Vehicle owner responsibilities
Who is the responsible person for a vehicle?
The person whose name appears on the vehicle licence is deemed to be the Responsible Person for the 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.
A positive impact on road safety
Research shows that penalising bad and unsafe driving is an important weapon in the fight to reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads.
Knowing that speeding, running a red light, drink driving or not wearing a seat belt can mean a heavy fine and demerit points that could lead to loss of a driver's licence is a powerful motivator for drivers to do the right thing.
When drivers avoid the results of their unsafe driving and get away with it because they are driving someone else's vehicle, we all lose because they are less likely to change their unsafe driving habits.
This law is designed to improve road safety. It is not about raising revenue. In any event, money raised from speed and red light cameras goes back into road safety and road improvement projects.
Vehicle owner's responsibilities
There is an obligation on the owner of a vehicle (responsible person) to identify a person 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.
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 Parlimentary 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 taxi; or
- When there are variations to the vehicle class, insurance, fee type, conditions or concessions.
If the vehicle no longer requires special identification plates (i.e. taxi plates), the plates must be returned and a general series plate issued. The compulsory Motor Injury Insurance (MII) rate must also be varied to show the new rate (i.e. taxi to motor car).
Infringement notices issued for camera detected traffic offences
Regardless of who breaks the road rules while driving 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 following penalties:
- You will receive the demerit points for someone else's bad driving (these could be double demerits at holiday periods).
- You will have to pay the fine as you will be presumed to have been the driver.
- If you cannot show that you took reasonable measures or made reasonable arrangements to ensure you knew who was in charge of your car, you also could be fined.
The bottom line for all vehicle owners is you must make sure you always know who is driving your vehicle. It makes sense to keep your keys in a secure place and maintain a record of who has control of your vehicle.
Joint owners and nominated licence holders
In most cases, the owner (purchaser) will be the licence holder for the vehicle. However, when there is more than one owner, all owners of the vehicle will need to nominate a licence holder/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 form VL186 to nominate an eligible individual to be the owner/licence holder.
- 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 nominated owner/licence holder 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/licence holder will be recorded by the Department as the person responsible for the vehicle licence.
- An individual may not be nominated as the owner/licence holder of a vehicle unless that individual is also a joint owner of the vehicle.
- The nominated owner/licence holder must be made aware of their obligations as the responsible person.
As the vehicle licence holder, you will responsible for identifying any driver of the vehicle at the time a traffic offence is committed. If you are not able to identify the driver, you will be held responsible for the penalty and any demerit points relating to the offence.
Business partnerships and vehicle licences
In the case of a business partnership, when the owners of the vehicle have nominated which of them is to be the licence holder, only that person's name will appear on the licence. The nominated owner/licence holder will be recorded by us as the Responsible Person for the vehicle.
If the business is operating under a trading name (and is not incorporated and does not have an ACN) the trading name should not be recorded on the licence.
Changing or removing the nominated owner/licence holder
If you wish to cancel the nomination and change it to another joint owner, all joint owners of the vehicle must complete and sign a Change in Nominated/Joint Owners (Form E4).
The current nominated owner/licence holder must continue to be a joint owner of the vehicle i.e. their details are to remain on the vehicle record as a joint owner.
If you cancel the nomination and the new owner/licence holder is not currently also a joint owner of the vehicle, the vehicle must be transferred to the new nominated owner/licence holder. As this is a change in beneficial ownership, payment of transfer and vehicle licence duty is also required.
|Change in nominated joint owners (Form E4)||Kb|
|Proof of identity: Nominated owner - vehicle licence holder (Form VL186)||Kb|
Under-age vehicle owners
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), the vehicle can be licensed in their name.
The applicant 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.
As the licence holder, they are then considered to be the responsible person for that 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, if you are listed as a joint owner, you may apply to transfer the vehicle into your name by submitting a Change in Nominated/Joint Owners (Form E4) (see below).
Please 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.
|Change in nominated joint owners (Form E4)||Kb|
|Proof of identity for other Driver and Vehicle Services transactions (Not an initial driver's licence or 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.
By maintaining thorough Booking Out and Booking In procedures for all your company vehicles, you can ensure the demerit points and fine are incurred by the driver who broke the road rules, and that they are encouraged to improve their driving behaviour.
The Road Safety Commission has excellent publications on workplace road safety and how your company can improve its road safety record.
|Road Safety Commission: Safety topics|
Vehicles belonging to clubs and associations
Unincorporated associations and clubs (such as sporting clubs) with vehicles licensed in their name are classed as the 'Responsible Person' for the vehicle.
Vehicles can no longer be licensed in a club's name. Upon transfer or grant of a vehicle licence, it must be licensed to a legal entity; that is, 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.
The major steps to incorporation are:
- Checking the availability of the intended name.
- Advertising your intention to incorporate.
- Developing rules for good management.
- Applying for incorporation on the Department of Commerce website.
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. Use the online vehicle licence duty calculator to find out what you need to pay.
If applicable, you may submit an Exemption from Vehicle Duty form (s.13), available for download from the Office of State Revenue.
To calculate the duty payable, please refer to our online vehicle licence duty calculator
|Department of Finance: Duties forms and publications|