Access to Motor Vehicle Register information is determined by the type of information being requested and the reason for requesting the information.
Vehicle information is available to any person on request (unless that vehicle has confidential status).
The names and addresses of companies or other corporate bodies that are or have been previously registered in respect of a vehicle are usually available to any person on request. Company name and address are generally considered to be in the public domain and so do not require the level of protection given to individuals.
Anyone who wishes to obtain the names and addresses of registered persons who are individuals may apply to the Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.
Depending on the circumstances, Waka Kotahi may consider such requests under the Official Information Act 1982 or the Land Transport Act 1998 (LTA - which may involve applying the criteria in the Official Information Act). When considering the release of information under the Official Information Act, Waka Kotahi may be required to weigh up the public interest in releasing the information sought against the privacy rights of the individual concerned.
Waka Kotahi may grant people authorised access to the Motor Vehicle Register under section 241 of the LTA.
Authorised access provides the authorised person direct access to the names and addresses of persons currently registered to motor vehicles, and information on those vehicles from the Motor Vehicle Register, for specified purposes. This means an authorised person does not usually need to apply to Waka Kotahi on a case by case basis for this information – though in some circumstances they still will.
Such authorised access under section 241 of the LTA is limited and doesn’t include individuals who have ‘opted out’ or have ‘confidential status’ (please see below for more information about these exceptions). It also doesn’t include access to names and addresses of previous registered persons. However, some authorised users have access to more information than section 241 authorisations under the LTA provide, as explained further below.
An authorisation is likely to be sought by persons who access Motor Vehicle Register information in bulk, or on a frequent and ongoing basis.
Please note that Waka Kotahi only grants authorisations under section 241 of the LTA if it considers it is appropriate, after consultation with the Privacy Commissioner, Chief Ombudsman, and the Commissioner of Police. Access will only be granted for specified purposes and will usually be subject to various conditions.
See ‘Authorised access to the Motor Vehicle Register’ for further information about this process and how to apply.
Some authorised users also have access to the names and addresses of persons previously registered to a motor vehicle and/or the names and addresses of individuals who have ‘opted out’ from having their names and addresses released under section 241 of the LTA. This access is granted in limited circumstances where Waka Kotahi has determined that the information may be disclosed under the Official Information Act, as per section 237(2)(d) of the LTA. This additional access enables such users to directly access this information, for specific purposes and under certain conditions, from the Motor Vehicle Register without having to request it from Waka Kotahi each time they need it.
There are two ways that you can restrict access to your personal information on the Motor Vehicle Register in certain circumstances, namely:
Opting out is a very limited form of restricting access to your information, and it does not mean that Waka Kotahi will never disclose your information to third parties. Opting out only prevents authorised users from accessing your name and address information (as recorded on the Motor Vehicle Register in relation to certain vehicles) under section 241 of the LTA.
Some authorised users will still have access to your name and address, even after you have opted out. As noted above, access to opted out information is granted in limited circumstances where Waka Kotahi has determined that this access is permitted under the Official Information Act in specific circumstances, as per section 237(2)(d) of the LTA. If an authorised user has been granted this additional access, the user will be able to obtain your name and address directly from the Motor Vehicle Register via an online search, even if you have opted out.
In addition to the exception mentioned above, opting-out does not prevent your information from being released through other lawful means, for example:
Before you opt-out, keep in mind that authorised users have a legitimate need to access personal information held on the Motor Vehicle Register and include organisations such as insurers, finance companies and motor vehicle traders. Opting-out may mean that it costs more and takes longer for you to complete any transactions with these organisations as they may be required to specifically request your information from Waka Kotahi.
You can request Waka Kotahi to provide the name of any person to whom your details have been provided under section 241 of the Land Transport Act 1998, the Official Information Act 1982 or under the Privacy Act 2020, and the purpose for which your information was disclosed.
You can opt-out online. You will need to provide your driver licence number and the number plate of all the vehicles registered in your name.
Please note: Each time you opt-in or opt-out, this will apply to all vehicles that are registered in your name.
Confidential status is a more effective way of preventing access to your personal information on the Motor Vehicle Register, however it is also much harder to obtain. Unlike opting out, if you are granted confidential status, your information on the Motor Vehicle Register can only be accessed in very limited circumstances as provided for under section 239 of the LTA.
If you have been granted confidential status, your information will not be provided to a user under section 241 authorised access, even if that user has additional access to opted out or historic information.
Confidential status is only granted in limited circumstances as there are specific requirements you must satisfy before it can be granted (as per section 239 of the Land Transport Act 1998). For example, confidential status may be granted in cases where there is a genuine threat to someone’s safety, for example where they have a protection order in place. Requests for confidential status are dealt with on a case by case basis.
Information matching generally involves the comparison of one set of records with another, to find records in both sets of data that belong to the same person. Information matching programmes are authorised by Parliament and monitored by the Privacy Commissioner. Parliament has approved two such programmes that use personal information from the Motor Vehicle Register. These are the:
The Unenrolled Voters Programme compares information from the Motor Vehicle Register with information held on the electoral roll in order to:
The Motor Vehicle Traders Sellers Programme enables the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to identify people who have sold more than six motor vehicles in a 12-month period and are not registered as motor vehicle traders.
For more information on both of these programmes, see the website of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.