Guide to Buying a Car Interstate

So, you have spotted a vehicle that you want to buy. Great! But there’s a tiny issue. It’s not in Perth or anywhere in WA. Transporting the car is not that straightforward, but it should not be that complicated either. Use this guide to help you make buying a car from interstate as stress-free as possible.

First of all, let us begin with a simple yet frequently asked query. Can you buy a car from a different state? Say you found a vehicle in SA that you like. It is in good condition and comes at a very attractive price. You don’t want to miss that deal, but you are in WA.

To answer the question above: Yes, you can always buy a vehicle from interstate. However, it is not as simple as buying in WA. Car transportation will be on your to-do list, along with other tasks, including transferring the registration to your name, as well as your location.

Pros and Cons of Buying a Car from Another State

Before you commit to purchasing a car interstate, weigh in on the advantages and disadvantages of doing so. Let’s start with the positive side:

  •  You have more choices.

If you go to a car buying website and limit your search to Perth and nearby areas, you get fewer options than expanding your search to include other states.

  • The vehicles may be cheaper.

There is no guarantee here because car prices can significantly vary depending on the location. However, there is always a huge possibility of finding a better deal when you purchase interstate.

The pros make buying interstate appealing. But is it really for you? Here are reasons why you may want to think twice or thrice before dealing with car sellers outside WA:

Inspection is a must.

When you see an ad for a car you want to buy, you should check it before agreeing to be its new owner. Not everything you read in the ad may be true, so you have to see the car yourself. This can often be tiring and even become a waste of time if you end up deciding the vehicle is not what you expected it to be. You are required to have the interstate vehicle be inspected at an Authorised Inspection Station (AIS). A valid certificate will be given to you before you can have the car licenced in WA.

Travel and transport can be costly.

You will not only have to travel interstate to inspect the vehicle, but you also have to transport it to WA if you choose to purchase. This can cost a lot of money, even if you drive the car on your own. It may even require you to take time off work to get to the seller’s address. The cost of transport varies, and you have to factor in fuel, distance, and perhaps even accommodation.

And speaking of costs, there are other things that you need to consider aside from the car’s purchase, travel, and transport expenses. Buying interstate can surely get a little more expensive, especially with the following:

Transfer of Registration:

Buying a car does not automatically make you its owner in the eyes of the law. You still need to transfer the registration of the vehicle into your name. The car coming from another state further complicates the process since you also have to cover the transfer of registration to your state.

Licence Fee:

Just like the transfer registration, buying a car from another state or territory will withdraw the licencing of that vehicle when you move it to WA. The current licence will not be accepted under the Road Traffic Act 2012 of WA. Therefore, you need to apply for a new licence, along with other permits, which costs money.


Compulsory Third Party insurance comes with vehicle ownership. That means you have to purchase insurance for your newly bought car, which may be around a few hundred dollars or more.

When buying a car, it’s important to make sure it is roadworthy, meaning it is fit for driving on the road. It is safe from repossession, has not been stolen or written off, and is free from debt. Unlike other states and territories, sellers are not required to perform a roadworthy check. Therefore, the responsibility lies on the buyer.

Is the Car Roadworthy?

In WA, roadworthy inspections are known as vehicle examinations. You need a roadworthiness assessment if:

  • You wish to register the vehicle in the state,
  • You just received a yellow sticker, defect notice, work order, or a compliance notice from authorities,
  • You recently modified the car, such as changing its body, dimensions, or engine,
  • The vehicle is a bus, taxi, driving instructor vehicle, or similar, which require an annual vehicle examination, or
  • You have a written-off car that can be repaired, and you wish to licence or register it under your name in WA.

Since you will move the car to your state, it will be unregistered temporarily. Therefore, you need a Temporary Movement Permit in order for you to drive the vehicle to the examination location. You can purchase this permit online via the Department of Transport.

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Your Buying Options

Just like with purchasing from within your state, you generally have three choices when buying a car from interstate:

A private seller means you simply deal with an individual, usually the car’s previous owner. Therefore, if you are looking to buy a new car, this may not be your number one choice. 

Private sellers can offer an attractive price for the vehicle you want to buy. However, you should bear in mind that the transaction does not give you protections, including statutory warranties and cooling-off periods.

