Federal Interstate Registration Scheme
The Federal Interstate Registration Scheme (FIRS) is established under the Interstate Road Transport Act 1985 and commenced in 1987 as an alternative to state based registration for heavy vehicles weighing more than 4.5 tonnes.
FIRS provides uniform charges and operating conditions for heavy vehicles engaged solely in the interstate carriage of passengers or goods, in trade or commerce, or for any purpose that is incidental to the carriage of that kind.
FIRS operates under the following legislation:
- Interstate Road Transport Act 1985
- Interstate Road Transport Charge Act 1985
- Interstate Road Transport Regulations 1986
- Interstate Road Transport Charge Regulations 2009
FIRS Heavy Vehicle Registration Charge
The Council of Australian Government (COAG) and the Transport and Infrastructure Council (then the Australian Transport Council) agreed in February 2008 that heavy vehicle charges (including registration and fuel-based charges) should be adjusted annually to maintain full cost recovery of heavy vehicles' share in road costs.
The National Transport Commission (NTC) is responsible for reviewing national heavy vehicle charges and calculating the annual adjustment. The NTC uses an economic formula as documented in the Model Heavy Vehicle Charges Act 2007 (as amended) and the Interstate Road Transport Charge Regulations 2009 to determine the annual adjustment factor. This formula takes into account changes in road expenditure and changes in heavy vehicle road use to determine the extent of the price changes.
On 1 July 2015 FIRS heavy vehicle registration charges increased by 0.6 per cent.
How to Register under FIRS
State and Territory road transport authorities administer FIRS on behalf of the Australian Government. Operators wishing to register vehicles under FIRS apply to do so at the registration authority in their jurisdiction of residence.
Like state registration, vehicles must comply with relevant Australian Design Rules and other standard requirements in relation to vehicle construction, equipment and performance standards. FIRS vehicles must have compulsory third party insurance for the period of registration.
FIRS registration is available to heavy vehicles weighing over 4.5 tonnes, engaged solely in the interstate carriage of passengers or goods, in trade or commerce, or for any purpose that is incidental to the carriage of that kind. A FIRS registered vehicle may undertake an intrastate journey where it can be demonstrated, that the intrastate journey is for the carriage of goods as part of a larger interstate journey relating to those goods. Under these circumstances, the FIRS vehicle will be operating as per subsection 8(1) of the IRT Act, and will not need to be registered under a law of a State (paragraph 52(2)(a) of the IRT Act).
However, if the vehicle is undertaking the carriage of goods on an intrastate journey that is not part of a larger interstate journey relating to those goods, registration under the IRT Act will not remove the requirement for the vehicle to be registered under State law.
Determining whether a vehicle is carrying goods on an intrastate journey as part of a larger interstate journey is ultimately a question of fact. The following factors are relevant to making an assessment of whether the intrastate component of the journey is covered by the IRT Act:
- If a single transport company is contracted to carry out, or arrange, for the carriage of goods from a place in a State to a place in another State, it is likely that an intrastate journey component of the larger interstate journey will be covered by the IRT Act. This is the case even if the intrastate journey involves a leg being carried out by another FIRS vehicle or if a break in the journey to transfer the goods to another kind of vehicle (rail or ship etc) occurs.
- If there is a contract between a consignor in one State and a consignee in another State, this may point to the existence of an interstate freight journey that would be covered by the IRT Act.
- If a vehicle is carrying a load that involves an interstate journey, but on that interstate journey the vehicle also picks up goods that are transported as part of an intrastate journey, the vehicle will still likely be covered by the IRT Act.
- If the interstate journey for the transport of goods ends at one location in a State, it is unlikely that subsequent intrastate journeys from that point to another place within the State will be covered by the IRT Act.
Special Purpose Vehicles
By nature of their definition, special purpose vehicles such as mobile cranes cannot be registered under FIRS. State/Territory permits are required for FIRS registered combinations operating as road trains and vehicles or combinations carrying large indivisible loads.
FIRS B-doubles and Higher Mass Limits routes
The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) is responsible for the administration of interstate Road Access Permits and Determinations for heavy vehicles driving within Queensland, NSW, ACT, Victoria, Tasmania and SA. These jurisdictions (except Tasmania) are operating under temporary delegation from the NHVR to process specific intrastate permit applications. Operators seeking such permits should apply directly to their local road authority.
For more information, consult the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator: Permit Applications webpage.
FIRS restricted access vehicles such as B-doubles and Higher Mass Limit combinations operate on designated routes which include those authorised by relevant instruments made under the Heavy Vehicle National Law Act 2012 (HVNL) as well as WA and NT laws. Section 2(1) of the Interstate Road Transport Regulations 1986 specifies the relevant National, State and Territory legislation, under the definition of ‘relevant instrument’.
Additional designated routes are specified in the following Determinations of Federal Routes as made by the Australian Government. They have been made for those routes that are not authorised by a relevant instrument made by the NHVR (as governed by the HVNL), States or Territories. For example, restricted access routes in WA are authorised by Period Permit (rather than by notice) and published on the internet (rather than by gazette).
The current Determinations of Federal Routes are:
- F2011L00977 Determination of Routes for Vehicles, other than B-doubles and Rigid Truck and Trailer Combinations, carrying Higher Mass Limits under the Federal Interstate Registration Scheme (FIRS) 2011 No. 1
NOTE that this Determination does not provide for the operation of road-trains.
- F2011L00976 Determination of Routes for B-doubles not Operating at Higher Mass Limits under the Federal Interstate Registration Scheme (FIRS) 2011 (No. 1)
- F2011L01043 Determination of Routes for B-double Vehicles carrying Higher Mass Limits under the Federal Interstate Registration Scheme (FIRS) 2011 (No. 2)
Operators wishing to drive on a road which has not been designated either by a FIRS route Determination or operating under a relevant instrument must obtain a permit from the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator. For those wishing to drive within the NT or WA, please contact the appropriate State or Territory registration authority directly.
For more information, consult the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator: Road Access webpage.
For further information on FIRS registration you should contact your local registration authority or contact the FIRS hotline on 1800 026 170.
- New South Wales Transport: Roads & Maritime Services
General Enquiries 132 213
- Queensland: Department of Transport and Main Roads
Registration and Licensing Enquiries 13 23 80
- Northern Territory: Department of Transport
General Enquiries 1300 654 628
- Western Australia: Department of Transport
Driver and Vehicle Services 13 11 56
- South Australia: Department of Planning, Infrastructure and Transport
General Enquiries (08) 8343 2222
- Victoria: VicRoads
Customer Services 13 11 71
- Tasmania: Department of State Growth
General Enquiries 1300 135 513
- Australian Capital Territory: Transport for Canberra
Canberra Connect 13 22 81
Information on the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator can be found on the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator website at www.nhvr.gov.au or you can contact the Regulator on the following details:
Phone: 1300 MYNHVR (1300 696 487)
Standard 1300 call charges apply
Fax: 07 3309 8777