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Roadworthy and safety certificates

In Queensland a roadworthy certificate is called a safety certificate.

A safety certificate is needed when a registered light vehicle is offered for sale in Queensland, or when re-registering and unregistered vehicle. It confirms that a vehicle has passed a minimum safety standard inspection.

Vehicles requiring a safety certificate are:

  • cars
  • motorcycles
  • trailers (including caravans) with an aggregate trailer mass (ATM) of 750kg-3,500kg
  • any other vehicles up to 4,500kg gross vehicle mass (GVM).

This inspection covers the basics for the safe operation of the vehicle, such as:

  • tyres
  • brakes
  • steering
  • suspension
  • body rust or damage
  • windscreen
  • lights.

A safety certificate inspection is not a comprehensive mechanical inspection. If you are buying a used vehicle, you should contact a motoring group such as RACQ for a full mechanical inspection.

A safety certificate is not needed in some situations.

Getting a safety certificate

You must display a safety certificate on a registered light vehicle from the moment you offer it for sale, including when you:

  • list the vehicle for sale online
  • display that it is for sale in public
  • drive the car with a sign in the window offering it for sale, including wording such as 'Buy me or interested?—Ph 1234 5678'.

Approved inspection stations offer vehicle inspections, and are the only businesses in Queensland that can issue safety certificates.

Inspection fees—safety certificates

Vehicle type Fee
Motor vehicles up to 4,500kg GVM $72.20
Trailers over 750kg up to 3,500kg $36.15
Motorbikes $46.40

Getting a safety certificate for an unregistered vehicle

You can drive your unregistered vehicle to get the safety certificate, but make sure you:

  • remove the number plate(s) and registration label (if applicable) from the vehicle—standard number plates must be surrendered to the Queensland Government. You are able to keep Queensland-issued personalised plates
  • take with you a complete vehicle registration application (F3518) (PDF, 422KB)
  • take with you the original compulsory third party (CTP) insurance certificate (6- or 12-month registration period) from a licensed insurer.

You must take the shortest and most direct route to an:

  • approved inspection station (AIS) to obtain a safety certificate
    or
  • authorised gas installer to obtain a gas certificate, if your vehicle uses gas systems.

If your vehicle does not pass a safety certificate check and:

  • the AIS can not do the work needed to get a safety certificate
  • the vehicle is in a safe condition

You can get an unregistered vehicle permit to drive the vehicle to be fixed. Otherwise the vehicle must be towed.

When you have a safety certificate and gas certificate (if applicable), you can drive your vehicle to a transport and motoring customer service centre to apply for vehicle registration.

Displaying a safety certificate

The safety certificate must be displayed in an obvious area, such as:

  • motorcycle—on the front forks or guard
  • car—on the windscreen or window
  • trailer—on the drawbar.

When displayed, all information written on the certificate must be able to be seen clearly from outside the vehicle.

You can be fined over $560 if you don’t clearly display a safety certificate on a vehicle—from the moment you offer it for sale.

How long are safety certificates valid?

The time a safety certificate is valid depends on who is selling the vehicle:

  • licensed motor dealers—certificates are valid for 3 months or 1,000km (whichever comes first) from the date of issue
  • all other sellers—certificates are valid for 2 months or 2,000km (whichever comes first) from the date of issue.

You can use the same safety certificate to register an unregistered vehicle and then transfer the registration, as long as you do this within the limits set out above.

You will need to get a new safety certificate every time you sell a vehicle, even if you sell it within the limits set out above. A single safety certificate can be used for 1 transfer only.

When is a safety certificate not needed?

Selling a vehicle without a safety certificate

Vehicles that are unregistered or are traded to, or between, licensed motor dealers do not need a safety certificate. Vehicles can still be sold for parts but they must be de-registered before being offered for sale.

Transferring a vehicle without a safety certificate

You do not need a safety certificate if the vehicle meets 1 of the exemption criteria. Some exemption situations may include:

  • the disposer being in an exempt area
  • a beneficiary of a deceased estate
  • between spouses, including separated spouses
  • remote locations.

For more information on safety certificate exemptions, call the Department of Transport and Main Roads on 13 23 80.

Certificates of inspection

Find out about certificates of inspection, which are periodic vehicle inspections for:

  • trucks—including prime movers and tow trucks
  • buses
  • motorhomes
  • heavy trailers
  • taxis and limousines.

Maintaining your car

Find out the basic vehicle safety checks you can do to keep your car running smoothly and safely.

Last updated
5 August 2013

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