The Basics of Car Rego in Australia
Excited to purchase a new car and go on a road trip across the great Australian outback? Apart from finances and dealership negotiation tactics, you should also first learn how the country’s vehicle registration system works.
Generally, you won’t have to worry that much about the rego process if you’re buying a car from reputable dealerships as they usually take care of the car’s purchasing legalities, including the car’s registration. Nevertheless, having adequate knowledge of how the rego works will give you a good estimate of the time you would be spending on the process and how much you would be charged for registration.
All cars in Australia are required to be registered state of residence of the owner. However, the regulations on car registration differ in each territory and state.
Cost and Process
Each state has its government website with information on the fees and other details on rego and insurance. You can also renew, register, transfer or even cancel registration for your motor vehicle, heavy vehicle, trailer or caravan online on the site.
Fees have been frozen at 2019-20 levels for 2020-21 as part of the ACT Government’s Economic Survival Package in response to COVID-19. It is best to visit the state’s website for details about this policy.
Australia Capital Territory
The average cost for an average family car is around $1,140 a year. This payment covers the actual registration fee, plus the CTP insurance, CTP regulator levy, a road rescue fee/care and support levy, and a road-safety contribution.
New South Wales
The state sets an annual registration fee of $67 and then charges light vehicles (under 4.5-tonne) with a Motor Vehicle Tax according to their mass, starting at $219 for a private vehicle up to 975kg and going all the way to more than $2000 for the heaviest light vehicles.
NT charges a registration fee, an insurance fee, and an admin fee. The registration fee depends on the number of cylinders and the actual engine size.
The state lumps the registration fee, CTP and a Traffic Improvement Fee into the one sum, but levies different registration fees according to the number of cylinders of the car.
Steam and electric-powered cars are charged at the same rate as a car with one to three cylinders.
The state has also placed temporary changes on car rego until 6-months after the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration is revoked. These changes include:
- Re-registration of the vehicle without a safety certificate or a certificate of inspection, if the vehicle’s previous inspection was within the previous 12-months and if the vehicle is being re-registered to the same registered operator and no changes have been made to the vehicle details.
- Re-attaching of the existing plate if the number plates were customised upon cancellation
- Free new number plates if you surrendered, lost or destroyed your plates
The state’s website has a registration fee calculator that requires the existing car’s licence or client number and plate number or the vehicle and body types for new cars.
Several factors affect the cost of registration, including:
- vehicle and body type
- where the vehicle will be garaged
- what the vehicle will be used for
- the number of cylinders the vehicle has
- transfer fees and stamp duty for new owners
- the period of registration
- the commencement date of the registration period
- the CTP insurer chosen
- any concessions available
The state allows car owners to choose their preferred Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance provider.
Like Queensland, Tasmania based the cost of rego on the number of cylinders in a car. This doesn’t include the state's Motor Tax and Motor Accident Insurance Board fees.
The state lumps registration and CTP insurance fees together but considers the area where you live in the total equation.
If you live in a metro area (high-risk), you would need to pay a bigger fee than the outer metro area (medium-risk) and rural areas (low risk).
WA based the cost of rego on the car’s kerb mass. It also charges a Motor Injury Insurance fee ( $442.24 annually for a privately owned car) and a recording fee of $10.30.
While each state charges and processes car rego differently, there are general rules to comply:
- Certificate of roadworthiness, which is obtained by having the vehicle inspected by a licenced vehicle tester within 30 days of the transfer of ownership
- Compulsory third party insurance (CTP), which covers death and injury when the person driving the vehicle is at fault
- Certificate of registration, if the vehicle is purchased overseas
These documents are submitted to the registry or service centre along with the:
- Proof of your identity and residence
- Title of the vehicle
- Inspection paperwork
- Previous license plate numbers (if any)
- Appropriate fees for registration
More Things to Consider
Motor Vehicle Standards
Before any vehicle in Australia can be registered, it must first meet the requirements of the Motor Vehicle Standards Act of 1989. Applicable to new and used locally manufacture and imported vehicles, the Act requires vehicles to meet the national standards covering safety and emission requirements set by the Australian Design Rules (ADRs). A vehicle can only be fitted with an identification plate if it has been certified by the ADRs.
If you're buying a car with a rego, you would need to pay a transfer fee within 14 days that usually costs around $16-$21 depending on the state you are in.
Transferring a Rego from Another State
It’s simpler to buy a car that’s registered in the state you’re in since different states have different renewal systems.
If you’re transferring a car rego from another state or territory or registering a car in your name for the first time, you will be charged with transfer fees, stamp duty on a new car (around 2 to 4 % of the purchase price), and a slug for a set of number plates to be issued for the first time.
An inspection fee is charged if the car has been repaired and returned to the road, imported from overseas or has been out of registration for too long.