If you have found the car that you wish to purchase from a private seller, you should certainly do a lot of research and make sure to inspect it thoroughly. 

Purchasing from an interstate dealer offers more incentives than buying from a private seller. If it is a new car, you can enjoy an extensive warranty, just like you would when purchasing from your state.

Buying used cars also gives you a three-month warranty if the car has travelled less than 160,000km. It should also be under 10 years old and does not go over the luxury car threshold, which is $68,740 for most cars.

If you’re buying a fuel-efficient vehicle, the threshold is $77,565. The warranty will end after three months or if you have reached 5,000km, whichever comes first.

Buying from a chattel auctioneer gives you a three-month warranty, the same as buying from a dealer. However, it does not come with a statutory warranty, meaning you have to cover defect and repair costs even when you spot the issues during the warranty period.

Purchasing a case at an auction can save you money on the initial purchase as they tend to go for prices due to several things, including their service history, financial history or even being repairable write-offs.

This may not be a major issue for you, but it is something that you should note when looking at online auctions in other states.

All three options can offer you a good deal you may not want to refuse. Although you will most likely pay for the car transport to WA, a motivated dealer, private seller, or auctioneer may arrange car shipping as part of the total vehicle price.

How to Obtain WA Licence for Interstate Vehicle

Registration, licencing, and insurance can be confusing when buying a car interstate. Transfer of car registration is necessary no matter the state you purchased the car from. If you drive the vehicle back to WA, you will need a temporary registration; it is your once-off permit to transport the car. You can also hire a service to have the car delivered to your state. However, the car may be required to be pe-registered to WA, which will allow you to legally drive it using your local registration once it’s ready for pick-up.

Before licencing, here are some facts that you should know about after purchasing a car interstate:

  • The Department of Transport requires that you talk to the agency within 14 days of buying a licenced vehicle.
  • If the vehicle you purchase is unlicenced or has an expired licence for three months, it should first be inspected prior to obtaining a new licence.
  • Buying interstate requires inspection. Licencing will only be approved if the car is kept primarily in WA.
  • A licenced vehicle in another state has a revoked licence once it moves to WA prior to having a local licence. Therefore, a temporary movement permit is required before it can enter the state.
  • All vehicles bought from another state should be checked at an Authorised Inspection Station (AIS). The process involves a thorough assessment of cars from interstate, including inspections of airbags, brakes, steering, rims and tyres, and bodywork. You can apply for a vehicle inspection via DoT here.
  •  Vehicle licence applications can be made online, but you have to submit the papers in person. Send documents, including a valid inspection certificate from the AIS, a completed Form VL17 (vehicle licence), and proof of identity, to a Driver and Vehicle Services centre. Another option is to send your application to a regional agent.
  • You should be able to show your proof of ownership if the car is not currently licenced, such as a new vehicle. The document should show that you are the owner of the car, so it should be in your name. You will need to present a receipt or bill of sale, which has all the necessary details of the purchase, including price, vehicle information, and date of sale.
  • In most cases, you have to pay the vehicle licence duty. Other fees include the administration fee ($10.30), a certified copy of the licence document ($3.40), and the transfer fee ($18.90). The tare weight of the vehicle is considered when calculating the vehicle licence fee.

When factoring in the cost of the car bought interstate, allow about $1,100 to $1,500 for transportation costs. Once again, you should remember that the vehicle is unlicenced as the vehicle arrives in WA. It will be towed to your preferred location. No insurance is given if you drive the car with its interstate plate and have an accident while driving. When the car is in WA, you need to book for inspection. Take it to the inspection centre, along with its interstate licence papers and proof of sale or receipt from the previous car owner. After passing the inspection, you will have to pay the inspection fee and other costs.

You, as the buyer, will pay for all the transport costs unless the dealer or seller tells you it’s included in the sale. That adds to the total cost, though, so you pay for it one way or another. But here’s the good news. Even after the transport expenses, you can still end up with the car that you want at a much lower price than one from WA.

Are you ready to make an interstate purchase? Get your car finance with us, let Loans Unlimited help you buy the car of your dreams from another state. Contact us today for more information.

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