How to check vehicle ownership in NZ

Before you buy a car, always check whether the seller is the registered person for it. It wont’t take much time, and doing so and can make you safer as a buyer along with checking the vehicle history and money owing.

Step 1

Ask the owner for their full legal name and/or driver’s licence number. Try to see their driver’s licence in person to verify their identity. 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 won’t give you the details, it’s a red flag — it may be better to just walk away.

Step 2

Visit the Confirm Registered Person service provided by the NZ Transport Agency. Enter the details and press the Continue 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 registered person is unconfirmed.

You can find out if the registered person is unconfirmed from our ThatCar™ report. If that is the case, ask the seller to 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 by 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 are concerned about an abandoned vehicle, it's best to report it to the Police or to your local council — they will sort it out.