Federal Interstate Registration Scheme (FIRS)
The Federal Interstate Registration Scheme (FIRS) is established under the Interstate Road Transport Act 1985 and commenced in 1987 as an alternative to state based registration for heavy vehicles weighing more than 4.5 tonnes.
FIRS provides uniform charges and operating conditions for heavy vehicles engaged solely in the interstate carriage of passengers or goods, in trade or commerce, or for any purpose that is incidental to the carriage of that kind.
FIRS operates under the following legislation:
- Interstate Road Transport Act 1985
- Interstate Road Transport Charge Act 1985
- Interstate Road Transport Regulations 1986
- Interstate Road Transport Charge Regulations 2009
FIRS Heavy Vehicle Registration Charge
From 1 July 2012 FIRS registration charges changed in line with the revised heavy vehicle registration charges, which were agreed by the Standing Council on Infrastructure and Transport (SCOTI) on 21 March 2012.
The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) and SCOTI (then the Australian Transport Council) agreed in February 2008 that heavy vehicle charges (including registration and fuel-based charges) should be adjusted annually to maintain recovery of road costs. The National Transport Commission (NTC) is responsible for reviewing national heavy vehicle charges and calculating the annual adjustment. The NTC takes into account changes in road expenditure and changes in heavy vehicle road use to determine the extent of the price changes.
How to Register under FIRS
State and Territory road transport authorities administer FIRS on behalf of the Australian Government. Operators wishing to register vehicles under FIRS apply to do so at the registration authority in their jurisdiction of residence.
Like state registration, vehicles must comply with relevant Australian Design Rules and other standard requirements in relation to vehicle construction, equipment and performance standards. FIRS vehicles must have compulsory third party insurance for the period of registration.
FIRS registration is available to heavy vehicles weighing over 4.5 tonnes, engaged solely in the interstate carriage of passengers or goods, in trade or commerce, or for any purpose that is incidental to the carriage of that kind. A FIRS registered vehicle may undertake an intrastate journey where it can be demonstrated, that the intrastate journey is for the carriage of goods as part of a larger interstate journey relating to those goods. Under these circumstances, the FIRS vehicle will be operating as per subsection 8(1) of the IRT Act, and will not need to be registered under a law of a State (paragraph 52(2)(a) of the IRT Act).
However, if the vehicle is undertaking the carriage of goods on an intrastate journey that is not part of a larger interstate journey relating to those goods, registration under the IRT Act will not remove the requirement for the vehicle to be registered under State law.
Determining whether a vehicle is carrying goods on an intrastate journey as part of a larger interstate journey is ultimately a question of fact. The following factors are relevant to making an assessment of whether the intrastate component of the journey is covered by the IRT Act:
- If a single transport company is contracted to carry out, or arrange, for the carriage of goods from a place in a State to a place in another State, it is likely that an intrastate journey component of the larger interstate journey will be covered by the IRT Act. This is the case even if the intrastate journey involves a leg being carried out by another FIRS vehicle or if a break in the journey to transfer the goods to another kind of vehicle (rail or ship etc) occurs.
- If there is a contract between a consignor in one State and a consignee in another State, this may point to the existence of an interstate freight journey that would be covered by the IRT Act.
- If a vehicle is carrying a load that involves an interstate journey, but on that interstate journey the vehicle also picks up goods that are transported as part of an intrastate journey, the vehicle will still likely be covered by the IRT Act.
- If the interstate journey for the transport of goods ends at one location in a State, it is unlikely that subsequent intrastate journeys from that point to another place within the State will be covered by the IRT Act.
Special Purpose Vehicles
By nature of their definition, special purpose vehicles such as mobile cranes cannot be registered under FIRS. State/Territory permits are required for FIRS registered combinations operating as road trains and vehicles or combinations carrying large indivisible loads.
FIRS B-doubles and Higher Mass Limits routes
FIRS restricted access vehicles such as B-doubles and Higher Mass Limits combinations operate on designated routes which are generally consistent with State gazetted routes. Designated routes include those authorised by a relevant instrument made under State and Territory laws. Schedule 4A of the Interstate Road Transport Regulations 1986 specifies the relevant state and territory legislation. Determinations of FIRS routes by the Australian Government are made for those routes that are not authorised by a relevant instrument by the States and Territories. This is the case for restricted access routes in Western Australia which are authorised by Period Permit (rather than by notice) and published on the internet (rather than by gazette).
Operators wishing to drive on a road which has not been designated, either by a FIRS route Determination or operating under a relevant instrument, must obtain a permit from the relevant State or Territory registration authority.
Determinations of Federal Routes can be accessed via the Federal Register of Legislative Instruments (FRLI) at the ComLaw website.
The current Determinations are:
- F2011L00977 Determination of Routes for Vehicles, other than B-doubles and Rigid Truck and Trailer Combinations, carrying Higher Mass Limits under the Federal Interstate Registration Scheme (FIRS) 2011 No. 1
NOTE that this Determination does not provide for the operation of road-trains.
- F2011L00976 Determination of Routes for B-doubles not Operating at Higher Mass Limits under the Federal Interstate Registration Scheme (FIRS) 2011 (No. 1)
- F2011L01043 Determination of Routes for B-double Vehicles carrying Higher Mass Limits under the Federal Interstate Registration Scheme (FIRS) 2011 (No. 2)
For further information on FIRS registration you should contact your local registry office or contact the FIRS hotline on 1800 026 170.
- New South Wales Transport: Roads & Maritime Services General Enquiries 132 213
- Queensland: Department of Transport and Main Roads Registration and Licensing Enquiries 13 23 80
- Northern Territory: Department of Transport General Enquiries 1300 654 628
- Western Australia: Department of Transport Driver and Vehicle Services 13 11 56
- South Australia Government General Enquiries 13 23 24
- Victoria: VicRoads Customer Services 13 11 71
- Tasmania: Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources General Enquiries 1300 135 513
- Australian Capital Territory: Transport for Canberra Canberra Connect 13 22 81