How to Drive an Unregistered Vehicle Indefinitely
I wanted to travel with the securities of home, but with the freedom of being homeless. I figured a 1990 Toyota HiAce would do the trick. Being the beginning of summer, vans were very sought after among travellers, and the one I found was in very questionable condition. I figured I could just drive it to South Australia (where registration laws are a lot slacker) and register it there, so I slapped the cash in the man’s hand, wrote up a contract on the back of a KFC napkin and was on my way. I had just purchased my first home.
I was moving to Melbourne and had sold or given away all the unnecessary crap I’d accumulated over the years. This made it possible to minimise my possessions to a van’s worth.
Generally speaking, you get what you pay for. Depending on what your haggling skills are like you can sway it a little either side, but you’re never going to find a Ferrari for the price of a Ford. And my case was no exception. I am no mechanic, and I soon realised that the repairs on my van would probably cost thousands in labour.
I never managed to register it in South Australia and was intending to stay in Melbourne for at least a couple of years, so I needed some legitimacy. I figured I would probably accumulate thousands of dollars worth of parking, speeding, registration and other fines. Also, road tolls were new to me, and the idea of paying money just to use a road didn’t compute well at the time. I needed a way to slip under the system and go unnoticed, but still wanted to make full use out of my new mobile home. Here’s how I did it.
1. First of all, lose the licence plates (if you even get any; depending on the price you paid for your van, there is a good chance the plates are stolen). You don’t need that stress.
2. Second, you will need to purchase a permit (they don’t cost much, but usually are only valid for a month but can be renewed). This will entitle you to drive anywhere to get the vehicle up to roadworthy standards. The garage that I chose to get the repairs happened to be in Mt Gambier, a mere five-hour drive from Melbourne.
3. Make sure you carry proof of your intention. A garage business card usually does the trick. Surprisingly, I only got pulled over on average once a month. Just make sure that permit never expires, otherwise you will be stung with a very hefty fine.
4. Make it very clear that the purpose for your journey is always for the intention of getting repairs, nothing else.
The sense of freedom that I felt was immense. I had found the bargain of my lifetime. The only time I was brought back to reality was at a fuel station, when a young girl hesitantly asked if I could prepay for the petrol. In her defence, I was parked the wrong way (waiting for fuel while other pumps are available is for chumps), had no number plates and was shirtless. Probably a fair call.