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When can you drive an unregistered vehicle legally?

You can only drive an unregistered vehicle if you're going to get it registered.

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Under normal circumstances, it's not worth it to take an unregistered vehicle out onto the road. If police catch you, you'll face a whole heap of awful consequences. Not only can you be fined for driving without registration and without insurance, but police can take off the car's number plates and even lawfully seize it if they choose.

You can only legally drive an unregistered vehicle in Australia if you're heading out to get it registered. Any possible use requires that the vehicle is in safe working condition to venture out onto the road.

Driving your unregistered vehicle to get it registered

Whether you're driving to obtain a pink slip (registration renewal) or a blue slip (unregistered vehicle inspection), you are legally permitted to drive your unregistered vehicle on the road. However, keep in mind:

  • You must go to the closest possible registration venue (no visiting your favourite mechanic a little further away).
  • You must use the shortest and easiest direct route.
  • You cannot make any stops along the way there or back, for example, stopping off for groceries or taking an unnecessary detour.
  • Deviation will likely land you a hefty fine.

You might be asked to provide evidence that you're heading over to get your vehicle registered, so might need to provide proof of your appointment or a receipt showing payment for that day.

What is an Unregistered Vehicle Permit and can I get one?

In certain situations, you may be forced to drive an unregistered vehicle for a limited amount of time for a very specific purpose. This could be the result of purchasing a vehicle interstate and having to drive it back home to get it registered, or it could be a one-off move of a vehicle from one place to another, or you may need to drive your unregistered racecar on the road.

In Australia, you can apply for an Unregistered Vehicle Permit (UVP) at your road and transport authority. This will allow you to undertake a specific journey or set of journeys over a period of up to 28 days. Keep in mind that this is not intended to replace full vehicle registration and any departure from the approved use will result in the usual fees and consequences. As with any car, you must have the proper official proof that your vehicle is in a safe condition following an inspection. You'll be given a permit and a label that you should keep on display at all times.

NSW Unregistered Vehicle Permit

The method of obtaining a UVP differs from state to state, but you can obtain one in NSW by visiting your nearest Service NSW centre.

What if I get pulled over?

While the above uses are permitted in Australia, it's highly possible that any police who pull you over because you lack the proper registration may not be aware of the laws surrounding them. To avoid problems:

  • Ensure you have ready proof that you're going where you say you're going. This could be a copy of your safety check or inspection receipt.
  • Know your rights in court if you are issued a fine by the police.
  • Renew your registration before it expires to dodge the hassle in the first place.

Need to insure your car? Make sure you're comparing policies

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: Awarded the 2019 Finder Award for the Best Value Car Insurance, this policy offers solid coverage at a low cost. Budget Direct’s claims service has received a 4.2/5 based on nearly 5,000 customer reviews.

Who it might be good for: People who want a comprehensive policy without breaking the bank.
Bingle Comprehensive
Market
Finder's summary: Bingle consistently come up as one of the cheaper insurers out there. They only cover the basics, so you don't get to choose your own repairer, you're not covered for personal items in the car and you won't get a hire car if your car is stolen. But this keeps their premiums low.

Who it might be good for: Someone who wants a low cost option that covers them for the basics.
Youi Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Youi Comprehensive Car Insurance is one of the few providers to include roadside assistance in their policy. You'll also get access to YouiRewards which gives you discounts on furniture, parking and more. Youi also have a live chat feature on their site to talk through any questions.

Who it might be good for: People over 25 who want comprehensive cover with a focus on customer service.
Woolworths Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Woolworths catch our eye due to some unique perks like a price beat guarantee, where they'll beat any current comparable Comprehensive renewal notice if you're over 25. You'll also get 10% off your grocery shop once a month, and can add roadside assistance onto your policy for just $7.35 per month.

Who it might be good for: Woolworths shoppers and those that want to take advantage of their Price Beat.
Virgin Comprehensive
Optional
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Finalists for the 2019 Finder Awards for Best Value Car Insurance, Virgin Comprehensive provides a good level of cover for a decent price. You'll get 15% off on your first year’s premium when you buy online and get access to their hail hero service. Plus, get a $100 e-Gift card when you purchase a new policy by 30 November 2020 (T&Cs apply).

Who it might be good for: People who want a comprehensive policy that's affordable.
Qantas Comprehensive
Optional
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: You'll be able to pick and choose how comprehensive you want your cover to be thanks to optional extras like roadside assistance, choice of your own repairer, and the option of agreed or market value. Plus, you'll earn Qantas Points when you join and get access to the Qantas Wellness App.

Who it might be good for: People who love collecting frequent flyer points.
Poncho Comprehensive
Agreed
Finder's summary: Poncho works like a monthly subscription - you pay monthly and can cancel and leave at anytime. You can also list multiple cars and drivers under one policy, making it ideal for families and groups living together under one household.

Who it might be good for: People who want their car insurance month-to-month.
Coles Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Coles have two-tiers of comprehensive car insurance to choose from. You'll earn double flybuys points at Coles supermarkets and you can get $10 off your Coles grocery bill every time you redeem 2,000 Flybuys points. If you're over 30, you can get roadside assistance free for a year.

Who it might be good for: Coles customers and Flybuys collectors.
Stella Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Stella’s a female-focused insurer. They'll cover you if your car is damaged as a result of domestic violence. They offer higher cover for baby gear than most, with up to $2,000 cover for prams, strollers and child seats. You get a free Bauer magazine subscription when you sign up and a portion of your premiums go to supporting female-led businesses.

Who it might be good for: Someone who wants a female-centred car insurance policy (they'll cover men too!).
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