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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.

Updated

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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.

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