The Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 (the Act) and Motor Vehicle Standards Regulations 1989 (the Regulations) make it an offence to import, sell or present new or used imported vehicles to the Australian market for the first time unless they meet the National Standards, except in circumstances where an exemption has been granted by the Administrator of Vehicle Standards (the Administrator).

The Australian Design Rules (ADRs) for motor vehicles and trailers are the National Standards and a standard vehicle is one that complies with all of the applicable ADRs. An identification plate fitted with the approval of the Administrator indicates that a vehicle is a standard vehicle.

Vehicles for use on Australian roads need to be registered by a State or Territory Motor Vehicle Registration Authority. Generally a vehicle needs to be fitted with an identification plate before it can be registered. Some vehicles, such as those built before 1 January 1989, those imported by temporary visitors and those for use as mining equipment do not require a plate.

In addition to identification plates there are other plates approved to be fitted to certain non-standard vehicles. These include used import plates. While the shape and style of plates varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, all can be recognised because they bear the words “This vehicle was manufactured to comply with the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989”. On passenger cars, the plate is usually on the firewall. Some modern plates are adhesive labels.

Plates may only be fitted with the approval of the Administrator.

Vehicles that are already fitted with an Australian identification plate may still require an Import Approval.


Last Updated: 25 June, 2014