What happens if my vehicle is unregistered?

old cars unregistered

It’s illegal to drive an unregistered vehicle and you can pay heavy penalties. However, you can get a permit to drive an unregistered vehicle in certain cases. If you don’t want to re-register a vehicle for any reason, you can cancel registration altogether.

What happens if my vehicle is unregistered? ›

How do I get an unregistered vehicle permit?›

How do I cancel registration? ›

What happens if my vehicle is unregistered?

Your vehicle is unregistered if the registration has expired or been cancelled or suspended.

If your vehicle is unregistered, it will not be covered by CTP insurance (green slip). However, all CTP insurers are required to be part of the Nominal Defendant fund. This means when a vehicle is uninsured, someone can make an injuries claim through the Nominal Defendant, so they still receive adequate treatment or compensation.

Police use cameras to check your number plate for registration and CTP insurance. They can seize your vehicle, take your number plates or issue fines of around $1,400:

  • Drive or park an unregistered vehicle           $697
  • Drive or park an uninsured vehicle                $697

However, there are some cases where you can drive unregistered:

  • To get repairs needed after a safety check
  • To get the vehicle insured
  • For the purpose of registration.

Another case is when you hold a valid unregistered vehicle permit.

How do I get an unregistered vehicle permit?

If you need to make one or more trips in an unregistered vehicle (not for repairs, insurance or registration), you will need an unregistered vehicle permit (UVP). You have to hand in your number plates because a UVP automatically cancels your registration.

You can apply for a UVP for specified trips only and for travel by the most direct route:

  • One single journey
  • One return journey
  • Trips over a number of days up to a 28 days
  • Travel from interstate to NSW or from NSW to interstate
  • A specific vehicle and purpose, eg, harvesting, for up to 28 days.

NSW recognises permits from interstate and the conditions attached to them.

A UVP doesn’t cover regular use of a vehicle so driving without registration or permit is illegal.

How do I cancel registration?

You can cancel your vehicle registration at any time. However, the most likely reasons are if your vehicle has been written off, stolen, or you have moved interstate.

Remember, if you’ve sold the vehicle, you can’t cancel the registration. This is because the registration and green slip go to the new owner. Instead you need to submit a Notice of Disposal.

To cancel your vehicle registration, you must go to Service NSW or motor registry in person or send a representative with:

  • Number Plates and/or Cancellation of Registration form
  • Proof of your identity
  • Certificate of Registration
  • A police event number, if stolen
  • An insurer letter, if the vehicle was written off.

There is no refund of registration fees. However, to get a refund of motor vehicle tax, you must cancel registration before the expiry date.

If you cancel registration, you can get a refund based on the unexpired portion of your green slip.  When you show proof of cancellation to your CTP insurer, it will refund any remaining CTP less an admin fee.

Have you ever wondered how registration and licensing works in NSW? Do you know how to choose a registration period? Do you know how to transfer registration? These are all good questions you ask that will answer.

This is the last article in our 6-part series, How registration works in NSW.

Corrina Baird

Writer and expert

Corrina used to lend her car to her kids and discovered first hand what Ls, Ps and demerits mean for greenslips. After 20 years of writing and research in financial services, she’s an expert in the NSW CTP scheme. Read more about Corrina

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