Licences for secondhand dealers and pawnbrokers

You must hold a licence if you are engaged in business as a secondhand dealer or pawnbroker (Secondhand Dealers and Pawnbrokers Act 2004). If you are in a business partnership with one or more people, each of you must hold a licence.

If you are in business as a secondhand dealer or pawnbroker using a licence issued before 1 April 2006, you need to get a new licence.

If you have any questions about applying for a licence contact the Licensing Authority of Secondhand Dealers and Pawnbrokers [Ministry of Justice website].

Issuing a licence

The Licensing Authority of Secondhand Dealers and Pawnbrokers will determine whether you are disqualified from holding a licence. Your criminal history will be checked, and Police will be given the chance to object to the application. In the case of a company applicant, the company and everyone involved in the management of the company will have their criminal histories checked.

The Licensing Authority must issue you a licence unless:

  • you are automatically disqualified (and you have not been granted a waiver).
    More about disqualifications and waivers.
  • the Licensing Authority upholds a Police objection against you.
    More about Police objections.
  • you failed to comply with one of the requirements for the application, such as you did not pay the application fee.

In the case of a company, the Licensing Authority must issue a licence if:

  • the company is not disqualified.
    More about disqualifications and waivers.
  • every one concerned in the management of the company is eligible to hold a certificate in his or her own right or
  • only one person is concerned with the management of the company and that person holds a certificate
  • the application is correctly completed and submitted.

A "person concerned in the management of the company" means a director of the company (defined in section 126 of the Companies Act 1993) and the chief executive of the company, or any person in an equivalent position.

Certified copies of licence

When you are issued with a licence the Licensing Authority will also provide you with certified copies. You must display a certified copy of your licence at every location where you conduct business.

Refusal to issue a licence

If you or your company's application for a licence is declined, the Licensing Authority will notify you in writing and give reasons for the refusal.

Information for all licence holders

If you hold a secondhand dealers and pawnbrokers licence, you can:

  • carry on business as a secondhand dealer
  • act as a pawnbroker
  • do both.

As an individual licence holder you are also regarded as holding a certificate. This means you can conduct transactions or issue pledge tickets personally or through a certificate holder whom you authorise to act on your behalf. A company that holds a licence can only enter into transactions or issue pledge tickets through certificate holders.

As a licence holder, you must meet the requirements below.

Showing your licence to Police

You must show your licence to a police officer if you are:

  • an individual licence holder
  • asked by a member of Police to show your licence
  • and at that time, engaged in secondhand dealing and pawnbroking.

It is an offence to fail, without reasonable excuse, to comply with a Police officer's request to see your licence. This offence, on conviction, carries a fine of up to $2,000.

Displaying your licence

You must prominently display, making it visible to the public, a certified copy of the licence at every place you carry out the business of secondhand dealing or pawnbroking. Failure to do this is an offence that carries, on conviction, a fine of up to $2,000. The Licensing Authority will issue you or your business with enough certified copies.

Showing goods to Police

If a Police officer asks you to show or make available any or all goods in your possession, you must do so. If you don't you may be convicted of an offence and fined up to $10,000.

Employee records

You must keep an employee record of every person you employ in your secondhand dealing or pawnbroking business. Records must include the employee's:

  • full name
  • date of birth
  • contact address and telephone number
  • date started with your business
  • certificate number if they have one.

As a licence holder you commit an offence if you do not:

  • keep an employee record
  • record the required details in your employee records
  • keep the record at your principle place of business. If you are an itinerant secondhand dealer, with no regular premises, you must keep the employee records with you
  • keep the record for 12 months from the date that the employee ceases to be employed by you
  • show a Police officer the employee record (without delay) or copy the employee record and give it to the Police officer.

If convicted of any such offence, you could be fined up to $10,000.

Stolen property

If you have any goods (not just those classified as ‘articles’) in your possession, or you are offered any goods for sale that you know or suspect are stolen, you must:

  • report the goods to a member of Police as soon as practicable
  • if you are in possession of the goods, hold them for 14 days from the date that you reported them to Police.

If Police give you a notice that specifies goods that are, or are alleged, to be stolen, you must:

  • immediately notify a member of Police if any of the goods specified are offered to you for sale or pawn
  • check your stock to see if you have any of the specified goods already in your possession.

If you already have in your possession any of the goods listed in the Police notice you must:

  • report that fact to a Police officer as soon as practicable
  • hold those goods for 14 days from the date that you reported them to Police.

Hold notices

If a Police officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that you or your business holds any stolen goods, they may issue a 'hold notice'. This directs you to hold that specific item for a 28-day period from the date on the notice. This may be 28 days on top of your general obligation to hold the goods for 14 days if you suspect that they are stolen.

You must not dispose of the goods identified in the hold notice for 28 days from the date of the notice. If you fail to comply you may, on conviction, be fined of up to $10,000.

Disposing of goods includes passing possession of the goods to another person, whether by sale or otherwise, and combining or dismantling the goods in such a way that they can no longer be recognised as the original goods.