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Buying a car interstate

Are you buying a car interstate? Read our guide on its pros and cons, costs, registration, getting it home and more.

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Found the perfect car, but it's in another state?

Read this guide to learn about the costs involved, how to inspect and register your car, how to get it delivered and the pros and cons of interstate car buying.

Can I buy a car from interstate?

Yes, you can purchase a vehicle from a different state, but it's a little more complicated than buying in the same state. You'll need to arrange for car transportation and also have the registration transferred into your name and state.

Pros of buying a car interstate

  • More vehicle choice. You'll have more options if you expand your search to include cars located in different states.
  • Potentially cheaper vehicles. Car prices can vary between states, so you may be able to find a better deal by buying interstate.

Cons of buying a car interstate

  • Having to arrange an inspection. It is always a good idea to inspect a car in person before you commit to buying it, but that may be difficult to arrange if the vehicle is interstate. You will need to organise transport, and you may need to take time off work to travel. Then again, you might have to arrange an inspection of the interstate car over a weekend.
  • Cost of travel and transport. You will have to factor in the cost of travelling to inspect the vehicle, which can be expensive. If you decide not to buy it, you will still be out of pocket for the cost of travel. You will also have to cover the cost of getting the car home, whether that's driving it yourself or getting it delivered by a car delivery company. The cost of transport varies depending on how far away the vehicle is, the type of car being transported and even the cost of fuel, so compare quotes from multiple companies before choosing one.

Other costs to consider when buying a car from another state

Aside from the purchase price of the car and the cost of transporting the vehicle, there are a few extra costs you need to consider when buying a vehicle interstate:

  • Transfer of registration. When you buy a car, you’ll need to cover the cost of transferring the vehicle’s registration into your name. However, if the vehicle is first registered in your name in another state before you drive it home, you’ll also need to cover the cost of moving the registration over to your state of residence.
  • Insurance. Also, remember that as part of the cost of registering your vehicle, you’ll also need to pay for compulsory third party (CTP) insurance. This will most likely set you back a few hundred dollars or more, but it’s automatically included in the cost of registration everywhere but NSW, the ACT and Queensland.
  • Roadworthy and safety certificates. You’ll also need to cover the cost of getting the necessary roadworthy and safety certificates (pink slips) to register the car in your state. Costs for these important certifications vary – for example, in NSW, a Vehicle Safety Check (pink slip) for a light vehicle costs $42 and a Safety and Identity Check (formerly a blue slip) costs $67 – so check with the roads and transport department in your state to find out how much you’ll need to pay.

Where to find a vehicle

There are a few options available when buying a car interstate:

  • Buying from a dealer. If you buy a new car from an interstate dealer, it should be protected by an extensive warranty. The good news is that used-car dealers are also required by law to provide a 3-month warranty for used cars with less than 160,000km on the clock, are under 10 years old and do not exceed the luxury car tax threshold. This warranty expires after 3 months or 5,000km. Most dealers will happily record a walk-around video for you to look at the car in more detail before you commit to travelling. They may even work with a delivery company.
  • Buying at an auction. The same warranty applies when you buy a vehicle from a licensed chattel auctioneer. If you buy a vehicle at auction, the auctioneer must inform you if the vehicle does not come with a statutory warranty. If you decide to buy a car without this protection, make sure you’re aware that you will have to cover the cost of any defects.
  • Buying from a private seller. If you buy from a private seller, protections such as cooling-off periods and statutory warranties do not apply. With this in mind, it’s essential that you thoroughly research and inspect the car before you buy.

Before you buy: Inspecting the car

The Internet is invaluable when you’re researching cars for sale interstate. While it’s not the same as kicking the tyres yourself, doing some online legwork can help you find a huge range of useful information about a car’s condition, features, service history and warranty.

However, when you’re buying a used car interstate, it’s highly recommended that you make sure the vehicle gets a proper inspection before you buy. There are two options for this:

  • View the vehicle yourself. For many of us, physically viewing and test-driving a car before we buy it is an absolute must. This can be an expensive and time-consuming exercise when buying interstate, but paying for flights and accommodation (if necessary) to check out the car in person could end up saving you thousands of dollars in the long run.
  • Pre-purchase vehicle inspection service. Motoring organisations such as the National Roads and Motorists' Association (NRMA) and the Royal Automobile Clubs of Victoria and of Queensland (RACV and RACQ) all offer independent vehicle inspection services to help you determine whether the car is safe to drive and in good condition. Alternatively, you may want to find a trusted local mechanic to give the car a once-over before you part with any cash.

