Vehicle Licensing Reform is a joint Ministry of Transport and NZ Transport Agency project that looked at reforms to warrant of fitness/certificate of fitness, annual vehicle licensing (commonly known as registration), and transport services licensing.

Work on the reform was announced by Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee in March 2012.

What is Vehicle Licensing Reform?

Vehicle Licensing Reform is a review of:

  • the warrant of fitness and certificate of fitness systems
  • the annual vehicle licensing (commonly known as registration) system
  • the transport services licensing system.

Vehicle Licensing Reform aims to save New Zealanders both time and money, while supporting the government’s commitment to road safety. This result will come from having more efficient and smarter systems to collect revenue, inspect our vehicle fleet and by only licensing the sectors that need it.

The project considered what the three systems cover and why they were there. The review did not consider:

  • the vehicle register that links vehicles to registered owners
  • the driver licensing system – apart from changes that flow on to either system as a result of the review.

For the full list of Vehicle Licensing Reform objectives, and what was and was not included, see the Vehicle Licensing Reform Terms of Reference (PDF, 91KB).

Why was reform needed?

Transport regulation affects New Zealand’s economic growth. Because transport makes up about five percent of our Gross Domestic Product, even small improvements in transport regulation can have significant benefits for households and businesses.

More than 14 million vehicle certification and licensing transactions are generated by these three systems each year. This puts significant administrative and cost burdens on households, businesses and government agencies that process these transactions.

Because the systems have been in place for decades, it was time to consider if the amount of regulation involved was well matched to the risks we face, and how new technologies could make the systems simpler and more efficient to run. Removing unnecessary red tape, and creating smarter ways of doing things can help open the door for innovative ideas, reduce burdens on business and households and promote economic growth.

What part did public submissions play in developing the changes to Vehicle Licensing?

The recommendations for the change were developed following an in depth process involving research, analysis and modelling, discussions with transport sector stakeholders and wide ranging public consultation.

Key steps along the way included:

What are the next steps from here?

SystemActionIndicative date
Warrant of fitness (WoF) Consultation on amendment to Rule April/May 2013
  WoF changes implemented 1 July 2014 or earlier
Certificate of Fitness (CoF) Consultation on amendment to Rule April/May 2013
  CoF changes implemented 1 July 2014 or earlier
Annual Vehicle Licensing Report back to government on specific changes to Annual Vehicle Licensing 30 September 2013
Transport Services Licensing Conversation with industry about proposed changes Before 30 September 2012
  Report back to government on changes to Transport Services Licensing 30 September 2013

What are the key facts about New Zealand’s vehicle fleet?

Number of vehicles in the national fleet

There are 4.2 million vehicles currently recorded in the motor vehicle register. A little over 90 percent of these are light vehicles such as cars and vans.

(Note if they remain unregistered for more than a year they are removed from the register; once struck off they have to pay a fee to get the vehicle back on the register).

Average age of vehicles in New Zealand’s fleet

Around 13 years, making New Zealand a country with one of the oldest light vehicle fleets in the developed world.

However, because of better rust prevention techniques and improved mechanical reliability most countries have aging vehicle fleets.

Number of unlicensed and unwarranted vehicles in New Zealand’s fleet

At any one time during the year there are around 260,000 cars unlicensed and the owners of nearly all of these cars pay their overdue licence fees within a year.

The likely number of unlicensed vehicles being driven each year is estimated at between 40,000 to 120,000.

Based on the 4.2 million vehicles on the vehicle register we know that:

  • Around 10 per cent are without a current warrant of fitness or certificate of fitness.
  • Around 9 per cent are unlicensed.
  • Around 5 per cent are both without a current warrant of fitness or certificate of fitness and unlicensed.

Light vehicle fleet by year of manufacture as at December 2010 (source: NZ Transport Agency)

Graph showing light vehicle fleet in 2011 and year of manufacture

Where can I find more information?

Media releases

Read Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges’ media release(external link) of 27 January 2013.
Read Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges' media release(external link) of 24 October 2012.

Read Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges' media statement(external link) of 19 September 2012 on the beehive website.

Read Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee's media statement(external link) of 12 June 2012 on the beehive website.

Read Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee’s media statement(external link) of 28 March 2012 on the beehive website.


Stakeholder Options Papers

The working papers for the stakeholder meeting of 12 June 2012 present an overall list of possibilities for Vehicle Licensing Reform. This includes ideas that may not be carried forward. A set of options for reform will be developed for the next stage of consultation. Read the Stakeholder Options Workshop papers (PDF, 2.1MB)

Read the Vehicle Licensing Reform overview from the Chief Executives of the Ministry of Transport and the NZ Transport Agency.