What is the PPSR?
The Personal Properties Security Register, or PPSR, is the official, online database of secured property in Australia. It is the only register of its kind and is the one-stop-shop for checking security registered private property.
Any businesses with a security interest in a property can register with the PPSR to officially designate themselves as having certain legal rights to that property. The most common example and the one most relevant to us is of a lender who accepts a vehicle as collateral on a loan.
How can you use the PPSR?
The PPSR can be used in one of two ways:
- A business can use the PPSR to register their interest in a property.
- A person can check the PPSR prior to purchasing a car, boat, or other property to make sure it’s not financially encumbered.
For our purposes, we’re only interested in the second option.
Checking a registered motor vehicle on the PPSR will give you access to a detailed history report of that vehicle. This report will include information such as financial encumbrance, manufacturing details, any insurance claims or write-offs made against it, and more (see below).
To actually perform a check on the PPSR is very simple. Simply type either the vehicle’s registration number or VIN (see “How to find a car’s VIN”, below) into the search bar at the top of any page on this website, hit “search”, pay the nominal fee, and receive the report in seconds. It’s that simple.
Why should I check the PPSR?
It’s best to check the PPSR when purchasing a used vehicle, particularly if you’re purchasing it from an independent seller and not a dealer.
The PPSR report will include the following information:
- Car manufacturing history including make, model, and manufacturing year.
- The car’s engine number.
- Whether the vehicle is financially encumbered in a loan.
- Whether the car has ever been declared written off.
- Whether the car has ever been declared stolen.
All of this information will help you make an informed decision about whether to purchase a used vehicle. Dodgy backyard car sales can often leave people buying a car that’s not fully paid off, or was declared a write-off, or even sometimes stolen. A quick, cheap PPSR check will protect you against this.
What does it mean if the vehicle is encumbered?
If a car has been used as collateral as part of a loan and that loan is not yet paid off, the vehicle is said to be encumbered. What this means is that the business that controls the loan — a lending agent, for example — is legally entitled to reclaim the vehicle should the owner default on their payments or not meet their obligations.
An encumbered vehicle can be reclaimed regardless of who is in possession of the vehicle. If the original owner who got the loan sells the vehicle to someone else and then defaults on their payments, the lending agent can reclaim the vehicle from the new owner.
You purchase a used vehicle from Greg. The car is financially encumbered to Bob’s Loans. Greg defaults on his loan repayments, so Bob’s Loans takes the car from you as collateral.
This is why it’s so important to check the PPSR prior to purchasing a used vehicle. There’s no point spending the time, money, and effort into finding a buying a car only to have it taken away from you.
Tips and miscellaneous
HOW TO FIND THE VIN: A car’s VIN, or Vehicle Identification Number, can be found in several places. On the vehicle itself, you can find it in the driver’s side door at the door seal. You can also find it on the windshield on the passenger’s side. The number can also be found in the car’s manual and repair booklet.
PRE-1989 VEHICLES: VINs only became a global standard in January 1989. Vehicles manufactured prior to this simply had a serial number. Because of this, if you’re trying to search for a vehicle made pre-1989, we recommend using the vehicle’s Registration Number instead.
Why is the PPSR important to know when buying a used car?
All vehicles registered in Australia are registered on the PPSR. This allows a detailed history of the vehicle to be tracked, such as any financial encumbrance, write-off status, or even if the car was stolen. All of this information is linked to the car’s PPSR entry and can be downloaded and checked when looking for a vehicle to buy.
When should I get a PPSR check?
You should check the PPSR any time you’re interested in purchasing a used vehicle, particularly if it’s from a private seller. It’s best to check it close to when you think you might buy the vehicle to ensure the information is as up to date and accurate as possible.
Is a PPSR check the same as a REVs check?
Yes. REVs checks have been replaced with PPSR checks and reports. The PPSR reports are more comprehensive and give buyers more information to make better-informed decisions. A VIN check is simply another term for a PPSR check, as you use the VIN to perform the check.
What’s a VIN check?
A VIN check is just another name for a PPSR check. The VIN — vehicle identification number — is what you use to retrieve a PPSR report.
Does it matter if the car I’m checking is from another state?
No. The PPSR is a national, online register that contains information for personal properties in all states and territories. You don’t even need to be in Australia to perform a PPSR Search. It’s all performed online, giving you complete access at any time, any place.
What is the “encumbrance”?
A vehicle that is financially “encumbered” has been used as collateral as part of a financial loan. It means that a business has registered an interest with the PPSR letting them know that it has certain legal claims over the vehicle until such time as the loan is paid in full.
An encumbered vehicle can be reclaimed by the loaning agent should the owner default on their payments or fail to meet their obligation. This is true even if the original owner of the car sells it to someone else. So long as the loan remains open, the car can be reclaimed even if it’s no longer in the possession of the person who took out the loan.
How do you do a PPSR check?
It’s very easy! Simply enter the vehicle’s registration number or VIN on the side of any page on this website, hit “get report”, pay the nominal fee, and then get your comprehensive report in minutes.
What information is included on a PPSR report?
A PPSR report or vehicle history report contains the following information:
- Manufacturing details such as make, model, and year of the car.
- Engine part number.
- Encumbrance status (see above)
- Stolen status
- Write-off status
With this report, you’ll know if the car has money owing against it, if it’s ever been stolen, or if it’s ever been written off. You’ll also be able to get a mechanic to check the engine number to make sure it’s the same one that goes with the car. This can help prevent buying a car that’s been stolen and used for parts, but not been listed as stolen yet.