Changes to Better Protect Personal Information on the Motor Vehicle Register

Until now it has been relatively easy to find details of an owner of a vehicle through the Motor Vehicle Register. However, from 1 November 2010, new legislation will restrict such searches to better protect names and addresses on the Register.

The changes start coming into effect on 13 May 2010 and restrictions on the release of personal details from the Register come into force on 1 November 2010.

From 13 May 2010, individuals or companies can apply for an authorisation to access the information held on the Register. This application is made to the Secretary of Transport and authorisation may be granted fro up to 5 years. There is no application form. However, there is a list of questions that applicants must answer in their application. These are:

  1. What is your full name?
  2. What is your physical address?
  3. What is your postal address?
  4. What is your email or other electronic address?
  5. Do you currently use information from the register?
  6. If you do, what do you use it for?
  7. What do you intend to use it for?
  8. What are your reasons for not doing one of the following:(i) collecting the information directly from the individual concerned;
    (i) collecting the information from a source other than the register;
    (ii) seeking confirmation from the Registrar under section 236(1)(b) of the Land Transport Act 1998 that a specified person is registered in respect of a specified motor vehicle;
    (iii) asking for the information under the Official Information Act 1982?
  9. What physical and computer security systems do you have in place to ensure that information from the register
    (i) is kept secure; and
    (ii) is used only for the purpose or purposes specified in the authorisation?
  10. How do you propose to tell the persons whose information has come from the register about the following:
    (i) the fact that the register was the source of the information; and
    (ii) what you use the information for; and
    (iii) the fact that the persons can notify the Registrar that they do not wish to have their names and addresses made available under an authorisation?
  11. Have you ever been found to have breached any of the information privacy principles in the Privacy Act 1993?
  12. Have you ever been found, in proceedings of any kind, to have breached any confidentiality obligation?
  13. Do you have a credit rating and, if so, what is it?
  14. For how long, up to 5 years, do you want the authorisation to last?
  15. If you employ staff or engage agents,
    (i) how many of them are likely to have access to the information from the register?
    (ii) what are the roles of those who are likely to have access?
    (iii) what training will you give those who are likely to have access on the proper handling of the information from the register?
    (iv) what controls do you have in place to ensure that those who are likely to have access handle the information from the register properly?
    (v) what sanctions do you have available for those who do not handle the information from the register properly?
  16. If you are in business,
    (i) what is the nature of the business?
    (ii) what locations does the business operate from?
    (iii) how long has the business existed?

Applicants may also provide further information which they believe maybe helpful towards their application. These applications should then be sent to If an application is declined, the applicant can either ask the Ombudsman to review the decision or apply for a Judicial Review of the decision to the High Court.

Individuals and organisations who do not have authorisation can still request the information through an Official Information Act request to the New Zealand Transport Agency.

In addition to making applications for access to information, it will also be possible for vehicle owners to withhold their details from being released to authorised individuals or organisations. From 13 May 2010, vehicle owners can apply to “opt out”. This means that they instruct the New Zealand Transport Agency not to release their details to anyone. This may pose some problems to organisations who rely on this information to obtain details for their claims including subrogation claims in motor vehicle accident cases.

There will no doubt be further fine tuning of these rules by the time it comes into force. In the meantime it may be best to get your authorisation application in early so that you don’t get caught out. If you require any assistance with your applications or appeals we would be able to help.