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So you want to know how to find the owner of a car in Australia? It turns out that, unless you’re some kind of private investigator or computer hacker, you’re going to have to ask the police for help, because they are the only ones who can just punch a registration number into a computer and come up with a name and address.
You cannot legally find out the registered owner’s details in Australia just by using a registration number, for example.
In fact, thanks to the modern cameras in police cars, they are constantly collecting and checking that information - instantly spotting stolen cars for example - as they drive past you in traffic. Clever.
If you do find a third-party site that says it can obtain the details of someone by entering their registration details, be aware that this is not legal and probably not legitimate.
When you start to think about the reasons that people might want to find out who owns a car or be able to find the address and name of someone who owns a car, it quickly becomes clear why this might be a bad idea.
Say someone has cut you off in traffic or engaged in some form of road rage with you. Naturally this will make some people very angry and others hell bent on revenge. If it was easy to find out online where someone lived, by finding out the home address their car is registered at, we might have some serious problems on our hands.
If you see someone in a car behaving badly or causing an accident or, god forbid, taking part in a hit-and-run situation, you would, of course, write down their number plate and pass it on to the police, who do have instant access to that information and would act on that with the full force of the law.
All this doesn’t mean you can’t undertake rego checks of some kinds on cars, particularly if you are in the process of buying one second hand.
Sites like checkrego.com.au are quick to point out that “this service does not provide a registered owner's details”, but using a registration number or what some people call a licence number or the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) you can obtain “a detailed vehicle history complete record set from government sources with write-offs, thefts, financial obligations with contact details, vehicle details and registration status”.
You can also find out if a vehicle has been subject to a Takata airbag recall.
In Queensland, you can visit Queensland Government to search for a registration, again “this service does not provide a registered owner's details”.
You can, however, check registration status and expiry date, the original make, model and body shape attached to that registration and the purpose of use - ie private or commercial. And you can see the inspection due date, if applicable.
In NSW, you’ll want to visit NSW Service where you can conduct a free registration check that includes the registration expiry date, whether the registration is suspended or cancelled, any registration restrictions, any registration concessions (additional charges that might apply when transferred to a new owner) and the Compulsory Third Party insurer and policy expiry date.
The NSW site also warns that: "Service NSW and Transport for NSW are aware of a Third Party website offering vehicle registration checks. This site charges a fee for the registration check. Customers should note that Transport for NSW and Service NSW do not have any connection with other websites or services.”
If you’re checking on a car with Victorian registration you’ll need to visit vic roads.
The VicRoads Registration Check is a free service that can be used to confirm a vehicle's details and registration status.
On a National basis, you can also use the Personal Properties Security Register (PPSR) service, which is a national register for recording security interests in personal property, including vehicles.
You can use it to check if there are any security interests on the vehicle (for example an outstanding debt), vehicle details (such as make and model) registration status stolen status and written off status.
If you’re in WA, you’ll want to check out Department of Transport.