If purchasing a car, you will need to understand the Australian car registration system or “Rego” as we call it.
Charges, and regulations/requirements vary greatly across Australia; in New South Wales it can cost over $800, while in Western Australia it can be half that. Rego must be renewed every year.
The Rego includes the minimum legal third-party insurance. This provides you with unlimited cover against claims for personal or fatal injury caused to another person (but not their vehicle/s and or property), as a result of your negligent driving of a Western Australian licensed vehicle anywhere in Australia.
In Australia every vehicle with a valid number plate (Rego) has compulsory third-party insurance along with it. It doesn't matter who's driving it - so insurance goes along with the vehicle. Sellers usually factor in the unused Rego into the selling price of the car. The reason you get additional insurance is to cover repairs on someone else’s car (and/or yours) should you be in an accident that is your fault. RAC Western Australia is a good provider of additional insurance cover. Fees, however are more for drivers under the age of 25, more again for drivers under the age of 19 or those with a bad driving history. RAC also offers the most comprehensive roadside assistance throughout Western Australia. This cover is a wise investment (about $140 per year) for those travelling in remote areas. See http://rac.com.au/.
Any person buying a car, regardless of how much Rego is left on it, is still responsible for the registration transfer fee, currently about $125 in Western Australia based on a vehicle worth $4000.
Your best bet is to buy a car that is registered in the State that you are buying it, with at least six months of Rego left on it – however this is often not an option that arises, particularly with travellers buying and selling cars in different States. If the annual Rego is due, or if you are buying a car in a different state to which it is registered, this will need to be paid and other conditions may apply such as compulsory mechanical inspections in New South Wales. Victoria and Queensland require you obtain a roadworthy inspection before you can even sell your car, so it may actually be more cost effective to transfer the Rego to another state, like Western Australia, and sell it here. When purchasing a licensed vehicle in Western Australia you must complete the vehicle license transfer form with the seller and submit the 'purchaser's copy' within 14 days of purchasing the vehicle. Failing to do so may result in a penalty. Failure to pay the vehicle license duty and transfer fee within 28 days of the invoice being issued will result in an infringement.
The following outlines the steps required to transfer vehicle ownership. More detailed information is provided in the vehicle license transfer form from http://www.transport.wa.gov.au/
Step 1: Complete the vehicle license transfer form with the seller (form obtainable from http://www.transport.wa.gov.au)
Step 2: Obtain licence papers and immobiliser information You (the purchaser) are responsible for ensuring that a government approved immobiliser is fitted to the vehicle. We therefore recommend you ask the seller if an immobiliser is fitted and if so obtain as many details as you can (e.g. type, date fitted). Please refer to http://www.transport.wa.gov.au/ web page on immobilisers for detailed information on what vehicles require an immobiliser, exemptions, 'approved' immobilisers and how to get one fitted.
Step 3: Complete the 'fitment of immobiliser' declaration form (if not exempt). If you are unsure we recommend you take the vehicle to an auto electrician or similar. Refer to http://google.com.au (search keyword 'immobilisers').
Step 4: Mail the 'Seller's copy' to Western Australian Department of Transport
GPO Box R1290, Perth WA 6844
Department of Transport – West Perth
Phone: 08 6551 6000
Facsimile: 08 6551 6001
Address: Corner Troode Street and Plaistowe Mews,
City West, West Perth WA 6005
Opening hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday
If you bring a registered vehicle from interstate and want to register it in Western Australia, you can usually do so without the need for a vehicle examination, unlike in other States where a Roadworthy Certificate is required from an approved mechanic (within the State where the vehicle was registered). See http://www.transport.wa.gov.au for exceptions.
Cars in Australia are quite cheap with the cost of a typical backpacker vehicle ranging between $2000-$6000. As like in the rest of the world, buying second hand cars can be very dodgy, so have any vehicle that you are considering buying checked out by a mechanic.
It really is money well spent and the chances are, they will find something that will help you negotiate $80 or so off the asking price and if not, you’ve found a great vehicle. Cheap, reliable cars are generally large cars such as the Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore, which can cost a bit to run but are generally cheap to fix and service.
Check notice boards/websites and buy your car from another traveller, as it may come with camping equipment and you could be able to get a good bargain, considering that other travellers have a flight home to catch and are in a hurry to sell. Again, have any prospective purchase checked out by a mechanic. Some backpacker car dealers offer a buy-back guarantee, where they offer to buy the car back from you at an agreed (lower) price at the end of your trip. You can usually get a much better price selling the car yourself but a buy-back guarantee is handy if you don’t want to waste precious time trying to sell the car when you have finished with it. If you buy from a car dealer that offers a buy-back guarantee, read the fine print and make sure that you are not required to pass a roadworthy inspection. Very few vehicles can pass a roadworthy after a trip around Australia and a buy-back guarantee with this condition is virtually worthless. Travellers’ Auto Barn and are established buy back/resellers of vehicles and have depots nationally. See http://www.travellers-autobarn.com.au/
Vehicle licensing in other States:
New South Wales - http://www.rta.nsw.gov.au/registration/index.html
Queensland - http://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/
Australian Capital Territory - http://www.rego.act.gov.au/
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