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Modified and non-standard vehicles

Got a modified or non-standard vehicle? You'll need to get it certified before you can apply for registration. Here's what you need to know.

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What is a modified or non-standard vehicle?

A modified vehicle is one that has been altered from its original manufacturer’s specification by replacing, adding or upgrading components of its body, engine, brakes, drive train or chassis. This is usually to alter its appearance, handling or performance.

There are many reasons owners choose to modify a vehicle. This may include:

  • to give them a distinctive appearance
  • improve performance or add features
  • change the engine or suspension
  • add a long-range fuel tank
  • so that they are better suited to a specialised purpose.

Non-standard vehicles may include:

  • imported vehicles
  • individually constructed vehicles (ICV)
  • significantly modified vehicles
  • street rods (either a significantly modified production vehicle or an ICV).

If you want to modify your vehicle, you must follow standards and guidelines that apply to the modification of vehicles for use on roads and/or road-related areas.

This ensures modified vehicles are suitable for safe use and that passenger and road user safety is not compromised by the modifications.

Certification of modified or non-standard vehicles

Know the certification requirements – speak to a licensed certifier before building or making any significant modifications to your vehicle.

They may ask you to take photos of the modification work, or bring the vehicle in for inspection at different stages of the modification process.

Exemptions from registration requirements for light vehicles can be requested, but there must be a valid reason. Generally, only exemptions for vehicles modified for disability and glider trailers (PDF, 624.76 KB) are allowed.

Contact Technical Enquiries for more information on exemptions. Email technical.enquiries@transport.nsw.gov.au or phone 1300 137 302.

Significant modifications

Major or significant modifications that require certification include (but are not limited to):

  • fitting aftermarket braking components
  • fitting additional or aftermarket seats, system accessories
  • some manufacturer’s optional equipment.

These major modifications are likely to adversely affect a vehicle’s level of safety and its compliance with vehicle standards.

Before you can apply for registration, they must be assessed by a licensed certifier under the Vehicle Safety Compliance Certification Scheme (VSCCS).

The certifier will conduct inspections, assessments, analysis and tests to determine compliance with applicable vehicle standards. If your vehicle complies with those standards, the certifier will issue a VSCCS Compliance Certificate..

Modified vehicle registration

Once you’ve been issued with a VSCCS compliance certificate, you can apply for or update your registration.

To apply for registration, follow the same process as you would to register any other used or secondhand vehicle.

If your vehicle is currently registered in NSW and you are making modifications, take the compliance certificate and all documentation from the required inspections to a service centre to update the vehicle's records.

VSCCS Compliance Certificates do not expire. Each modification only needs one certification.

Minor modifications

A vehicle with minor modifications may not require certification. You should always check the certification requirements with a licensed certifier.

Minor modifications:

  • do not affect the level of safety, strength or reliability of vital systems, like brakes, steering and occupant protection systems
  • have little or no impact on the vehicle’s compliance with mandatory vehicle standards (including the Australian Design Rules)

Minor modifications include:

  • fitting accessories (eg driving or fog lamps)
  • fitting replacement service-type parts such as brake pads
  • fitting manufacturer’s optional equipment such as tow bars and roof racks that comply with manufacturer specifications
  • replacing worn or damaged parts with new replacement parts supplied by the vehicle’s manufacturer or equivalent aftermarket parts.

Read VSI 06 Light vehicle modifications (PDF, 155.83 KB) for more details.

Find a licenced certifier

Licensed VSCCS certifiers are only authorised to assess modifications and vehicles in their field of expertise. Some licensed certifiers can only assess fitting vehicle bodies (J Code modifications) or tow couplings (P code modifications).

You should check with the certifier if they’re able to assess your planned modifications.

Find a licensed certifier in VSCCS Bulletin No 1 Licenced Certifiers (PDF, 531.38 KB) or find a certifier near you.

Heavy vehicle certification

The Vehicle Safety Compliance Certification Scheme J&P (VSCCS J&P) is a Transport-approved third party licensing scheme. It licenses competent individuals to inspect body fit (J code) and tow coupling/fifth wheel (P code) modifications on heavy vehicles and certify compliance with vehicle standards. Find a heavy vehicle certifier.

