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 $87.65
Trailers over 750kg up to 3,500kg $43.90
Motorcycles $56.35

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

Find out more about the requirements to drive your unregistered vehicle to be registered, which includes getting your safety certificate.

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.