Non-Road Vehicle Option

The information below is guidance material for use when submitting an application under the Non-Road Vehicle option.

The Department administers the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 (the Act) and the Motor Vehicle Standards Regulations 1989 that provides arrangements for the importation and supply to the market of road vehicles.

A road vehicle is defined by the Act as:

  • A road motor vehicle, that is 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, that is 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.

It does not include a vehicle listed in a Determination made under Section 5b of the Act.

Vehicles not designed for transport or not permitted to be used on public roads are not road vehicles and are not prohibited from importation. While a Vehicle Import Approval may not be required by law, as a matter of course the Department of Home Affairs (Home Affairs) 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 Home Affairs without incurring storage costs. This is a form of documentation similar to an import approval and issued by this Department which allows for Home Affairs to release your ‘non-road’ vehicle. We recommend that you apply for this advice prior to shipping your vehicle.

The Motor Vehicle Standards (Road Vehicles) Determination 2017 is the only Determination that has been made under Section 5b of the Act. It outlines classes of vehicles that are deemed not to be road motor vehicles for the purpose of the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989. These are often referred to as ‘non-road’ vehicles. The determination includes definitions of key terms.

Please be aware that if a vehicle was designed as a road motor vehicle to be used on public roads it cannot be assessed as being ‘non-road’ even if you do not intend to use it on public roads.

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 brochure or technical specifications) will generally outline this. If the specifications do not state that the vehicle was designed principally for ‘non-road’ use, it may be difficult to assess it as being a ‘non-road’ vehicle.

Please note that any vehicle imported as a non-road vehicle cannot generally be registered for road use in Australia. Further, please be aware that individual states and territories may have specific rules and requirements regarding the use of non-road vehicles.

Examples of non-road vehicles include:

What criteria are required for a non-road vehicle?

The criteria below is used when assessing your vehicle as a ‘non-road’ vehicle.

Pocket Bikes

  • 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.

Vehicle design and technical specifications issued by the manufacturer, including pictures and brochures, should be attached to the application.

Please be aware that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) have banned the sale of miniature motorbikes, powered by petrol motors that have inadequate safety features, from sale in Australia.

For more information regarding the ban please refer to the ACCC website and Consumer Protection Notice 24 of 2011.

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Power-Assisted Pedal Cycles

  • 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 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.

Generally, if a power-assisted pedal cycle is designed for ‘non-road’ or recreational use only it must satisfy all the criteria mentioned below:

  • Tyres with tread blocks rather than grooves
  • Front or full suspension or fat tyre section width greater than 2.6 inch
  • Wheel sizes shall be a minimum of 26 inches
  • Manufacturer's specifications that outline that the vehicle made strictly for "off-road" use

In addition, these vehicles should not have road motor vehicle design features, such as:

  • provision for mounting a registration plate
  • direction indicators
  • brake light(s).

Vehicle design and technical specifications issued by the manufacturer, including pictures and brochures, should be attached to the application.

The image below shows an example of what would be considered a power assisted pedal cycle:

Grey bicycle powered by an electric motor attached to the crank

The image below shows an example of what would not be considered a power assisted pedal cycle:

Pink framed moped scooter with rear vision mirrors, head light, front and rear indicators, rear brake lights, road tyres and pedals.

  • Fact Sheet—why an electric moped with pedals is a road motor vehicle PDF: 215 KB ReadSpeaker

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Motorised Scooters

A motorised scooter means a device that:

  • is designed to be used by a single person
  • has two or more wheels and a footboard supported by the wheels
  • is steered by handlebars
  • is propelled by a motor or motors having a combined maximum power output not exceeding 200 watts.

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.

Generally, when a vehicle is designed for ‘non-road’ or recreational use only it will include design features such as:

  • deeply treaded tyres suitable for rough or uneven terrain
  • substantial suspension travel
  • high ground clearance
  • mudguards
  • vehicle design suitable for off-road stability
  • manufacturer's specifications which outlines the vehicle was made strictly for ‘non-road’ use.

In addition, these vehicles should not have road motor vehicle design features, such as:

  • provision for mounting a registration plate
  • direction indicator(s)
  • brake lights
  • headlight(s)
  • rear vision mirror(s).

Vehicle design and technical specifications issued by the manufacturer, including pictures and brochures, should be attached to the application.

