Do I need a roadworthy certificate to sell my car?

Some state registration authorities demand proof that the car you’re selling is roadworthy... but which ones? 

If you’ve handed back the plates and cancelled the registration (by notifying the registration authority in writing) or the car has never been registered for the road – as in the example of a race car – you may advertise the car for sale through carsales without a roadworthy certificate.  

You should explain that the car is neither ‘roadworthy’ nor registered in the ad, of course.  


The states of play 

In New South Wales, Roads and Maritime Services will allow a privately-owned motor vehicle to be on-sold without a roadworthy certificate, but vehicles over five years old require an annual safety inspection before the registration can be renewed. So you don’t need a roadworthy to sell the car, but the presumption is that the car is roadworthy anyway. That said, a vehicle less than five years old could be technically unroadworthy

In Victoria, the vehicle must be sold with a roadworthy certificate if it’s registered for the road and the new owner plans to continue driving it on the road. Although VicRoads doesn’t specify who is responsible for arranging the roadworthy certificate, the onus is tacitly placed on the seller, unless he or she is transferring ownership of the vehicle to a licensed dealer. That applies to vehicles sold outright, or as a trade-in.

Like Victoria, Queensland owners require a ‘safety certificate’ to sell their car. Vehicle owners in the ACT don’t require a roadworthy certificate for the car being sold, unless the vehicle is over six years old. 

Roadworthy certificates expire after a certain number of days, often 30 days in Victoria. If the roadworthy expires before you sell the car, you may need to get another one at an additional cost. 

None of the other states or the Northern Territory impose upon the seller the requirement to furnish a roadworthy certificate for the vehicle being sold.  


Who will pay? 

Owners selling an older vehicle in Queensland, Victoria or the ACT may try to pass the responsibility for the roadworthy test to the buyer, on the grounds that such a car – sold cheaply – may be essentially worthless after deducting the cost of repairing the defects to pass the roadworthy test.  

In that circumstance, the buyer might be willing to take the risk if he or she is a mechanic or is on good terms with a mechanic who can provide cheap labour and at-cost parts. But otherwise it’s a bad idea, unless the buyer is purchasing the vehicle to restore, modify or convert to a race car – in which case he or she will likely cancel the registration anyway.  

If you’re a buyer, you should always insist the seller obtain the roadworthy certificate. And if you’re a seller, lots of luck selling a car without a roadworthy certificate, even one priced at $3000 or less.  



Related reading: 

I’ve sold my car. What do I do next? 
carsales Instant Offer FAQs 

Any information on this page is provided as a guide only. It is not professional or expert advice and is not a substitute for such advice. The content may not be appropriate, correct or sufficient for your circumstances and should not be relied on as the only reason you do or don’t do anything.
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