Frequently asked questions

Questions and answers about registering your vehicle in NSW.

Registration and vehicles

  • Your vehicle will be unregistered if you don’t renew the registration by midnight on the expiry date. Driving an unregistered vehicle is a serious offence. It’s illegal and can have significant financial implications for the driver and the registered operator of the vehicle.

    See Unregistered vehicles for more information.

    If you don’t renew your registration within three months of the expiry date, Roads and Maritime Services will cancel it. In this case you must return the number plates to a registry or Service NSW centre within 14 days of the cancellation date. It’s an offence to keep number plates after this date.

  • Vehicles built on specially constructed floorpans or chassis structures are considered individually constructed.

    See Modified and non-standard vehicles for more information.

  • Surrogate Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN) were issued to imported or illegitimate body shells used to ‘repair’ wrecked or written off Australian vehicles. These shells were in many cases from vehicles imported to Australia without a Commonwealth Vehicle Import Approval for legal road use, and are not eligible to be registered. Surrogate VINs were issued interstate as a concession to re-register a written off vehicle, and can be identified, but not restricted to, having the characters V97.

    In NSW, re-birthed vehicles or vehicles imported for dismantling are not acceptable for purposes of registration. Because a vehicle has been given concession by an interstate authority for registration does not mean the vehicle will be registered in NSW.

    It has been a national requirement since 1988 for people to obtain prior written approval from the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development to import any vehicle into Australia.

    If a vehicle import approval document cannot be provided for any vehicle not fitted with an approved compliance plate, it’s considered that the vehicle was imported for dismantling and as such it cannot be used for road transport.

Safety checks and inspections

  • Most light vehicles (up to 4.5 tonnes Gross Vehicle Mass), including cars, motorcycles, trailers and caravans, that are less than five years old, don’t need an inspection for renewal.

    Your registration renewal notice will state whether or not you need an inspection.

    See Safety checks and inspections for more information.

  • You are still required to provide the new owner with a safety inspection report. In these cases, the inspection report cannot be more than 42 days old on the day of sale.
  • The six month validity period only applies to Safety Inspection Reports issued from 1 December 2014; a report issued 1 November 2014 must be used within 42 days.

Registration labels

  • Since January 2013, light vehicles (less than 4.5 tonnes Gross Vehicle Mass), including motorcycles, trailers and caravans, do not have to display registration labels. Roads and Maritime Services will no longer mail out labels with renewal notices for these vehicles.

    Heavy vehicles (more than 4.5 tonnes Gross Vehicle Mass), conditionally registered vehicles and vehicles issued with an Unregistered Vehicle Permit still need to display a registration label.

    See Number plates and labels for more information.

  • Roads and Maritime will send you a registration renewal notice in the post about six weeks before your registration expires.

    You can also sign up for our notifications and reminder service to receive email and/or text message reminders.

  • No. It’s no longer an offence to display an expired registration label. It’s your choice whether you remove your old label or not.

  • NSW Police use number plate recognition cameras to automatically detect if a vehicle is unregistered. Fixed enforcement cameras can also detect unregistered vehicles.

  • You can use the online Check registration and history service, or the Service NSW app, to check whether a vehicle is registered. You can also call 13 22 13, or attend any registry or service centre.

    Note: If you’re not the registered operator of the vehicle, you’ll only be given very basic information about the vehicle. No information that identifies a person associated with the vehicle can be given to you under NSW privacy laws.

  • Whenever you drive a vehicle, it’s your responsibility to make sure it’s registered. Driving an unregistered vehicle is an offence, with heavy penalties. See Unregistered vehicles for more information.

  • Other states and territories that still use labels are aware of NSW requirements. NSW vehicles can be lawfully driven in other states and territories.

Auxiliary number plates

  • An auxiliary number plate is an additional number plate issued by Roads and Maritime that can be displayed in some situations when the vehicle’s rear number plate is obscured.
  • An auxiliary number plate has the same characters as the vehicle’s number plates displayed in black on a white background. An auxiliary number plate is also smaller in size and has the slogan ‘NSW – Auxiliary’
    Auxiliary number plate
  • An auxiliary number plate can be displayed when:

    • The rear vehicle number plate is obscured by a bicycle, personal mobility device or motorcycle on a rack
    • A trailer or caravan number plate is obscured by a bicycle or personal mobility device on a rack
    • The rear vehicle number plate is obscured by an implement, a vehicle exempt from registration or an unregistered vehicle being towed by the vehicle
    • A trailer number plate is obscured by a boat.

