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Vehicle Registration Rules Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

Vehicle Registration Rules (ACT)

Quick Answer: In the ACT you don’t need an annual inspection (like NSW) to obtain registration or renew registration for your vehicle. All you just need to make sure you pay your rego renewal on time.

While there’s plenty of government information available online about vehicle licensing and Australian road rules, it can sometimes feel difficult to navigate – especially when you’re looking at law and legislation. To help you understand the vehicle registration rules in ACT, we’ve covered the key points in this article – so you can get an overview and then dig deeper into any specific point that’s relevant to you!

Here’s a summary of the registration rules for a car in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT):

  • Registration Requirement: All vehicles driven on ACT roads must be registered, with some exceptions for temporary use or specific vehicle types (agricultural, towed).
  • Eligibility: Only registered operators (individuals or businesses) can register vehicles.
  • Transferring Registration: If buying a used car already registered in the ACT, you have 14 days to transfer registration to your name.
  • Moving to ACT: If moving to the ACT from another state or territory and bringing your registered car, you have 3 months to register it in the ACT.
  • Inspections: In some cases, vehicle inspections (roadworthiness and identity) might be required before registration.
  • Registration Period: You can choose registration periods of 3, 6, or 12 months.
  • Fees: Registration fees vary depending on vehicle type, emissions, and chosen registration period.

What is Checked During Inspection?

There are two main types of inspections that might be required during vehicle registration in Canberra or the wider Australian Capital Territory, depending on the situation:

  1. Roadworthiness Inspection (Certificate of Inspection):

This inspection focuses on the vehicle’s safety and roadworthiness. Here are some of the key areas mechanics will typically check:

  • Brakes: Functionality, wear and tear on pads and discs/drums.
  • Steering and Suspension: Condition of components, alignment, any leaks.
  • Tyres: Tread depth, overall condition, correct inflation pressure.
  • Lights and Indicators: Operation of headlights, taillights, brake lights, turn signals, and hazard lights.
  • Windscreen and Windows: Cracks, chips, visibility issues.
  • Seatbelts: Functionality and proper operation.
  • Body and Chassis: Rust, damage, leaks, modifications that might affect safety.
  • Fluid Levels: Engine oil, brake fluid, coolant.
  • Emissions: Exhaust gas emissions might be tested depending on the vehicle’s age and type.


  • Make sure your car is in good working order before any rego check with a car service. 
  • If buying a second hand car, make sure you get a Pre-purchase Inspection to make sure the car is accident free and not in need of major mechanical work.

Vehicle Identity Inspection:

Registration certificates for motor vehicle identification purposes are carried out verify that the road transport vehicle you’re registering matches the information on your registration form.

Here’s what they typically check:

  • Matching the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on the car with the one on the registration documents.
  • Verifying the engine number matches records (may not apply to all vehicles).
  • Body Modifications,Ensuring any modifications comply with regulations and are properly documented.

Unregistered Vehicle Permits

An Unregistered Vehicle Permit (UVP) in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) allows you to drive an unregistered vehicle for a specific journey or purpose for a limited time period. The key points about UVPs in the ACT are:

  • It provides a short-term registration period and compulsory third-party insurance cover to drive unregistered vehicles on public roads in the ACT.
  • A UVP can only be issued when it would be impractical or unreasonable to require full registration status, or the vehicle is being driven to obtain registration (even if the registration is refused).
  • UVPs are not intended to cover the regular use of a vehicle on roads and must not be regarded as a substitute for full registration.
  • Driving without registration or a permit is illegal in the ACT and penalties apply.
  • To obtain a UVP, you need to apply to Access Canberra and provide details like your driver’s license, vehicle information, proposed journey, and payment.

In summary, a UVP provides temporary legal permission to drive an unregistered vehicle in the ACT for specific purposes like obtaining registration, but does not replace the need for full vehicle registration.

Important Notes:

  • Not all vehicle registrations require inspections. New cars typically don’t need inspections if registered within a certain timeframe of purchase.
  • You can find information about whether your vehicle needs an inspection and how to book one on the Access Canberra website:
  • It’s always recommended to have your car serviced and in good working order before any registration inspection to avoid potential issues.
  • Automatic number plate recognition cameras are often fitted to police vehicles – so driving without a vehicle registration is likely to lead to a fine or prosecution.

Important Resources:

Remember: This is a general overview. It’s always best to consult the official ACT government resources for the latest information and any specific requirements that might apply to your situation.


Written By

Matt Banks

Matt is the founder of Autohero.com.au and has been hooked on cars and repairs ever since childhood.

A veteran in automotive since leaving school, Matt has completed his trade as a panel beater and is across all things with wheels. 

His first car was a 1967 FORD XR Wagon followed by a string of collectable Holden’s.

Have a question for Matt? leave a comment below.

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