Can I Buy a Car in Australia as a Tourist?


Oct 30th, 2020

Can I Buy a Car in Australia as a Tourist?

Australia has over 800,000km of paved and unpaved roads, the ninth-biggest road network in the world, which includes the world’s longest national highway at over 14,000 km. If you plan on touring Australia for an extended stay and see as much of the country as you can, it would be more convenient and cost-effective for you to buy a car. You can sell it before you leave, too, and improve your cash position before ending your holiday. Read more to know about the nuts and bolts of buying a car in Australia if you’re a tourist.

Can a tourist buy a car in Australia?

Yes, tourists buy cars all the time in Australia. Instead of renting one or relying on the country’s public transport system, they can have more freedom in how they’ll go about their holiday. Buying a car is no doubt a smart move for tourists who would like to make the most of their visit to the Land of Oz and explore its stunning landscapes. 

Where can a tourist find a car to buy?

It’s best for tourists to check out specialised backpacker car dealers and travellers car market first. The advantage of dealing with these companies is that their services are designed around the needs of tourists who prefer taking a road trip in Australia. They will even buy back the car when your stay in the country ends. 

Travellers Auto Barn, Travel Wheels, and Backpackers Auto Sales are three of the most popular car dealers specialising in this market segment. You will easily find them in Melbourne, Sydney and other major cities in the country. 

What documents do you need to buy a car as a tourist?

You don’t need to have a driver’s licence to buy a car in Australia, but you definitely need one to drive, so make sure to bring it with you. You must also show a permanent address in the state or territory where you’re buying and registering the vehicle. 

If you have friends or family who are residents in the area and willing to let you use their address for posting of the registration documents, that would be the best option. Alternatively, you may also ask the hostel you’re staying at if they’re willing to accept your mails for you – they’re usually happy to do that.

What should you look for when deciding on a car to buy?

A tourist’s requirements in a car are specific and different from those of Australian residents. For one, your ownership will be temporary, so make sure to account for this peculiarity in your decision. Make a checklist that includes the following to ensure that you cover all major aspects and paperwork:

  • Buyback provisions – as mentioned earlier, it would be a good idea to choose a company that guarantees to buy back or facilitate the sale of the vehicle at the end of your trip.
  • Valid registration – see to it that the car is registered and for how long. You and the seller will need to visit the Department of Transport to sign the transfer of the rego from the previous owner to you. Each state or territory has its own rules and regulations, so find out what applies to you. You don’t want to be in trouble with the police, so take time to work out the transfer of ownership to you – it’s not that difficult. 
  • Roadworthy certificate – aka pink slip, this document certifies to the safety and roadworthiness of the vehicle and is necessary for its registration and sale later on.
  • Mechanical inspection and servicing – avoid unpleasant surprises in your trip to the Outback by making it a point to inspect the car you’re buying inside and out. If you’re knowledgeable about cars, you can do the inspection yourself. If not, you may need to hire a mechanic to do it for you. If you buy from specialist backpacker car dealers, they typically do the mechanical inspection and servicing for you.
  • Guaranteed title – ask for a clear title guarantee, which means that the car you bought is free of any unpaid debt. 
  • Nationwide road assistance network for emergencies – enquire whether the vehicle is enrolled to a roadside assistance package. If not, you may read our article on how to choose the best roadside assistance in Australia and get your car one. 
  • Insurance – the compulsory third-party insurance is mostly included in the registration cost, except in NSW, QLD, and the ACT.
  • Warranty – most vehicles bought above $3,000 already include a warranty for the engine and gearbox for a specified distance travelled. Choose companies that offer this feature, and don’t fail to read the terms and conditions.

What is the best type of vehicle to buy for tourists in Australia?

The vehicle you buy depends on where you're going, the type of adventure you wish to engage in while in the country, and the creature comforts you expect. If I may add, factor in your budget as well. Now, let’s see the options available to you.

A four-wheel drive (4WD or 4x4)

A 4WD is not the cheapest option for you, but it is undoubtedly the best vehicle for off-road adventures, water crossings, desert safaris, and exploits to the Bushland. 

The price range can run from $3,000 to $15,000, depending on many variables and whether the car is equipped or not. Some 4x4 vehicles even come furnished with a rooftop tent. In Australia, you will mostly find these models – Ford Explorer, Jeep Cherokee, Mitsubishi Pajero, Nissan Pathfinder, Nissan Patrol, Toyota Land Cruiser, to name a few.   

A campervan

What’s a road trip if you’re not on a campervan, right? Well, yeah, but don't fall victim to circa '70 air-cooled VW Kombis. They may give you the perfect hippie look but are not the smartest idea for travelling to remote and rugged destinations. Their parts would be way too hard to find and expensive to buy, too.

Some of the better options are Ford Econovan, Mazda E2000, Nissan Urvan, and Toyota HiAce. Expect to spend from $3,000 to $6,000, depending on the equipment and creature comforts that comes with the vehicle, newness, and other variables. 

A popular vehicle

There’s wisdom in buying a vehicle in the make and model that’s common in Australia. The car’s parts will be abundant, thus cheap, which will be a blessing in case of a car breakdown in remote regions. 

Prices will be within $3,000-$5,000 for Ford Falcon, Mitsubishi LancerSubaru OutbackToyota Camry, and similar models. You may check out our separate articles on the highlighted models – just click on the links.

What’s the best time to buy a car in Australia?

Buy a product when supply is high and demand is low – the same law applies to backpacker car deals. More tourists are leaving than those arriving between April and September, which means that more cars are available at a much lower price during that period.

The catch, of course, is that if you were one of the potential buyers in this market segment, then you would not come to Australia during these lean or off-season months, right? But, hey, if you have an Aussie-based friend who can negotiate things for you before prices spike sky-high, then that’s another way to take advantage of this window of opportunity. 

We hope we have provided you with useful info for your upcoming trip to Australia. Stay tuned for similar blogs and keep yourself updated by signing up with – it’s free, no strings attached!

By Jeannette Salanga (JMSL)