Non-Road Vehicles Option

The information below is guidance material for use when submitting an application as a Non-Road Vehicles.

The Department administers the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 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:

  • 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.

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.

The Motor Vehicle Standards (Road Vehicles) Determination 2017 outlines classes of vehicles that are deemed non-road vehicles. The determination includes definitions of key terms.

Prior to shipping your vehicle we recommend that you apply through the Vehicle Import Approval process for an assessment.  This is the most efficient mechanism for assessing the vehicle you wish to import and providing Customs with the necessary paperwork needed to release your vehicle.  This will help avoid your vehicle accruing storage costs while an assessment is undertaken by the Department.

Please be aware that if a vehicle was designed for on-road use 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 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. Further, please be aware that each state and territory 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 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:

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.

A manufacturer's brochure, including design features and technical specifications, should be attached to the application form.

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, form 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 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.

Generally if a power assisted pedal cycle is designed for non-road or recreation use only it will include design features such as:

  • Deeply treaded tyres suitable for rough or uneven terrain
  • Suspension
  • High ground clearance
  • Mudguards
  • Cycle design suitable for off-road stability
  • Manufacturer's specifications that outline the vehicle was made strictly for non-road use.

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

  • License plate registration mountings; and
  • Turn indicators and stop lights

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

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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; and
  • 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 recreation use only it will include design features such as:

  • Deeply treaded tyres suitable for rough or uneven terrain
  • Suspension
  • 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

  • License plate registration mountings; and
  • Turn indicators and stop lights

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

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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; and
  • If not propelled solely by one or more electric motors, has an  unladen mass of 40kg or more

A manufacturer's brochure, including evidence of the above, should be attached to the application form.

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Non-Road Motorcycles

A non-road motorcycle does not have road going features such as head lights, direction indicator lamps, side 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:

  • headlights are not fitted
  • direction indicator lamps are not fitted
  • a registration plate holder is not fitted
  • mirrors 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; and
  • does not have road-going features.

Manufacturer's brochures, illustrating design features, technical specifications and photos must 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; and
  • is steered by handlebars.

Manufacturer's brochures, illustrating design features, technical specifications and photos must be attached to the application.

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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.

A manufacturer's brochure, including evidence of the above, should be attached to the application form.

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;
  • 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;
  • Seatbelts;
  • 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.

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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 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, a reasonable fee is charged for the provision of this advice. 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.

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Last Updated: 10 November, 2017