When can you drive an unregistered vehicle legally?

By Berty Nghiem on 19 January 2017
Person holding a blank registration plate
It’s important to have your registration renewal organised before it expires if you intend on driving a vehicle. If you’re caught driving an unregistered vehicle, you may be fined, and police may remove the number plates on the spot. Police may also seize the vehicle.

With this said there are some instances in NSW when you can drive an unregistered vehicle legally but only provided that the vehicle is safe for use on the road. Let’s outline these two scenarios below:

1. Driving an unregistered vehicle to obtain registration

It’s actually more common than you think but if your vehicle’s registration has lapsed you may find that you are required to drive to certain locations to obtain registration such as driving directly to your inspection station or to a registry. You can do this legally but you must use the most direct or convenient route.

If you’re still unsure whether it is legal to do so the Roads & Maritime Services has defined specific circumstances and locations in NSW which you can travel to get your car registered.

But what happens if you are pulled over by the police while driving an unregistered vehicle to obtain registration?

You will be asked to provide evidence that the vehicle is being driven for the purpose of obtaining registration. In this scenario it’s a good idea to keep a copy of the safety check or CTP insurance certificate (which shows payment for that day) on-hand which you can show to the police officer.

2. Drive or ride an unregistered vehicle on the road network for a specific journey

Common examples of a specific journey could be purchasing an unregistered vehicle in NSW and driving it interstate or for the purpose of harvesting during a defined period.

In such scenarios the driver should apply for an Unregistered Vehicle Permit (UVP) which is valid for the duration of one specific journey.

The cost for a permit includes the permit fee and CTP insurance. Motorists driving a vehicle with a valid UVP are eligible for NRMA roadside assistance.

It’s important to note that an Unregistered Vehicle Permit should not be used as a substitute for registration. Any old number plates must be removed from the vehicle and surrendered at a service centre when applying for a UVP permit and once the application has been processed you’ll be issued with a permit and label. Make sure you have the label clearly displayed at all times to avoid any fines.

For more information on how to apply for an Unregistered Vehicle Permit, visit the RMS website.

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