As seen on:

SMH Logo News Logo

Call 1300 303 181

Australia’s Best New Car News, Reviews and Buying Advice

The End Of The Rego Sticker?

Hot water, soap, razor blades and wet towels, all useful in getting last year’s rego sticker off the windscreen (mind you, leaving a ‘curl’ on the corner seems to do the trick, too). This is a routine that has been followed by every motorist since 1932 when registration stickers were first introduced
But this may be a thing of the past for most Australians as three states have already done away with them, or are in the process of doing so.

Let’s look at the pros and cons.

Yes! Good Idea because:-

1. It Saves Money
NSW claims it will save over half a million dollars a year in printing costs alone. The West Australian Government thinks it saves a million a year.

2. No Longer Necessary
Police cars are now equipped with electronic camera techniques that enable quick playback on whether a targetted car is currently registered or not.

3. Saves The Hassle Of Removing Old Stickers
No argument there

No! Bad Idea because:-

1. People Will Forget To Renew
OK, they mean to renew, don’t, but don’t get ‘sticker shock’ by suddenly seeing their out of date sticker on the windscreen.

2. People Will ‘Forget’ To Renew
They don’t really mean to renew, and they hope to get away with it. Some may (which reduces the overall savings benefit), but most won’t, and they’ll get fined in the process.

3. Extra Police Time Doing Rego Checks
That probably won’t be the case as the proliferation of automatic number plate recognition cameras will make the task more streamlined with or without sticker evidence (and the extra income from fines should help, too!)

4. Increase In Unregistered Vehicles Impacts On The Innocent
If there is a significant increase in unregistered vehicles on the road it could prove expensive for innocent people. An innocent driver involved in an accident with an unregistered vehicle may have to pay for his own damage or lose a no claim bonus, mechanics doing a test drive need to be sure that the car is registered- and there’s no visible means, no third party insurance will even impact on innocent pedestrians.

Whilst it is quick and easy to check on the currency of registration of a vehicle through the state’s website, it is still nowhere near as easy as looking on a windscreen.
All the states’ Road Ministers have confirmed that they do, and will send out sufficient renewal notices, either by email, post, text or all. (The WA authorities have now implemented text reminders where possible).
Motoring organizations have generally welcomed this initiative, but one disquieting fact has emerged from one participating state.
Western Australia were first to scrap rego stickers, in 2010. But an RAC of WA poll recently undertaken discovered that 70 percent of West Australian drivers prefer to have a rego sticker on their car to remind them of an up and coming cost.
If the public don’t embrace it, then it’s a real problem. Are they right to reject it? Will they get used to it? Will other states follow suit? (Tasmania looks to be the next) What do you think?  If you live in SA or WA we’d like to know how it has affected you. If not, are you going to welcome it?
Have your say by clicking below.


  1. Gay Reid says:

    I live in WA. I’ve left my old rego on the windscreen, so I still get the reminder the month it is due every time I drive.

    June 25th, 2012 at 11:53 am

  2. russell brown says:

    My daughter was fined $600 dollars for not having a rego label on her SA reg car by a victorian policeman who considered it to be unregistered. Hopefully it will be withdrawn.

    June 25th, 2012 at 12:02 pm

  3. Daniel Jones says:


    I live in WA and I can’t tell you how much better it is, not to have to worry about replacing that sticker.

    I’m sure that little bit less printing of those stickers is better for the environment too, not having to waste the plastic (or whatever it was made out of)…

    Quite honestly if people need that sticker to remind them to pay their renewal, how do they cope with all their other bills, Phone, Gas, Water, Rates, Electricity, I mean really?

    That RAC poll was taken on a very small percentage of people in WA (I think it was around 1500 people), so I’m not so sure how it really represents 70% of West Australians, reminds me of Top Gear asking the audience of the TV show questions and then suggestion that it is representative of Britain…


    June 25th, 2012 at 12:05 pm

  4. Gabe says:

    Hooray another way for non complying motorists to get away with not paying their way and for decent law obeying drivers to be slugged with enormous costs when in an accident not their fault.

