Non-Road Vehicles Option
The information below is intended to be guidance material when submitting an application under the Non-Road Vehicles option
The Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 and the Motor Vehicle Standards Regulations 1989 provide arrangements for the importation and supply to the market of road vehicles.
A road vehicle is:
- A road motor vehicle—a vehicle designed solely or principally for the transportation of people, animals or goods on public roads or a vehicle permitted to be used on public roads; or
- A road trailer—a vehicle without motive power designed for attachment to a road motor vehicle or a piece of machinery or equipment that is equipped with wheels and designed to be towed behind a road motor vehicle; or
- A partly completed road motor vehicle; or
- Not a vehicle listed in a Determination under Section 5b of the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989.
Vehicles not designed for transport or permitted to be used on public roads are not road vehicles and are not prohibited from importation. As such, a Vehicle Import Approval is not required.
However, while a Vehicle Import Approval may not be required by law, as a matter of course the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (Customs) may require an importer of such a vehicle to obtain advice from the Department that it is not categorised as a ‘road vehicle’ under the legislation. Having this advice in advance will give you the ability to clear your vehicle through Customs. This is a form of documentation similar to an import approval and issued by this Department which allows for Customs to release your non-road vehicle.
In order to avoid your vehicle accruing storage costs while an assessment is undertaken by the Department, you may apply through the Vehicle Import Approval process prior to shipping your vehicle. This process is the most efficient mechanism for assessing your vehicle and providing the necessary paperwork needed to acquire the release of your vehicle from Customs.
Please be aware that if a vehicles was designed for on-road use (including use on a footpath) it cannot be assessed as being non-road even if you do not intend it for on-road use. For a vehicle to be assessed as a non-road vehicle, it must be designed principally for that purpose. The manufacturer's specifications (in the form of a document, a brochure or technical specifications) will generally outline this. If the specifications do not state that the vehicle was designed principally for non-road use, we cannot assess it as being a non-road vehicle.
Please note that any vehicles imported as a non-road vehicle cannot be registered for road use in Australia.
- Pocket bikes;
- Motorised Scooters/Power-assisted pedal cycles;
- Mobility wheelchairs that meet the definition set out in the Motor Vehicles Standards (Road Vehicles) Determination 2003;
- Off-road motorbikes (including ATVs);
- Off-road self-balancing personal transportation devices (including some Segways);
- Golf Carts and Resort Vehicles
- Race cars such as formula 1 cars or purpose built drag cars;
- Monster trucks;
- Go karts; and
- Incomplete vehicles (see definition).
What criteria are required for a non-road vehicle?
The process for applying to import a non-road vehicle is similar to importing an on-road vehicle. In order for the Department to deem your vehicle a ‘non-road’ vehicle, the following information from the national standards (Australian Design Rules) is taken into consideration:
- To be assessed as a non-road vehicle, the seat height of a pocket bike is to be no more than 600mm from the ground to the saddle, with other major dimensions in proportion.
A manufacturer's brochure, including design features and technical specifications, should be attached to the application form.
- To be assessed as a non-road vehicle, power-assisted pedal cycles must have a maximum power output of 200 watts or less or 250 watts for a Pedalec. These vehicles are categorised as AB vehicles under the national standards (Australian Design Rules) and as such do not need to comply with such standards.
- A Pedalec is a power-assisted pedal cycle meeting European Committee for Standardization—EN 15194:2009 or EN 15194:2009+A1:2011 Cycles—Electrically power assisted cycles—EPAC Bicycles, 250 watts.
- Technical specifications issued by the manufacturer including evidence of the power output, should be attached to the application form. For a Pedalec the EN 15194:2009 or EN 15194:2009+A1:2011 statement of conformity should also be supplied.
- Please note that where a power-assisted pedal cycle exceeds 200 watts, or does not meet the Pedalec definition it is considered a LA/LB (Moped) under the national standards or a LC (Motorcycle) and must comply with the requirements of other import options. These vehicles cannot be imported as ‘non-road’ vehicles unless they meet other non-road vehicle requirements.
- For further information please refer to the Australian Design Rules definitions and vehicle categories 4.2.2.
- To be assessed as a non-road vehicle, a motorised scooter must have a maximum power output of 200 watts or less.
- Technical specifications issued by the manufacturer, including evidence of the power output, should be attached to the application form.
