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Understanding motor vehicle search results

On your search certificate, look at the information under the heading ‘PPSR Registration Details’. The results will either show no security interest or other registration (like the sample certificate below left), or one or more registrations (image at right below). Note: ‘Registration Details’ refers to the PPSR registration, not the number plate or road registration of a vehicle.

Sample search certificate with no outstanding debt

If your certificate says, ‘There is no security interest or other registration kind registered on the PPSR against the serial number in the search criteria details’, this means there is no outstanding debt recorded on the PPSR against that vehicle’s serial number (such as the VIN).

Sample Search Certificate outstanding debt

Your search shows one or more registrations. This means there is outstanding debt on the PPSR against the vehicle’s serial number (such as the VIN).


What does this mean for you?

If your search shows that no outstanding debt is registered on the PPSR for the vehicle you are interested in buying and you then choose to buy or lease the vehicle on the day of the search or the next day, you usually take the vehicle free of encumbrances or debt.

If your search shows there is outstanding debt registered on the PPSR for the vehicle you are interested in buying and you then choose to buy or lease the vehicle—if the seller doesn’t pay off the debt, there is a very real chance the finance company listed on the PPSR can turn up on your doorstep and take the motor vehicle away.

Exceptions to the usual rule apply in certain circumstances. For more information visit Searching and buyer protections

How do I query the details of a PPSR registration?

Contact the secured party or parties listed under ‘Secured Party details’ on the search certificate. A secured party identifies the person or organisation that holds an interest in the motor vehicle.

What other details does my search certificate show?

Your PPSR certificate also provides information from the National Exchange of Vehicle and Driver Information System (NEVDIS). This information helps you to check the accuracy of the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), serial or chassis number, or information about the vehicle from other sources.

It also gives you any data held on NEVDIS about whether the vehicle is stolen or has been written-off. NEVDIS is a national database of all registered vehicles in Australia, compiled from data provided by state and territory road agencies.  To get further information on details in the Additional Motor Vehicle section, you can speak to the seller, who can contact the state or territory road agency about enquiries, errors and corrections.

How do I know if the vehicle is stolen or has been written off?

View the ‘Additional Motor Vehicle Details – NEVDIS’ section. This includes ‘NEVDIS Written-off Vehicle Notification’ details and ‘NEVDIS Stolen Vehicle Notification’ details.

Written-off Indicator

‘Not recorded as written off’ means there is no NEVDIS data to indicate the vehicle has been written off. If the vehicle is recorded as written off, there are two types of write-off. A vehicle is a statutory write-off if it is declared as a total loss e.g. it has severe structural or other damage or deterioration that prevents it from being driven safely on a road. A vehicle is a repairable write-off if it has been assessed as being too costly to repair, but subject to state or territory laws, it may be re-registered for road use if it has passed a vehicle safety and  identity check.

This is an example of a written off notification:

NEVDIS Written-off Vehicle Notification:

NSW, 19 Mar 1997 Repairable Write-off

  • W14L [Water|Whole vehicle|Water (salt)]

A number of codes represent different forms of damage to a motor vehicle. See Understanding written-off vehicle codes

If there is information that the vehicle has been written off, you can contact the seller, who can query the written-off listing with the state or territory road agencies.

Stolen Vehicle Indicator

‘Not recorded as stolen’ means there is no NEVDIS data to indicate the vehicle has been stolen. If the vehicle is stolen, there are three possible stolen indicators: engine, vehicle and plate. They indicate that the vehicle or parts of the vehicle are recorded as stolen.

This is an example of a stolen notification:


NEVDIS Stolen Vehicle Notification:

Engine, 31 Jan 2008, QLD, POL JUR-Q-REFXXXXXXX

If there is a stolen listing you may wish to contact the seller, who can query the stolen information with Police.

Why didn’t my search return additional motor vehicle details?

If you see ‘No NEVDIS data is returned for the serial number you entered’, that means that the serial number, VIN or chassis number is not recorded on NEVDIS. Check that you have entered the number correctly. Otherwise it might mean that the vehicle has never or not recently been registered.

Double check the serial number, VIN or chassis number entered on your search against the registration papers. If they match, contact the seller who can ask the road transport authority to investigate further.

How do I know if the vehicle is currently road registered?

View the ‘State Vehicle Registered’ and ‘Registration Expiry’ fields to locate details of the vehicle’s road registration.

Ask to view a copy of the current registration papers to confirm the current registered owner of the vehicle, (or even ask the owner of the vehicle for proof of purchase). By viewing the registration papers you can also cross check the details on your search certificate, including the registration plate number, VIN, engine or chassis number, to ensure they match.

What else should I do before I buy a car?

If you want to have the vehicle inspected by a professional, ask your state road assistance association or motor traders association for a recommendation. Ask them to confirm the identity of the vehicle by checking the VIN or chassis number has not been tampered with.

Check the vehicle’s service manual for records of odometer readings to ensure they are correct and consistent.

What else do I need to know?

Keep your search details and search certificate safe. You will need your search number or search certificate number to retrieve your original search result or search certificate at a later time. Your search certificate can also be used as evidence in any dispute or legal matter.

A search certificate is your legal record

It is recommended that you choose to email or view and save a search certificate, even if your search returns no registrations. Your search certificate is an official and legal copy of your search and there is no additional fee for issuing a search certificate.

If any registrations contain attachments, links to the attachments are displayed on the screen. You will need to download the attachments by clicking on the link, store them with your search certificate. The attachments form part of the collateral details.

If you request a certificate to be emailed to you, any attachments associated with the registration will also be emailed.