehicle to vehicle.


    Power output of the engine of a motor vehicle as rated by the Manufacturer (in kilowatts). Some vehicles may be showing brake horsepower (bhp) for this figure.

    Previous Country of Registration

    Country where a vehicle has been previously registered before arrival in New Zealand.

    RUC Licence Finish Kms or Date

    End eistance reading of the latest distance licence. If time licence, this field will show the end date of the latest licence.

    RUC Licence Start Kms or Date

    Start distance reading of the latest distance licence. If time licence, this field will show the start date of the latest licence.

    RUC Licence Type

    All diesel powered vehicles and other vehicles powered by a fuel not taxed at source, regardless of weight, must pay Road User Charges (RUC). Vehicles with a manufacturer's gross laden weight of more than 3.5 tonnes (3,500kg) must also pay RUC.

    There are 4 types of RUC licence: Distance, Time, Supplementary and Gap. We describe some of them here:

    • Distance Most RUC vehicles travelling on public roads purchase Distance Licences. Distance licences are purchased in multiple of 1,000 kilometres. RUC fees vary according to the design specifications of the vehicle such as weight, number of axles, number of tyres per axle, etc.
    • Time Some RUC vehicles by their design are instead subject to time licences; these are purchased in 1 month blocks. Fees for time licences also vary according to the specifications of the vehicle.
    • Supplementary Supplementary licences are intented to be used on short trips for the occasional cartage of heavier loads, and will replace normal licences for these distances. Once a supplementary licence has expired, the provisions of the original licence will again be in force. Supplementary licences are bought in multiples of 50 kilometres.

    RUC Licence Weight

    The nominated gross laden weight in tonnes for which the latest RUC licence was purchased.

    RUC Vehicle Type

    RUC fees are determined by the design of a vehicle. Specific attributes such as gross laden weight, number of axles, axle type, etc., are combined to provide set criteria known as RUC Vehicle Type descriptions. RUC Vehicle Type information consists of a numeric code for each type.


    Renewal of a vehicle licence.

    Registered Owner

    The registered owner of a motor vehicle is the natural person or legal entity (such as a limited liability company) lawfully entitled to possession of the motor vehicle. The registered owner of a motor vehicle is not necessarily the legal owner of that vehicle, as in the case of a lease vehicle or a vehicle on hire-purchase.


    The process of adding a vehicle to the Motor Vehicle Register, the list of all vehicles currently used on the road in New Zealand. Vehicles, whether new or used, are registered when first brought into New Zealand, and have registration plates (number plates) attached at this time. Until a vehicle is registered, it cannot be driven on the road and must be towed or carried for transport. Registration has been traditionally confused with "licensing", when people refer to the renewal of licence in order to obtain a new licence label (the "licence sticker") to place on their vehicles.

    Registration Status

    The registration status will show as:

    • Active — if the registration is current (but not necessarily licensed);
    • Cancelled — if the registration has been cancelled due to the vehicle having been destroyed, written off, or permanently exported out of New Zealand;
    • Lapsed — if the registration has been cancelled due to the vehicle having remained unlicensed beyond the period allowed by legislation.

    Reliable Odometer

    This indicator will show "Yes" if the odometer is reliable, or "No" for no if the odometer is unreliable. The information is entered at the time the vehicle is last inspected. The reliable odometer flag is also set to "No" if customs or courts request it. It was developed as a means to show on ownership papers that the true mileage may not be reflected.

    Replacement Plate

    The new registration plate issued to a vehicle to replace a previous plate which has been damaged, lost, or stolen, or to change to or from transferable plates such as personalised plates, diplomatic plates, etc.

    Reported Stolen

    This will indicate if the vehicle has been reported stolen to the police. This information is obtained from the "Enforcement Computer System", not from the Motor Vehicle Register.

    Result of Latest COF Inspection

    • Passed — vehicle has passed examination.
    • Failed — vehicle has failed examination.
    • Temporary Permit — vehicle has been issued with a temporary permit.

    Result of Latest WOF Inspection

    • Passed  — vehicle has passed examination.
    • Failed — vehicle has failed examination.

    Standard Plates

    Standard plates are sequentially numbered plates issued by government for use on motor vehicles registered in New Zealand. Standard plates can only be used on the vehicles to which they are originally assigned.

    Tare Weight

    The unladen weight of a vehicle (usually indicated in kilograms).

    Trade Plates

    Trade plates come in 2 Styles:

    • T1 for use on motorcycles, trailers, towed caravans
    • T2 for use on cars, trucks, tractors.

    Trade plates are issued to motor vehicle dealers, manufacturers and assemblers for use on unregistered vehicles.

    Trade plates are registered to the user, not the vehicle. For this reason, it is not possible to obtain vehicle details by querying a trade plate because no vehicle details are recorded against a trade plate.

    Trading as

    Name of the business, or trade name, of a vehicle owner, when the vehicle owner has requested that this information be shown on motor vehicle registration forms and other documents generated from the Motor Vehicle Register. Trading names are generally not regarded as "legal" names, and therefore cannot be used in the event of a traffic inquiry.


    What is a VIN?

    A vehicle identification number (VIN) is a unique, 17-character number, which is assigned and attached to a motor vehicle. VINs are a security feature, as they help to combat fraud, and are the main way vehicles are identified for administrative purposes. They are checked at each warrant of fitness or certificate of fitness inspection. Because they're recorded on a centralised database, all VIN records are accessible to the Police and vehicle inspectors.

    VINs are used in New Zealand, Australia, Europe, the United States and other countries.

    Why not use the registration plate for identification?

    Registration plates aren't permanently attached to a vehicle. Personalised registration plates, for example, can be traded and moved from one vehicle to another. VINs, on the other hand, remain attached to the vehicle. This makes them a better form of vehicle identification.

    Why not use the frame or chassis number for identification?

    Each make of vehicle uses a different frame or chassis numbering system. The systems don't match each other and sometimes numbers are duplicated. There's an internationally recognised code for VINs, so they're standardised for all vehicles.

    Which vehicles need a VIN?

    All vehicles that go through the entry certification process in New Zealand need a VIN.

    All vehicles that must be entry-certified must have a VIN before they're sold. (It's the manufacturer's or importer's responsibility to ensure a new vehicle has a VIN.) Some vehicles already have VINs assigned and attached overseas; these VINs are accepted in New Zealand. Otherwise a New Zealand VIN is assigned and attached at entry inspection.

    Vehicles first registered in New Zealand before 1 April 1994 and vehicles that entered or were manufactured in New Zealand before 1 February 1994 don't require a VIN if they've got a frame or chassis number. If their frame or chassis number has been removed, they must have a VIN.

    For more information about the vehicle identification numbers, see the NZTA Vehicle identification number (VIN)

    Information source and copyright is NZTA

    Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)

    A unique 17 character series assigned to the vehicle for the purpose of identification. Most vehicles registered in New Zealand for the first time are required to have a VIN. Trailers and caravans are exempted.

    Warrant of Fitness (WOF) Inspection

    Warrant of Fitness inspection normally applies to passenger cars and light vehicles. WOF Inspections are required for vehicle safety purposes. A vehicle that requires a WOF cannot legally be used on the road unless it has a current Warrant of Fitness certificate.


    The longitudinal distance between the first and last axle of a motor vehicle. The wheelbase is normally indicated in millimetres.