Having taken Snicket through this process, I thought it might be interesting for others to know what the story with it is.
The first point I will make here is that re-registering a pre 1990 car is a lot easier than post 1990. I don’t have first hand experience with the latter, but I believe it involves much of the same work as a fresh import, ie: stripping interior panels, a thorough inspection and making sure it meets a lot more strict standards. Pre 1990 don’t need to meet so many strict standards, so get away with a simpler process.
My car, being a 1980 gets it a bit easier. The exception to this would be if the car was written off, ex-stolen, or has structural damage/rust; it gets pretty serious once those flags are ticked. Snicket was simply just forgotten about and lapsed, because the previous owner forgot to update the registration hold.
Now, in terms of paperwork required, the main thing is to get a Statutory Declaration and have it signed by a Justice of the Peace. This is basically to declare that you are the rightful, and legal owner of the car and have the right to re-register it into your name. This is very important if the person you get the car from isn’t the last registered owner. There may be a slightly different process if the seller was the last registered owner, it would pay to check with NZTA.
I believe the likes of VTNZ have forms to make this easy (and in my experience they prefer you use their form, but “see no reason” not to use the one from the Government), but I found a generic form online and filled it out myself. This was signed for me by a JP at a local Citizens Advice Bureau at no charge.
Here is a template I made from my form. It won’t be suitable for everyone, but should give an idea of what is needed on it. Opening it in Chrome seems to kill all the spaces in the text, but downloading it and opening seems fine. It’s an editable PDF.
I also printed out an up to date basic report from Carjam, mainly to show the old plate number, chassis number and that it’s not marked as Stolen. If you don’t know an old plate number, and the chassis/vin doesn’t work on Carjam, you may much bigger problems re-registering the car. Contact NZTA if this is the case.
It likely wasn’t needed but I also included a print out of the Trademe listing I purchased the car from, just as a paper trail of how I obtained the car (as you cannot transfer it into your name if it is de-registered). The more of a paper trail of how you obtained the car, the better.
The last thing I had was a printout of an email from NZTA allowing me to keep the black plates that came with the car, and re-use them when it is re-registered. This is a huge bonus for me as new, white plates look horrible on classic cars. I wont outline the process to retain your black plates as I’m not sure if its meant to be common knowledge, but the information is out there if you look for it (mainly on certain NZ old school car forums). You email details (photos of both plates to show they are in usable condition and a photo of the chassis number) of the car to NZTA, and they will run a check to ensure the plates can be reused, and if they can, they will reply with instructions on how to retain them, including a phone number your agent (VTNZ/VINZ etc) needs to call to activate the plates.
With that pile of papers in your hand, the other hand should have a big wad of cash. Older cars are cheaper as the inspection is less intense, but it still cost me $229. Newer cars are closer to $500. The catch here, is that the $229 does not include the actual registration fee, which was another $252 (this was with 12 months registration. 6 Months was also offered, which would be cheaper).
Now you choose your agent. I wanted to use VTNZ Upper Hutt as they are local to me, but unfortunately apparently not all VTNZ are able to do re-registration. The closest to me that can do it, is in Lower Hutt, about a half hour drive away. VINZ and some AA locations can also carry out the process.
I called up VTNZ and made a booking to have the car inspected and when the day arrived I showed up on time and left the car, keys, paperwork and money with them. I was advised it “could take up to three days, but should be less”. In my case, I dropped the car in on Wednesday morning, and got a call on Friday morning saying it had failed, but was ready for collection.
My car had failed on a short list of things, and I suspect most old cars will have something. You get 20 WORKING days to complete the repairs and book the car back in for a free recheck. If you go over this time, it’s another full inspection, at full price, so make sure you Get ‘Er Done.
One of the things my car failed on was a brake imbalance, which means I had to complete the “Brake Declaration” form I was given. They were happy for me to do the work and fill it out myself, and just consisted of ticking the boxes for the work carried out (Cylinders, Check. Linings, Check), write down part numbers and details of the supplier, a description of the work carried out, and then signing it. You will need to include copies of receipts for the parts used.
With all the work done, and all the paperwork signed, it was time to book back in for a recheck. I completed the recheck this morning, which took about an hour since only the failed items were checked, and as it was a Pass, on went the new WOF sticker and rego label. This is where you would get new plates if you couldn’t retain your old ones, or where you should remind them you are keeping the black plates, if they have forgotten. The final wad of cash from your wallet gets taken here, which is the “Registration Fee” as well as “ACC”, “Licensing” and paying for the new plates if needed.
The process is fairly simple as long as the car is in good shape. I wouldn’t want to try registering a car with serious rust or that’s been written off, I think that could be where the line is drawn for most cars and it becomes only good for parts. It’s a rewarding process though, knowing that you have returned a car to the road, that would probably otherwise been lost forever.