In some cases, you may be tempted to buy a car sight unseen, but this is an extremely risky option and not recommended. Even if you know and trust the seller, there’s no way of knowing for sure if the vehicle is in good condition or if you’re getting a fair price. If the car you buy is not what you expected, you could end up significantly out of pocket.

Before you buy: Vehicle background checks

When buying a used car from interstate, you should always conduct a full check of the vehicle’s history – just as you would when buying from a seller down the road. This allows you to determine the following:

  • Whether the car has been written off or suffered previous damage
  • Whether the car is listed as stolen
  • Whether the car is under finance or is leased (if you buy a car from a licensed motor dealer or auctioneer, they must guarantee clear title)
  • The build and compliance dates of the vehicle
  • The vehicle’s sales history
  • The consistency and accuracy of the odometer reading

There are specialist companies that can conduct a full car history check for you, and many of them offer discounted prices to members of state and territory motorist organisations.

Alternatively, you can conduct all the necessary checks yourself through databases like the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) and through the roads and transport department in the relevant state or territory.

Registration

The next issue to look at is registering the vehicle, and there are a few factors to consider here. If the car is registered, the seller will typically not be able to transfer the Australian Vehicle Registration and Car Insurance (rego) for their home state over to you, unless you can provide a garage address in the same state.

This means the seller will usually cancel their rego once they sell the car, so if you want to drive it home, you’ll need to apply for an unregistered vehicle permit. This permit is only for a limited period, but it allows you to move an unregistered vehicle by road from one place to another, provided the vehicle is in a safe condition.

In some cases, the seller might agree to let the rego remain in place on the vehicle for a limited period, as long as you provide a statutory declaration accepting liability for any fines or damage. Just remember that you’ll be required to transfer the interstate registration into your name within 14 days.

However, the good news is that if you buy a car with a period of interstate registration still remaining, you can apply to the roads and transport department in that state or territory to have the unused registration costs refunded.

Getting your new car home

The final factor you need to consider is how you will get your new vehicle home. There are a few options available:

  • Drive it back yourself. If you don’t mind a long road trip, you can fly interstate to pick the car up and then drive it home yourself. Just remember to factor the cost of a flight, fuel and accommodation into your budget.
  • Get someone else to drive it back for you. Don’t have the time to pick the car up yourself? Ask a friend or relative to do the job for you – and cover all their expenses, of course.
  • Get it shipped. There are numerous carriers that specialise in shipping cars interstate. Look around for a reputable company by checking online reviews and asking family and friends for their recommendations. Also make sure to compare quotes from multiple companies before choosing one.
  • Get the seller to drop it off. In some cases, it may be possible to negotiate for the seller to deliver the car to your door – if you’re willing to pay an extra price of course. You’ll need to cover the cost of fuel, the seller’s transport home and also compensate them for their time. This may not be possible in many situations, but it’s worth considering if picking the car up yourself isn’t an option, and if you think it might be cheaper than paying to have it transported commercially.

