Selling an unregistered car in the ACT

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Selling an unregistered car in the ACT
Selling an unregistered car in the ACT
Sell Salvaged Vehicle
Doug Whiffin
Doug Whiffin
National Automotive Buyer and Second-In-Command Manager
May 22, 2024
minute read

The most hassle-free way to sell unregistered vehicles

Navigating the sale of an unregistered car in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) requires a clear understanding of local laws and regulations. Whether due to a lapsed registration or a decision not to renew, selling a car without registration needs to follow specific legal guidelines for a smooth transaction.

This blog will guide you through the essential steps for legally selling your unregistered vehicle in the ACT. From defining what makes a car 'unregistered' to preparing it for sale and finalising the transaction. 

At 1800 Salvage, we buy unwanted cars across Canberra with same-day removal services and instant cash payments. A lot of unregistered cars come through our yards, so we can offer a few tips and tricks to help you sell your unregistered vehicle quickly.

What is an unregistered vehicle in the ACT?

A vehicle is considered unregistered in the Australian Capital Territory if it lacks a valid ACT Road Transport Authority registration certificate. This status means the vehicle is not legally permitted on public roads and is without the necessary insurance coverage. Operating or permitting the use of an unregistered vehicle is illegal under ACT law and carries significant fines and penalties.

Reasons why a car might be unregistered

Lapse of registration

One of the most common reasons a vehicle becomes unregistered is because the registration has expired and not been renewed. This might be due to oversight or a deliberate decision if the vehicle is no longer in use.

Failure to pass inspection

In the ACT, vehicles must meet certain safety and emissions standards to be registered. If a vehicle fails to pass these inspections, it cannot be registered until all necessary repairs and modifications are made to bring it up to standard with a roadworthy certificate.

Interruption of insurance coverage

Continuous compulsory third-party insurance (CTP) is a requirement for vehicle registration in the ACT. If insurance coverage lapses or is cancelled, the vehicle’s registration is suspended until reinstated.

Legal requirements for selling an unregistered car 

When selling an unregistered car in the Australian Capital Territory, sellers must clearly disclose the car's unregistered status upfront. They are also required to provide accurate documentation about the car’s history and condition, including any faults.

Misrepresenting the car’s legal status or suggesting it can be legally driven without registration can lead to severe legal and financial consequences, including fines and penalties under consumer protection laws.

Preparing to sell an unregistered car

Gathering all the necessary documentation that a potential buyer would expect to review is essential before listing your unregistered car for sale in the ACT. 

Proof of ownership

The most critical document is the proof of ownership, typically the vehicle's title or registration papers that show you legally own the car. Even if the registration is expired, these documents are crucial.

Vehicle history report

A comprehensive vehicle history report can significantly enhance the credibility of your sale. This report should include the vehicle’s details, including accidents, previous owners, service history, and major repairs. It helps the buyer understand exactly what they are purchasing and can mitigate any concerns over the car's history.

Pre-sale vehicle inspection

While not mandatory, offering a pre-sale vehicle inspection can significantly aid in selling an unregistered car. A pre-sale inspection reassures potential buyers about the condition of the car. It highlights any existing issues and verifies that the vehicle is in the state as advertised, making it a more appealing purchase.

Transporting an unregistered vehicle

In the Australian Capital Territory, transporting an unregistered vehicle during a sale requires specific considerations. You can apply for an unregistered vehicle permit from Access Canberra to move an unregistered vehicle legally. Unregistered vehicle permits allow you to drive or move the vehicle on public roads for a limited period, specifically for purposes such as selling the vehicle or relocating it for repairs. 

Alternatively, hiring a tow truck is a reliable option. Utilising a tow truck ensures that you comply with local traffic laws and avoid the potential risks and fines associated with driving an unregistered vehicle without the appropriate permits. 

Tips for setting a realistic price

Research Comparable Sales: Look at the prices of similar unregistered makes and models. Online marketplaces, local classified ads, and dealer listings can provide a good baseline for your car’s potential market price.

Consider the Car’s Limitations: Being unregistered, the car cannot be driven legally until registered, which can be a significant deterrent for many buyers. This should be reflected in the pricing as a concession for the extra steps and expenses the buyer will need to undertake.

Adjust for Condition and Extras: Recent upgrades, such as new tyres or a high-end audio system, can add to your car's value. Conversely, any issues like a history of breakdowns or cosmetic damage should be factored into a lower price.

Get a Professional Appraisal: If you're unsure, consider getting a professional valuation from a certified appraiser. They can provide an objective assessment that could assist in setting a competitive yet fair price.

Selling options

When it comes to selling unregistered cars in the Australian Capital Territory, you have several avenues to explore. 

Private sale

Selling directly to a buyer can often yield the best return, but it requires effort and patience.

Dealers and salvage yards

Dealers and salvage yards like 1800 Salvage are viable options for those looking for a quicker, hassle-free sale with instant cash in hand.


Selling through an auction can be an effective way to reach a large number of potential buyers and sell the vehicle quickly.

Finalising the sale

Once you've found a buyer for your unregistered car, finalising the sale involves several key steps to ensure everything is legal and secure. 

Legal paperwork and transfer forms

Notification of Sale: In the ACT, you must notify Access Canberra of the vehicle sale. This is done through the 'Notice of Disposal' form, which should be submitted immediately after the sale. It helps update the vehicle registration records and absolves you from liabilities associated with the vehicle post-sale.

Receipt and Proof of Sale: Provide the buyer with a receipt of the sale. This should include the date, sale price, vehicle make and model, VIN (Vehicle Identification Number),  registration number and details of both the buyer and seller. It’s a good practice to make two copies — one for you and one for the buyer.

Transfer Forms: The buyer will eventually need to get the car registered again. Providing any relevant transfer forms and paperwork can facilitate this process for the buyer. Be sure to also inform the buyer of any remaining registration.

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Get in touch for friendly advice

Whether you want to buy or sell salvage vehicles, we are here to help. Get in touch and we will get back to you soon with the information you need.

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