Vehicle owner responsibilities

If you are the owner of a licensed vehicle you have certain responsibilities under the Road Traffic Act. Here, you can find out what this Act means for you as an individual, joint owner, under-aged owner or business.

  Who is the responsible person for a vehicle?

A 'responsible person' is the licence holder (if the vehicle is currently licensed), but under specific circumstances the 'responsible person' can include:

  • The new owner, if a change of ownership is received by the Department (not applicable if the new owner disputes taking ownership).
  • The previous licence holder, if the vehicle is not currently licensed.
  • The person entitled to immediate possession of the vehicle.
  • The person whose name appears on the vehicle licence.

  Vehicle owner's responsibilities

There is an obligation on the owner of a vehicle ('responsible person') to identify who was in charge of their vehicle at the time of an alleged traffic offence.

The following information explains in detail how the Act affects you and your licence as:

  • An individual vehicle owner/licence holder.
  • A joint owner or nominated licence holder.
  • An unincorporated club or association with vehicles licensed in your name.
  • An under-age vehicle owner.
  • A company or business with vehicles licensed in the company name.
  • A financial institution that repossesses vehicles.

Note:

This information is only a guide to the law and should not be interpreted as the law. For the exact legal details, please refer to the Parliamentary Counsel's Office website.

  Change of use

Owners must inform us when the use and/or details of their vehicle changes. Examples of this include:

  • When the purpose of the vehicle changes e.g. from a normal vehicle to a Passenger Transport Vehicle (PTV); or
  • When there are variations to the vehicle class, insurance, fee type, conditions or concessions.

If the vehicle no longer requires special identification plates (e.g. PTV plates), the plates must be returned and a general series plate issued. The compulsory Motor Injury Insurance (MII) class must also be varied to show the new class (e.g. 3c to 1a).

  Infringement notices issued for camera detected traffic offences

Regardless of who breaks the road rules while driving your vehicle, as the 'responsible person' for your vehicle, the infringement notice will come to you. If you believe someone other than yourself committed the offence, you must provide this information to the Police.

It may be easy to identify the driver from the Police photograph, but if the Police ask you to identify who you allowed to use your car, and you cannot tell them, or refuse to tell them, you are liable for the penalties.

  Joint owners and nominated licence holders

In most cases, the owner (purchaser) will be the 'responsible person' for the vehicle. However, when there is more than one owner, all owners of the vehicle will need to nominate a single 'responsible person'.

The following rules apply to all jointly-owned vehicles:

  • A vehicle cannot be licensed in the name of more than one person at a time.
  • Where a vehicle is jointly-owned all owners must complete and sign a Proof of Identity Nominated Owner/Vehicle Licence Holder VL186 form to nominate an eligible individual to be the 'responsible person'.
  • Where there is no change in the joint owners but the nominated owner/licence holder is to change, a Change in Nominated/Joint Owners form E4 is to be completed by all owners. Transfer and vehicle licence duty will not be payable.
  • Where a joint owner or 'responsible person' is to be removed a Change in Nominated/Joint Owners (Form E4) is to be completed by all owners. Transfer and vehicle licence duty will be payable.
  • The nominated owner will be recorded by the Department as the person responsible for the vehicle licence.
  • An individual may not be nominated as the 'responsible person' for a vehicle unless that individual is also a joint owner of the vehicle.
  • The nominated owner must be made aware of their obligations as the 'responsible person'.

Business partnerships and vehicle licences

In the case of a business partnership, when the owners of the vehicle have nominated a 'responsible person', only that person's name will appear on the licence.

If the business is operating under a trading name (and is not incorporated and does not have an ACN) the trading name cannot be recorded on the licence.

Changing or removing the nominated owner/licence holder

If you wish to cancel the nomination of the responsible person and change it to another joint owner, all joint owners of the vehicle must complete and sign a Change in Nominated/Joint Owners (E4) form.

If you cancel the nomination and the new owner/licence holder is not currently also a joint owner, or the previous 'responsible person' is no longer a joint owner, the vehicle must be transferred. Payment of transfer and vehicle licence duty is required.

LBU_F_E4_NomJointOwner.pdf icon Change in nominated joint owners (Form E4) Kb
LBU_F_VL_186_ProofIdentity.pdf icon Proof of identity: Nominated owner - vehicle licence holder (Form VL186) Kb

  Under-age vehicle owners

You must provide proof of identity and have attained the prescribed age for the class of vehicle being licensed (16 years for light vehicles up to 4,500 kg, 18 years for heavy vehicles). Refer to the proof of identity fact sheet below for information about ID requirements.

If you are a vehicle owner under the age of 16 years, you cannot apply for a vehicle licence or nominate a 'responsible person' for the vehicle. If you jointly own the vehicle with someone over the age of 16 (your mother or father for example), they would be listed as the 'responsible person' for the vehicle.

They will be liable for demerit points and fines for offences committed by the driver of the vehicle, unless they can provide the identity of the driver at the time the offence was committed.

Once you turn 16, provided you are listed as a joint owner, you may apply to be nominated as the 'responsible person' for the vehicle by submitting a Change in Nominated/Joint Owners (E4) form (see below).

Note:

If the other joint owner is removed from the vehicle's licence record, you will have to pay a transfer fee and vehicle licence duty (at current market value). The same arrangements apply for drivers under 18 in relation to driving heavy vehicles.

LBU_F_E4_NomJointOwner.pdf icon Change in nominated joint owners (Form E4) Kb
LBU_FS_POI_PrimSec.pdf icon Proof of identity for other Driver and Vehicle Services transactions (Not an initial driver's licence or WA Photo Card) Kb

  Vehicles belonging to a company or business

Companies with vehicles licensed in their name will be deemed to be the 'responsible person' for the vehicle. This means that your company can be fined for failing to take reasonable measures or make reasonable arrangements to ensure an accurate record is kept of who is driving your company vehicles at all times.

For corporations, the penalty is $5,000.

  Vehicles belonging to clubs and associations

Vehicles can no longer be licensed in a club's name.

Unincorporated associations and clubs (such as sporting clubs) with vehicles currently licensed in their name are classed as the 'responsible person' for the vehicle. When these vehicles are replaced the replacement vehicles must be licensed to a legal entity; i.e. a person, a corporate body, an incorporated body or any other organisation that is recognised as a legal entity.

To meet these requirements, you must license the vehicle to a nominated individual who is a joint owner of the vehicle or the club must become an incorporated body.

  Incorporation of an association or club

Incorporation of an association or club means that it becomes a legal entity in its own right, separate from the individual members. Put another way, the association is considered by law to have a distinct identity that continues regardless of changes to the membership.

The process to incorporate an association is relatively simple and inexpensive. Furthermore, there are some advantages under the Owner Onus laws.

For example, if your club's vehicle is licensed in a nominated individual's name and the club wants to remove the nominated owner from the licence record, the club is responsible for paying vehicle licence duty and transfer fees (refer to licensing fees and charges below).

An incorporated club or association would remain the licensed vehicle owner regardless of membership, executive, committee or staff changes.

  Repossessed vehicles

All financial institutions that repossess or take possession of a vehicle due to a default in a financial contract will become the owner of the vehicle.

You will not be required to notify us following every repossession, but you may need to pay transfer and vehicle licence duty should the vehicle be sold to a third party.

If applicable, you may submit a Dealer's Certificate: Exemption on Transfer of Licence (FDA36) form, available for download from the Department of Finance website.

To calculate the duty payable, please refer to our online vehicle licence duty calculator.

Opens in a new window Department of Finance: Duties forms and publications

 

Page last updated: Mon Jul 22 2019 12:27:01 PM