Car Safety Certificate Inspections in QLD: What You Need to Know

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A Car Safety Certificate is a requirement to ensure that all vehicles operating on the roads are roadworthy.

In Queensland, a Safety Certificate is an inspection of the car required to get a roadworthy tag. A roadworthy car must pass all the criteria listed. You need one if they want to transfer their registration to a new owner, sell their vehicles to someone other than a dealer, or re-register an unregistered vehicle.

If you plan to get your car professionally inspected and pass a Safety Certificate Inspection, we can help you with that. From costs to tyre tread depth, this article will explain everything you need to know about Car Safety Certificates and Inspections in Queensland.

Read on to learn all about it!

What is a Safety Certificate in QLD?

A Safety Certificate is required to confirm that your vehicle meets the minimum safety standards in QLD. Your car can be tagged as roadworthy if it passes an inspection of tyres, brakes, steering, suspension, windscreen, lights, and body, and the road test.

However, the inspection should not be a substitute for a comprehensive mechanical examination that determines the quality or life expectancy of the vehicle. 

A safety certificate is required for cars, motorcycles, trailers, and caravans with an aggregate trailer mass (ATM) between 750 kg and 4,500 kg, and vehicles with a gross vehicle mass (GVM) reaching 4,500 kg.

It is also required when re-registering an unregistered vehicle, transferring your vehicle’s registration to a new owner, and transferring from another state to QLD.

Why Do I Need a Safety Certificate in QLD?

You need a Safety Certificate if you want to transfer your vehicle’s registration to a new owner, dispose of your vehicle to someone other than a dealer, transfer your vehicle registration from another state to Queensland, or re-register an unregistered vehicle. 

Essentially, getting a Safety Certificate means you’re complying with the minimum safety standards for your vehicle. It means you can legally operate the vehicle on the road. (Hence, its original name of Roadworthy Certificate.) And, if your vehicle is up for sale, a Safety Certificate is attractive to potential buyers.

What Happens if you Don’t Have a Safety Certificate in QLD?

Without a Safety Certificate in QLD, you cannot be granted a transfer of title by the Department of Transport, cannot re-register your vehicle, or deregister your vehicle.

Some fines will be imposed if you don’t have a Safety Certificate. Based on Queensland’s transport and motoring policy, you’re looking at around a $700 fine if you transfer your vehicle without a Safety Certificate.

How Much Does a Safety Certificate Cost in QLD?

The Safety Certificate inspection fees in QLD vary depending on the vehicle type.

Motorcycles $57.75
Trailers and caravans with ATMs between 750 kg and 4,500 kg $45.00
Motor vehicles with GVM up to 4,500 kg $89.85

For replacement certificates, the rates are as follows:

Replacement inspection certificate $25.30
Approved examiner’s inspection report—issued by the Department of Transport and Main Roads $25.30

How Long Does it Take to Get a Safety Certificate in QLD?

Getting a Safety Certificate only takes about 40 to 50 minutes. That includes the vehicle inspection and preparation of the certificate (handwritten or typed and printed out). 

But that’s when your vehicle passes inspection. If it doesn’t, you’ll have to resolve any issues with your car within 14 days and return to get your Safety Certificate successfully the second time.

How Long is a Safety Certificate Valid?

For general vehicle owners, a Safety Certificate for the sale of a vehicle expires after 2,000km or two months from the date of issue, whichever comes first. However, for licensed car dealerships, they are valid for 1,000km or three months.

When is a Safety Certificate Required?

A Safety Certificate is required if you want to transfer your vehicle’s registration to a new owner, dispose of your vehicle to someone other than a dealer, transfer your vehicle registration to QLD from another state, or re-register an unregistered vehicle.

However, note that as of September 2021, Safety Certificates are no longer required if you’re simply posting your vehicle for sale. You need the certificate when transferring the vehicle’s registration to the new owner. Otherwise, failing to give a valid Safety Certificate can result in at least a $700 fine.

Which Vehicles Require a Safety Certificate?

Light Vehicles (LVs) with under 4.5 tonnes gross vehicle mass (GVM), Trailers (Ts) with a gross trailer mass (GTM) under 4.5 tonnes, L-Group Vehicles (LGs) such as motorcycles, motor tricycles, and mopeds (with 2 or 3 wheels), as well as Heavy Vehicles with GVM or GTM over 4.5 tonnes all require a Safety Certificate. 

Caravans and fleets with aggregate trailer mass (ATM) from 750 kg to 4,500 kg also require a Safety Certificate.

What Happens During a Safety Certificate Inspection?

At Approved Inspection Stations (AIS), a car mechanic or inspector will check the appearance and roadworthiness of your vehicle’s internal (engine, seats, seat belts, etc.) and external parts (cleanliness, body, lights, etc.). Then, they will road test your motor vehicle (except trailers).

The inspector will check the following before the road test:

  • Plate Number – Is it registered?
  • Modifications – Are the modifications requiring approval complicit with the Department of Transportation and Main Roads (TMR)? Are the modifications not requiring approval complicit to the vehicle standards?
  • Exterior – Are the doors, windows, and bodywork operational and free from damage?
  • Interior controls – Are the driving controls working?
  • Driver’s Seat – Are the seat, seat belt, mirror, sun visor, glazing, and forward vision ok?
  • Lights – Do all the lights work? Is the aim of the headlight ok? Are there any problems with the electrical components of the lights?
  • Bonnet or Hood – Is the engine clean and functional? Is the battery clean and functional? Are the components under the bonnet all operational? Is there any leakage?
  • Tyres – Is the steering linkage on the tyre ok? Is there wear and tear? Is the tread depth still ok? Do the tyres need to be changed already? 
  • Under the car – Are there any leaks? Are the suspension, wheel bearings, and steering components good? Do the braking components still look good? Do the underbody, chassis, subframes, engine and drive train, suspension systems, and exhaust pass standards?

