How Car Registration Works in Australia

In Australia all vehicles must be registered in the state or territory that its owner resides. There are heavy penalties for living in one state and owning a car that is unregistered or registered in your name in a different state. Buying a car interstate means transferring ownership and often the registration or, to use Aussie lingo, the ‘rego’ (pronounced ‘redjo’).

What is Rego?

Rego is a document that officially identifies a vehicle. It is linked to your insurance and can be used to trace the vehicle, such as on toll roads and with red light or speed cameras. The car rego must be obtained by the current owner of the vehicle.

Compulsory insurance, known as CTP is included with the rego, except for car registered in New South Wales (NSW), where it must be obtained from a third-party provider. CTP insurance cover personal injury in case of accident, it does not cover damage to property – this insurance, while not compulsory, should be obtained from an insurance company.

Buying a car with current rego is a good way to know that a car is mostly road worthy. If you buy a car without rego, you should get a roadworthy certificate, so you know that it is at least possible to get the vehicle registered.

In most states, rego is an annual payment, however options are usually available to pay it every three, six or nine months.

To transfer the rego into your name, you need to attend the appropriate offices in the state of registration.

How does Car Registration Work?

Each state has different rules regarding rego. It is best to find out what your specific state needs when registering your new car. Some states the car is required to be inspected every year, (NSW & NT), while in others, inspections are only mandatory when the transfer of ownership is being completed (ACT, QLD & VIC).

With all purchases the seller must provide with a receipt of purchase and in most cases rego transfer documents. The details on the receipt should include:

  • make
  • model
  • colour
  • year
  • the plate numbers
  • the VIN number (Vehicle Identification Number)
  • date and price of sale
  • names, addresses and signatures of the seller and buyer

To transfer rego the buyer must provide the registration body with this information, usually accompanied with proof of disposal that the seller should give you.

Buying and Selling a Vehicle in its State of Registration

Both parties will complete the transfer form, this is often on the rego papers themselves. The buyer needs to take the document to the correct governing body in order to put the rego in their own names. The seller will need to complete the notice of disposal, to make sure the vehicle is no longer registered to them and that they are no longer responsible for the vehicle.

While the process may seem confusing, it is reasonably straight forward. However, some details are different based on which state you are in, so it is best to follow the specific guidelines as set out in that state.

Follow this Guide to Transfer Rego to Your Name

  • Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
    • For cars older than six years, an inspection is required and a ‘Certificate of Inspection’ provided. This can be completed by the seller but be sure the document falls within the 14day expiry date.
    • A transfer form is to be completed by the buyer and the seller, this is found on the back of the Registration Certificate.
    • The seller needs to send the notice of disposal to: Access Canberra – Road Transportation Authority, PO Box 582, Dickson ACT 2602
    • The buyer must provide:
      • The Registration Certificate or The Sales Receipt
      • The Registration Form
      • The Certificate of Inspection (if required)
      • Three Proofs of Identity (these must show at least 3 months of ACT residency)
    • The buyer pays any transfer fees and taxes due
  • New South Wales (NSW)
    • The buyer and seller fill out the ‘Notice of Disposal’ & ‘Application of Transfer’ forms
    • The seller sends the notice of disposal to the NSW Road Authority
    • The seller must provide a receipt that shows:
      • Name
      • Address
      • Signatures (Buyer & Seller)
      • Date of Sale
      • Sale Amount
      • Plate Number
      • VIN
      • Registration Certificate (or other proof they are the owner)
    • The buyer attends in person to the NSW Road Authority and provides:
      • The Transfer Form
      • The Receipt
      • Two Documents to Prove Identity
      • Official Proof of NSW Residency (can be supplied by your financial institution)
    • The buyer pays the transfer fees and taxes due
  • Northern Territory (NT)
    • The buyer and seller fill out the ‘Transfer Forms’
    • The seller sends the ‘Notice of Disposal’ to MVR (Motor Vehicle Registry) by:
      • email: mvr@nt.gov.au
      • post: Department of Transport, GPO Box 530, Darwin, NT 0801
    • The seller must provide and sign the ‘Registration Certificate’ or a receipt that shows:
      • Make
      • Model
      • Colour
      • Year
      • VIN
    • The buyer attends in person to the MVR offices and provides:
      • The Transfer Form
      • The Receipt
      • Three Documents to Prove Identity
      • Official Proof of NT Residency (can be supplied by your financial institution)
    • The buyer pays the transfer fees and taxes
  • Queensland (QLD)
    • The seller must obtain a Safety Certificate, this is valid for two thousand kilometres or two months (whichever comes first).
    • The buyer and seller complete the ‘Vehicle Application Form’
    • The seller sends the ‘Sellers Copy’ to QLD Transport, with a receipt that shows:
      • Names of the parties
      • Addresses
      • Signatures
      • Date of Sale
      • Sales Price
      • Plate Number
      • VIN
    • The buyer completes the ‘New Customer Application’ form (a CRN will be issued when the forms are submitted)
    • The buyer pays the transfer fees and taxes
  • South Australia (SA)
    • The buyer and seller complete the registration transfer form together. This is location on the back of the registration certificate. It’s the seller responsibility to have this form, if they have lost it, they will need to obtain a new one before the sale and transfer can be completed.
    • The seller sends part B to SA Transport Authority, including a receipt that shows:
      • Names of the parties
      • Addresses
      • Signatures
      • Date of Sale
      • Sales Price
      • Plate Number
      • VIN
    • The buyer needs to obtain proof of SA residency from their financial institution
    • The buyer must provide at a SA Transport office:
      • The Transfer Form
      • Receipt of Purchase
      • Three Proofs of Identity
    • The buyer pays the transfer fees and taxes
  • Tasmania (TAS)
    • The buyer and seller fill out the ‘Transfer Forms’; found on the back of the registration form or on the Tasmania Transport website.
    • The seller sends the ‘Notice of Disposal’ to Tasmania Service – The Registrar, Motor Vehicles, GPO BOX 1002 Hobart Tasmania 7001
    • The seller must provide and sign a receipt that shows:
      • Names of the Buyer & Seller
      • Addresses
      • Signatures
      • Date of Sale
      • Sale Price
      • Plate Number
      • VIN
    • The buyer attends in person to the Tasmania Service offices and provides:
      • The Transfer Form
      • The Receipt
      • Three Documents to Prove Identity
      • Official Proof of Tasmanian Residency (can be supplied by your financial institution)
    • The buyer pays the transfer fees and taxes
  • Victoria (VIC)
    • The seller must provide a VIC Roadworthy Certificate (RWC), which is valid for one month. If the seller does not provide one, the buyer must obtain one themselves.
    • The seller and buyer complete the ‘Application for Transfer of Registration’ form
    • The buyer attends a VicRoads office and provides:
      • The ‘Application for Transfer of Registration’ form
      • The RWC
      • The Receipt of Purchase
      • Two Documents to Prove Identity
      • Official Proof of Tasmanian Residency (can be supplied by your financial institution)
    • The buyer pays the transfer fees and taxes

