Buying a Car in Australia? Here’s What You Need To Know!

Australia is a massive country and if you’re planning on moving there, you may be wondering how you’re going to get around. While a car is not essential due to the country’s public transport infrastructure, many Irish people prefer to drive on their Australian adventure due to the freedom it gives them.

We caught up with our resident Aussie Kelsey Burrows and asked her for a few tips on getting behind the wheel Down Under.

Buying A Car

Personally, I wouldn’t bother looking at anything that has less than 3 months registration on it. And steer completely clear of cars with zero registration, they are notoriously tough to register (as in-depth mechanical checks are required). You want something that’s reliable, don’t just buy the cheapest car you find on the market. The last thing you want is for it to break down in the middle of the Outback!

Compulsory Insurance

After buying the car, you will need to purchase Compulsory Third Party Insurance (CTP) in Australia as part of the ownership process. Different states have different regulations, so make sure you know the rules on when/how to purchase that. CTP covers the driver for personal (not property) injury and medical costs where you are the at-fault driver. You can get a quote from an insurer like NRMA or RACQ before you purchase the car. can help with comparisons.


Stamp Duty is a tax the government takes upon the sale and purchase of cars in Australia, it’s a percentage of what you pay for the vehicle (I forget how much), when paying cash, some people like to downplay the amount they paid for the vehicle. Just make sure the person you buy it from is okay with you doing that. Since they are signing it over to you.


Registration costs depend on the year, make and model of the car. And you should be able to get an estimate online, its usually about the same each year, and should be on the registration papers when you purchase the vehicle.

Optional Insurance

Don’t confuse Compulsory Third Party Insurance with optional insurance – your optional  comes in two levels:

Third party, fire and theft – where the other cars property damage is covered where you are the at-fault driver, and if your car goes up in flames or is stolen.

Comprehensive – where everyone’s damaged property is fixed, sometimes you can get sweet perks with this, like (when my car was stolen I got a) hirecar, a free taxi to and from the mechanic.

Roadside Assistance

If you’re buying a car under the $3000AUD mark, roadside assistance is something I would seriously consider.  It will give you peace of mind while making long trips and if misfortune strikes and the car breaks down, at least you know you have someone on the way to help. Its usually in the form of a club, you get discounts when you have CTP+Optional+Roadside assist all booked with the one provider. The two I mentioned above are good for that. I like NRMA, personally.

Drivers License

Yes, you can drive on your Irish license, but only for the first three months. After that, you will need to get an Australian one (or before your Irish one expires) they’re not super expensive, but I think you’ll need to be fully licensed here to qualify. Also, an Aus drivers license counts as ID in every establishment I have ever been to in Australia.

So, the costs involved with purchasing a car are:

  • Price of the Car (including current registration)
  • CTP insurance
  • Stamp duty
  • Transfer of ownership paperwork lodgement
  • Optional Property insurance (I recommend minimum Third party Fire and Theft)
  • Optional roadside assistance

The order in which these things go differ from state to state, so be sure to check with the road traffic authority of the state you are moving to (they all have different names styles too! – thanks Australia, like we weren’t already confused as it was!)

Have more questions about making the big move to Australia? Just email USIT’s dedicated  Australia team on and we’ll help turn your dream into a reality.

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