The image below shows an example of what would be considered a motorised scooter:

Grey motorised electric scooter with two small wheels separated by a foot board with handlebars

The image below shows an example of what would not be considered a motorised scooter:

Black motorised road scooter with fat tyres and mudguards separated by a foot board, with a large seat, hydraulic front and rear disc brakes, head light and ape style handle bars

  • Fact Sheet—why a fat tyre moped is a road motor vehicle PDF: 215 KB ReadSpeaker

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Motorised Wheelchairs

To be assessed as a ‘non-road’ vehicle, a motorised wheelchair means a wheelchair that:

  • is designed to be used by a single person
  • is self-propelled
  • is not capable of exceeding 10km/h on level ground
  • if not propelled solely by one or more electric motors, has an unladen mass of 40kg or more.

Vehicle design and technical specifications issued by the manufacturer, including pictures and brochures, should be attached to the application.

The image below shows an example of what is considered a motorised wheel chair:

Black four wheeled motorised wheelchair with single seat with armrests and front shopping basket

The image below shows an example of what is not considered a motorised wheelchair:

Red and white, three wheeled motorised trike wheelchair with two seating positions featuring seats with armrests, head light, rear view mirrors, and front indicators fitted

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Non-Road Motorcycles

A ‘non-road’ motorcycle does not have road-going features such as head lights, direction indicators, rear vision mirrors or provision for mounting a registration plate. If a motorcycle is designed as a ‘non-road’ motorcycle such as for motocross or closed circuit racing, it can be imported under this category.

Applicants will need to provide photographic evidence and manufacturer's specifications with the application attesting that:

  • provision for mounting a registration plate is not fitted
  • direction indicator(s) are not fitted
  • brake light(s) are not fitted
  • headlight(s) are not fitted
  • rear vision mirror(s) are not fitted
  • tyres suitable for off-road use only are fitted
  • the motorcycle has been designed for closed circuit/motocross racing
  • the motorcycle has a substantial suspension system.

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Light Utility Vehicles

A Light Utility Vehicle refers to a motorised vehicle that:

  • is designed to travel on at least four (4) high flotation tyres
  • has side-by-side seating
  • is propelled by either an electric motor(s) or an internal combustion engine not exceeding 1,500cm3
  • has a steering wheel
  • has a tray back designed for carrying loads
  • has an unladen mass of no more than 800 kg
  • does not have road-going features.

Vehicle design and technical specifications issued by the manufacturer, including pictures and brochures, should be attached to the application.

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Quad Bikes

A Quad Bike refers to a motorised vehicle that:

  • is designed to travel on at least four (4) high flotation tyres
  • has a saddle-type seat designed to be straddled by the user
  • is steered by handlebars.

Vehicle design and technical specifications issued by the manufacturer, including pictures and brochures, should be attached to the application.

The image below shows an example of what would be considered a quad bike:

One blue and one red off road quad bikes with muddy knobbly high floatation tyres parked side by side.

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Non-Road Self Balancing Personal Transportation Devices

  • 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.

Vehicle design and technical specifications issued by the manufacturer, including pictures and brochures, should be attached to the application.

The images below show examples of the type of devices that would be considered non-road self-balancing personal transport devices:

Black motorised two wheeled off road self-balancing (segway style) transport device with large high floatation tyres, T style handlebar, mudguards and high ground clearance.

Red and white motorised mono wheel personal transportation device with foot rests either side of single wheel to stand on while riding.

Black two wheeled stand on self-balancing device (hover board), powered by electric motors fitted inside the wheels.

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Golf Carts and Resort Vehicles

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 on level ground
  • for vehicles having seating capacity 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:
    • an unladen mass of no more than 350 kg
    • high flotation tyres suitable for use on grass and turf

In addition, these vehicles should not have road going features, such as:

  • provision for mounting a registration plate
  • direction indicator(s)
  • brake light(s)
  • rear vision mirror(s)
  • seatbelt(s)
  • fully enclosed cabin with doors.

Vehicle design and technical specifications issued by the manufacturer, including pictures and brochures, should be attached to the application.

The images below show examples of what would be considered a golf cart or resort vehicle:

White open style resort / golf cart with plastic / fibreglass roof. Three rows of side by side bench seating with high floatation tyres.

White open style golf cart with plastic / fibreglass roof and two bench seating positions. Racking for golf equipment installed on rear of vehicle, fitted with high floatation tyres.

The image below shows an example of what would not be considered a golf cart or resort vehicle:

White mini car with four wheels and a single seat centrally positioned with seatbelt inside the motor vehicle. Vehicle has no doors fitted but has head lights, front indicators, rear vision mirrors, road tyres and front licence plate.

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Incomplete Vehicles

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.

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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 vehicle meets the specific requirements listed above. This will generally be provided in the manufacturers brochure(s).
  • Photographs 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, Regional Development and Cities provides this discretionary function to assist importers in getting their vehicle released from Home Affairs.

As such, a reasonable fee is charged for the provision of this advice. This non-refundable fee is currently $50.

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Last Updated: 13 July, 2018