Buying a heavy vehicle

When buying a vehicle privately, we recommend an independent evaluation to evaluate its construction and roadworthiness.

When buying a heavy vehicle confirm that the vehicle specifications meet your needs, and contact the manufacturer’s agents to check maximum carrying weight capacity.

If you decide not to have an independent evaluation, follow the steps on this page.

General tips for buying a heavy vehicle

Here are some tips to remember when buying a heavy vehicle:

  • It is important to make sure of the authenticity of the vehicle before you complete the purchase.
  • Although re-birthing of heavy vehicles is relatively rare in Australia, you are advised to take all reasonable steps to ensure the vehicle you’re considering buying has not been stolen or re-birthed. If you buy a vehicle that is discovered to be stolen or re-birthed, Transport for NSW (TfNSW) will probably not be able to register it, and you may lose both the vehicle and your money.
  • The best protection you can get is to buy a vehicle from a licensed motor dealer, or a reputable motor vehicle auction house. Licensed motor dealers and auction houses do two things:
    • They make sure that the current owner doesn’t owe money on the vehicle.
    • They protect you against loss if the vehicle is found to be stolen.


  • If an offer looks to good to be true, chances are it probably is.
  • If you think that anything about the vehicle is not quite right, don’t take the risk.

Check the seller’s paperwork

Ask the seller to show you:

  • A current Transport for NSW certificate of registration for the vehicle.
  • Details of the last vehicle inspection.
  • Proof that the person selling the vehicle is also the registered operator, such as a sales receipt and a driver licence in the same name.
  • Proof of where the vehicle was purchased eg a receipt. You should also ask how long they have had the vehicle.

Note: The certificate of registration does not prove ownership, but only names the person who is the registered operator of the vehicle.

If the seller is not the registered operator, ask the seller to prove that he or she is authorised to sell the vehicle.

If the registration of the vehicle has expired or the vehicle is registered interstate, it will require an inspection by a Heavy Vehicle Authorised Inspection Station (HVAIS).

Contact Transport for NSW on 13 22 13 to find the location of your nearest inspection station.

Check the vehicle and its details

  1. Check that the details on the certificate of registration and the Heavy Vehicle Inspection Report (if provided) match the details on the vehicle itself such as:
    • Vehicle registration number (number plate)
    • Engine number
    • Vehicle identification number (VIN) or chassis number from the compliance plate.
  2. Check for signs of tampering with the engine number, chassis number, vehicle identification number or the compliance plate. These can usually be found on the firewall at the back of the engine compartment, on or under the cab either in the door opening, on the floor panel, or next to or behind the driver’s or passenger’s seat.
  3. Look for grind marks, scratches, or numbers that have been over-stamped. If you find any marks like this, the vehicle may be stolen and you should definitely arrange for an independent inspection.

Contact TfNSW

You should check that the registration details given by the seller are correct. You can check registration and history online, or call 13 22 13 and quote the vehicle registration number.

Check no money is owing on the vehicle

If you buy a vehicle from a private seller who still owes money on it, it could be repossessed and you could lose the vehicle and your money.

To find out if money is owing on the vehicle, call the Personal Properties Securities Register (PPSR) on 1300 007 777 or visit the PPSR website to run an online check.

For the PPSR check you need to provide:

  • Vehicle registration number (number plate)
  • VIN or chassis number
  • engine number.

PPSR can also check if the vehicle has been reported to the police as stolen or if the registration has been cancelled due to fines.

Note: A vehicle could still be stolen even if it has not been reported. If the PPSR check shows that there is no money owing on the vehicle, ask to be sent a Search Certificate. This certificate prevents a financier repossessing the vehicle if someone still owes money on it. If PPSR shows that money is owed on the vehicle, don’t buy it until you are certain the debt will be repaid.

Buying the vehicle

Before you buy the vehicle ask the seller to:

  • Complete and sign the back of the certificate of registration
  • Give you a receipt that shows:
    • your name
    • the amount you paid for the vehicle
    • the vehicle’s current registration number, engine number, VIN or chassis number
    • seller’s driver licence or passport number, name, signature, date of sale (check that the signature on the receipt matches the one on the licence or passport).

This receipt is the only proof that you own the vehicle.

Transferring the registration

Once you have bought a vehicle, you have 14 days to transfer the registration to your name, or you will incur a late transfer fee.

If you fail to transfer the registration, TfNSW may cancel it.

If you drive an unregistered and uninsured vehicle, you may be fined and you may also be liable for any damage you cause to people or property if you have an accident.

See, transfer your registration for detailed information about transferring registration.

Note: If you intend to use the heavy vehicle with a different configuration to the previous registered operator, you may need to pay an additional registration charge.