Safety certificates

In Queensland a safety certificate is needed when:

  • a registered light vehicle is offered for sale in Queensland, or
  • transferring registration to a new owner, or
  • when transferring to Queensland registration  from another state or territory, or
  • when re-registering  an unregistered vehicle.

Vehicles requiring a safety certificate are:

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

This inspection covers the basic vehicle safety standards for many components including:

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

The Vehicle  Inspection Guidelines explain how a safety certificate inspection is performed and the reasons a  vehicle may fail an inspection.

A safety certificate inspection is not a comprehensive mechanical inspection on the quality, or life  expectancy of a vehicle. 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 obtain a safety certificate  before offering a registered vehicle for sale or disposing of a registered  vehicle, other than to a dealer.

Approved inspection stations (AIS) offer vehicle inspections, and are the only businesses in Queensland that can issue safety certificates. An AIS will give you either a handwritten certificate or an electronically issued certificate.

Electronically issued certificates don't need to be displayed on your vehicle when it is listed for sale, however you must be able to produce it if requested by a buyer, buyer's agent, police officer or transport inspector. The AIS will email you a PDF or give you a printed copy of the certificate.

If you obtain a handwritten safety certificate, you must display the certificate (or the blue cover label) 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'.

Inspection fees—safety certificates (handwritten and electronic)

Vehicle typeFee
Motor vehicles up to 4,500kg GVM$84.70
Trailers over 750kg up to 3,500kg$42.40

Example safety certificates (handwritten and electronic)

* An unassigned certificate is issued when your vehicle's details are not recorded in our system (for example, interstate registered vehicles) or do not match what is already recorded in our system.

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)
  • 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:

  • AIS to obtain a safety certificate
  • 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

Handwritten  safety certificates (or the blue cover label) 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 (or blue cover label) must be able to be seen clearly from outside the vehicle.

You can be fined over $560 if you don't clearly display a handwritten safety certificate (or the blue cover label) on a vehicle—from the moment you offer it for sale.

Electronically issued safety certificates don't need to be displayed on your vehicle when you list it for sale. However, you must have already obtained it and be able to produce it if requested by a buyer, buyer's agent, police officer or transport inspector. This could be printed, or via an electronic method like your smartphone, tablet or computer.

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 previously.

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 previously. 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 married couples and registered partners – until such time that the divorce or application to end the registered relationship is finalised)
  • remote locations.

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