    June 25th, 2012 at 12:21 pm

  5. Warren Thomas says:

    you forgot about a mate that may brorrow the car

    you forgot the passengers are now not cover by ins.

    make it easy to use stolen plates

    June 25th, 2012 at 12:24 pm

  6. Peter says:

    I’ve owned my current car since 2008. It came with a rego sticker in place. When rego was next due, I took it off but haven’t yet put a valid rego sticker on. The only drama I had was a telling off by a police officer at a random breath test about one year ago – and probably only because it was around 1 am and he had not much else to do.

    However, I will hope to get a reminder letter. I like to keep all the paper work for reference.

    June 25th, 2012 at 1:15 pm

  7. Ian says:

    So im wondering if you get your gas and electric bills delivered or you just remember. A retiring court judge did say after the cut out the stickers more of his court time was taken up processing people that had not paid there car rego and the police start from day 1 of issuing the fines,a fine money grab if you ask me

    June 25th, 2012 at 2:05 pm

  8. Chris Dagg says:

    What about the poor guy who services your car, he wont be able to test drive your car after servicing it unless he has a trade plate. ( He will have to assume that every car that comes into his workshop is unregistered) unless you bring your rego papers in when you have your car serviced. All this means more cost to the motorist. I am sure your insurance (both third party and comprehensive) is invalid if the car is unregistered. Silly idea to do away with rego labels, pleas re-think this one.

    June 25th, 2012 at 2:34 pm

  9. David says:

    As a police officer who has been performing Highway Patrol duties in NSW for many years, I have a good knowledge of the pros and cons of this issue, and can therefore say with authority that it is a BAD idea.

    It makes it harder for police to do the task of detecting unregistered vehicles, it leaves drivers of vehicles that are not their own liable for potentially thousands of dollars in damages if at fault in an accident driving an unregistered car, and doesnt help to remind owners to register their cars. As for recieving the renewals in the mail, so many people tell me they didnt get it (lost mail?), or have moved and not advised Roads and Maritime they have, or have gotten the notice 4-6 weeks beforehand and just put it away somewhere and forgotten about it. The reminder letter sent amonth later doesnt seem to work either.

    Sending SMS or email renewal reminders may work for the law abiding owner out there (providing they have an email address or a mobile phone, and senior citizens may not), but what about the person who wants to avoid paying rego or cant because he is unlicensed or disqualified or the like? The lack of a label makes it easier for him to claim some type of ignorance or that he/she honestly forgot, especially if they are driving a car that they dont admit to owning. The label is the final reminder for ANYONE, police and intending driver or owner, to see if the car is registered, and if there isnt a current one displayed, then checks can be made by police, and further inquiries SHOULD be made by anyone intending to drive it. Yes, a lot of people are too lazy or disorganised to ensure that the current label goes on, and yes Peter, there are fines for this, but the majority of police are kind enough just to warn people about it (and yes I get sick and tired of telling people at RBT to put it on), but the alternative of no labels will make things infinitely harder in my job than just some lazy person not putting the current label on, and come on, its not THAT hard to take off.
    The vast majority of police vehicles are not, and will not be fitted with number plate recognition (ANPR) equipment. Only Highway Patrol vehicles get it fitted, and of these vehicles, not all of them have or will get this equipment either.
    Unlawful use of unregistered cars will increase in NSW (as has happened in WA and SA) and thus the amount of collisions involving them. This will make us ALL pay more for registration, as a not unsubstantial amount of what we pay is used to assist in partial compensation for persons involved in accidents with unregistered vehicles.
    Police were asked by the then RTA their thoughts on this issue abt 2 years ago and they were told why this is a bad idea, I personally making as much fuss then as I could about it. Despite this, they have gone about and went their own way, no doubt transfixed by the thoughts of the savings. Shame we will now need to spend many times this saving fitting more police vehicles with ANPR equipment, and the average motorist more on their rego. Typically stupid govt decision…….

    June 25th, 2012 at 3:01 pm

  10. 251 says:

    Russell, there are two possible offences which could apply;

    Code 2125 , Own or use unregistered motor vehicle with 2 axles (other than a motor cycle) is code 2125 and the penalty is $611.

    Based on your reference to a $600 fine, I’ll assume your daughter was issued an infringement notice for this.

