Vehicle Certification in Australia

MVSA 1989—Part 3: Certification and Approval

Before a road vehicle can be registered for the first time in Australia it must meet the requirements of the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 (the Act), which applies to new and used imported vehicles and locally manufactured vehicles. The Act requires vehicles to meet the national standards covering safety and emission requirements known as the Australian Design Rules (ADRs). When a new vehicle has been certified as meeting the ADRs it can be fitted with an identification plate. The fitment of an identification plate is mandatory under the Act, and it indicates to the registering authority that the vehicle meets all the required ADRs.


Vehicle certification is the process of obtaining approval to fit an identification plate, outlined in Administrators Circular 0-1-2, titled Guide to Certification of New vehicles—Type Approval PDF: 163 KB DOCX: 54 KB. The Department's (the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities), VSS (Vehicle Safety Standards) Branch administers certification in Australia, while State and Territory registering authorities administer the use of vehicles, roadworthiness and approval of modifications for vehicles in service.

The certification system for new vehicles is a type approval, wherein a vehicle design representing a make-model (the “type” of vehicle) undergoes tests to demonstrate compliance with the safety and emissions standard. If the vehicle complies then all others of the same design, or type, will also comply.

The Department does not test vehicles for certification purposes. The manufacturer is responsible for ensuring compliance with the ADRs. The Australian certification process allows the vehicle manufacturer (“the licensee”) to conduct the various ADR tests. The tests may be conducted in a place convenient to the manufacturer provided they are performed correctly. In order to demonstrate compliance with all the applicable ADRs several test vehicles are required, particularly for passenger cars and light commercials vehicles.

Once the tests are successfully completed, the manufacturer are required to seek approval to fit identification plates to the vehicles by submitting an application for approval. The manufacturer must support their application with a summary of the evidence to show that tests were done correctly and the vehicle complies with the applicable ADRs.

For some vehicle categories a sample of each of the model variants must also be made available for inspection. This inspection also satisfies the registration inspection requirements of the States and Territory registration authorities and is called Single Uniform Type Inspection or SUTI.

When VSS are satisfied that the vehicle complies, the Administrator of Vehicle Standards issues a document known as an Identification Plate Approval. This is the authority to allow the manufacturer to fit identification plates to vehicles of the specified make/model.

The information provided by the manufacturer is subject to checking using quality assurance audits of the manufacturing facilities and inspection of the test facilities. Together these ensure the vehicles (or parts of vehicles) tested were built to the production design, and tests were carried out correctly. Results will need to show the vehicle (or parts) passed, and all the vehicles in production adhere to the same design. Hence, if the design complies, and the production observes the design, all vehicles produced will comply.

Manufacturers who supply limited numbers of vehicles may be able to use the Low Volume Scheme for new vehicles, which caters for manufacturers who supply less than 25 or 100 vehicles per year depending on the category. Vehicles imported into Australia by individuals, or for racing etc. may be able to use the Imported Vehicles scheme.

Individually constructed vehicles are not required to be certified however, they must meet the requirements of the State and Territory registering authorities. The Registered Automotive Workshop Scheme applies to used imported vehicles.

Further Information