Changes to availability of car rego info delayed

The New Zealand Transport Agency has announced that the changes to public access to the Motor Vehicle Register have been delayed until April 1, 2011.

Current law

Currently, the names and addresses held on the Motor Vehicle Register are publicly available to any person who provides the registration plate number of the vehicle and pays the prescribed fee. It is possible to request a confidential listing.

This means that anyone who knows the registration number of your car can find out where you live.

New law

Under the new law, personal information will not be made available to the general public. It can only be released for:

  • enforcement of the law
  • maintenance of the security of New Zealand
  • collection of charges imposed or authorised by an enactment; and
  • the administration and development of transport law and policy.

It is still possible to make a request to the Motor Vehicle Register under the Official Information Act, but it is expected that most such requests will be refused to protect the privacy of the person enquired about. The decision will be up to the NZTA and can be appealed to the Ombudsman.

This means that it will be a lot harder for someone to find out your address from your car registration number.

Note that this applies only to personal information – address details for cars registered to companies or other corporate bodies will still be available. This may be a privacy issue for businesses that are run from the family home.

Special authorisation and opting out

However, people or companies can apply to the Secretary of Transport for special authorisation to be able to access the MVR. The intention is that this will be used for insurance and finance companies. They will have to answer the following questions to the satisfaction of the Secretary of Transport.

You can opt out of letting these specially authorised companies find out your details at the NZTA site. Whether this will make it harder for you to apply for finance or insurance in the future is yet to be discovered.

Delay in implementation

The law was originally intended to take effect on 1 November 2010.

This has been delayed until 1 April 2011. The reason for the delay has not been announced.

Do you need to do anything?

No. The law change taking effect on April 1 2011 will make your address details a lot harder to access. Only people/companies authorised by the Secretary of Transport will be able to find out your address from your car registration.

If you wish, you can choose to also block access to these specially authorised people by opting out at the NTZA website.