    If SA no longer issues rego stickers & the vehicle registration was current at the time the ticket was written, don’t pay it. Have your daughter return the infringement notice with an accompanying letter to the OIC of the station the ticket writer is from (cc Civic Compliance Victoria) and request that the notice be withdrawn. A car check at the roadside should have confirmed registration status and alleviated writing the ticket, but given I wasn’t there at the time I can’t comment on why the ticket was written. Any member will know that a current rego sticker on the windscreen isn’t difinitive evidence of registration status, as registration can be suspended or cancelled for numerous reasons. I’ve lost count of the number of cancelled/suspended vehicles I’ve come accross with valid rego stickers.

    If however SA does still issues rego stickers and the vehicle was registered then the correct offence code is,

    2119 Own or use unregistered motor vehicle with 2 axles (other than a motor cycle) and the penalty is $122.00

    June 25th, 2012 at 3:52 pm

  11. BrianH says:

    Once again the capable amongst us are being tarred with the brush of the lowest common denominator (just like the ‘speed’ debate). Those of us who can indeed ‘pay our bills ontime’ are being threatend by the laziness of those who cannot organise themselves or their lives.
    Yes, I very much take the point that people will be uninsured if these lazy people don’t renew by due date. That is the worst part. I would love NOT to have to replace that infernal sticker each year and it looks UGLY anyway. What are these people talking about? Who needs a sticker staring them in the face to remember to pay a bill? Set a reminder for yourself ferrchrisssakkkes!! heard of MS Outlook or the SMS TXT system? Hmmm? Are you telling me these people need to put a sticker on the front door of their house to remind themselves to pay the rates notice? Do they put a sticker on the children to remind them to pay the school fees?? A sticker on the TV screen to remind them to pay Foxtel? What is it with these people that need a sticker on their car? Jheeeehz.!!
    And these are the class of people to whom we are assigning the reponsibility to be insured if they hit our kids in their cars? Major fines or JAIL should be enacted for such irresponsibility of no insurance on a car! Climbing down off my soapbox 🙂

    June 25th, 2012 at 3:58 pm

  12. 251 says:

    David, I’m with you ALL THE WAY on this issue. As you are well aware, ANPR is very expensive. It’s also an expense the Police budget could do without. As you also very rightly pointed out, whist the technology is being taken up, it will only be fitted to a very small percentage of Hwy cars. Given the very limited savings to be gained by discontinuing rego stickers and the enormous risks associated with the proven increases in unregistered vehicles on the road which will result, the alarm bells should be ringing loud and clear in favour of retaining the sticker system. The sticker enables easy checking of the reg expiry date. My own renewal notice didn’t arrive in the mail once. I only discovered the rego was about to expire whilst washing the car one weekend. Another major concern with the idea is for the welfare of vehicle occupants of an unregistered vehicle which is involved in a collision. If they are injured, they aren’t covered by any insurance, even if they are unaware the vehicle is unregistered. It makes it very hard for people to easilly check in the absence of the sticker. Sure Medicare will cover their hospital treatment, but what about serious injuries where post hospital rehabilitation, specialist care, modifications to the house or a wheelchair is required. No insurance means the injured party has to pay for it themselves. It is going to save a few hundred thousand dollars for the registration authority, but will cost society in general, tens of millions of dollars more. It’s a very bad idea.

    June 25th, 2012 at 4:23 pm

  13. David Couchman says:

    The letter from David the police officer pretty much says it all but it is typicall of the powers that be not to be interested in considering the thoughts of people that know what they are talking about.

    June 25th, 2012 at 5:15 pm

  14. Wal Pywell says:

    I think this is a bad idea overall. Not only about the ‘reminder’ nature of the sticker, but the likelihood of confusion in other states as already mentioned above.
    One good idea though is to own several cars of similar make and colour and correctly register only one of them. Just put the plates on the car you are driving. The police will check the rego on their computer and unless they pull you over and check the engine or VIN number, they will not know that the car you are driving may not be the registered one….Saves on the rego costs!

    June 25th, 2012 at 5:25 pm

  15. Kevin K says:

    What a Ridiculous idea, its the first indication to any police officer that a car may be unregistered, with the number of unreg vehicles on the road today there shouldnt be any penny pinching by any Government. As an ex police officer with Qld Police Main Roads Section, you just dont realise how many people drive unregd vehiclees on the road today, with false plates and labels to avoid detection of one way or another

    June 25th, 2012 at 7:27 pm

  16. Peter says:

    While many of the arguments for retaining a sticker are valid, the argument that it shows if the vehicle is registered is not valid. Registration could have been cancelled or someone could intentionally or unintentionally take the sticker that comes with the NSW renewal notice and attach it to the vehicle without paying the registration fee. Since the presence of a sticked proves nothing, it severely diminishes the case for retaining the sticker.