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Name Interest Rate (p.a.) Comp. Rate (p.a.) Application Fee Monthly Fee Monthly Repayment
OurMoneyMarket New Car Loan
Fixed1 - 7 Years $2,001 - $75,000
Interest Rate (p.a.)
6.57%
to 18.99%
Comp. Rate (p.a.)
7.19%
to 21.78%
Application Fee
$250
min.
Monthly Fee
$0
Monthly Repayment
$622.82
Go to siteMore Info
Stratton Finance New Car Loan
Fixed1 - 7 Years $10,000 - $300,000
Interest Rate (p.a.)
6.52%
to 18%
Comp. Rate (p.a.)
6.95%
to 23%
Application Fee
$395
Monthly Fee
$0
Monthly Repayment
$625.27
Go to siteMore Info
You'll receive a fixed rate from 6.52% p.a. depending on the lender you are approved with.
Apply for up to $300,000 and use cash or trade in a vehicle to use as a deposit. Optional balloon payment available.
Verified Lending Used Car Loan
Fixed1 - 7 Years $10,000 - $200,000
Interest Rate (p.a.)
7.1%
to 18.99%
Comp. Rate (p.a.)
8.06%
to 22.99%
Application Fee
$395
Monthly Fee
$0
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$630.67
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NRMA New Car Loan
Fixed1 - 7 Years $5,000 - $130,000
Interest Rate (p.a.)
7.29%
to 16.99%
Comp. Rate (p.a.)
8%
to 17.77%
Application Fee
$499
Monthly Fee
$0
Monthly Repayment
$635.67
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Note: Take out a loan for an eligible electric vehicle and receive a 1.5% discount on your personalised interest rate (interest rates start from 5.79% p.a. and comparison rates from 6.49% p.a.)
RACV New Car Loans
Fixed1 - 7 Years $5,000 - $150,000
Interest Rate (p.a.)
7.29%
to 16.99%
Comp. Rate (p.a.)
8%
to 17.77%
Application Fee
$499
Monthly Fee
$0
Monthly Repayment
$635.67
Go to siteMore Info
You'll receive a fixed rate from 7.29% p.a.
A larger loan of $5,000 or more to help you buy a new or used car. 5-hour pre approval available and no ongoing fees.
loans.com.au - New - Variable Rate Special
Variable3 - 7 Years $5,000 - $150,000
Interest Rate (p.a.)
6.24%
to 7.74%
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7.36%
to 8.85%
Application Fee
$400
Monthly Fee
$8
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$630.83
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OurMoneyMarket Used Car Loan - No Vehicle Age Limit
Fixed1 - 7 Years $2,001 - $75,000
Interest Rate (p.a.)
6.57%
to 18.99%
Comp. Rate (p.a.)
7.19%
to 21.78%
Application Fee
$250
min.
Monthly Fee
$0
Monthly Repayment
$622.82
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NRMA Used Car Loan
Fixed1 - 7 Years $5,000 - $130,000
Interest Rate (p.a.)
8.49%
to 16.99%
Comp. Rate (p.a.)
9.21%
to 17.77%
Application Fee
$499
Monthly Fee
$0
Monthly Repayment
$647.01
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You'll receive a fixed rate from 8.49% p.a.
Finance a used car with NRMA and benefit from a fixed rate term and no monthly fees. Pre-approval available within 5 business hours.
Stratton Finance Used Car Loan
Fixed1 - 7 Years $10,000 - $300,000
Interest Rate (p.a.)
6.52%
to 18%
Comp. Rate (p.a.)
6.95%
to 23%
Application Fee
$395
Monthly Fee
$0
Monthly Repayment
$625.27
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You'll receive a fixed rate loan from 6.52% p.a. with a comparison rate of 6.95% p.a.
A used car loan of up to $300,000 with quick approval times and balloon payment options.
loans.com.au - Variable Rate Used Car < 5 years
Variable3 - 7 Years $5,000 - $150,000
Interest Rate (p.a.)
7.74%
to 7.74%
Comp. Rate (p.a.)
8.85%
to 8.99%
Application Fee
$400
Monthly Fee
$8
Monthly Repayment
$644.82
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RACV Used Car Loans
Fixed1 - 7 Years $5,000 - $150,000
Interest Rate (p.a.)
8.49%
to 16.99%
Comp. Rate (p.a.)
9.21%
to 17.77%
Application Fee
$499
Monthly Fee
$0
Monthly Repayment
$647.01
Go to siteMore Info
You'll receive a fixed rate from 8.49% p.a.
Benefit from no ongoing fees, 5-hour approval and a 21-day satisfaction guarantee. Interest rate discounts for members.
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Name Product Roadside assistance Accidental damage Storm Choice of repairer Agreed or Market Value
Budget Direct Comprehensive
Optional
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: The 2024 winner of our Best Value Car Insurance award. It's cheaper than most, plus you can lower costs by adding age restrictions.

⭐ Current offer: 15% off your first year's premium when you take out a policy online. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: Anyone who wants a good value policy.
Youi Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: The 2023 winner of our Best Features Car Insurance award. Plus, it's one of the only insurers to automatically include roadside assistance.

Who it might be good for: Those who want good customer service with lots of inclusions.
Australia Post Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Covers a little more than other insurers. You don’t need to pay an excess for windscreen repairs and cover applies to anyone who uses your car.