Please note that where a motorised scooter exceeds 200 watts, it is considered a LA/LB (Moped) under the national standards or a LC (Motorcycle) and must comply with the requirements of other import options. These vehicles cannot be imported as ‘non-road’ vehicles unless they meet other non-road vehicle requirements.
- To be assessed as a non-road vehicle, mobility wheelchairs or scooters should:
- Be self-propelled.
- Only be able to accommodate a single person.
- Not be capable of reaching speeds of more than 10km/h on level ground.
- Have more than two wheels.
- Have unladen mass of 40kg or more
A manufacturer's brochure, including evidence of the above, should be attached to the application form.
- A non-road motorbike does not generally have the features of an on-road motorbike, such as lights, blinkers, side mirrors and provision for a number plate. If the motorbike is predominately a non-road bike, it can be imported under this category, but the importer will need to provide photographic evidence and manufacturer's specifications with the application attesting that:
- Direction indicators lamps are not fitted at time of importation nor at any time later.
- The registration plate holder is not fitted at time of importation nor at any time later.
- Tyres suitable for off-road use only are fitted at the time of import and at all times later.
- A durable self-adhesive label is affixed in a conspicuous position immediately after taking delivery of the vehicle in Australia. The label should include the words “this motorcycle is not certified to comply with the Australian Design Rules and may not be registered for normal on-road use”.
- It has been designed for closed circuit racing or has a substantive suspension system.
- To be assessed as a non-road vehicle, you will need to provide a manufacturer's specifications which detail that the vehicle was made strictly for non-road purposes.
- Non-Road vehicles generally have features to enable off-road use, such as off road tyres, large mudguards, high ground clearance and wide track or long wheelbase to make it stable on uneven surfaces.
- Self-balancing personal transportation devices designed for use on footpaths or roadways may not be assessed as a non-road vehicle.
- Please note that where a self-balancing personal transportation device contains features that allow the vehicle to be considered a LA/LB (Moped) under the national standards or a LC (Motorcycle) it must comply with the requirements of other import options. These vehicles cannot be imported as ‘non-road’ vehicles unless they meet other non-road vehicle requirements.
A manufacturer's brochure, including evidence of the above, should be attached to the application form.
To be assessed as a non-road vehicle, these vehicles should have design features consistent with the carriage of people and equipment for short journeys on non-public roads. The criteria set out below would generally be illustrative that the vehicle is a Resort or Golf Cart type vehicle:
Resort and Golf Cart type vehicles should have:
- a minimum of four (4) wheels;
- Maximum speed no greater than 25km/h;
- For vehicles having seating capacity of greater than two seats:
- All seats other than those in the forward most row are bench type seats.
- For vehicles with no greater than two seats:
- A weight when equipped with batteries of no greater than 350 kg and;
- High flotation tyres suitable for use on grass and turf;
- No rear vision mirrors.
In addition, these vehicles should not have road motor vehicle design features, such as:
- License plate registration mountings;
- Turn indicator and stop lights;
- Fully enclosed cabins with doors.
Manufacturer’s brochures, including design features, technical specifications and photos must be attached to the application.
As a guide, any of the following incomplete road vehicles would not generally require a Vehicle Import Approval:
- Passenger motor vehicles without engines, gearboxes, wheels and axles.
- Light and medium road vehicle for the transport of goods of gross vehicle mass (GVM) less than 12 tonnes without engines, gearboxes, wheels.
- Heavy road vehicles for the transport of goods of GVM greater than 12 tonnes without engines and gearboxes.
- Trailers without axles, mechanical connections, suspension and brakes.
- Buses without engines, gearboxes, wheels and axles.
- Road motor cycles without front forks, steering components and wheels.
How to apply
To apply for an assessment of your vehicle as a non-road vehicle, you should provide to the Department:
- A purchase document for the vehicle in your name (a purchase document can be a pro-forma invoice/receipt for deposit or full payment).
- Evidence that the equipment meets the specific category requirements listed above, as applicable. This is generally provided in the manufacturer's specifications (often in a brochure format), including a photograph of the vehicle in its current state.
These documents are in addition to the documents required when you register on the portal. Refer to the How to apply page for further information.
Whilst the function of providing a non-road assessment of your vehicle is not expressly set out in the legislation, the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development provides this discretionary function to assist importers in getting their vehicle released from Customs. As such, it is valid to charge a reasonable fee for this provision. This non-refundable fee is currently $50.
The information provided on this page should be used as guidance material only for importing a vehicle into Australia. Please familiarise yourself with the relevant legislation prior to lodging an application.