    June 25th, 2012 at 7:27 pm

  17. Dave W says:

    the system in NSW is just so broken.its time to put inspectors on the road to get unroadworthy uninsured and pay for road use at the bowser.the idea of electronic tollways just dont work and it always been a pain for us in the bush-and just another joke that RMS cant fix.Im not adding in road design or condition as thats another bigger issue.dealing with the old RTA was such a lucky dip with nobody on top of the system.

    Each time it looks to get better they just cant help themselves.
    people that dont know better think that the rego and speed camera catch the deadbeats.
    it was great entertainment to see the cars and trucks parked on the roadside around newcastle main roads,with the screwdriver revenue police and tow trucks keeping the roads safe for hoons and druggies.

    my workmate got a letter from RMS to inform him of his lience cancelation at close of buisness today.-posted last monday and recieved friday-on saturday he rang to sort it out but as it was a weekend and nodody could help him with the issue he have to front up monday and find out why-they could bother to inform him why in the letter.,after 3 hours and a borrowed work vehicle his truck lience was down graded to a LR but if he pesents the correct medical certificate that the box comercial use ticked instead of private use he can pay to get it back after paying for a driving test.

    I delt with someone in WA over a Wreck that wasnt fitted with an imobiliser-so NSW isnt just the only flawed state.the expected me to travel to perth to hand over number plates and apply to be trained as an aproved alarm installer to a $50 magna so I could strip it out for scrap ister transfered rego over to victoria and had to go over a pit inspection-a few days latter it couldnt make it to newcastle due to oil leaks,clutch and suspension bush failures.

    Wal Pywell
    i can remember when the flip windows would get swapped from old holdens and a door was worth more than a car.rego labels stuck to plastic sheets to stop them from being damaged/easier to clean the window.

    The idea was that vin numbers on display in the front screen would reduce these issues-the last few cars i looked at had the body numbers screwed to the cab and vin number was a bar code.I got a parking ticket in indiana in the 90’s in a californian rental car.they used the bar code vin number and the ticket included all details of the car and the owners.

    when I go to NZ and see their system of 6 month WOF inspections-rego payed at the post office-and insurance to cover you against the multitude of unregoed vehicles and unliecenced drivers.home made cars without chasis numbers and plate buy a car the rego papers come with a list of all the owners,inspectors and the milage at each inspection.the rego is put on hold when you not using it and you get another WOF when it suits you.

    June 25th, 2012 at 9:13 pm

  18. Just Joe says:

    When it comes down to it, regardless what the public say or the Police bodies or supposed subject matter experts, we all know that the lowest common denominator, the self-righteous parliamentary member who wants to make a name for themselves will always win out in the end by waving the cost saving flag.

    So what is the cost to the community when an unregistered car plows into a family sedan killing or injuring the occupants? What will their first line of defence be when challenged why the vehicle is unregistered – I didn’t get my notice in the mail and I’m too much of an ignorant moron to think for myself.

    The various governments make an absolute killing for the poor motorist via rego & licencing fees, speeding and parking fines that the issuing of a small label becomes such a huge cost impost. If they want to reduce overheads how about offering a discount to those who pay their rego’s early and on-line, thus avoiding the need for staff in the multipurpose government shopfronts.

    The question as to the validity of the need for a rego label boils down to the reason why they were first introduced, that is to clearly identify that the vehicle in question was registered to be on the road and a one point mechanically roadworthy. This single factor should be sufficient reason for everyone to be satisfied that the little label serves a far greater purpose than being an inconvenience to a whingey few who find it a somewhat difficult task to remove and replace the label each year.

    The Rego Label serves a number of other purposes which have been expressed in other postings especially in the public enforcement arena. I agree, the humble rego label to the astute Police Officer, can indicate more than just a vehicle out of rego and may raise suspicions about the vehicles occupants and the vehicle itself. We have enough do-gooders who after an accident involving an unregistered vehicle will blame the police for not being in a position to have detected the vehicle prior to the accident and thus prevented the accident and possible deaths. Listen up people you cannot have it both ways.

