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Advisory notice that a thing is not a road vehicle—a Guide

What is an advisory notice that a thing is not a road vehicle?

The Road Vehicle Standards (RVS) legislation, administered by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications (the department), regulates road vehicles.  All road vehicles require permission before they can be imported into Australia.

While vehicles that are not road vehicles are not regulated under the legislation, to assist other regulatory bodies (for example Australian Border Force) identify which vehicles are road vehicles and which vehicles are not road vehicles, the department has the power to issue advisory notices to things it has assessed as not being road vehicles.

An advisory notice that a thing is not a road vehicle is a formal notice issued under the Road Vehicle Standards Rules 2019 (the Rules), stating that a vehicle (or thing) is not a road vehicle and therefore does not require ‘permission’ to be imported into Australia.

While you do not need an advisory notice to bring a vehicle that is not a road vehicle into Australia, it can be useful in the importation process by providing assurance to Australian Border Force (ABF) officers that the vehicle does not require further approval.

To assist in identifying whether your vehicle is, or is not a road vehicle, read this guidance material and answer the questions about the characteristics of your vehicle.

Note: If a vehicle that ABF considers may be a road vehicle is detected arriving in Australia without an import approval or advisory notice the vehicle may be held in storage (costs apply) until an appropriate approval or advisory notice is applied for and granted by the department.

If you would like written confirmation your vehicle is not a “road vehicle” you should apply for an advisory notice. You can present the advisory notice to ABF when importing your vehicle.

Road vehicles

A road vehicle is defined by the Road Vehicle Standards Act 2018 (RVSA) as any of the following:

  • a motor vehicle designed solely or principally* for use in transport on public roads
  • a trailer or other vehicle (including equipment or machinery equipped with wheels) designed to be towed on a public road by a motor vehicle
  • a vehicle determined in an instrument under the RVSA, being the Road Vehicle Standards (Classes of Vehicles that are Road Vehicles) Determination 2021
  • a partly completed or unassembled vehicle that would otherwise be covered by any of the above.

* In determining whether a motor vehicle is designed solely or principally for use in transport on public roads, regard is to be had only to the physical or operational features of the vehicle, not the intended use of the vehicle.

Aside from vehicles you would usually expect to be road vehicles, the Road Vehicle Standards (Classes of Vehicles that are Road Vehicles) Determination 2021 lists certain classes of vehicles that are also determined to be road vehicles and gives definitions of these vehicles. If your vehicle fits in to any of the classes then it is a road vehicle.

If you are importing a road vehicle you MUST apply for approval to import the vehicle.

Things that are not road vehicles

For a vehicle to be assessed as ‘not a road vehicle’ it must be designed principally for non-road use. 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, further information about the vehicle may need to be provided before a decision on the application can be made. 

The Road Vehicle Standards (Classes of Vehicles that are not Road Vehicles) Determination 2021 (further information below) sets out classes of vehicles that are definitely not road vehicles.

If your vehicle is listed in the determination, some freight forwarders are comfortable with handling your vehicle as a non-road vehicle, and further confirmation is not required from the department. If your freight forwarder is not comfortable, or you are managing importation yourself, you may wish to apply for an advisory notice for your vehicle.

Any vehicle imported as a non-road vehicle cannot generally be registered for road use in Australia. Individual state and territory authorities may have specific rules and requirements regarding the use of non-road vehicles.

Disclaimer: The following information is designed to guide a person importing a vehicle as to whether the vehicle they are planning to import is a road vehicle (and requires importation approval) or is not a road vehicle (and can be supported by an advisory notice if requested).

The department makes this material available on the understanding that users exercise their own skill and care when using it.

By accessing this information each user waives and releases the department to the full extent permitted by law from any and all claims relating to the usage of and/or reliance on the material made available.

Advisory notice that a thing is not a road vehicle pre-screening questionnaire

The following questionnaire will help you decide whether your vehicle is not a road vehicle based on its features and design. If, after completing the questionnaire you are still uncertain whether your vehicle is or is not a road vehicle, you may want to apply for an advisory notice to confirm what it is.

What type of vehicle are you importing?
  • Does the vehicle have its own automotive power?
  • Is the vehicle built to perform agricultural tasks such as cultivating land, growing and harvesting crops or rearing livestock?

If you answered yes to both questions, it is likely your vehicle is not a road vehicle.