⭐ Current offer: Get $100 off your first year's comprehensive car insurance premium when you buy online. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: Multiple people using one car.
ROLLiN' Comprehensive
Agreed
Finder's summary: One of the most cost-effective insurers for under 25s, according to Finder research, with no aged-based excess.

Who it might be good for: Young drivers looking to keep costs down and anyone who’d like to get more flexibility from their car insurance.
Bingle Comprehensive
Market
Finder's summary: Our data shows it’s the cheapest comprehensive policy. It just covers the basics such as damage to your car, theft and storms – it doesn’t go in for add-ons and extras.

Who it might be good for: Those wanting a low-cost, no-frills policy.
QBE Comprehensive
Green Company
QBE Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Our best-rated Car Insurer for Customer Satisfaction in 2021/2022 and Green Insurer for the last 3 years.

⭐ Current offer: Save $75 when you purchase a new comprehensive policy online. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: Those who want a trustworthy insurer and more cover than other brands, such as 3-year new car replacement (e.g. they'll give you money for a new car for up to 3 years if yours is written off).
Kogan Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Kogan comes with all the perks that most comprehensive car insurance policies include, but you'll also be entitled to some benefits from its online store. This usually comes in the form of a gift voucher or discount if you buy online.

⭐ Current offer: Get $80 off first year premiums when you purchase Kogan Comprehensive Car Insurance online + $10 monthly kogan.com credit. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: Kogan shoppers and those after a good range of policy options.
Qantas Comprehensive
Optional
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: You need car insurance so why not get one that lets you earn Qantas Points? It's good value too (it's underwritten by the same insurer as Budget Direct).

⭐ Current offer: Earn up to 30,000 Qantas Points with every Qantas Car Insurance policy you take out by 28 May. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: People who want more bang for their buck with Qantas Points.
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Frequently asked questions about purchasing a car interstate

What are common interstate car purchases?

NSW to VIC and VIC to NSW, due to the proximity. NSW to QLD is also commonly searched, while VIC to SA and VIC to QLD less so.

Where will I need to pay stamp duty on my car?

Stamp duty is payable in the state or territory in which you register the vehicle.

How else can I make sure I'm buying a good-quality vehicle?

Make sure to ask the seller for a copy of the car's servicing records. This will help you determine whether the vehicle has been properly looked after.

Are the requirements for a roadworthy or safety certificate the same across all states and territories?

No. Requirements differ between states and territories, so a car classified as roadworthy in Queensland, for example, may not pass the test in Victoria. Check with the roads and transport department where you live for details of how a car can be certified as roadworthy.

I'm confused about registering a car from interstate – where can I find more information?

You can find more information about the process by contacting the roads and transport department in your home state or territory and in the state or territory where you are purchasing the vehicle.

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6 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    MayFebruary 1, 2019

    If I buy a car from Victoria privately, is the owner liable to provide a Road Worthy Certificate as well?

      AvatarFinder
      JamesApril 11, 2023Finder

      Hi May,

      According to VicRoads, a Certificate of Roadworthiness is a requirement whenever a vehicle is sold. You can read more about the certificate on the government website.

      AvatarFinder
      ValFebruary 6, 2019Finder

      Hi May,

      Thank you for leaving a question! Yes, you’ll also need to cover the cost of getting the necessary roadworthy and safety certificates (pink slips) to register the car in your state. Costs may vary as well depending on state, we may suggest you to check with the roads and transport department in your state to find out how much you’ll need to pay.

      Cheers,
      Val

    Default Gravatar
    JasonMay 12, 2018

    I’m looking to buy a car interstate how can I make sure I receive the car how do I pay and give him the funds once I know it’s been put on the freight?

      AvatarFinder
      JamesApril 11, 2023Finder

      Hi Jason,

      Thank you for reaching out. Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to do a lot of research on the seller and to review any payment options with care. However, it wouldn’t be our place to comment on the specifics of payment timings or methods.

      Best wishes,

      James

      AvatarFinder
      JhezelynMay 13, 2018Finder

      Hello Jason,

      Thank you for your comment.

      The guide above could be very helpful for you since you can get some tips on how to buy a car interstate. For this process, you can probably hire someone or have a team/company to check all the stuff needed to be checked when buying a car. For the payment, there are many payment options you may opt to, like bank to bank or in a form of a check. Make sure you ask all the necessary documentation and verify that all information are correct. I hope this helps.

      Regards,
      Jhezelyn

      Regards,
      Jhezelyn

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