    For me the Rego Label serves a real purpose, it shows to anyone that my vehicle is registered and has the legal right to be operated on the roads of this great nation.

    Why make this issue into something its not. It is simply a COST SAVINGS measure in the government shopfronts without any consideration as to the flow-on impacts in other areas of government or the community. Oh and of course the little buggers in parliament who introduce these half-arsed ideas are not impacted in any way because someone, ie you and I, pay for their vehicle, its upkeep and registration, as well as the public servant in the government office whose responsibility it is to ensure the governments cars are kept registered. Love to see what would happen if a ministers vehicle misses rego renewal without a label and is involved in a major accident. Whose fault will it be then, the minister driving the car or the poor public servant who didn’t renew the rego??

    June 25th, 2012 at 11:05 pm

  19. Russell says:

    To David (the policeman)…re: your comment about the lack of numberplate recognition…..surely the police just run a check on the plates anyhow?

    Oh, and I’m all for getting rid of the rego labels, especially for motorcycles… there are few places on a modern motorcycle to display them legally.

    June 26th, 2012 at 2:51 am

  20. Rob H says:

    Just scrap reg fee altogether and place a surcharge on fuel approx .1 of 1 cent,ie $.001 per litre and scrap registration departments. Save buckets of money & no hassles

    June 26th, 2012 at 7:19 am

  21. Shaun H says:

    Here we go again, what is it with people and change??? It is like daylight savings , it will fade my curtains ohhhh the mechanic can’t drive my car!!!! Honestly I live in SA and not having to worry about getting an old sticker off and put a new one on is a god send. I still get my rego reminder in the mail and then further reminders as the date draws nearer. I don’t need a sticker on my power box or water meter to remind me those bills are due why do I need one on my car. As far as the fine situation in Victoria I have heard lots of these stories most turn out to be just that, but in the one factual case I have heard of the fine was withdrawn with a copy of the rego papers and the new SA laws along with the fine being sent in. It takes awhile for new laws to reach everyone obviously just look at this forum.

    June 26th, 2012 at 10:25 am

  22. David (the policeman) says:

    To Russell,

    Yes, we can check if a car is registered by three ways. Firstly the ANPR equipment. However, it cannot check interstate plates, refers to a database that can be up to 3 days old and often misreads (and doesnt check old NSW Bicentennial plates as the letters sit on top of the numbers.)
    Secondly we can also check a cars registration by asking via radio for a check to be done, BUT, when every car we will see come next year wont have a label are we going to want to or be able to check EVERY car????
    Prior to the introduction of efficient mobile data (MDT) equipment, the third method, abt 10 years ago, approx 1% of all the cars in NSW were unregistered. This equated to 80-100,000 cars on NSW roads all being driven around at any given time with a statistically inevitable destiny of many of them having at fault collisions with other law abiding motorists (particularly when added risk factors for some of the unregistered vehicle users are thrown in like them being unlicensed due to a propensity for traffic offences like speeding/drink driving, etc) There were so many, I used to detect them just on making random chance checks of a vehicle going by with last years rego labels on them. Some were out by as much as 5 or 6 years. It got easier to find them around the end of a given year as of course the percentage of vehicles with that years current label would be declining. There was a limit to how many times you could tie up your radio network asking for checks of regos, but with the introduction of MDT’s in police vehicles, that meant every car fitted with them could check the RTA’s database as many times as they like. I found that I could detect as many as 30 unregistered cars per 8 hour shift (and thats just with me, with my two fingered typing, slowly punching in registrations of cars that passed me stopped by the roadside, from time to time intermittently during the shift, and then taking time to deal with them.) Thats a staggering amount I’m sure most will agree based on random intermittent checks on only one given road at one given time)
    But now with labels about to be scrapped, the clock is about to be turned back as it were and the vast majority of police (abt 88 percent) DO NOT have vehicles with MANPR equipment and never will, and they do not use their MDT’s on a regular basis (as they go offline when not regulalrly used) How can they or now I make a decision without any other indicating factors to check a vehicle from the approximately 5 MILLION vehicles on NSW roads without any indication from a label?????