While you do not need permission to import a vehicle that is not a road vehicle, if you would like to obtain evidence that your thing is not a road vehicle you may wish to apply for an advisory notice. A fee will apply to your application.

If you answered no to any question, we can’t advise whether you vehicle does or does not meet the definition of a road vehicle. To be certain, you may wish to apply for an advisory notice. A fee will apply to your application.

Thank you for taking the quiz. We hope it has assisted.

Is the vehicle:

  • designed to transport people and equipment around a golf course?
  • designed to travel on at least 4 high-flotation tyres*?
  • not capable of exceeding 25km per hour on level ground?

Does the vehicle have:

  • an unladen** mass of no more than 350 kg?
  • side-by-side seating?
  • a body that is without any of the following road-going features?
    • direction indicators
    • brake lights
    • rear vision mirrors
    • provision for mounting a registration plate
    • seatbelts
    • a fully enclosed cabin with doors

* A high flotation tyre has a large sidewall that is designed to be operated at low inflation pressure in order to maximize the contact patch and prevent the vehicle from sinking into soft terrain such as soil or mud.

** Unladen mass means the mass of the vehicle in running order without the driver, passengers or load; with all fluid reservoirs filled to nominal capacity, including fuel, and with all standard equipment.

If you answered ‘yes’ to every question, it is likely that your vehicle is not a road vehicle.

To obtain evidence that your thing is not a road vehicle, you may wish to apply for an advisory notice that a thing is not a road vehicle.

A fee will apply to your application.

Thank you for taking the quiz. We hope it has assisted.

Is the vehicle:

  • designed to travel on at least 4 high-flotation tyres*?
  • propelled solely by
    • one or more electric motors, OR
    • an internal combustion engine that has a cylinder capacity not exceeding 1,500 cm3

Does the vehicle have:

  • side-by-side seating?
  • a steering wheel?
  • a tray back designed for carrying loads?
  • an unladen mass** of no more than 800kg?
  • a body that is without any of the following road-going features?
    • direction indicators
    • brake lights
    • rear vision mirrors
    • provision for mounting a registration plate
    • seatbelts
    • a fully enclosed cabin with doors

* A high flotation tyre has a large sidewall that is designed to be operated at low inflation pressure in order to maximize the contact patch and prevent the vehicle from sinking into soft terrain such as soil or mud.

** Unladen mass means the mass of the vehicle in running order without the driver, passengers or load; with all fluid reservoirs filled to nominal capacity, including fuel, and with all standard equipment.

If you answered ‘yes’ to all questions it is likely that your vehicle is not a road vehicle.

To obtain evidence that your thing is not a road vehicle, you may wish to apply for an advisory notice that a thing is not a vehicle.

A fee will apply to your application.

Thank you for taking the quiz. We hope it has assisted.

Is the vehicle:

  • designed to carry one person only?

Does the vehicle:

  • have a seat height no greater than 600mm?
  • have major dimensions that are scaled down in proportion to the seat height?

If you answered ‘yes’ to all questions it is likely that your vehicle is not a road vehicle.

To obtain evidence that your thing is not a road vehicle, you may wish to apply for an advisory notice that a thing is not a vehicle.

A fee will apply to your application.

Thank you for taking the quiz. We hope it has assisted.

Is the device:

  • designed to be used by one person only?
  • designed to assist a person who is unable to walk or has difficulty walking?
  • propelled by an electric motor?

Does the device have:

  • steering control?
  • maximum governed speed of 10km/h*
  • a minimum of 3 wheels

* A ‘governed speed’ means that the vehicle is not capable of going over the nominated speed due to a control mechanism or other technology that prevents it from doing so.

If you answered ‘yes’ to all questions it is likely that your vehicle is not a road vehicle.

To obtain evidence that your thing is not a road vehicle, you may wish to apply for an advisory notice that a thing is not a vehicle.

A fee will apply to your application.

Thank you for taking the quiz. We hope it has assisted.

Is the vehicle:

  • built to transport a person?
  • ordinarily used for recreation or play?
  • assisted by a motor or motors with a combined maximum power output not exceeding 200 watts?

If you answered ‘yes’ to all questions it is likely that your vehicle is not a road vehicle.

To obtain evidence that your thing is not a road vehicle, you may wish to apply for an advisory notice that a thing is not a vehicle.

A fee will apply to your application.

