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Vehicle Identification Numbers

A Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is a unique serial number used by the automotive industry to identify individual vehicles.

VIN characteristics

  • VINs conform to 2 international standards:
    • International Standards Organisation (currently ISO 3779 2009), and
    • US Standard FMVSS 115.
  • Every character in every position has a meaning relating to the make, model, year of manufacture and vehicle details.
  • A VIN is always 17 characters long.
  • A VIN can only include the following characters: 0–9, A–Z (uppercase) excluding the letters I, O and Q: This prevents confusion with visually similar numerals.
  • The first 3 characters make up the World Manufacturer Identifier (WMI). Every high volume manufacturer in the world has its own WMI.
  • If the third character of the WMI is a 9, this indicates a low volume manufacturer, with positions 12-14 in the VIN indicating the low volume ID.
  • VINs can be decoded to identify this information so the vehicle can be registered.
  • The last three characters of a VIN must be numbers.

NEVDIS

The National Exchange of Vehicle and Driver Information System (NEVDIS) is responsible for maintaining a database that registers every road vehicle's VIN across the country. A key NEVDIS task is to decode and upload new VINs as vehicles are manufactured or imported into Australia so the vehicle can be registered with the relevant state or territory.

The VIN recorded on your vehicle approval is sent to the NEVDIS Administration Unit (NAU) so it can be validated, decoded and uploaded for registration purposes.

Vehicles without a 17-character VIN

If you are applying to add a vehicle to the Register of Approved Vehicles (RAV), for example by:

  • importing a vehicle you intend to register for on-road use, or
  • applying for concessional RAV entry for an Australian built trailer,

you will need a 17 character VIN before the vehicle can be registered.

Some imported vehicles do not have a 17 character VIN. The most common examples of this relate to Japanese vehicles or older vehicles that use a chassis number as the identifying serial number. The chassis number is always fewer than 17 characters.

Another example is overseas trailer manufacturers who cannot provide a VIN due to local jurisdictional issues.

In these cases, a ‘surrogate’ VIN needs to be created and issued for that particular vehicle so it can be registered. This involves either:

  • expanding the characters in the chassis number and adding a special WMI to the beginning, or
  • issuing the next available VIN without incorporating the chassis number.

The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications (the department) uses a specific WMI – ‘6ZZ’. In addition to adding these characters and using the number 0 to ensure the number is 17 characters long, the department may need to change characters that do not match VIN requirements.

Chassis numbers that include the letter I, O or Q will be changed to 1 or 0. If a chassis number includes a letter within the last 3 characters, it will be changed to a 0.

If you are applying for a concessional RAV entry approval or import approval involving use on a public road and your vehicle/s and/or trailer/s do not have a 17 character VIN, the department will issue a VIN or VINs using the WMI, ‘6ZZ’. NEVDIS recognises that these are Australian Government issued VINs and will load them onto the database for registration purposes.

If you are adding vehicles or trailers to the RAV under a vehicle type approval you will need to arrange for your own WMI and VIN structure to be issued through NEVDIS (Australian vehicles only), or through the appropriate authority in the country where the vehicle is being manufactured.

For example, for Chinese vehicles the relevant authority is:

Mr. Zhu Tong
WMI Coordinator
Auto Standardization Research Institute of China
 Automotive Technology & Research Center
No. 68 East Xianfeng Road
Dongli District
Tianjin, China     300300
Tel:  +86 022-843-79271
Fax:  +86 22 2437 5353
email:  zhuzhu75@126.com or zhutong@catarc.ac.cn
GUO LIN:  email:  guolin@catarc.ac.cn

For Australian vehicles, the NAU can assist in setting up a VIN decoding structure.

Frequently asked questions

How do I get a VIN for a low ATM trailer?

Vehicle type approval holders, including for low ATM trailers, are responsible for generating their own VINs. They must comply with the international VIN structure, which is 17 characters in length and only allows selected characters (see VIN characteristics above).

If you don’t currently have an approved VIN structure, including a WMI, you will need to contact NEVDIS (for Australian vehicles only) or the equivalent issuing authority (for vehicles made overseas) to obtain a WMI and VIN structure for VINs to be added to vehicles covered by a vehicle type approval.

For concessional RAV entry vehicle applications, the department is able to issue a VIN with the WMI ‘6ZZ’ where one is not present.

I have taken my vehicle to be registered but the registering authority has advised that the VIN has not been loaded onto the system:

Each day, the department sends an automated email to the NAU listing every VIN that has been issued with a concessional RAV entry approval (which includes an import approval) since the previous report. The NAU then validates and (if valid) decodes these VINs in order to upload them onto the national database.

If you go to register your vehicle and the registering authority states that the VIN has not been uploaded, three possible scenarios may have occurred:

  1. NEVDIS has not loaded the VIN onto the database yet.
  2. The VIN listed on your application does not match the VIN on your vehicle. This could be an administrative error on behalf of the department or an error on your application form.
  3. The manufacturer didn’t structure the VIN correctly and it cannot be decoded or uploaded.

What do I do next?

  1. In the first instance, send an online enquiry to our client services team to identify the issue. Client services will ask that you double-check that the VIN listed on your vehicle approval matches the VIN on your vehicle. If the VIN matches, client services will contact NEVDIS on your behalf to find out why the VIN has not been uploaded.
  2. If after checking the VIN on your vehicle approval you realise an error has been made, you will need to apply for a variation to your approval. This can be done in the ROVER portal by selecting ‘My Applications’ at the top of the screen; choosing the appropriate approval and selecting Vary; and completing the appropriate actions to submit the application to vary.
  3. If the NAU states that the VIN cannot be decoded, and you have double-checked that the VIN on the vehicle matches the VIN on your approval, it generally means the VIN was not structured correctly by the manufacturer. In this instance, you will need to contact the NAU in order to identify the exact issue. The NAU will often advise you to contact the manufacturer to clarify whether they issued the VIN correctly according to the proper structure.

What options do I have for attaching a VIN to my vehicle?

When issuing a vehicle with a VIN, the approval will include a condition that the VIN must be permanently marked on, or affixed to, an integral part of the vehicle in line with the requirements of the state or territory registration authority where the vehicle will be registered. You should meet that condition and check with your relevant state or territory registering authority for any additional requirements.

My VIN does not include the chassis number that I applied for

Where a chassis number includes characters that cannot be included in a VIN, the approval notice will also identify the previous chassis number to provide traceability between the vehicle identified in the approval and the initial vehicle identifier.

NEVDIS/NAU Contact Details