NOTE: The seller does not need to notify VicRoads of the sale. However, you should retain a copy of the receipt as proof of disposal.

  • Western Australia (WA)
    • The buyer and seller complete the transfer form, the buyer must enter a home address in WA.
    • The seller sends the green section of the form to the WA Department of Transport
    • The buyer must complete the red section of the form
    • If the car is under 26 years old, the buyer must fill out the ‘Fitment of an Immobilizer Declaration’
    • The buyer attends the WA Department of Transport in person and provides:
      • Transfer & Immobilizer forms
      • Two Proofs of Identity
      • Proof of WA Residency (Bank Statement will be enough)
    • The buyer pays the transfer fees and taxes

Buying and Selling a Vehicle Outside its State of Registration

Buying a car from outside of its state of registration is not recommend. As there are many problems that you may run into. Only do this if the car is of some significance, such as special or rare model. For a daily driver try to buy one in your current state of residence. However, if you do purchase a car outside its state of residency, this is how to transfer and change the registration state.

Follow this Guide to Transfer Rego to Your Name

  • Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
    • The vehicles must pass a technical control and obtain a ‘Certificate of Inspection’, this expires after a month.
    • The seller must provide and sign the ‘Registration Certificate’ or a receipt that shows:
      • Make
      • Model
      • Colour
      • Year
      • VIN
      • Plate Number
      • The Date & Sale Amount
      • Names & Addresses of Parties Involved
    • Buyer and Seller must attend the Access Canberra office and hand in the old plates
    • The buyer must provide:
      • The Registration Certificate or The Sales Receipt
      • The Registration Form
      • The Certificate of Inspection (if required)
      • Three Proofs of Identity (these must show at least 3 months of ACT residency)
    • The buyer pays any transfer fees and taxes due
  • New South Wales (NSW)
    • A technical inspection must be carried out and a Road Worthy Certificate (RWC or ‘Blue Slip’) is needed. Ideally the seller should provide, but if they are unable then it becomes the buyer’s responsibility
    • The seller must provide the registration certificate, and/or other proof that they are the owners, and a receipt that shows:
      • Name
      • Address
      • Signatures (Buyer & Seller)
      • Date of Sale
      • Sale Amount
      • Plate Number
      • VIN
      • Registration Certificate (or other proof they are the owner)
    • The buyer purchases the Compulsory Third Party Insurance (CTP or ‘Green Slip’)
    • The buyer completes the ‘Application for Registration form
    • The buyer and seller attend in person to the NSW Road Authority and hands in the old plates
    • The buyer gives the NSW Road Authority:
      • The Transfer Form
      • The Receipt
      • Two Documents to Prove Identity
      • Official Proof of NSW Residency (can be supplied by your financial institution)
      • The Purchase Receipt
      • The ‘Green Slip’ Receipt
  • Northern Territory (NT)
    • For vehicles older the five years, a Road Worthy Certificate must be obtained at the MVR in Darwin, Alice Springs, Katherine or an authorised garage based in NT. If the vehicle is younger than five years it needs to pass a compliance check only
    • The buyer fills out the registration form
    • The seller must provide and sign the ‘Registration Certificate’ or a receipt that shows:
      • Make
      • Model
      • Colour
      • Year
      • VIN
      • Plate Numbers
      • Date & Sales Price
      • Address of both seller and buyer
    • The seller must surrender the old plates at the MVR office
    • The buyer must provide:
      • The forms
      • The receipt
      • Three proofs of identity
      • Proof of NT residency (a bank statement will suffice)
  • Queensland (QLD)
    • The seller must obtain a Safety Certificate. This is a requirement for the seller and NOT the buyer.
    • The buyer completes the ‘New Customer Application’ form and is given a Customer Reference Number (CRN), this needs to be handed into the transport office
    • The buyer & seller attend the QLD Transport offices and the seller surrenders the old plates
    • The buyer must provide:
      • The Safety Certificate & The New Customer Application forms
