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What is the Motor Vehicle Sales Act 2003?

New Zealand's Motor Vehicle Sales Act 2003 (MVSA) came into effect on 15 December 2003.

Consumer protection under the MVSA includes:

  • vehicles purchased from a registered motor vehicle trader are taken free of any security interest, unless the security interest is disclosed prior to purchase and the buyer goes ahead with the purchase anyway.
  • increased availability of information about motor vehicle traders, such as who is registered and who is banned, through an online register freely available to anyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • consumers have a more direct route to the Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal regarding unresolved disputes with registered traders.
  • more traders must register under the law, such as car market operators and vehicle auctioneers, even if their business is transacted is online.

Registered motor vehicle traders must produce for inspection a certificate of registration if requested by any person, and it is an offence not to produce it.

If you are on a trader’s premises a copy of their certificate of registration should be on display. The certificate shows the trader name, trader number and expiry date of their registration. All trader registrations expire on an annual basis and need to be renewed. Check the expiry date on the certificate to make sure the trader has a current motor vehicle trader registration.

The motor vehicle traders register makes it easy to find out who is a registered trader or who is a banned trader. Information on searching the MVTR is available in the About searching section. You can also view the banned persons list on this website.


Consumers looking for further information about the MVSA can find help and resources at:

New Zealand Legislation to view the MVSA.

Consumer Protection who provide a range of information on motor vehicle purchase and problems including:

  • Rights and remedies under the Consumer Guarantees Act 1993

  • Purchasing a vehicle from a dealer, at auction, in a private sale, or from an unlicenced dealer

  • Hire purchase, vehicle insurance, and odometers.

Commerce Commission who enforce a range of regulatory regimes including the Fair Trading Act 1986 and a number of standards set by the Regulations under the MVSA.  Under the Fair Trading Act, the Commission enforces the consumer information standard for the sale of used motor vehicles, and investigates misleading and deceptive conduct and unfair trading practices.


Note | The MVTR is not responsible for motor vehicle registrations, this service is provided by Land Transport New Zealand.  Please visit their website or call 0800 699 000 for information on vehicle registration.


Last updated 11 October 2016


If you would like to find out if a trader is registered under the Motor Vehicle Sales Act 2003 you can search the MVTR for free as many times as you like. 

Learn how to search and understanding your search results.

Do you have a query about vehicle licensing?  
New Zealand Transport Agency
is the agency responsible.


Related websites

Trading Standards

Consumer Protection

Ministry of Justice (Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal)

Personal Property Securities Register