When the road test commences, there will be checks, such as on the service brake, parking/hand brake, odometer, speedometer, transmission, clutch, suspension, etc. Then, the results will be recorded.

Note that if your vehicle does not pass the initial checks, it will not be road tested and will be marked as a failure.

What is Required to Pass a Safety Certificate Inspection in QLD?

A Vehicle Inspection Manual is used for light vehicles (4.5 tonnes and under GVM) and heavy vehicles (over 4.5 tonnes GVM), which Inspectors follow to audit your vehicle. The inspection will ensure that the vehicle meets minimum acceptable safety standards. 

According to their checklist, many items must be checked off to pass. If you receive “fail” marks, you may not receive your Safety Certificate. If you maintain your vehicle and check it regularly, you should be able to pass the criteria in the checklist.

What Can Cause a Car to Fail a Safety Certificate Inspection?

A car has many components; if those parts don’t work as they should, you could fail your Safety Certificate Inspection. And as expected, there are many reasons a vehicle will fail inspection. The most common are as follows:

  • Lights – cracked lights, faded lenses. Non-functional number plate lights, brake lights, and fog lights
  • Tyres – cracked tyres, worn-out tires, tread depth is less than 1.5 mm, missing valve caps, incorrect tyre air pressure (including your spare tyre)
  • Steering – worn-out steering and alignment components
  • Suspension – worn-out components
  • Windscreen – cracks, chips, or scratches, and very dark tint
  • Wiper Blade – cracked
  • Brakes – ineffective braking system (including the hand brake); hand brake doesn’t hold when uphill
  • Leaks – engine oil leak, transmission oil leak, exhaust leak
  • Restraints – non-working seatbelts and airbags
  • Radiator Hose – worn-out or brittle
  • Battery – low battery fluid, dirty
  • Rust – corrosion and rust in the duco
  • Horn – not working
  • Modifications – non-complicit with safety standards

There are more parts of a vehicle that can cause failure. (A more detailed checklist is available on the QLD website for light vehicles and heavy vehicles.) This is why it’s essential to regularly maintain your vehicle in tip-top shape, not just so you can pass a Safety Certificate Inspection, but also so you can drive it safely.

What Happens if your Car Fails a Safety Certificate Inspection in QLD?

If you fail a Safety Certificate Inspection, it’s not the end of the world. Inspectors will give you 14 days to rectify the issues or repair your vehicle so it can pass the second time. 

Some, if not most, Inspectors will not charge you the total inspection fee the second time. However, there are call-out or sign-off fees that you still need to pay if you’re getting a mobile inspector to come over.

Where Can I Get a Safety Certificate in QLD?

Safety Certificates can only be obtained at Approved Inspection Stations (AIS) accredited by the Department of Transport and Main Roads. Some AIS perform inspections at service stations or mechanical workshops, and others offer mobile inspection services.

While workshop-based Safety Certificate Inspections can cost you $57.75 to $89.85, a mobile Safety Certificate inspection and call-out are somewhere between $89 to $159.

To find an accredited AIS, you can visit the Department of Transport and Main Roads. Simply input your postcode or suburb, limit the search to your radius, and key in your inspection type (light motor vehicle, heavy motor vehicle, motorcycle, heavy trailer, etc.)

Where Can I Get a Replacement Safety Certificate?

You can get a Replacement Safety Certificate at an accredited AIS as well. You can also go online to find an AIS near you

Who Can Issue a Safety Certificate in QLD?

Only Approved Inspection Stations (AIS) can issue Safety Certificates in QLD. These licensed stations include service stations and approved mechanical garages and workshops. To check if the station is licensed, look for their displayed AIS number.

AIS can issue electronic (digital only or digital then printed) and handwritten certificates.

Related Questions

Can I Drive an Unregistered Car to Get it Registered in QLD?

Yes, you can drive an unregistered vehicle to get it registered. If you are moving from another state, you have 14 days to do that before you get fined. That 14-day period is given so you can register your vehicle and get a safety certificate or certificate of inspection. 

Another caveat when driving an unregistered car in QLD is that you need to have a Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance certificate while in transit.

Where Do I Display My Safety Certificate?

Safety certificates need to be visible, so for cars, this usually means your windscreen or window. For caravans, put your safety certificate on your windows. For trailers, you can put it in your drawbar. And for motorcycles, you can display your safety certificate on your front fork or guard.

Is a Safety Certificate the Same as a Roadworthy?

Yes, a Safety Certificate and a Roadworthy Certificate are the same in Queensland. Roadworthy Certificate was the term used before 1995. After that, it was replaced by the Safety Certificate, which you will typically see and hear nowadays.


This article is published in good faith and for general informational purposes only. Shift Automotive does not make any warranties about the ongoing completeness and reliability of this information, and specifics will vary according to your vehicle’s manufacturer and model. This article is not intended to replace consultation with a qualified automotive service technician.