    An auxiliary number plate cannot be used for any other purpose.

  • An auxiliary number plate cannot be issued for trailers and caravans; however a towing vehicle’s auxiliary number plate can be displayed on trailers and caravans.

    An auxiliary number plate also cannot be issued for or displayed on motorcycles and public vehicles such as taxis, hire cars and public buses.

  • Although bike rack number plates were replaced with auxiliary number plates in 2011, existing bike rack plates can still be displayed in the same way as an auxiliary number plate.
  • A bike rack number plate is the same size as an auxiliary number plate and includes the slogan ‘NSW – Bike Rack. A bike rack number plate has the same characters as the vehicle’s number plates displayed in black on a white background.
    Bike rack number plate
  • See Number plate fees for information on auxiliary number plate fees.
  • An auxiliary number plate can be ordered in person at any service centre. You can also order an auxiliary number plate by calling 13 77 88 or 131 758, or visiting myPlates.com.au.
    • An auxiliary number plate must be displayed so that it is clearly visible from the rear of the vehicle in an upright position and parallel to the vehicle’s axles and not more than 1.3 metres above ground level
    • An auxiliary number plate must not be obscured, defaced or otherwise not legible
    • The numbers on the auxiliary number plate must be clearly visible from any point that is up to 20 metres from the number plate, and within an arc of 45 degrees from the surface of the number plate above or to either side of the vehicle
    • Auxiliary number plate covers must be clear, clean, untinted and flat over the entire surface, and have no reflective or other characteristics that would prevent the successful operation of traffic offence detection devices
    • When on, auxiliary number plate lights must illuminate the auxiliary number plate with white light, so the numbers can be read at night 20 metres from the vehicle’s rear
    • Auxiliary number plate lights must not project white light to the rear of vehicles, and must not obscure the numbers on the auxiliary number plate
    • Auxiliary number plate lights must be on, when the vehicle’s parking lights, headlights or tail lights are on
    • Auxiliary number plates can be displayed on the rack, a panel, or the item carried or towed.
  • Yes. It is an offence for drivers and registered operators of vehicles displaying auxiliary number plates to display them incorrectly. You can be fined $106. Courts can issue a fine up to $2,200.
  • If the vehicle’s rear number plate is obscured by a vehicle that is being towed that is not required to display a rear number plate, then the vehicle’s rear number plate may be temporarily displayed at the rear of the towed vehicle. A temporary number plate light is also required at night.

  • If the original construction of the vehicle makes it impractical to comply with the vehicle number plate fitting requirements, then the number plates may be fitted in a manner that complies so far as practical with the requirements.

    For example, a waste compactor truck’s rear number plate and number plate light may be permanently fitted above the rear waste hatch.

Notifications and reminder service

  • This is a free service, where Roads and Maritime will email and/or SMS (text message) you a series of reminders in the days leading up to your registration’s expiry date, to remind you that it’s due.

    This service is only available for vehicles registered to an individual. It is not currently available for vehicles registered to a company or organisation.

    See Renew your registration – notifications and reminders for details.

  • Email notifications state the date your registration expires, and the status of your Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance (green slip). It will also let you know if you need an eSafety Check before you can renew.

    SMS (text message) reminders include the registration due date.

  • This is a free service.

  • Yes, you’ll get reminders for all vehicles registered in your name when their registrations are due.

  • You can log in to your online account and update any of your details at any time. You can also call 13 22 13 or go to any registry or service centre.

  • Email reminders include ‘unsubscribe’ links.

    If you don’t want to receive SMS (text message) reminders, log in to your online account and delete your mobile number from your account.

    You can also call 13 22 13, or go to any registry or service centre.

  • Yes, notifications and reminders are available for all vehicle types except some specific purpose vehicles (such as taxis, public buses, tow trucks, demonstrator vehicles etc).

  • You can log in to your online account and check your details at any time. You can also call 13 22 13 or go to any registry or service centre.

Abandoned vehicles

  • Report the details of a vehicle left unattended on a public road to your local council.

