Transfer of Registration – Your Guide to Buying a Second-Hand Vehicle in Victoria

Purchasing a car in Victoria can be a stressful experience especially if you’re not familiar with automotive jargon and if you believe that you’re not getting the full picture on your potential purchase from the dealer or private seller. As a potential buyer of a second-hand vehicle, the rule of thumb is not to make any assumptions and have all the information you need before committing to a purchase. Below are 8 essential steps in purchasing a second-hand vehicle in Victoria.


  1. Get a full, comprehensive vehicle check with
  2. Proof of current and valid registration
  3. Number Plates Check
  4. Uniquely Identify the Vehicle
  5. Market Value to calculate Motor Vehicle Duty
  6. Seller’s Identity and Claimed Ownership/Proof of Purchase
  7. Certificate of Roadworthiness (RWC)
  8. Money Owing & Written-Off Check


1. Get a full, comprehensive vehicle check with

As part of the buyer’s due diligence process, buying a current vehicle report is a fundamental step in helping ensure that you don’t end up with a ‘lemon’. A comprehensive CarHistory report provides you with a national view of the vehicle’s reported history, irrespective of how many states and territories the vehicle has previously been registered in.

The instant, easy-to-read report also contains:

  • Finance Owing on the vehicle
  • Stolen Status Check
  • Written-Off Check
  • Previous Sale Information
  • Vehicle Valuation and Registration Details
  • Odometer Reading Check
  • Sales Price
  • ANCAP ratings
  • The vehicle’s PPSR Certificate

Just enter the plate number (rego) or the VIN of the car you’re interested in below.

2.  Proof of current and valid registration

Ensure that the registration status of the vehicle is current, i.e. not suspended or cancelled. Although there might be numerous reasons as to why the owner has had the vehicle’s rego lapse, more often than not, a rego suspension or cancellation can be due to having a defect notice being issued by VicRoads for that vehicle for repair, which was not attended to in time. Any vehicle with a suspended or cancelled rego cannot be driven and should be towed and repaired by a licensed vehicle tester.

The good news is that the comprehensive vehicle report has you covered under the Registration Details section so that you don’t risk incurring additional costs for repair, test and clearing the defect notice with VicRoads.

3. Number Plates Check

In addition to the VIN, the registration plate number provides a second identification for the vehicle. Both the VIN and the registration number need to match for the vehicle and are used to file your transfer of registration papers with VicRoads (See Uniquely Identify the Vehicle section).

If the number plates are missing from the vehicle, you’ll need to ensure that there is a valid reason for this but you could avoid the inconvenience and additional costs of replacing the number plates until this is sorted out by the seller. Steer clear of a purchase if the plates have been stolen or not replaced -  According to Victoria Police, offenders use stolen plates to avoid identification when committing offences such as petrol thefts, drug trafficking and burglary – you could be liable as the new owner for the offences and fines incurred under your newly acquired, but missing, plate numbers!

Vehicle with Personalised Plates

If you’re buying a vehicle with custom or personalised number plates attached, the rights relating to the use of those plates will pass on to you once the transfer of registration is completed.

4. Uniquely Identify the Vehicle

Upon transferring the vehicle, VicRoads requires both parties agree on the identity of the vehicle.

The unique identity profile of the vehicle is made up of the following, and is also included in your Car History report for your convenience:

  • Registration number
  • Date of registration expiry
  • Year, make, model and body type
  •  VIN (or chassis number)  

5. Market Value to calculate Motor Vehicle Duty

When buying a vehicle, a transfer fee and a motor vehicle duty are payable to VicRoads when the vehicle is transferred from one ‘registered operator’ to another.

The transfer fee is usually a fixed cost ($39.10, current as of October 2017) while the motor vehicle duty is calculated from the market value (also referred to as dutiable value) for similar vehicle model, mileage and year of manufacture.

Again, your comprehensive car report gives you the market appraisal of the vehicle under the “Price Comparison” section, that highlights where the vehicle lie within the majority of similar vehicles.

Penalties may apply if the market value is under declared!                                                     

6. Seller’s Identity and Claimed Ownership/Proof of Purchase

As a potential buyer, you are encouraged to ask for evidence from the seller in regards to the

  • Ownership of the vehicle for sale (e.g. a certificate of registration)
  • Seller’s identity details (Victorian driver licence)

Individuals who cannot provide their Victorian driver licence will be requested to provide full evidence of identity at a VicRoads Customer Service Centre.

The seller can be an individual or corporation (current registered operator as per the certificate of registration) who is disposing of the vehicle. Note that there can only be one registered operator per vehicle (no joint registration).

7. Certificate of Roadworthiness (RWC)

An original and current Certificate of Roadworthiness (RWC), also known as a Roadworthy Certificate, must be provided by the seller to you to certify that the vehicle is in roadworthy condition. The RWC is required to apply for transfer of registration and is valid for 30 days from the date of issue. The details required to submit a successful transfer of registration are

  • RWC serial number
  • RWC issue date, and
  • RWC tester’s licence number

8. Money Owing & Written-Off Check

The onus to disclose all information pertaining to the vehicle lies with the seller, and details such as having been reported as stolen, written-off or free from encumbrance (money owing) should be confirmed before the transfer of registration papers are submitted to VicRoads.

If you end up with buying a second-hand car from a dodgy seller, you might be shelling out some big bucks down the line for additional repairs or even risk having the vehicle seized if there’s finance owing on it.

PPSRCheck’s comprehensive report has you covered by telling you whether the vehicle has previously been written-off (Australia-wide) and not just in Victoria, is free from encumbrance or has ever been reported as stolen.

Once the above have been both verified and collected, jump onto the VicRoads website and confidently fill the Application for Transfer of Registration document. Congratulations on your new acquisition!