Car registration is one of the most common expiry dates Australians forget, and one of the costliest.
Over the past decade, all Australian states and territories have phased out registration stickers for private cars and light commercial vehicles.
The brightly coloured labels, previously a staple of everyone’s windscreen, were not only a certification of roadworthiness but also served to remind motorists as to when their registration would be due for renewal.
As the labels have been phased out, an increasing number of motorists have found themselves being caught out driving unregistered vehicles.
The New South Wales government caught 5440 motorists driving an unregistered vehicle in January alone and raised $4 million in fines.
And motoring organisations in South Australia have reported a doubling in the number of fines issued each month since car registration stickers were abandoned in 2011-12.
GetReminded co-founder Tim Nicholas said the demise of car registration stickers in the past decade meant the only reminder motorists now received was an email or letter in the post that was easy to set aside and forget.
“And then you couple that with the way in which the police can now scan your car registration plate and quickly identify you as someone that perhaps hasn’t paid your car registration on time – and pull you over and fine you on the spot,” he told The New Daily.
The courts are known for offering no leniency when it comes to appealing against car registration fines, with New South Wales charging light-vehicle owners $697 for driving without valid registration, and Victoria and South Australia charging $826 and $509 respectively.
You used to have a constant reminder of when your registration was due when the date was proudly displayed on your windscreen. If you’re worried about forgetting to renew your rego, here’s what you can do . . .
The transport authorities in every state and territory have tools on their websites where you can punch in your car’s registration number and get the expiry date, along with other information in some cases.
Set a calendar reminder
Once you know the exact date, simply popping a reminder in your smartphone or tablet calendar app is an easy way to be reminded that your registration is coming up for renewal.
If you think you might need a bit of prodding, you can schedule several reminders in the lead-up to the due date to make sure you never find yourself accidentally driving an unregistered vehicle.
Source your own sticker
A quick internet search will provide you with a number of different retailers offering various reminder stickers you can put on your car.
Designs and prices are as wide and varied as the types of cars on the road. Alternately, you can make your own with a blank sticker and a marking pen, just make sure you’ve got the right date and you’re good to go.
The other dates Australians are forgetting
Second to car registration on the list of our dates we’re most likely to forget are insurance policies expiry dates.
Mr Nicholas said he believed this was because people were developing a better understanding of ‘loyalty taxes’, which refer to the widespread practice among banks, insurers and utility providers of charging existing customers higher prices than new customers.
“If you have an insurance policy with company A, and you’ve been with them for a few years, and they just keep sending you a renewal every year, and you keep paying it, then you’re probably paying over the odds,” Mr Nicholas said.
Setting a reminder well before your insurance expiry date will allow you to shop around and ensure you’re getting the best deal. Try looking up your exact policy as though you were a new customer . . . you might be surprised.
Next on the list is passport renewals. While COVID has kept Australians’ passports firmly locked away, failing to renew a passport can be just as costly as it is stressful.
“Passports go for five or 10 years for most people – and that is so far off in the future that you kind of go, ‘Look I’ve renewed it now, I can forget about it’,” Mr Nicholas said.
But this attitude could be a recipe for disaster if travellers attempt to book a holiday after the expiry date, with some countries also requiring passports to have a minimum length of validity.
The fourth date most forgotten is mobile phone contracts, which also tend to be much longer than car registration and insurance policies; therefore, it’s easier for them to slip off the radar.
Mr Nicholas said people often bought a new handset as part of a bundled data plan lasting 24 or 36 months, and then remained on overpriced plans once the deal expired rather than taking their handset to a cheaper plan elsewhere.
“If you can look for better ways to save two, three, four, five hundred bucks a year across those items, then it’s worthwhile putting that money back in your own pocket,” Mr Nicholas said. “It will add up.”
How do you keep track of important dates? Which of these are you most likely to forget?
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