Changes to the management of written-off vehicles in NSW
In 2011, the New South Wales Government introduced laws which aim to improve road safety and consumer protection, and to clamp down on vehicle re-birthing and related crime.
The changes meant that all NSW light vehicles written-off after 31 January 2011 cannot be registered and can only be used for parts or scrap metal, except in limited circumstances.
The legislation provides that Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) may issue an Authorisation to Repair a written-off vehicle in limited circumstances.
On 1 February 2013, the final stage of the reforms will come into effect. This means that there are a couple of rule changes for some types of written-off vehicles.
What happened on 1 February 2013?
On 1 February 2013, two important rule changes came into effect:
- No vehicle written-off before 1 February 2011 can be registered without an Authorisation to Repair from Roads and Maritime Services.
A temporary exemption which allowed for certain (ie ‘repairable’) written-off vehicles, written-off before 1 February 2011, to be re-registered without an Authorisation to Repair from Roads and Maritime Services, has expired.This means that, from 1 February 2013, no vehicle, regardless of when it was written-off, will be able to be repaired or re-registered without the prior approval of Roads and Maritime Services. RMS will only grant an Authorisation to Repair if the eligibility criteria are satisfied.
For more information on repairing and re-registration of written-off vehicles, see Exemptions.
- All vehicles that have been written-off after 31 January 2011 and that have been successfully repaired and re-registered, will have indicated on their Certificate of Registration that the vehicle has been notified to the Written-off Vehicle Register.
This is a consumer protection notification to help prospective purchasers of vehicles to identify if a vehicle has previously been written-off.The notification will appear on the vehicles registration papers on the first registration renewal after 31 January 2013.
NSW written-off vehicle laws
What is a written-off vehicle?
A written-off vehicle is a vehicle that has been damaged and has undergone a damage assessment and been reported to the Written-off Vehicle Register (WOVR).
What types of vehicles do the laws apply to?
The laws apply to ALL NSW light vehicles, including cars, trailers, caravans and motorcycles up to 15 years old.
A light vehicle is a registrable vehicle that is 4.5 tonnes Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) or less.
Will any vehicles written-off after 31 January 2011 be able to be registered?
A registered vehicle operator can apply to the Roads and Maritime Services for an Authorisation to Repair a written-off vehicle if:
- The person applying for the Authorisation to Repair is an eligible person;
- The vehicle is an eligible vehicle; and
- The vehicle has not sustained any non-repairable damage.
An eligible person is the registered operator of the vehicle at the time the vehicle sustained the damage causing it to be written-off.
Applications to repair and register a written-off vehicle will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
What is an eligible vehicle?
See ‘Eligible vehicles‘ for more details.
An eligible vehicle is a vehicle which has one of the following characteristics:
- Hail damage
- Owned for more than 28 days by the registered operator.
What is ‘non-repairable damage’?
A written-off vehicle is not eligible to apply for an Authorisation to Repair if the vehicle has suffered non-repairable damage. An insurer assesses damaged vehicles against the non-repairable damage criteria.
Non-repairable damage is damage that is so severe it is not safe to attempt repairs and includes:
- Excessive fire, stripping, water or structural damage;
- Excessive structural damage to three or more of the following:
- A pillar
- Longitudinal structural rails
- The suspension components
- The mechanical components (eg the engine block, transmission case, differential housing and/or the axle housing)
- Any or all of the activation or deployment of the supplementary restraints (eg airbags and/or seat belts).
If Roads and Maritime Services gives me an Authorisation to Repair my written-off vehicle, what happens next?
The vehicle must be repaired according to the standards in the Road Transport (Vehicle Registration) Regulation 2007. This means to the manufacturer’s or to recognised industry standards.
You will need to have the repairs certified by a licensed motor vehicle repairer who will then issue you with a Certificate of Compliance. The vehicle must pass two inspections before you can apply to re-register your vehicle.
See Vehicle Owner Information for details.
What is a Certificate of Compliance?
A Certificate of Compliance is a Roads and Maritime Services form, which certifies your vehicle has been repaired to the required standard.
The form contains a declaration that the repairs were made according to legislated standards. It must be signed by a repairer appropriately licensed by NSW Fair Trading.
Will the laws affect my repaired written-off vehicle that was registered before 31 January 2011?
No. Vehicles classified as repairable written-off and registered before 31 January 2011 can be re-registered for the life of the vehicle, providing standard inspection and registration requirements are met.
Will my vehicle be inspected?
Yes. All written-off vehicles applying for registration in NSW must pass two inspections – one for mechanical safety and one for identity validation.
What if I buy a repairable write-off from another state?
If the vehicle is recorded as a ‘repairable’ written-off vehicle on an interstate Written-Off Vehicle Register after 31 January 2011, it must be repaired and registered in another State or Territory before applying for registration in NSW.