New WoF system will save Kiwis time and money

  • Simon Bridges

Changes to New Zealand’s warrant of fitness system, which will see annual inspections for cars registered after 2000, will save motorists time and money and will also focus on road safety, says Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges.

The key changes to the warrant of fitness system (WoF) include:

  • An initial inspection for new cars, followed by annual inspections once  vehicles are three years old
  • Annual inspections for vehicles three years and older and first registered on or after 1 January 2000
  • Six-monthly inspections for vehicles first registered before 1 January 2000
  • Information and education to increase people’s awareness of regular vehicle maintenance
  • Extra Police enforcement activities.

“Regular inspections will continue to play a vital role in vehicle safety.  The new inspection frequency regime recognises concerns about older vehicles by making sure vehicles registered before 1 January 2000 remain on six-monthly inspections.

“The new regime also recognises that the quality of vehicles and their safety features and performance are improving over time,” says Mr Bridges.

Ministry of Transport research shows that the package of changes will benefit motorists and businesses by $159 million a year, and by at least $1.8 billion over 30 years.  This includes savings in inspection and compliance costs, justice and enforcement costs, and time spent by motorists getting their WoF.

Mr Bridges says these savings will have a flow-on benefit for the wider economy.

“Decisions have come after a great deal of work, including public consultation that canvassed a range of possible options.  While many submitters wanted reform, others expressed concern about change. 

“We took these concerns into account in designing a WoF package that backs up the changed inspection frequency over time with other measures, such as information and education campaigns and more funding for Police enforcement.” 

Options relating to information and education campaigns and Police enforcement activities, including funding details, will be worked through by the relevant Government agencies in the coming months.

“These changes bring us more into line with other countries.  New Zealand currently has one of the highest inspection frequencies in the world.

Changes to the WoF system will be made through the Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Standards Compliance 2002 and are expected to be in place by July 2014 or earlier.

The Vehicle Licensing Reform project and consultation also looked at ways to refine the certificate of fitness, annual vehicle licensing and transport services licensing systems.

More details about Vehicle Licensing Reform can be found here:

Questions and answers:

1. What changes will be made to the certificate of fitness (CoF) system?

Currently, light vehicles operated as a transport service (such as taxis and rental cars) and heavy vehicles are inspected for a CoF.  The current six-monthly CoF default inspection frequency will be retained, with the NZTA able to apply a different frequency between three and 12 months depending on the operator’s safety record.

Much of the cost of getting a CoF comes from the time a vehicle is out of service.  Extending the variable frequency range for CoF gives the ability to reward operators with good safety records through longer periods between inspections, while still closely managing operators with poor safety records.

In addition, there will be opportunities for a broader range of CoF inspecting organisations and sites, including allowing providers to also do vehicle maintenance.  The NZTA will review its approval, monitoring and auditing procedures to make sure high quality inspections are maintained.

Benefits from CoF changes are estimated to be in the range of $14 to $41 million a year and up to $460 million over 30 years.  Changes to the CoF system will be made through the Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Standards Compliance 2002 and are expected to be in place by July 2014 or earlier.

2. What changes will be made to the annual vehicle licensing (registration) system?

Changes to annual vehicle licensing will be explored further to make paying the registration fee as easy as possible with the aim of reducing the number of infringement notices issued each year.  Final advice on this is expected by mid-2013.

Using email and text alert reminders, payment incentives such as late payment penalties and better targeting penalties to risk are some examples of registration options that will be looked at in more detail.

3. What changes will be made to the transport services licensing system?
The transport services licensing system is used to identify and regulate commercial transport operators such as taxis, buses, freight services and rental vehicles.  The current system will be retained but consideration will be given to whether the system can be refined and better targeted towards risk.  Further advice to the Minister is expected by the end of September 2013.