What is the motor vehicle licence? 

Every motor vehicle on a public road must be licensed. In a car, the motor vehicle licence is displayed on the left of the front windscreen. Colloquially, the motor vehicle licence is called ‘rego’.

Is motor vehicle licensing different to motor vehicle registration?

A motor vehicle is registered once, typically when the vehicle is first imported into New Zealand. Registration involves recording the motor vehicle’s key features (model, colour, year). Once registered, number plates will be assigned to the motor vehicle.

Motor vehicle licensing happens annually and ensures the information provided when the motor vehicle was first registered remains up to date and correct. This includes the details of the person responsible for the motor vehicle (for example, their name and address). The licence allows the motor vehicle to be on a public road.  

Why must a motor vehicle be licensed?

Every person who has a motor vehicle recorded under their name must pay a licensing fee. The majority of the money paid for a motor vehicle licence goes to Accident Compensation Corporation(external link) (ACC) to help pay for personal injuries resulting from motor vehicle accidents. The rest of the money, excluding GST, goes to the National Land Transport Fund, which helps funds the building, maintenance and operation of our land transport system.

The cost of the motor vehicle licence includes:

  • $43.50 goes to the National Land Transport Fund
  • an ACC levy (for the motor vehicle account), depending on the vehicle type and fuel type.
  • GST, transaction fees, and other fees (such as the cost of the label itself).

Why is motor vehicle licensing more expensive for diesel vehicles and goods and services vehicles?

The difference in costs between similar vehicles with different fuels is because there is an ACC levy on every litre of petrol, which does not apply to diesel. ACC levies are set so that a diesel vehicle travelling the average distance per year is subject to a similar levy per year as a petrol vehicle. However, this is an average, and some vehicles will be subject to more, and some less, depending on how much they travel.

ACC levies also vary depending on vehicle type. Goods service vehicles pay more because they have a higher risk rating and drive greater distances than standard cars. This is similar to the way the ACC levies for motorcycles are higher, due to the high accident rate and cost of motorcycle accidents.