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Is it Legal to Sell an Unregistered Car in Australia?

May 30, 2022 | Insights

You might be surprised to learn that, yes, selling an unregistered car in Australia is perfectly legal. This being said, the rules differ from state to state, with plenty of other legalities involved when you sell an unregistered vehicle.
Whether you’re the seller or the person buying an unregistered car, make sure that you’re not unknowingly breaking the rules or any laws! Read our guide below to help you get started on knowing what you need to know, when it comes to buying and selling unregistered cars in Australia — legally!

What you need to know about selling an unregistered car

There are plenty of reasons that you might be looking to sell your car unregistered. Perhaps the registration simply expired and you’d prefer to keep your rego money for your new wheels, maybe the car isn’t able to be registered just yet, or maybe it’s being sold for parts or to be turned into a race or show vehicle. Whatever the reason, it would make the logistics of buying and selling cars incredibly complicated if they weren’t able to be sold unregistered.

Here’s what you should know about selling an unregistered car:

1. Make sure you advertise it as unregistered

It’s, of course, very important to let interested buyers know that the car is being sold unregistered. Unregistered vehicles take a little bit more organising to move from one location to another, often by tow truck, so make sure that you’re very detailed about the location of the car, as well as the vehicle’s details.

If you’re looking to purchase an upgraded car and would like to put the money you get for your unregistered vehicle to good use, you could consider using the proceeds as a deposit towards vehicle finance with Finance One to strengthen your application.

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2. Check with your local state or territory’s road authority

As we mentioned earlier, the specific rules for selling an unregistered car vary across each state, so you need to check with your local state or territory road authority on what’s required for selling an unregistered car where you are. An example of the specific rules that might apply are whether a roadworthy certificate or safety certificate is required before you can sell the car without registration.

Knowing the most current rules can also work in your favour as the seller, so that you can pass on your knowledge to any potential buyer and make the sale process a lot smoother.

If picking up the phone to the Main Roads and Transport Department has you feeling under-enthused, remember that many states let you pay and check rego online, so they may have exactly what you need directly on their website.

Obtain an unregistered vehicle permit

Before you sell or buy an unregistered car, it’s very important to obtain an unregistered vehicle permit, if it’s required in your state. For example, in the sunshine state of Queensland, you need compulsory CTP insurance with your unregistered vehicle permit to transport it.

Create a paper trail

One of the most important things you can do to protect yourself when it comes to car sales is to create a paper trail of the sale of the vehicle. Even if it’s just a one pager, having a paper trail keeps things transparent and can be used if any issues arise in the future once the car is sold.

You don’t need to have a complicated document, you can create a simple contract, it can even be hand-written, but it is a good idea to make sure you include:


    • Details of both the buyer and the person selling the car such as name, address, contact number and Driver Licence number. Regardless of what state you live in, it’s illegal to sell a car if you aren’t the owner!
    • Make sure that the seller (e.g. yourself) and the buyer both sign whatever sale receipt or simple contract you draw up to validate the transaction. It’s good to have two identical copies; at least one for each party.
    • Comprehensive details of the unregistered vehicle such as the engine number, vehicle identification number or chassis number. This is how vehicles are identified.
    • Provide proof of payment such as a transaction receipt whether it be cash or bank transfer.
    • The date of the sale and the agreed sale price.
    • Whether there were any conditions on the sale of the car (such as who is responsible for the car removal or who is to pay for the tow truck etc).
    • Obviously the basic car details such as year, make and model.
    • If you’d like to be thorough, you may want to put details of past vehicle registration information such as when the registration expired, what state it was registered in etc. This information shows buyers that you have nothing to hide, gives them confidence in the past ownership and of course may make it easier for them to arrange to register the car in their own name.

3. Hand back your number plates before selling

Before you sell, transfer or arrange car removal for an unregistered car, it’s very important to remember to hand back your plates to the relevant road authority. There can be financial penalty for lost plates, and you may even receive a small refund on any registration cancelled prior to its natural expiry date if you return your number plates to your state or territory’s road authority!

Is it better to sell a car registered?

Different buyers will be looking for different things, so it’s not necessarily better to sell a car with current rego. An unregistered vehicle does come with a little bit more work in terms of car removal from your house than a registered car, but the price of an unregistered car is often more attractive.

Selling an unregistered car as quickly as possible

If it’s instant cash that you’re after for your unregistered vehicle, you may want to look at car wreckers in your local area. Don’t sell yourself short, though; it’s important to know what your car is worth, unregistered or not. Redbook is a car valuation site that has information for most cars and can give you an indicative value of your car.

Another handy way that you could get rid of your unregistered vehicle and reduce the cost of your new car at the same time, is to trade it in at a car dealership. Trading your old unregistered vehicle in, is one of the ways you could help stay within budget for your new car.

New car ownership could be just around the corner. If you’d like to explore or enquire about a smart road to a second chance at a car loan, then your journey could begin with Finance One. Phone us today on 1800 346 663 or apply now!

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Disclaimer: The information above is of a general nature only and does not consider your personal objectives, financial situation or particular needs. You should consider seeking independent legal, financial, taxation or other advice to check how the information relates to your particular circumstances.  We do not accept responsibility for any loss arising from the use of, or reliance on, the information. All new loan applications are subject to normal lending criteria. Fees and charges payable. Terms and conditions apply.

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Makala Elliott

Makala is the Marketing Manager at Finance One. She has worked in the Finance and Lending industry for over 10 years, gathering a wealth of experience. She is passionate about helping Australians get back on track with their finances by passing on her knowledge.

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