Your vehicle’s roadworthiness should be checked regularly and in most cases you will need an annual safety inspection report for vehicle registration.

A vehicle must be registered and have RMS issued number plates (as recorded on the registration papers) on the front and back for cars, trucks and public vehicles and on the back only for motorcycles and trailers. It is an offence to stand or drive or cause or permit another person to stand or drive an unregistered vehicle on a road or road-related area. Compulsory third party insurance is not valid for unregistered vehicles making you liable if a person is injured in a crash. Severe penalties apply for driving unregistered or uninsured vehicles.

Vehicles can be checked for valid registration and CTP insurance by RMS cameras.

If your vehicle’s registration renewal notice includes “INSPECTION REQUIRED”, the vehicle has to pass an inspection before registration can be renewed. If your vehicle fails the inspection you will get a list of faults that must be fixed. You cannot renew the registration until it passes.

A vehicle sold privately must have an inspection report less than one month old, have been registered in NSW in the last month, or have “INSPECTION NOT REQUIRED” on its current Certificate of Registration.

Number plates

The RMS issued number plates on the vehicle you drive must be:

  • Permanently fixed to the vehicle
  • Clearly readable – not dirty, worn or damaged
  • Given back to RMS after the registration has expired
  • Able to be read clearly from anywhere within a 45° arc of the vehicle’s centreline, at a distance of at least 20m. That means they cannot be hidden by anything. If you use a bike rack that hides the rear number plate, you must move the rear number plate where it can be seen clearly or buy an secondary number plate to attach to the bike rack

The rear number plate (or secondary) must have a light so it is clearly visible at night.

It is an offence to:

  • Alter number plates
  • Use a number plate on a vehicle other than what is recorded with RMS
  • Use a number plate cover that is not flat, clear and untinted


Before you drive make sure your vehicle is roadworthy. A roadworthy vehicle is one that is safe to drive and meets the standards required by law.


Your tyres must be in good condition and have a tread at least 1.5mm deep. Cars and motorcycles must not have re-grooved tyres, unless the tyre was manufactured to be re-grooved.

Keep the tyres inflated to the recommended pressure or they may overheat and fail. The sidewalls of the tyres should not have cracks or bumps. Tyres wearing unevenly can indicate a problem with the steering or suspension.

Checking your vehicle

Check your:

  • Lights – headlights, brake lights, indicators
  • Windscreen, wipers and washers
  • Brakes
  • Steering
  • Horn
  • Tyres
  • Seatbelts

Adjust the driver’s seat so you have a clear view of the road and can reach the controls easily. Make sure your lights work and can be seen (otherwise you cannot drive at night) and that your lights, windows, and mirrors are clean. Adjust the mirrors so that you have a good view to the rear and sides.

Defect notices

Police can give a Defect Notice if the vehicle does not meet the roadworthiness standard required (e.g. car is too noisy, drips oil, or blows too much smoke). A defect notice means the vehicle must be repaired and officially cleared (you may not be allowed to drive the vehicle until this happens). Even if you’re not responsible for its repair, it is an offence to drive a defective vehicle. Infringement notices may simultaneously be issued for defective or missing equipment. The police can impound a dangerous vehicle, or ban its use on NSW roads.

Protrusions on the front of vehicles

A defect notice can be issued to a vehicle if its accessories do not comply with the requirements. Fishing rod holders, spotlight mounts and winches are illegal protrusions on the front of your vehicle if not fitted correctly.


Modifications may affect your registration, insurance and manufacturer’s warranty cover. Some modifications (e.g. suspension) can make the vehicle less stable and affect performance and handling. Certain modifications may make the vehicle non-compliant.


Continue reading the Road Users’ Handbook Summary:

1. Introduction

2. Licences

3. Road Safety

4. Safe Driving

5. General Road Rules

6. Vehicle Registration

7. Penalties

Check out the other resources available to help you pass the Driver Knowledge Test and get your learner licence (L plates):

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