Owning or buying a written-off light vehicle

If you own a light vehicle that's been badly damaged or you're buying a secondhand light vehicle, here's everything you need to know about written-off light vehicles.

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Check if a vehicle has been written-off

If you're planning to buy a vehicle, you can check if it's been written off in NSW or interstate by phoning 13 22 13 or visiting a service centre.

This is a free service. All you need is the registration plate number of the vehicle.

For a small fee, you can also get printable vehicle history report for NSW vehicles online through Service NSW

What is a written-off light vehicle?

If your light vehicle is assessed as a ‘total loss’ it must be written-off. This applies to light vehicles (up to 4.5 tonnes Gross Vehicle Mass), including light passenger and commercial vehicles, light trailers, light caravans, and motor bikes that are up to 15 years old.

Written-off light vehicles cannot be re-registered in NSW, except in limited circumstances.

Buying or selling a written-off vehicle

The vehicle can still be bought and sold, but only used for parts or scrap metal.

Vehicle re-birthing

Vehicle re-birthing is illegal. A vehicle is ‘re-birthed’ when identifiers from a written-off vehicle are used to re-identify a stolen vehicle, or stolen parts are used to repair a written-off vehicle.

Vehicle identifiers are:

  • vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • chassis number
  • engine number
  • compliance plate.

Re-birthed vehicles are often poorly repaired and can be a safety risk.

What happens when a light vehicle is written-off?

When a light vehicle is written-off, the vehicle is recorded on the NSW Written-Off Light Vehicle Register (WOLVR) and the registration is cancelled. You’ll be notified of this in writing.

The WOLVR improves road safety and reduces the incidence of light vehicle theft, re-birthing and related crime.

The compulsory third party (CTP) insurance for the vehicle will continue for 4 business days after the registration cancellation date.

Hail-damaged written-off light vehicles

Light vehicles written off solely due to hail damage that are retained by the registered operator are treated differently to other written-off vehicles.

If this situation applies to you, ensure your written-off vehicle assessor notifies Transport for NSW about your vehicle correctly.

The registration is not cancelled and no restrictions are placed on the registration. However, the Certificate of Registration will show that the vehicle was previously written off.

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