Reform of the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989

What's new

The Australian Government will introduce legislation into Parliament this year to implement the reforms to the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989. After further detailed work on implementation arrangements, the Australian Government has decided not to proceed with the proposal to allow for individuals to personally import new vehicles from countries with comparable vehicle to standards to Australia (eg UK and Japan).

That work has highlighted the cost and complexity of providing appropriate consumer awareness and protection arrangements. When weighing these up against the modest benefits—including price reductions estimated to be less than 2 per cent across the market—the Government has concluded that the benefits do not justify the cost and complexity of this particular change.

However, the Government will strengthen community protection by mirroring the safety recalls provisions from the Australian Consumer Law to apply specifically to road vehicles in the new Road Vehicle Standards legislation. This means vehicle recalls will apply to all road vehicles sold in Australia, whether private or commercial, and apply to any non-compliance with Australian design standards—not just safety.

Following consultation with police agencies, the Government will move to require secure vehicle identification marking on new vehicles. This requirement will provide a significant deterrent to motor vehicle theft for re-birthing.

Further, the package of reforms will provide increased consumer choice including by streamlining and improving the existing pathways for importing specialist and enthusiast vehicles. Over recent months, the Government has consulted extensively concerning the detail of the new specialist and enthusiast vehicle criteria. The criteria can be found in the link below.


Legislation will be introduced into Parliament later this year. The reforms will commence 12 months after the passage of legislation, with a transition period to enable businesses to adapt to new arrangements.

Reduced Vehicle Import Restrictions Cost Benefit Analysis

As part of the 2014 Review of the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 (the Act), the Australian Government engaged Castalia Strategic Advisors to evaluate the cost and benefits relating to the potential relaxation of the current vehicle import policy settings.

The first report focuses on the economic opportunities from reducing the current restrictions on the importation of used vehicles.

The second report further refines the work of the first report and focuses on the economic opportunities for consumers to personally import vehicles from the UK or Japan—as both countries have comparable vehicle standards to Australia.

Reduced Used Vehicle Import Restrictions Cost Benefit Analysis PDF: 1341 KB ReadSpeaker

Reduced Vehicle Import Restrictions Cost Benefit Analysis PDF: 360 KB ReadSpeaker.


Following the announcement of the reforms in February 2016, the Australian Government has conducted a number of consultation sessions with key stakeholders.

The sessions have been used to brief representatives of industry and the community on the details of the reform package. Stakeholder groups briefed have included:

  • Consumer groups and non-regulated industry representatives (15 March 2016);
  • Vehicle manufacturers (22 March 2016);
  • Registered Automotive Workshops and New Low Volume manufacturers (31 March 2016);
  • Caravan manufacturers (14 April 2016); and
  • Trailer Manufacturers 28 April 2016.

The Australian Government conducted consultations in September and October 2016 on the proposed thresholds for the specialist and enthusiast vehicle criteria. The thresholds proposed can be found in the fact sheet Specialist and Enthusiast Vehicle Eligibility Thresholds PDF: 192 KB ReadSpeaker.

The Australia Government conducted consultations throughout May and June 2017 on:

  • the Register of Approved Vehicles—an online database, publicly searchable (one VIN at a time) for vehicles approved for use on Australian roads; and
  • the new certification arrangements for light trailers.

Consultation paper for Certification of Light Trailers PDF: 619 KB ReadSpeaker

Consultation paper for Register of approved vehicles PDF: 997 KB ReadSpeaker

What are the reforms?

The Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 (the Act) controls the safety, environmental and anti-theft performance of all vehicles entering the Australian market for the first time—both new and used.

The reform of the Act will reduce regulatory compliance costs to business by more than $70 million a year and provide the Australian public with greater choice and competition in the vehicle market. The reforms will improve access to specialist and enthusiast vehicles, allow for the personal importation of new vehicles, and ensure that Australia's vehicle fleet continues to offer world-leading standards in community and environmental safety.

For further information on the reforms, please refer to the Info Sheets below.

Info sheets

  • Overview Brochure PDF: 390 KB ReadSpeaker
  • Info Sheet 1: Full Volume New Vehicles PDF: 207 KB ReadSpeaker
  • Info Sheet 2: Specialist and Enthusiast Vehicles PDF: 234 KB ReadSpeaker
  • Info Sheet 3: Eligibility Criteria: Specialist and Enthusiast Vehicles PDF: 384 KB ReadSpeaker
  • Info Sheet 4: Registered Automotive Workshop Scheme (RAWS) PDF: 241 KB ReadSpeaker
  • Info Sheet 5: Concessional Schemes PDF: 233 KB ReadSpeaker
  • Info Sheet 6: Authorised Vehicle Verifiers: August 2017 PDF: 501 KB ReadSpeaker
  • Questions and Answers PDF: 447 KB ReadSpeaker

Other key documents

Further information

This webpage will be updated with additional information on the reforms to the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 as it is made available.


Last Updated: 20 October, 2017