Written-off light vehicles

If your light vehicle (car, motorcycle, trailer or caravan) has been so badly damaged that it’s not safe or economical to repair, it will be written off and the registration cancelled. Written-off light vehicles cannot be re-registered, except in limited circumstances.

What is a written-off light vehicle?

A light vehicle is written off if it has been so badly damaged that it’s not safe or economical to repair.

An insurer, self-insurer or auto dismantler uses a formula set out in the Road Transport Act 2013 to determine whether a light vehicle will be written off.

Written-off light vehicles cannot be re-registered in NSW, except in limited circumstances, and can only be used for parts or scrap metal.

These laws apply to all light vehicles (less than 4.5 tonnes Gross Vehicle Mass), including cars, trailers, caravans and motorcycles, up to 15 years old.

The NSW written-off vehicle laws aim to make vehicles safer and protect road users. They also aim to reduce vehicle theft, car re-birthing and related crime in NSW.

Vehicle re-birthing

A vehicle is ‘re-birthed’ when the identifiers from a written-off vehicle are used to re-identify a stolen vehicle, or stolen parts are used to repair a written-off vehicle.

Re-birthed vehicles are often poorly repaired and can be a safety risk.

What happens if my light vehicle is written off?

The vehicle registration will be cancelled, and the vehicle recorded on the NSW Written-Off Light Vehicle Register. You’ll be notified of this in writing.

The Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance for the vehicle will continue for four business days after the registration cancellation date.

Re-registering a written-off light vehicle

Roads and Maritime Services will only consider an application to repair and re-register a written off light vehicle in limited circumstances, where the vehicle:

Do not begin any repairs without authorisation from Roads and Maritime.

Statutory write-off assessment criteria

Roads and Maritime will only consider applications to re-register written-off light light vehicles which have not suffered any damage listed under the statutory write-off assessment criteria. Damage listed under the statutory write-off assessment criteria is so severe that it’s not safe to attempt repairs.

Insurers determine whether damage is listed under the statutory write-off assessment criteria by assessing the following:

  • Excessive fire, stripping, water or structural damage
  • Excessive structural damage to three or more of the areas listed:
    • Roof
    • A pillar
    • Firewall
    • Longitudinal structural rails
    • Floorpan
    • The suspension components
    • The mechanical components (eg the engine block, transmission case, differential housing and/or the axle housing)
    • Any or all of the activation or deployment of supplementary restraints (eg airbags and/or seat belts).

If your light vehicle has not suffered any damage listed under the statutory write-off assessment criteria and you want to apply for authorisation to repair and re-register it, you’ll need to get a ‘Declaration of vehicle damage’ from your insurer.

Your vehicle must also fit one of the exempt categories.

Exempt categories

Roads and Maritime will only consider applications to repair and re-register written-off light vehicles if they fit one of the exempt vehicle categories:

  • Hail damaged, where you were the registered operator for more than 28 days before the vehicle was hail damaged (contact your insurer)
  • Inherited in a will or letters of administration
  • Registered in your name for more than 28 days before the damage that caused it to be written off.

Applying for authorisation to repair

If your written off light vehicle has not suffered any damage listed under the statutory write-off assessment criteria and fits one of the exempt categories, you can apply to Roads and Maritime for authorisation to repair it.

You’ll need to provide:

You must mail your application to Roads and Maritime – address details are included on the form.

If authorisation to repair is granted

If your application is approved, Roads and Maritime will mail you an Authorisation to Repair.

Contact a NSW Fair Trading licensed repairer for advice and guidance before beginning repairs.

Your vehicle must be repaired to the manufacturer’s guidelines or recognised industry standards. Once repairs are complete, your repairer will give you a Certificate of Compliance declaring that the vehicle has been repaired to the required standards.

If you intend to carry out repairs yourself, a licensed repairer must certify your repairs. The certifier may need you to present the vehicle for inspections during the repair process. You may need to keep a repair diary of the repair process, photograph the damaged areas before and after repair and keep copies of the relevant standards used for the repairs.

Roads and Maritime recommends that you keep all information to do with the repair process, including invoices and receipts for parts, to support your application for registration.

All vehicles successfully repaired and re-registered will have noted on their Certificate of Registration that the vehicle was previously written off.

Once repairs are completed and certified

Once all your repairs are completed and certified, there are three steps you need to take:

  1. AUVIS inspection
  2. VIIU inspection
  3. Apply for registration.

1. AUVIS inspection

You’ll need to have the vehicle inspected at an Authorised Unregistered Vehicle Inspection Station, and get an identity and safety check

2. VIIU inspection

If you’re in the Sydney, Newcastle or Wollongong areas, the vehicle must then be inspected by the Roads and Maritime Vehicle Identification Inspection Unit (VIIU).