    Seriously, how hard is it to put on your new label on a vehicle? As for taking it off it takes me about 10 seconds on a car that has been garaged often (less sun to degrade the label), to about 2 minutes for one thats seen some sun with degraded plastic. And come on Russell, I’ve owned many motorbikes and there are any number of ways and holders you can use to display them legally. It just takes some tiny responsibility and a couple of minutes of your time at most to put them on when you pay your rego every year. Then hopefully the law abiding out there can have the label as a final reminder of when the rego is due, and the dirtbags deliberately driving unregistered cars can be found and taken off the road BEFORE they have an accident with YOU or I, and or rego costs will not increase.

    I will end this post with a registration horror story I was involved in-
    I attended an accident abt 10 years ago involving a mature woman who ran up the back of a tradies ute. Not a particulalrly serious accident, but unfortunately this woman had moved 2 years before and not let the RTA know. The rego renewal, along with a 1 month later “If your not going to register it where’s our plates” letter went to the old address and her rego label from when it was last renewed (when her BMW X5 was new!) was still firmly attached to her rego papers out of sight in the glovebox. Now intially the two tradie types in the ute seemed fine and both said they were uninjured. But somewhere after I had told the woman that as her car was unregistered she had no greenslip insurance, and her comprehensive insurance, although current, wouldnt be honoured by her insurer as her car was unregistered, and they seeing that she garaged her BMW in a nice north shore address, these two tradies came down with a bad case of Mediterranean Neck. This was apparent as I recieved a summons to give evidence at a civil claims court hearing about 5 years later, and it seemed that they could no longer work due to some pain in both their necks and backs. The amount offered by the Motor Accidents Autority’s fund was insufficient for them, and each now sought some astronomical sum to compensate them for not ever working again. I asked the womans solicitor to keep me posted on the outcome of the court case and I understand this poor woman lost her house.
    This is one reason why registration and taking care of your personal business is important.

    June 26th, 2012 at 10:55 am

  23. Mike says:

    With online payments in NSW, having a current sticker just means you paid last year. On the RMS website you can now enter a registration number and it will tell you the colour and type of car and the rego expiry date. So every smart phone could be a rego checker.

    June 26th, 2012 at 12:35 pm

  24. brando says:

    “Safety” cameras… alias… “Speed” cameras (state government poker machines raising $1mill hidden tax per week each location) are now digital and the data is processed in milliseconds. they have the ability obviously to check the rego of every car that passes every main intersection (or location) in the state. those with no Rego… dodge every main intersection??
    at less than $50.000 these cameras will just about put the cops out of a job. If it is $612.00 fine in Vic over $1000 in QLD, the uninsured/unregistered can end up becoming very large debtors to the Sate in a very short time.
    If RMS/VICROADS/SAT/WAT/QT etc. save $millions per year by not issuing rego labels, are they passing that onto the motorists?

    When will Govt privatise rego like telstra/ power/gas utilities…. they could make some more cost cuts.
    With all the different “vanity” plates available in every state now it is getting harder to work out where cars come from.
    It was interesting in WA, the plates have the prefix of the town where they were registered…. so people could tell if you were “from out of town”

    Whatever happens the taxpayer/motorist is always the looser.

    June 26th, 2012 at 9:33 pm

  25. David (the policeman) says:


    There are holes in idea that safety (cough cough) cameras at intersections can check for unregistered vehicles that you could drive a semi through. Yes they can detect one, but how will the Powers That Be determine (and prove in court) at a later date if its being legitemately driven (for the purpose of repair for/or re-registration)?

    And if the owner no longer lives at the last registered address (which may have caused him/her to forget to register it) how much time is going to be spent trying to find this person?
    Unregistered cars are also commonly no longer owned by the last registered owner (especially if he/she is a dirtbag who doesnt want to be found or is a disqualified/cancelled/suspended driver whom the RMS wont “do business” with and register their car) and how does one catch up with the owner/driver in these cases? Its a bit like the whole issue of speed cameras being a deterrence to speed (more coughing….) argument.

    Please, dont get me started on all these wierd and wonderful coloured plates the RMS is churning out to anyone with the $’s that are so hard to read with the naked eye, especially with all of them having some reflective process they they give them that makes cameras read them, though rendering them invisible at some angles to the human eye. I saw a pink on black NSW set for the first time last night, and the common silver on black ones are awful. Money making at any cost…….

    June 29th, 2012 at 10:29 am