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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. A manufacturer is defined in ISO 3779 2009 and is equivalent to a road vehicle type approval holder who has met the requirements under the Road Vehicle Standards (RVS) legislation.
  • 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 records every road vehicle's VIN across Australia. A key NEVDIS task is to decode and upload new VINs as vehicles are manufactured within or imported into Australia so the vehicle can be registered in 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.

This guide explains how to submit a VIN to NEVDIS.

Vehicles without a 17-character VIN

If you are applying for a Non-RAV entry approval, or 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 in Australia, or
  • meeting the requirements for concessional RAV entry approval for an Australian manufactured trailer,

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

Some imported vehicles do not have a 17 character VIN or it is not able to be validated or decoded by NEVDIS. 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. In other cases the VIN may include a WMI that is no longer recognised, for example, a VIN issued by the United Kingdom Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

Overseas trailer manufacturers who cannot provide a VIN due to local jurisdictional issues is another example.

Surrogate VINs

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, Communications and the Arts (the department) may generate a specific WMI – '6ZZ' – where a VIN is not available, is not recognised, or only a chassis number is provided when processing a concessional RAV entry approval. In addition to adding 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.

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

When the department generates a VIN, it now uses the 4th character of the VIN to identify the vehicle's original year of manufacture. For example, 6ZZK for a 2019 model vehicle.

The year code is determined automatically when the VIN is generated based on the table below.

Year Code Year Code
1989–2019 K 2006–2036 6
1990–2020 L 2007–2037 7
1991–2021 M 2008–2038 8
1992–2022 N 2009–2039 9
1993–2023 P 2010–2040 A
1994–2024 R 2011–2041 B
1995–2025 S 2012–2042 C
1996–2026 T 2013–2043 D
1997–2027 V 2014–2044 E
1998–2028 W 2015–2045 F
1999–2029 X 2016–2046 G
2000–2030 Y 2017–2047 H
2001–2031 1 2018–2048 J
2002–2032 2 2019–2049 K
2003–2033 3 2020–2050 L
2004–2034 4 2021–2051 M
2005–2035 5 2022–2052 N

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.

Only Australian manufacturers can request a WMI and VIN structure through NEVDIS.

Road vehicles or trailers manufactured in an overseas country must seek the VIN and/or WMI and VIN structure from the overseas manufacturer or through the relevant authority in the overseas country where the road vehicle or trailer is, or will be, 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 NEVDIS Administration Unit (NAU) can assist in setting up a VIN decoding structure.

Frequently asked questions

Why doesn't my VIN include the chassis number 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.

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

Road vehicle type approval holders, including for low ATM trailers, are responsible for generating their own VINs. They must comply with the international WMI and 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 either contact:

  • NEVDIS if you can demonstrate you are an Australian vehicle manufacturer, or
  • the equivalent issuing authority in the overseas jurisdiction where the vehicles are manufactured to obtain a WMI and VIN structure for VINs to be added to vehicles covered by a road vehicle type approval.

For a single vehicle covered by a concessional RAV entry approval application, the department will generate a VIN with the WMI '6ZZ' where a VIN is not present.

I took my vehicle to be registered but was told the VIN has not been loaded onto the system. Why is this?

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 identifies the VIN has not yet been uploaded, three possible scenarios may have occurred:

  • NEVDIS has not uploaded the VIN onto the database yet.
  • 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 submitted with the department.
  • The vehicle manufacturer did not structure the VIN correctly and it cannot be validated, decoded or uploaded.

What do I do next?

  • In the first instance, send an online enquiry to our RVS and vehicle enquiries team to identify the issue. We will ask that you check that the VIN listed on your vehicle/import approval matches the VIN on your vehicle. If the VIN matches, we will contact the NAU on your behalf to find out why the VIN has not been uploaded.
  • If after checking the VIN on your vehicle/import 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 logging in to your ROVER account and 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 your approval.
  • If the NAU confirms the VIN cannot be decoded, and you have checked the VIN on the vehicle matches the VIN on your vehicle/import approval, it generally means the VIN was not structured correctly by the vehicle 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 vehicle manufacturer to clarify whether they issued the VIN correctly according to the WMI and VIN structure issued to them.

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

When issuing a vehicle with a VIN, the vehicle/import approval will include a condition that the VIN must be permanently marked on a durable self-adhesive label or metal plate and 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.

Please ensure you contact your relevant state or territory registering authority and check for any additional requirements.

NEVDIS/NAU contact details