How to drive home an unregistered car or ride home an unregistered motorcycle without getting an unregistered vehicle permit — in Queensland, NSW, and Tasmania.

I found this tip out by chance — someone told me, after I had been shopping for cars and motorbikes for AGES — so wanted to share it.

In a nutshell…

If you buy an unregistered car or motorbike, you don’t necessarily have to buy an unregistered vehicle permit — if you’re in Queensland, NSW, and Tasmania.

In those three states, you are allowed to ride an unregistered motorcycle, or drive an unregistered car, as long as it’s for a purpose related to registration, i.e. taking it to a mechanic for a roadworthy certificate (aka safety certificate), getting it registered at the transport department, or taking it home in the meantime.

Read on and find out more…

selling a motorcycle unregistered without buying an unregistered vehicle permit.
An unregistered motorcycle Ninja 650 I sold — I bought an unregistered vehicle permit, but I didn’t need to.

Are you obsessed with motorcycles?

Well, I am. That’s why I created this site — as an outlet. I love learning and sharing what others might find useful. If you like what you read here, and you’re a fraction as obsessed as I am, you might like to know when I’ve published more. (Check the latest for an idea of what you’ll see.)

Driving a car or buying a motorcycle without registration — Background

Have you ever bought a car that was unregistered and wondered how to get it home? Or bought an unregistered motorcycle and wondered how to ride it home or to the mechanic/registration office without plates?

In three states in Australia you can actually drive an unregistered vehicle (either a car or a motorbike) without getting an unregistered vehicle permit.

This is despite the fact that those states do issue unregistered vehicle permits! Sometimes charging a lot for them.

So what’s the catch? There’s one main one: you can only drive an unregistered vehicle (car or motorcycle, or other kinds too actually) in QLD, NSW, and Tasmania, if it’s for the purpose of inspection and registration.

Additionally, you may need to get CTP (Compulsory Third Party) insurance before you can drive. In Queensland, you have to get a CTP certificate. In NSW it’s recommended. In Tasmania, it seems they don’t care about this detail.

Bear in mind that if you’re going to register the vehicle, you have to pay for CTP anyway. All you’re doing is a bit of extra paperwork to get the CTP up front. Then, when you go register the car or motorbike, they don’t charge you for CTP.

I found it really easy to get a CTP from Suncorp, but I imagine it’s easy from the four major CTP issuers.

Toyota Hilux I bought unregistered at an auction
You can buy an unregistered vehicle at an auction if you drive it straight to the mechanic.

States and territories where you can’t drive an unregistered car or ride an unregistered motorbike

This tip doesn’t work in many parts of Australia, unfortunately.

You have to get a temporary movement permit (unregistered vehicle permit) in the following states and territories:

Those prices might change from time of publication (Sep 2020), but they’ll likely stay in the $50-or-less ballpark.

Driving an Unregistered Vehicle in Queensland — Get a CTP

In Queensland, you can drive your car

Queensland legislation says:

If your vehicle is unregistered and you need to drive on the road to register it, you cannot legally drive unless you are carrying a CTP insurance certificate.

This will allow you to drive your vehicle to get a safety certificate or certificate of inspection and then to a transport and motoring customer service centre.

It is acceptable for you to drive the vehicle back to its garaging address if it is not possible to register the vehicle on that day due to insufficient time.

In New South Wales, you’re allowed to drive your unregistered car or ride your unregistered motorbike around to get it registered.

You don’t HAVE to get a CTP, but it helps if you’re pulled over for having no plates (see the last line of what they say).

The NSW RMS website says:

You can drive an unregistered vehicle in NSW for the purpose of obtaining registration.

You must drive the most direct or convenient route:

  • To the nearest convenient registry or service centre
  • To the nearest convenient Authorised Inspection Station to determine whether the vehicle complies with the applicable vehicle standards
  • In the course of inspecting or testing the vehicle to determine if it complies with the applicable vehicle standards
  • From a registry or service centre, or authorised inspection station, where registration of the vehicle has been refused, to the nearest convenient place where necessary repairs can be made, or where the vehicle can be garaged, unless a direction has been issued that the vehicle must not be driven until repairs have been made
  • From an Authorised Inspection Station to the nearest convenient place where necessary repairs or adjustments can be made, or where the vehicle can be garaged
  • To the nearest convenient office of a licensed insurer for the purpose of obtaining CTP insurance
  • To the nearest convenient location for any other purpose directly associated with the registration process.

If you’re pulled over by the police while driving an unregistered vehicle, you may be asked to provide evidence that the vehicle is being driven for the purpose of obtaining registration.

For example, you may need to provide a copy of the safety check or CTP insurance certificate showing payment for that day.

Driving Unregistered Vehicle in Tasmania — For Inspection/Registration is OK

The law is pretty liberal in Tasmania. You can drive an unregistered vehicle even to somewhere to be repaired if it failed an inspection.

This is what the Tasmanian Roads Authority guidance says:

You will be able to drive or tow your vehicle or towed to the following places to be registered:

  • a place of registration
  • an Approved Inspection Station
  • a weighbridge
  • any other place involved in the registration process such as Service Tasmania.

The vehicle is being driven or towed from any of the previous places to:

  • another place listed in the registration process
  • a place to garage the vehicle
  • somewhere the vehicle can be repaired if the inspection is failed.

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  1. Thank you so much for this information…. I was only online to buy a permit to buy a car today. Then I came across the article explaining I didn’t need to buy 1, only the CTP. So thanks, this was very helpful information: )

  2. Basically, we could legally drive our cars or bikes around without ever registering them, because we could say they’re being driven from the garage to the home for repairs. Or vice versa depending on time of day / night, in the chance you have to explain what ever variation of the truth you feed to the police officer asking you about your business. Were you asked for a society governed law for others and punishable by fines and your freedoms taken? I know I wasn’t, and I don’t agree with the fact they have the right to say what is and isn’t for anyone but themselves, or ask the business of somebody who ain’t them.

    1. You could try, but I wouldn’t recommend it! Good luck, I agree, Australia is over-regulated, but there’s no way of changing that now. You can do what I do and regularly leave. (Every place has its problems, it turns out…)

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