What is a Roadworthy Certificate? A Guide For Australian Drivers

Roadworthy Certificate

The Roadworthy Certificate is an important piece of documentation for those buying or selling vehicles in Australia, if you’ve ever purchased a second-hand vehicle, registered a vehicle or had to transfer ownership, then you’ve likely had to obtain one of these certificates. This article will go through what a roadworthy certificate exactly is so you can be prepared next time you’re dealing with vehicles in the Australian system.

What is the Roadworthy Certificate and Why is it Important?

The Roadworthy Certificate is a piece of paperwork in Australia that proves that a vehicle is safe to drive and in good condition, so buyers, sellers and road authorities can be sure that functional vehicles are on the road. This certification lists the checks done and any repairs that may have to be undertaken on the vehicle. After certification, it is usually signed off and it can be used for your vehicle transfer or purchase.

There are many reasons this is important because, without a Roadworthy Certificate in Australia, you could be putting yourself and others in danger by driving or selling an unsafe vehicle. While it may be costly or time-consuming to apply for one, the Roadworthy Certificate is one of the reasons why Australia has a low mortality rate due to vehicle defects compared to other countries around the world.

It is also important because all states and territories require a Roadworthy Certificate before a vehicle can legally change hands. You simply won’t be able to sell or register your vehicle without this piece of documentation. So don’t skip this important step and ensure you’ve got everything ready before starting any transactions involving Australian vehicles.

What a Roadworthy Certificate Covers

A Roadworthy Certificate in Australia covers different points of the vehicle in terms of its safety and performance. This includes part checks such as:

Brakes, Steering & Suspension

The brake pads are usually checked for any signs of wear that might need replacement as well as any damage to the brake system itself, the steering and suspension systems are generally checked for leaks and the condition of their individual components.

Tyres & Wheels

The tyre tread depth needs to meet a minimum standard set by the road authorities of each state and any signs of irregular wear need to be addressed by having the wheels realigned or repaired if needed. The wheels should also be correctly balanced during this process.

Lights & Wipers

The lights and windows should all be in working order, with the wiper blades being replaced if they are not providing sufficient coverage. The costs of these repairs are usually minimal unless you have more complicated electrical issues.

The Engine, Transmission and Other Parts

The engine and transmission systems need to be in working order, with any major repairs needing to be addressed before a certificate can be issued. Additionally, additional parts such as the exhaust system, air filter and battery should all be assessed for wear or damage that could lead to an unsafe situation when driving.

Body Rust and Structure

Probably one of the bigger issues facing larger vehicles, body rust can contribute to a vehicle becoming unsafe to drive if it is left too long. Inspectors will need to check for signs of rust and structural damage that could affect the safety of the driver or other road users.

Seat Belts & General Safety

The seat belts need to be in working order, with any latches or clips needing to be fully functional. Inspectors may also look at the other safety equipment like airbags or other items on the vehicle.

Who Can Issue a Roadworthy Certificate?

While you might think that any mechanic can issue a roadworthy certificate, this isn’t the case as only licensed vehicle testers are able to provide this document. These can include mechanics, automotive professionals, and licensed vehicle examiners. In order to receive a roadworthy certificate, your vehicle must undergo a thorough inspection by one of these testers.

The testers are usually monitored by the road authorities and if any have a history of unsafe repairs then they may lose their certification. So next time you go for your Roadworthy don’t hesitate to ask your tester for certification if you want to be sure.

The Process of Applying for an Australian Roadworthy Certificate

You’ll simply need to find a certified mechanic in your area, which may also be your current mechanic and If any issues are identified, you’ll be given a list of the repairs required before a certificate can be issued. While it can be frustrating to have unexpected repairs on your hands, the roadworthy certificate is an important measure in Australia to keep all drivers safe on the road.

The Cost of Obtaining a Roadworthy Certificate

There are no set costs for Roadworthy Certificates as all mechanics may charge different inspection fees and some cars need more repairs than others. In most cases for newer vehicles you will generally only pay for the inspection fees and any additional minor repairs that might be required. If you have major damage, such as structural issues or engine leaks then you might be up for a lot more than anticipated.

How Long Do Roadworthy Certificates Last?

Roadworthy Certificates vary based on states in Australia since each road authority has different rules with vehicle transfers, purchasing and selling.


In Victoria, Roadworthy Certificates are valid for 30 days from the time of issue so you have this period of time to complete the sale or transfer to other owners. This is why many buyers and sellers only perform roadworthy certificates on request to avoid paying additional inspection fees.

New South Wales

In NSW, things are a little different, usually, Roadworthy Certificates are valid for 6 months but keep in mind that the road authorities here require vehicles to provide an annual roadworthy certificate if they want to renew their registration.

South Australia

In South Australia, the rules are slightly different with roadworthy inspections only being required with modified vehicles that don’t have standard engines or parts. These inspections must be done before registering the vehicle.


In Queensland, the rules change depending on who is selling the vehicle. Motor dealers can provide valid certificates that last for 3 months while any other sellers will only last for about 2 months.


Roadworthy certificates in Australia are vital in ensuring that vehicles are safe to drive and meet the legal requirements of each state. While it’s quite cumbersome to get the paperwork, especially if you’re up for some hefty repairs, these measures help keep all drivers on the roads safe.

Photo by Nina Mercado on Unsplash

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