      • The Receipt of Purchase
      • Three Proofs of Identity
      • Proof of QLD Residency (A bank statement is usually enough)
  • South Australia (SA)
    • A Vehicle Identity Inspection is required for any vehicle that is not currently or has not been registered in SA. This can be obtained from a approved Vehicle Inspection Station or a Police Station
    • The buyer needs to obtain a proof of SA residency from their financial institution
    • The buyer should complete ‘Application for Registration & Third-Party Insurance’ form
    • The buyer and seller need to go to the SA Transport office and the seller needs to surrender the old license plates
    • The buyer needs to provide:
      • The Vehicle Identity Inspection Report
      • Three proofs of identity
      • Proof of SA residency
      • Receipt of the purchase
  • Tasmania (TAS)
    • A technical check of the vehicle is required and an AIS Report (or Road Worthy Certificate) is given; unless the vehicles rego expired less than three months prior then it is not required
    • The seller must provide and sign a receipt that shows:
      • Names of the Buyer & Seller
      • Make
      • Model
      • Colour
      • Year
      • Addresses
      • Signatures
      • Date of Sale
      • Sale Price
      • Plate Number
      • VIN
    • The buyer & seller attend the Tasmania Service offices and provides:
      • The old plates
      • The Transfer Form
      • The Receipt
      • Three Documents to Prove Identity (including passport)
      • Official Proof of Tasmanian Residency (can be supplied by your financial institution)
    • The buyer pays the transfer fees and taxes
  • Victoria (VIC)
    • The seller must provide a VIC Roadworthy Certificate (RWC), which is valid for one month. If the seller does not provide one, the buyer must obtain one themselves.
    • Set an appointment with VicRoads
    • The seller provides a receipt that states:
      • Names of the Buyer & Seller
      • Make
      • Model
      • Colour
      • Year
      • Addresses
      • Signatures
      • Date of Sale
      • Sale Price
      • Plate Number
      • VIN
    • The buyer & seller attends a VicRoads office and provides:
      • The Old Licence Plates
      • The ‘Vehicle Registration’ form
      • The RWC
      • The Receipt of Purchase
      • Two Documents to Prove Identity (including passport)
      • Official Proof of Tasmanian Residency (can be supplied by your financial institution)
  • Western Australia (WA)
    • The vehicle must pass a technical check and obtain a WA Roadworthy Certificate (RWC); unless the vehicle is from WA and the rego expired less than 3 months prior
    • The seller provides a receipt that states:
      • Names of the Buyer & Seller
      • Make
      • Model
      • Colour
      • Year
      • Addresses
      • Signatures
      • Date of Sale
      • Sale Price
      • Plate Number
      • VIN
    • The buyer needs to complete the ‘Application to License Vehicle’ & ‘Proof of Identity’ forms
    • The seller sends the green section of the form to the WA Department of Transport
    • The buyer & seller attends the WA Department of Transport in person and provides:
      • The Old License Plates
      • The RWC
      • ‘Application to License Vehicle’ & ‘Proof of Identity’ forms
      • Two Proofs of Identity (including a Passport)
      • Proof of WA Residency (Bank Statement will be enough)

Buying a Car Without Current Rego

There are two main problems when buying a car without current rego:

  • The car must be towed if you wished to move it, as it is illegal to drive an unregistered vehicle on the road. Police in Australia are equipped with scanners that can quickly detect any unregistered vehicle, and they will happy give you a fine that is around the same amount as a year’s rego. In some states it is possible to get a day pass to move a car, but it must be going for repairs or from the seller to your home.
  • To obtain current registration you must get the vehicle inspected and any repairs completed to proceed with the registration. This can be costly, so ideally ask the seller to obtain it first, even if they have an inspection done so you know what the repairs needed are.

Rego Renewal

To renew your current rego, most states offer this service online, provided the rego is in your name. This makes it very easy to keep the rego current. However, many states do not inform you of when your registration is due, and you need to set a reminder to make sure it does not lapse.