Modified and non-standard vehicles
Modified and non-standard vehicles, including individually constructed vehicles, must be assessed to ensure that they comply with legislated vehicle standards, and don’t pose a safety risk.
What is a modified or non-standard vehicle?
Non-standard vehicles include:
- Significantly modified vehicles - see Vehicle Standards Information (VSI) 6 which details light vehicle modifications that require certification under VSCCS
- Imported vehicles
- Street rods
- Individually constructed vehicles.
Before they can be registered, these vehicles must be assessed by a licensed certifier under the Vehicle Safety Compliance Certification Scheme (VSCCS). If your vehicle complies with the standards, the certifier will issue a VSCCS Compliance Certificate.
You will then need to take a copy of your Compliance Certificate to a registry or service centre to have the vehicle's records updated.
VSCCS Compliance Certificates do not expire, and each modification only needs to be certified once.
Important: You should speak with a licensed certifier before making any significant modifications to your vehicle, to make sure you’re aware of the requirements for certification. For example, you may be asked to take photos of the modification work, or bring the vehicle in for inspection at various stages during the modification process.
From 21 July the New South Wales Roads and Maritime Services has applied a grace period for J and P code modifications until 10 February 2015.
A heavy vehicle J code modification includes simple body mountings and a P code modification includes tow coupling, fifth wheel and king pin installations.
Before the introduction of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) on 10 February 2014, simple J and P code modifications did not require certification in New South Wales.
Concerns were raised that the current qualified licensed heavy vehicle certifiers in New South Wales may not be able to satisfy the volume of J and P modification certifications required under the HVNL. Whilst the grace period is in place, J and P code modifications certified in any other jurisdiction with the corresponding plate/ label and certificate will be accepted for registration in New South Wales.
In New South Wales administrative arrangements have been put in place that will allow heavy vehicles with uncertified J and P code modifications to be registered. Similar arrangements exist in the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria. These arrangements will cease at the end of the grace period on 10 February 2015.
The grace period will allow New South Wales time to develop and implement a suitable scheme to provide for the certification of J and P code modifications.
If transferring registration to Queensland or South Australia a heavy vehicle which has had a modification which has not been plated/ labelled and does not have a certificate will require the modification to be certified before it can be registered in those jurisdictions.
For information on the how to comply with these administrative requirements please contact the AVE Scheme Administrator at:
Contact: AVE Scheme Administrator
Phone 1300 336 206
Licensed certifiers are only authorised to assess modifications and vehicles within their particular field of expertise. You should check with the certifier that they’re able to assess your planned modifications.
During the process of certifying your vehicle, the certifier will conduct inspections, assessments, analysis and tests according to applicable vehicle standards.
The licensed certifier will give you a copy of the Compliance Certificate.
Individually constructed vehicles
Individually constructed vehicles are built on specially constructed floorpan or chassis structures. Some extensively modified production vehicles are also classified as individually constructed.
All individually constructed vehicles require a VSCCS Compliance Certificate before they can be registered in NSW.
A vehicle is classed as individually constructed if it has:
- A specially constructed chassis (non-production vehicle) or a manufactured replica chassis
- A widened or narrowed chassis, either in places or along the whole length of the chassis
- A production chassis which does not retain at least one of the original structural cross-members in the same place for that chassis
- A substantial change to the arrangement of the engine and driveline, such as engine moved from front to rear or to a mid-mounted position, or if the vehicle is changed from front wheel to rear wheel drive
- A monocoque construction, where the subframe structure has undergone significant structural change, such as removal and replacement of subframes with structures of a different design, or modification of the subframe rails.
If you intend to build an individually constructed vehicle, you should contact a VSCCS licensed certifier before you start to obtain an ICV approval number. The certifier will probably also require periodic inspections during the build process.
Once you’ve had all the required inspections and certifications, you can apply for NSW registration for your individually constructed vehicle.
Street rods are modified vehicles that:
- Have a body and frame built before 1949, or
- Are a replica of a vehicle, the body and frame of which were built before 1949.
Street rods require a VSCCS Compliance Certificate before they can be fully registered in NSW.
Fully registered street rods must comply with the National Guidelines for the Construction and Modification of Street Rods in Australia and the NSW Supplement to Second Edition National Guidelines for the Construction and Modification of Street Rods in Australia. These two documents combined are the vehicle standard for fully registered street rods.
If you intend to build a street rod for full registration, you should contact a VSCCS licensed certifier before you start. The certifier will probably also require periodic inspections during the build process.
Once you’ve had all the required inspections and certifications, you can apply for NSW registration for your street rod.
Modifications which add optional equipment to a vehicle can generally be owner-certified.
Non-standard modifications of a minor nature which do not affect the level of safety, strength or reliability of vital systems like brakes and steering, may also be owner-certified.
These modifications have little or no impact on the vehicle’s level of compliance with the Australian Design Rules.
The vehicle must still pass an identity and eSafety Check at an Authorised Unregistered Vehicle Inspection Station (AUVIS).
Driving an unregistered vehicle for the purposes of inspection
On journeys to have the vehicle inspected, you may drive it unregistered, but you must travel by the shortest, most practical route to each location.
If the vehicle does not pass inspection, but does not pose an imminent risk to road safety, it may be driven the most direct and convenient route to the nearest place where work can be carried out, to bring the vehicle up to the applicable vehicle standards. In this case, the VSCCS licensed certifier must give you a letter saying the vehicle does not pose an imminent safety risk.
See Unregistered vehicles for more information.
Cancellation of a Compliance Certificate
Roads and Maritime will cancel a Compliance Certificate, and issue you with written notification, if:
- The certificate was issued fraudulently, incorrectly or negligently
- The certificate is no longer relevant because of further vehicle modifications
- The vehicle no longer complies with applicable vehicle standards.
Vehicles need to comply with the Australian Design Rules and Schedule 2 of the Road Transport (Vehicle Registration) Regulation 2017 for light vehicles or Schedule 2 of the Heavy Vehicle (Vehicle Standards) National Regulation (NSW) for heavy vehicles.
If your vehicle complies with the standards explained in Vehicle Standards Bulletin 6 or Vehicle Standards Bulletin 14, you can be confident that it complies with applicable vehicle standards, pending certification. There are alternative methods of proving compliance, as explained in VSCCS Bulletin 2.
Your insurance could be void if you don’t have modifications on your vehicle assessed and certified as compliant with the appropriate standards. You should advise your insurer of any modifications, and that your vehicle has been certified under VSCCS.
When a vehicle’s braking system is modified in a way that may affect its safety, it must be assessed by a certifier. The Brake assessment manual details the different methods and regulations for assessing vehicle braking system modifications.
The Centre for Road Safety also has videos available, showing practical demonstrations of the tests specified in the manual.
For general information about the VSCCS, phone 1300 336 206 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For technical information in relation to a vehicle, contact Technical Enquiries by phoning 1300 137 302 or emailing Technical.Enquiries@rms.nsw.gov.au.
To read the relevant legislation: