Driving an unregistered vehicle is illegal and potentially dangerous. Heavy penalties apply.
Driving an unregistered vehicle is illegal and potentially dangerous. If you’re caught driving an unregistered vehicle, you may be fined, and police may remove the number plates on the spot. Police may also seize the vehicle.
Police also have the authority to seize the number plates if an unregistered vehicle is parked on a road or road related area and the registration has expired more than 15 days.
See Unregistered vehicle offences for more information.
Unregistered vehicles are unlikely to be covered by Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance, and if you have an at-fault accident while driving an unregistered vehicle, you could be held personally liable for compensation to any person injured.
Unregistered vehicles also pose a serious risk to the wider community as these vehicles are less likely to have had a safety inspection.
Detection of unregistered vehicles
To reduce risk and make our roads safer for everyone, vehicles detected by Roads and Maritime Services enforcement cameras can also be checked for valid registration and CTP insurance.
This means that when a vehicle is caught committing a primary offence like speeding, the number plate will also be checked against Roads and Maritime records to determine if the vehicle was unregistered and possibly uninsured at the time of the primary offence.
In addition to any fines for the primary offence, penalty notices may be issued for vehicles found to be unregistered. If the vehicle is also uninsured, it may be subject to additional penalties. See Unregistered vehicle penalties for more information.
When you can drive unregistered
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
- To the nearest practicable weighbridge to determine the weight of the vehicle
- 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.
Primary producers' vehicles
Vehicles used for the purpose of primary production do not need to be registered if used solely to cross a road or road-related area which divides land used for the purpose of primary production.
An agricultural implement towed by a vehicle, or a trailer towed by an agricultural machine does not have to be registered. Examples of agricultural implements are irrigating equipment, augers, conveyors, harvester fronts and harvest bins. Examples of agricultural machinery are tractors and harvesters.
Unregistered Vehicle Permit (UVP)
An Unregistered Vehicle Permit (UVP) allows you to drive or ride an unregistered vehicle on the road network for a specific journey.
Permits are valid for up to 28 days, and allow for a:
- Single journey from A to B
- Return journey from A to B to A
- Number of defined trips to be completed within 28 days, for example from A to B to C to D
- Specific purpose over a number of days, up to a maximum of 28. For example, for harvesting during a defined period.
Unregistered Vehicle Permits provide limited access to the road network. They are not intended to cover the regular use of a vehicle on a road or road-related area.
Permits issued in NSW are valid in all states and territories. NSW recognises permits issued in all other jurisdictions provided the vehicle is operated in accordance with the conditions of the home jurisdiction.
A permit may be issued for a vehicle starting its journey in another jurisdiction and travelling to NSW. A permit must not be issued where the journey is entirely within another jurisdiction.
Vehicles which cannot be issued a permit
The following vehicles cannot be issued an Unregistered Vehicle Permit:
- Vehicles carrying a commercial load
- Vehicles exempt from registration
- Written-off vehicles (including vehicles written-off in NSW or interstate).
Applying for an Unregistered Vehicle Permit
You can apply for an Unregistered Vehicle Permit in person or by phone (provided you're already recorded in Roads and Maritime's systems).
The cost for a permit includes the permit fee and CTP insurance. This CTP insurance only covers you on roads and road-related areas. It does not cover you on private property.
You’ll be issued with a permit and a label. The permit shows the vehicle's conditions of use, and should be carried in the vehicle. The label or notice bearing the permit number must be clearly displayed on the vehicle when used on a road or road-related area.
To apply for an Unregistered Vehicle Permit in person at any registry or service centre, you’ll need to provide:
- A completed Application for Unregistered Vehicle Permit
- Proof of your identity. If you’re registering the vehicle in the name of an organisation, you need to complete the Representative’s Authority section on the Application for Unregistered Vehicle Permit
- If you send someone else to register the vehicle in your name, you’ll need to complete the Representative’s Authority section on the Application for Unregistered Vehicle Permit, or provide a letter of authority. Your representative must also provide their own proof of identity
- Important: If you’re not already recorded in Roads and Maritime systems, you cannot send a representative – you must attend in person
- A completed Vehicle Suitable for Safe Use Declaration form
- Payment for the permit fee and CTP insurance
- Number plates (if applicable).
If you’re already recorded in Roads and Maritime systems, you can request a permit by phoning 13 22 13.
You’ll need to have access to a fax machine to forward copies of the required documents.
Any old number plates must be removed from the vehicle before it is used under the permit and surrendered at a registry or service centre as soon as possible after the permit has been issued.
Exemptions from registration
In NSW, any device with a motor must be registered for use on a road or road-related area, unless it’s specifically exempt from registration. This section provides information on exempt vehicles.
Power-assisted pedal cycles
There are two types of power-assisted pedal cycles exempt from registration: 200 watt electric power-assisted pedal cycles and 250 watt pedalecs.
These do not include petrol-powered bicycles, as these are banned for use on all NSW roads and road-related areas like footpaths, shared paths, cycleways and cycle paths.
You don’t need a licence to ride a power-assisted pedal cycle, but you must wear an approved bicycle helmet, and obey the same road rules as cyclists.
Electric power-assisted pedal bicycles with a maximum power output of 200 watts
For power-assisted pedal cycles other than pedalecs, the auxiliary motor(s) must not be able to exceed a combined maximum power output of more than 200 watts.
Pedalecs with a maximum power output of 250 watts
A ‘pedalec’ is a vehicle complying with the requirements of European Standard EN 15194:2009 or EN 15194:2009+A1:2009: Cycles – Electrically power assisted cycles – EPAC bicycles.
To comply with EN 15194:
- The motor must be electric
- The maximum continuous power output of the motor cannot exceed 250 watts measured at the wheel. A motor that delivers 250 watts of continuous power can produce greater instantaneous power for very short periods of time, which can be beneficial when pulling away at traffic lights or starting a hill climb
- The rider must pedal the cycle to activate the motor. Pedalecs may be equipped with an optional low-speed start-up mode that allows the motor to power the cycle up to 6 km/h. This mode is activated by the user either when riding without pedalling or when the user is pushing the cycle
- The motor must cut off once the vehicle reaches 25 km/h, or sooner if the rider stops pedalling
- The vehicle must be certified by the manufacturer, and labelled as complying with EN 15194. The label must include the manufacturer’s name, the motor’s cut-off speed in km/h and its continuous rated power in watts.
Motorised wheelchairs and other types of conveyance for people with a disability are exempt from registration, provided:
- They’re used solely for the conveyance of a person with a disability that substantially impairs the person’s mobility
- They’re unable to travel at more than 10 km/h.
You don’t have to hold a licence to use a motorised wheelchair, but you must obey the same road rules as pedestrians.
The following motorised recreational devices do not meet minimum Australian design standards for safety and cannot be registered:
- All petrol-powered bicycles, including bicycles that:
- Have had a petrol-powered engine attached after purchase
- Were purchased with a petrol-powered engine attached
- Are powered by any other type of internal combustion engine
- Motorised foot scooters (with or without a seat) – electric/petrol engine
- Mini bikes or monkey bikes
- Motorised human transporters such as the WheelMan or SEGWAY
- Motorised skateboards – electric/petrol engine.
These types of devices must not be used on roads or in any public areas such as footpaths, car parks and parks.
Some retailers sell these vehicles and fail to warn customers that they cannot be used on roads or in public areas.
There are heavy penalties for using unregistered and uninsured vehicles. Police can also seize unregistered vehicles.
The Australian Government has banned the sale of mini/monkey bikes. See the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission website for more information.