How to check vehicle ownership in NZ

Before you buy a car, always check if the seller is the registered person for it. It’s easy and free.

Step 1

Ask the owner for their full legal name and/or driver’s licence number. If the vehicle is registered in the name of a company, you’ll need the company name exactly as recorded with the NZTA. If the seller refuses to give the details, it’s a red flag — do not buy from them.

Step 2

Visit and navigate to the Owner Check section. Enter the details and press the Check button.

Step 3

You’ll see whether or not the entered details match the registered person record on the register. If they don’t match, it may be caused by several reasons: a) mistyped details, b) the seller is not the registered person for the vehicle, or c) the ownership is unconfirmed.

You can see if the ownership is unconfirmed from our vehicle report. If that is the case, insist that they complete the previous change of ownership process before you buy the vehicle from them.

What does “Registered person” mean?

“Registered person” is the person or legal entity recorded on the register that is entitled to possession of the vehicle. While it’s commonly used as an indicator of ownership in New Zealand, being a registered person does not legally prove legal ownership according to the terminology of the NZ Transport Agency. The legal owner may be different from the registered one (for example, if the vehicle is leased). A vehicle sales agreement and purchase receipt are generally considered to be evidence of legal ownership.

Need to find an unknown owner?

Unfortunately, the names and addresses of individual registered persons can’t be given to the general public due to the NZ privacy law regulations. If the vehicle is registered in the name of a company, the name and address of the company will be displayed in our vehicle report. However, there’s likely no need to search for the owner yourself.

If you need to find the offender who caused an incident with your vehicle, it’s best to report the incident to the police and your insurance company.

If you need to find the owner of an abandoned vehicle, it's best to report it to your local council — they will sort it out.