Thank you for taking the quiz. We hope it has assisted.

Does the device have:

  • one or more wheels?
  • an effective stopping system, including one or more of the following:
    • brakes
    • gears
    • motor control
  • a footprint* of no more than 1,250mm by 700mm?
  • an unladen mass** of 60kg or less

Is the device:

  • designed to carry one person only?
  • propelled by an electric motor?
  • not capable of exceeding 25km/h on level ground when propelled by motor?
  • no more than 1,350mm in height?
  • equipped with:
    • any object or fitting not technically essential to the device that protrudes from any part of the device in a manner that likely increases the risk of bodily injury to any person?
    • any object or fitting that, because it is pointed or has a sharp edge, likely increases the risk of bodily injury to any person?

* Footprint means the space taken up on the ground by the measured dimensions of the vehicle (length by width).

** Unladen mass means the mass of the vehicle in running order without the driver, passengers or load; with all fluid reservoirs filled to nominal capacity, including fuel, and with all standard equipment.

If you answered ‘yes’ to all the first 8 questions and ‘no’ to the last 2 questions, it is likely that your vehicle is not a road vehicle.

To obtain evidence that your thing is not a road vehicle, you may wish to apply for an advisory notice that a thing is not a road vehicle.

A fee will apply to your application.

Thank you for taking the quiz. We hope it has assisted.

Is the cycle:

  • equipped with one or more auxiliary propulsion electric motors with a combined maximum power output not exceeding 200 watts?
  • without an internal combustion engine?
  • not able to be propelled only by the motor or motors?

Does the cycle have:

  • a tare mass* (including batteries) of less than 50kg?
  • a height-adjustable seat?

* Tare mass means the weight of the cycle without any additional load such as in panniers or a basket.

If you answered ‘yes’ to all questions it is likely that your vehicle is not a road vehicle.

To obtain evidence that your thing is not a road vehicle, you may wish to apply for an advisory notice that a thing is not a vehicle.

A fee will apply to your application.

Thank you for taking the quiz. We hope it has assisted.

Is the cycle:

  • an electrically-powered pedal cycle with a maximum continued rated power of 250W?

Does the power:

  • progressively reduce as the cycle’s travel speed increases above 6 km/h?
  • cut off, where:
    • the cycle reaches a speed of 25 km/h; or
    • the cyclist stops pedaling and the travel speed exceeds 6km/h?

If you answered ‘yes’ to all the questions it is likely that your vehicle is not a road vehicle.

To obtain evidence that your thing is not a road vehicle, you may wish to apply for an advisory notice that a thing is not a road vehicle. When making an application, select the power-assisted pedal cycle option when prompted.

A fee will apply to your application.

Thank you for taking the quiz. We hope it has assisted.

Is the bike:

  • a motorised off-road vehicle?
  • designed to travel on at least 4 high flotation tyres*?
  • steered by handlebars?

Does the bike:

  • have a saddle-type seat designed to be straddled by the user?

* A high flotation tyre has a large sidewall that is designed to be operated at low inflation pressure in order to maximize the contact patch and prevent the vehicle from sinking into soft terrain such as soil or mud

If you answered ‘yes’ to all the questions it is likely that your vehicle is not a road vehicle.

To obtain evidence that your thing is not a road vehicle, you may wish to apply for an advisory notice that a thing is not a road vehicle. When making an application, select the power-assisted pedal cycle option when prompted.

A fee will apply to your application.

Thank you for taking the quiz. We hope it has assisted.

Does the vehicle:

  • travel on continuous tracks rather than tyres (for example, a bulldozer or excavator)?

If you answered Yes, it is likely that your vehicle is not a road vehicle.

Your vehicle does not appear to fit into any of the vehicle classes that have been determined to not be road vehicles. If you believe your vehicle is not a road vehicle, it is recommended that you apply for an advisory notice that a thing is not a road vehicle for the department to make an assessment and decision on your vehicle.

A fee will apply to your application.

Thank you for taking the quiz. We hope it has assisted.

Your vehicle does not appear to fit in to any of the vehicle classes that have been determined to not be road vehicles.

If you believe your vehicle is not a road vehicle, it is recommended that you apply for an advisory notice that a thing is not a road vehicle for the department to make an assessment and decision on your vehicle.

A fee will apply to your application.

Thank you for taking the quiz. We hope it has assisted.