You’ll need to make a booking at any service centreand pay the inspection fee.

You’ll need to bring all the documents related to the vehicle repairs to make your booking as well as to your VIIU inspection, including:

  • Certificate of Compliance issued by a licensed repairer
  • Any third-party certifications, for example for air bag repairs or structural certification
  • Identity and safety check from an AUVIS
  • Completed Application for Registration form
  • CTP insurance.

If your vehicle is outside the Sydney, Newcastle or Wollongong areas, copy all of these documents and post them to:

Roads and Maritime Services Vehicle Identification Inspection Unit
PO Box 646
Botany NSW 1455

3. Apply for registration

Once VIIU has passed the vehicle, attend a registry or Service NSW centre in person (or send a representative) to apply for re-registration.

You’ll need to bring all the documentation related to the vehicle repairs to the registry or service centre, including:

You’ll also need to provide:

  • Proof of your identity. If you’re registering the vehicle in the name of an organisation, you’ll need to complete the Representative’s Authority section on the Application for Registration form
  • If you send someone else to register the vehicle in your name, you’ll need to complete the Representative’s Authority section on the Application for Registration form or provide a letter of authority. Your representative must also provide their own proof of identity
    • Important: If you’re not already recorded in Roads and Maritime systems, you cannot send a representative – you must attend in person
  • Payment for the applicable registration costs.

Light vehicles written off interstate

If you obtain a light vehicle that was written off interstate on or after 1 February 2011, the vehicle must be repaired, inspected and registered interstate before you can apply for NSW registration.

If the vehicle has been registered for less than 12 months, it must be inspected by the VIIU. You’ll be able to book a VIIU inspection when you apply for NSW registration. An inspection fee is payable.

To apply for registration, attend a Service NSW centre in person (or send a representative), and provide:

Information for insurers, dealers and auto dismantlers

Note: In this section, the word ‘assessor’ refers to an insurer, dealer or auto-dismantler.

Light vehicle damage assessors must have relevant qualifications, or be acting on the advice of a person with those qualifications.

In summary, assessors must:

  1. Notify the written off vehicle database within seven days of assessment as a write-off before it’s sold or disposed of. This database contains details of NSW written off vehicles. It’s maintained by Roads and Maritime Services
  2. Issue a total loss assessment when requested by the vehicle operator or Roads and Maritime.
  3. Attach a written-off light vhecile warning label in a visible place to show that the vehicle cannot be re-registered and is suitable only for spare parts or scrap metal
    • On a dismantled vehicle, attach the label to the part with the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on it
    • Note: As of 1 August 2013, notifiers are required to supply their own warning labels. For consistency, Roads and Maritime prefers that labels have a format similar to the example shown below, but without the Roads and Maritime Services logo.
  4. Keep documents from a written-off vehicle assessment for seven years regardless of whether the vehicle is actually written off or not.
Example – written-off light vehicle warning label, attached to written-off light vehicles.

Information for self-insurers

A self-insurer is the registered operator of five or more vehicles with no insurance policies for loss or damage provided by a third party.

The requirements for insurers, dealers and auto dismantlers also apply to self-insurers.

Support materials

Information for licensed repairers

Every written-off vehicle that’s eligible for re-registration must be issued with Light Vehicle Certificate of Compliance by a NSW Fair Trading Licensed Repairer.

Light Vehicle Certificates of Compliance contain a declaration that repairs have been done according to manufacturer’s repair guidelines, or to recognised industry standards if there are no manufacturer’s guidelines.

The Repair and certification procedures provide detailed information about the process, and your obligations and requirements as a licensed repairer.

As a licensed repairer, you may certify your own repairs on a written-off light vehicle, however you must meet the requirements for certification as described in the Repair and certification procedures (PDF).

Certificates of Compliance:

The Road Transport Act 2013 and its regulations specify the duties of licensed repairers when issuing Light Vehicle Certificates of Compliance.

Application to repair a written-off light vehicle

Certificates of Compliance - Motor vehicle

Certificates of Compliance - Motorcycle

Certificates of Compliance - Trailer/caravan

Repair and certification procedures

Written-off Light Vehicle Notification

Written-off Vehicle Advice Identification Amendment

Written-off Vehicle Advice Identification Discrepancy

Written-off Vehicle Register – Request for access via the internet

Written-off Vehicle Register – Business-to-Business user account request

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