Driving an unregistered vehicle for certification

You may drive an unregistered vehicle to get it certified but you must travel by the direct and most convenient route to each location.

Insurance

Your insurance could be void if you don’t have vehicle modifications assessed and certified as compliant with applicable standards. You should tell your insurer of any modifications, and that the vehicle has been certified under VSCCS, once the modifications and certification are complete.

Cancellation of a certificate

Transport for NSW will cancel a compliance certificate and issue you with written notification, if:

  • the certificate was issued fraudulently, incorrectly or negligently
  • the certificate is no longer relevant because of further vehicle modifications
  • the vehicle no longer complies with applicable vehicle standards.

Where to get help

Transport for NSW can provide guidance including:

Individually constructed vehicles (ICV)

An Individually Constructed Vehicle (ICV) is a one-off vehicle built to an individual plan or design and produced by a person for their own use. This person is not to have produced (or had produced) more than 3 ICVs in the previous 12 months. For further guidance see VSI 53 What is an individually constructed vehicle (PDF, 121.56 KB) .

All individually constructed vehicles require a VSCCS Compliance Certificate before they can be registered in NSW. Find a licensed certifier in VSCCS Bulletin No 1 Licenced Certifiers (PDF, 531.38 KB) or find a certifier near you.

Before you build an ICV, contact a VSCCS licensed certifier to get an ICV approval number. The certifier may also conduct periodic inspections during the build process.

Once you’ve had all the required inspections and have been issued with a VSCCS compliance certificate, your licensed certifier will submit the required information to Transport for NSW for review. The review should take around 30 days.

Once your allocated VIN number has been unblocked, you can apply for NSW registration. To do this, follow the same steps for used or secondhand vehicles. Bring all relevant documents to the service centre when you register it.

Vehicles modified for people with disability

Transport for NSW is committed to improving the mobility of people with a disability and facilitating vehicle modifications to assist them. Modified vehicles, including those that require extensive modifications to cater for certain disabilities, must not represent an uncontrolled risk to their occupants and other road users.

A Summary of requirements for registering and using a vehicle modified for a person with a disability (PDF, 99.68 KB) has been compiled to detail responsibilities and ensure safety of all road users. For more detailed information, please see VSI 21 Guidelines for modifying vehicles for people with disability (PDF, 332.62 KB) .

An Exemption Order has now been published relating to the requirement for the modified vehicle to comply with ADR.31/04 Brake systems for Passenger Cars, Appendix A, Clauses 5.1.2.1 & 5.1.2.2 (or an earlier or later version of that Rule & its corresponding relevant clauses), relative to the operation of the service brake. Please view the 21 May 2021 Revised Exemption Order- Driver Hand Controls PDF (PDF, 166.51 KB) .

Manufacturer approved aftermarket components

A modified vehicle is one that has been altered from its original manufacturer’s specification by replacing, adding or upgrading components of its body, engine, brakes, drive train or chassis. This is usually to alter its appearance, handling or performance.

There are many reasons owners choose to modify a vehicle. This may include:

  • to give them a distinctive appearance
  • improve performance or add features
  • change the engine or suspension
  • add a long-range fuel tank
  • so that they are better suited to a specialised purpose.

Non-standard vehicles may include:

  • imported vehicles
  • individually constructed vehicles (ICV)
  • significantly modified vehicles
  • street rods (either a significantly modified production vehicle or an ICV).

If you want to modify your vehicle, you must follow standards and guidelines that apply to the modification of vehicles for use on roads and/or road-related areas.

This ensures modified vehicles are suitable for safe use and that passenger and road user safety is not compromised by the modifications.

Complying with vehicle standards

Each vehicle must comply with the vehicle standards requirements made for it as of its date of manufacture. A vehicle that is modified must continue to comply with those standards or any later version of those standards that may apply as a result of a particular modification.

Vehicles need to comply with the Australian Design Rules and Schedule 2 of the Road Transport (Vehicle Registration) Regulation 2017 for light vehicles or Schedule 2 of the Heavy Vehicle (Vehicle Standards) National Regulation (NSW) for heavy vehicles.

See non-compliant heavy vehicles for how to register a non-compliant heavy vehicle.

Suspension

See the Light vehicle modifications manual - Suspension and ride height (PDF, 401.24 KB) for details on modifying suspension on a light vehicle.

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