Who needs to register

Find out whether you need to become a registered motor vehicle trader, and if you're eligible to register. We also explain who can't register as a motor vehicle trader.

Types of motor vehicle traders

If you run a business in New Zealand trading motor vehicles (for example - cars, utes, vans, motorbikes), it’s very likely that you’ll need to register as a motor vehicle trader. This applies to both individuals and companies that trade motor vehicles, including overseas companies that are trading in New Zealand.

Motor vehicle traders include:

  • importers
  • car auctioneers
  • car consultants
  • wholesalers (see below)
  • car wreckers who sell vehicles
  • insurance companies, finance companies, and storage providers who sell vehicles directly to the public (not through a registered motor vehicle trader).

Wholesalers

If you sell vehicles to other motor vehicle traders, but not directly to consumers, you still need to be registered as a trader.

Overseas traders

If your company is based overseas, but is trading motor vehicles in New Zealand, you must still comply with the Motor Vehicle Sales Act.

Overseas companies trading motor vehicles in New Zealand

What is motor vehicle trading

We consider you or your company to be in the business of motor vehicle trading if you:

  1. hold out (advertise, state, notify or represent) that you're carrying on the business of motor vehicle trading – it doesn't matter how many vehicles you actually trade
  2. sell, gift or swap more than six motor vehicles within 12 consecutive months, or
  3. import more than three motor vehicles within 12 consecutive months.

Tip Icon Violet2 Note

Points 2 and 3 may not apply if you can show us that the vehicles:

  • were sold or imported through a registered motor vehicle trader, or
  • the vehicles weren't sold or imported for the 'primary purpose of gain'.

Example

A sale can be for the primary purpose of gain even if you don't make a profit from it. For example, if you sell a vehicle to minimise losses (such as the costs associated with the ownership or storage of a vehicle), this would be included within the definition of gain.

There's a more detailed explanation in the Act:

Motor Vehicle Sales Act 2003 — Section 8, Who is treated as motor vehicle trader(external link)

How we'll know if you're trading

The Motor Vehicle Sales Act allows for information to be shared with us by the New Zealand Customs Service and the Ministry of Transport/New Zealand Transport Agency.

Motor Vehicle Sales Act 2003 — Subpart 4–Information gathering powers(external link)

If it comes to our attention that someone who isn't a registered motor vehicle trader has imported more than three vehicles, or sold more than six vehicles, within any 12 month period, we'll write to them and ask them to register.

If you receive a letter like this, you can register as a motor vehicle trader on this website. However, if you don't believe you're a motor vehicle trader, you can respond and provide the reasons why you don't fit the definition of a trader. You also have the option of seeking legal advice if you want to.

Contact us

Who doesn't need to register

You don't need to register as a motor vehicle trader if you're any of the following — unless you're also independently trading in motor vehicles:

  • an employee or agent of a motor vehicle trader
  • someone who is under a contract for services with a motor vehicle trader
  • a manufacturer who sells a motor vehicle to:
    • a person who is or has been employed by them
    • a registered motor vehicle trader, or
    • the Crown.

You also don't need to register as a motor vehicle trader if you're any of the following AND all motor vehicle sales are done through a registered motor vehicle trader:

  • a car market operator
  • a licensed car wrecker
  • a solicitor acting as an agent to sell a motor vehicle — unless you're paid commission on top of or instead of your professional charges
  • the liquidator of a motor vehicle trading company, selling that company's vehicle assets
  • a finance company, insurance company, rental car company, storage provider, or any other person selling a motor vehicle as an incidental part of your ordinary business.

Motor Vehicle Sales Act 2003 — Section 9, Who is not treated as motor vehicle trader(external link)

Tip Icon Violet2 Note

The points above only apply if all vehicles are sold through a registered trader – not just some of the vehicles, or all vehicles after the first six.

Examples

Car wrecker

If your business disassembles motor vehicles and sells the parts, you won't be considered a motor vehicle trader. However, if your business sells motor vehicles for someone else to take apart for parts, this is considered to be motor vehicle trading. To make sure you comply with the Motor Vehicle Sales Act, you would need to do one of the following:

  • register as a motor vehicle trader yourself, or
  • sell the vehicles through a registered motor vehicle trader.

Second-hand dealers

A second-hand dealer's licence doesn't cover the sale of motor vehicles. If you're selling motor vehicles through your business, you will also need to register as a motor vehicle trader – or sell them through a registered trader.

Employee of a registered trader

If you're an employee of a registered motor vehicle trader, you don't need to be registered. But if you also have your own business trading vehicles, you will need to register as a motor vehicle trader.

Buying and selling a vehicle for use in your business

If you have a business that isn't a motor vehicle trading business, you don't need to register as a motor vehicle trader if you:

  • buy a vehicle for use in your business through a registered motor vehicle trader, or
  • re-sell a vehicle after using it in your business through a registered motor vehicle trader.

Who can't register

Some individuals and companies can't register as motor vehicle traders. We've listed some of these below, but for a full list see the Act.

Motor Vehicle Sales Act 2003 — Sections 24 & 25, Persons disqualified from registration(external link)

Individuals who are disqualified from registering as a motor vehicle trader include people who:

  • are banned traders
  • are aged under 18
  • are currently bankrupt
  • have been convicted of a dishonesty offence, or certain offences under the Fair Trading Act, in the last five years
  • are prohibited from being a company director, or
  • had a motor vehicle trader registration that was cancelled within the last five years.

Companies that are disqualified from registering as motor vehicle traders include those that:

  • are banned traders
  • are in liquidation
  • have been removed from the Companies Register
  • have a disqualified individual (including a banned person) involved in the management of the company – that is, as a director, Chief Executive, or equivalent to Chief Executive, or
  • had a motor vehicle trader registration that was cancelled within the last five years.

Entities that aren't individuals or companies — such as trusts and incorporated societies — are not able to register as motor vehicle traders.

Get advice

If you're not sure whether you need to register, we recommend you get independent legal advice.

If you need it, you can get free legal advice from Community Law.

Free legal help – Community Law website(external link)