For most long-term holiday-makers wanting to explore the vastness of Australia over a period of months or years, buying a car is the most economical and convenient option. Buying a car not only allows for greater freedom but for 417 visa holders, makes the 88 days compulsory second year rural work more convenient, as having your own transport is often a necessity.
Aside from the car itself, the biggest aspect of purchasing a vehicle that needs consideration is the registration (or “rego”).
Each state has its own government body that controls vehicle registration:
- New South Wales
- Western Australia
- South Australia
- Northern Territory
- Australia Capital Territory
While there are differences in the processes and cost of each state, they all basically require the same things
In most states, any car being sold must have a certificate of roadworthiness. This is obtained by having the vehicle inspected by a licenced vehicle tester within 30 days of the transfer of ownership. In Victoria, this will cost around $100. In New South Wales, the roadworthy “pink slip” will only cost about $40. Western Australia is the only state that doesn’t require a roadworthy check of a car being sold. It’s ultimately the responsibility of the buyer to ensure the car they’re buying is roadworthy.
All Australian states require all vehicles to have compulsory third party insurance (CTP) providing cover for death and injury when the person driving the vehicle is at fault. Most states have one designated provider, which incorporate the cost into the registration payment. New South Wales and Queensland allow drivers a choice of CTP providers. These CTP providers will then issue a ‘green slip’, which is a prerequisite of full car registration.
The cost varies between states, and each state has it’s own methods of calculating exactly how much a particular vehicle’s registration will cost. In Victoria, the fee is comprised of the actual registration fee (for most cars, between $200-$300) plus a Traffic Accident Commission (TAC) charge, calculated on how high the risk of accidents in the area the car is usually kept, with metropolitan areas being ‘high risk’ and rural areas being ‘low risk’. So for most cars in the (high risk) Melbourne metropolitan area, the total 2017 registration cost is $800.80. New South Wales and Queensland are (more or less) comparable in price, with South Australia and Western Australia being cheaper.
Transferring registration between Australian States
A lot of backpackers buy vehicles based on the fact that it has (cheap and easy) Western Australian registration. Keep in mind, that it is a legal requirement that cars are registered in the state in which they’re kept/garaged. Even if you’re planning on travelling a lot and may not have a fixed address for long periods of time, you will need to provide an address for both the registration process and on the transfer of ownership forms when purchasing the vehicle. Many hotels and hostels allow travellers to use their address for short periods of time.