Is it legal to live in a van in Australia? (a guide)

In this short guide, we will explain: Is it legal to live in a van in Australia? We will tell you where to rent a van in Australia, where to park it overnight and how it is like to travel in a van in Australia. 

Is it legal to live in a van in Australia?

No, it is not illegal to live in a van in Australia, but you must, however, park only in the allowed places and comply with the local regulations

  • You will not live in a van in Australia on private land for more than 30 days/year;
  • You should not pay a licence fee, rent or any other fee if renting private land;
  • You have access to toilet facilities and you do not dispose inappropriately of the wastewater. 
  • The van must be parked at least 6 meters away from the front of the property and at least 1.2 meters away from the side of a building (if there is one). 
  • The land where the van is parked must not be an official residential zone. 
  • You can live full-time in a van at a campsite, as long as you have a contract.

Where to rent a van in Australia?

To rent a van in Australia you will have to do the same as you would if you were in your country, search the different agencies online and compare prices and conditions:

  1. Read the fine print of the contract and always be suspicious of rents that are too cheap. Take a good look at the equipment, the return conditions (they will charge you an extra if you don’t return it where you took it), etc.
  1. A good search place is because it takes into account a lot of rental companies. Keep in mind that if you opt for a van without a shower and bathroom, it will be cheaper and it is usually easy to find them on the way.
  1. A good part of your budget is going to go to fuel, so look at the consumption.
  1. A relocation is an option offered by rental companies with which for a low price they rent the van to you in exchange for you to return it within the term that they stipulate in a certain place. Thus, they save having to pay someone to make the journey.
  1. Conditions change from company to company and by route. The normal thing is that they tell you what is the term you have to return it, whether or not it includes fuel, the type of insurance they give you, etc. Thus, with this option, you can travel much cheaper, but quite conditioned since normally you will have to do many kilometres without having much time to stop.

Do I have to insure my van in Australia?

The question of insurance always creates a headache when renting a vehicle. The initial price that they offer you in search engines is usually with the most basic insurance, with which you will have a franchise up to which you will pay the damages that have been caused if something happens. 

Therefore, if the excess is $ 3000 AUD, all repairs below this sum have to be paid for. In addition, they can demand a deposit, which they block on your credit card until they make sure that you have returned the vehicle in good condition.

When you rent, they always give you the option of hiring an “all-risk” that increases the rental price a lot, it depends on the vehicle but calculates about $ 30 AUD per day.

Is it worth all the risk? Well, it will be up to you to decide and your aversion to risk or not.

Note: There are companies that restrict where you can drive. Therefore, always make sure that the “forbidden” areas are not part of your route. They can also charge you an extra if you are going to travel through some areas. Regarding the limitation of km, almost all companies offer unlimited, but some may limit, so be careful.

Tips for driving in a van through Australia

Now we are going with some tips that will be great for driving through Australia, don’t worry, doing it on the left is not as difficult as it seems.

Driving direction: Here are some tips to help you drive on the left. Above all, be very attentive, keeping in mind that you cannot drive on autopilot as you always do, and everything will be fine.

Long distances: Australia is gigantic, so never underestimate the distances. For this reason, although on the map it seems at first glance that one point is close to another, the kilometres can be many and if it is not a highway, the road is very slow. Therefore, calculate very well what it will cost you to do each route, the type of road and the service areas available.

Driving license: In principle, you can drive through Australia with your international driving license. If you are already in Australia and you do not have it, here we tell you how to get it, and if you are going to live for more than a year in Australia, how to get the Australian.

Tips for living in a van in Australia

Let’s go with some more things that will be great for planning your road trip through Australia.

Equipment: When you travel many kilometres on desolate roads it is important to keep in mind that:

  • A jerry can with extra gasoline can get you out of trouble (it should be included in the rental of the van).
  • You always have to carry a spare tire.
  • An extra flashlight.
  •  Strings in case you have to tie something.
  •  Duvet or blankets if you are going to travel in winter (often when you rent the van they are included).
  • Fridge
  •  Gas spare parts for camping.

Where to sleep in a van in Australia?

Keep in mind that in many places you will be able to do “free camp” (you can search for them on Wikimapia), yes, this does not mean that you settle down and camp in style, but rather you can sleep in the van without doing much noise or presence.

Therefore, it will be rare that you have to pay for accommodation along your road trip unless you want to camp in a campsite indicated for it, and in this case, you will have to pay. If at any time you need a bed, which is not bad to pamper yourself from time to time, on the main roads there are roadhouses and in many they offer rooms.

Useful apps for travelling by van in Australia

Some Apps that will make your life easier if you travel by van in Australia are:

Wikicamps: this is a bible for the road tripper. It gives you very useful information on where to find gasoline, hot showers, tours or where you can camp and if it is free or not.

me: in many places, you will not have coverage, so download this application to be able to download the maps and not get stranded.

FuelMap: it will help you to compare fuel prices (they can vary a lot) and to find out where the closest gas station is.

The bottom line

Our final advice would be to speak with someone from your local council. There are rules and exceptions to the rules. It is best to ask directly what are the laws in your state, and whether you can reside for more than 30 days in the same place and what are the conditions and the exceptions to the rule.

We hope that all this information has been useful to you and that you enjoy your #vanlife in Australia to the fullest.  If you have any questions or comments on the content, please let us know!

FAQ on Is it legal to live in a van in Australia?

Can I live in a caravan on my own land in Australia?

You can live in a caravan on your own land in Australia, but on a temporary basis only. Thus, you cannot live in a caravan on private property for more than 30 days a year, and you have to have the basic conditions for a living (sleeping place, toilet, kitchen facilities).

Can I put a trailer on my land?

To put a trailer on one’s land, the owner of a trailer must have the mayor’s parking authorization to install his trailer on his land. If the trailer is fixed, a building permit is required.

How to live on non-building land?

It is not allowed to live year-round on any non-building land. You can set up a tent or request authorization from the town hall for your caravan or mobile home.


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