    As it is an offence to abandon a vehicle under the Impounding Act 1993, the council’s Impounding Officer will make all reasonable enquiries to find out the name and address of the registered operator of the vehicle, and will issue a notice. If the Impounding Officer cannot locate the registered operator, or the operator does not comply with the instructions of the Impounding Officer, the local council has powers to impound or destroy the vehicle under the Impounding Act 1993.

Apprentice registration rebate

  • A rebate of $100 is available to first and second year apprentices registered with the NSW Department of Education and Communities. See Apprentice registration rebate for more information.

  • Pay your registration fees in the normal way, then complete the Apprentice registration rebate claim form (PDF) and post it to the address shown on the form. The rebate will be paid directly into your nominated bank, building society or credit union account.

  • You can only claim the rebate if you renewed the registration at the same time as you transferred it. If the registration wasn’t due for renewal at time of transfer, you’ll be able to claim the rebate on the next renewal, provided you still meet the eligibility requirements.

  • You must be a first or second year apprentice at the time you make your claim. If you make your claim after completing the second year of your apprenticeship, the rebate will not be granted.

  • Yes, your apprenticeship status is verified with the NSW Department of Education and Communities. If they’re unable to verify that you’re a first or second year apprentice, you’ll receive written advice that your application for rebate cannot be processed. Contact the NSW Department of Education and Communities for more information regarding your apprentice status.

Non-lower taxed and lower taxed vehicles

  • On 9 August 2010, a ‘one-off’ increase in vehicle tax was introduced for some vehicles weighing between 976 kg and 2504 kg tare weight. Although termed ‘one-off’, the new vehicle tax categories are ongoing.

  • Certain energy efficient vehicles are in the lower taxed category. These vehicles must be manufacturer designated petrol-electric hybrid diesel-electric hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or electric vehicles with CO2 emissions no higher than 150 grams/kilometre (g/km) in the 'combined' driving cycle on the Commonwealth Government's Green Vehicle Guide. Private vehicles modified for wheelchair transport are also exempt from the tax increase. Eligible carers can also apply for a refund of the additional tax they paid when they renewed their registration. See Registration fees and concessions – non-lower and lower taxed vehicles for detailed information.

  • Effective 6 October 2015, the Green Vehicle Guide no longer provides a ‘star rating’ system. The ‘star rating’ system used to determine lower taxed vehicles is replaced with carbon dioxide (CO2) emission.
  • The Green Vehicle Guide provides three C02 emissions figures for each vehicle: 'urban', 'extra urban', and 'combined' emissions. The 'combined' figure incorporates both the 'urban' and 'extra urban C02 emissions of each vehicle, and is therefore the most suitable figure to determine a vehicle’s overall C02 emissions.
  • Previously eligible lower taxed vehicles with a rating of 4½ or 5 stars will continue to be eligible for the lower tax.
  • Given the environmental benefits of petrol-electric hybrid, diesel-electric hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or electric vehicles, the NSW Government wants to encourage people to invest in this type of energy efficient technology.

    Fuel-efficient petrol-only vehicles already benefit as they are subject to less excise tax through the federal fuel excise mechanism.

  • The Green Vehicle Guide is a Commonwealth Government service which provides a range of environmental information for all new vehicle models available in Australia since 2004, including C02 emissions, air pollution, fuel consumption, and noise pollution.

    The Green Vehicle Guide is regularly updated by the Commonwealth Government and vehicle manufacturers. It’s Australia’s only nationally recognised, audited, and publicly accessible information service for the environmental impact of vehicles.

  • No, your existing concession continues to apply for as long as you’re eligible for it.

    See Pensioner concessions and Primary producer concessions for information.

  • Yes, you can apply for a refund of the difference between the two tax rates by completing the Carer registration concession declaration form (PDF, 200Kb) and posting it to the address on the form, or taking it to any registry or service centre.

  • No, the lower tax rate applies to one vehicle per eligible carer.

  • The lower tax rate applies to one vehicle per eligible carer.

    If you have one vehicle registered in both your names, the lower tax rate only applies if both of you are eligible carers.

    If you have more than one vehicle registered in joint names, you’ll need to go to a registry or service centre to transfer the registrations so that each of you is the registered operator of one vehicle. You’ll be exempt from transfer fees and stamp duty in this case.

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