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Registering a bike in the ACT

Apr 22, 2014
Registering a bike in the ACT
  • Registering a bike in the ACT
    Note: This is not a definitive guide nor is it authorative. For all enquiries, the relevant ACT government authority is rego.act: You can also call Canberra Connect (13 22 81) or pop into one of the shopfronts:
    (The Civic shopfront only deals with drivers licence stuff and senior citizens cards).

    Fees listed in this guide are approximate and current as of November 2012. I will endeavour to update them as they change but the definitive guide is also rego.act.

    Roadworthy inspections
    Roadworthy inspections in the ACT are only performed if you have received a defect notice or you are transferring registration (with some conditions - they are not always necessary). Below, I detail when they are required and what's expected in terms of passing a vehicle.

    A roadworthy inspection is required if the vehicle is: not a new vehicle but is being registered in the ACT for the first time, is an ACT vehicle which has been unregistered for more than 12 months, or is a currently registered ACT vehicle more than 6 years old.

    Roadworthy inspections are carried out at authorised inspection stations in the ACT and select parts of NSW. A definitive list is provided by the ACT government: Generally places need a booking made, so ring up and ask when they can do one for you and if they'll do one on a motorcycle (not everyone will).

    Roadworthy inspections can also be performed at the Dickson vehicle inspection station, which is adjacent to the Dickson shopfront. Bookings here can take a while to get, and they generally prefer you get an inspection done at one of the other approved inspection stations.

    A roadworthy inspection consists of checking the vehicle against the official ACT roadworthy list. Again to stress, what is listed below is not a definitive list but from experience what is examined.

    The simple answer to 'what sort of mods do they let through' is: as close to stock as possible is good.

    • Aftermarket exhausts may be looked at carefully and tested for noise.
      If you have an aftermarket exhaust, look at methods to baffle it and quieten it. Some places are picky and some are not. Even standard exhausts may get some scruitiny (as people have been known to 'gut' them for extra power and noise). Baffles (even ones that come with the exhaust) are meant to be non-removable. Practically that means that any bolts to remove them should be tack welded to the can, but again, not everyone picks this up.
    • Lights and indicators. Lights need to have high and low beam, and indicators need to be a certain distance apart (front is 240mm between illuminated surfaces while rear is 180mm between illuminated surfaces). Some places forget this and pass integrated tail-lights and indictors but not everyone will. Dickson probably will notice these.
      Make sure all of these work, including the brake light. Some places will even check if the front brake lever and rear brake lever activate the brake light. Really picky places might examine the headlight alignment.
    • Horn. Beep beep. Does it make that sound?
    • Tyres have sufficient tread and are not down to the wear markers anywhere.
    • Brake pads have sufficient pad material and the levers are solid (no-one does an official brake dyno test to verify their operation). If the place is really picky or knows their stuff they might pick up aftermarket braided brake lines without ADR compliant fittings. I couldn't spot them by eye, though, and some places are just argumentative and even pick up brake lines with official ADR compliant fittings.
    • Some places are picky on fender eliminators / rear reflectors / mudguards. Stock is usually safer.
    • Some places are picky on things like levers (should have rounded ends so they can't stab people), mirrors are of a sufficient size, and even that bar ends are in. All are legitimate roadworthy items but not many people check to that level of detail.
    • In general, places do not notice if you have an unrestricted LAMS bike. Most places really don't know what the throttle stops were etc - it's just not that detailed.

    To save time, it's handy to make sure you can find the engine number and the compliance plate. If they're under a bit of dirt, maybe cleaning the bike is a good idea. This helps your inspection go smoothly.

    The cost is around $50, though prices do vary slightly (November 2012). The Dickson inspection station currently charge $45.70 for this inspection. Ring around a few places to see what they charge, prices for other inspection stations ranged from $45 to $65.

    Vehicle identity inspections
    A feature of the ACT registration system are 'vehicle ID checks'. These inspections are required for interstate vehicles that are equal to or less than 10 years old and were registered in another person's name. They are also required for unregistered vehicles less than or equal to 10 years old (even ACT vehicles).

    The age of a vehicle, by the way, is taken only from the YEAR on the compliance plate. So, a January 2002 model bike is counted as 10 years old all the way through to the end of 2012.

    There is an exception to this - vehicles purchased from a licenced motor dealer. The invoice from the dealer MUST state the seller's licence number, otherwise the shopfront will ask you to go get an ID check done (or an appropriate tax invoice from the seller).

    ID checks are only done at the Dickson inspection station. Bookings range from 1 to 2 weeks wait so it's a good thing to book early.

    Inspections are valid for a month. The latest information I have from Canberra Connect is that you can get an ID check done on a vehicle even if it has failed a roadworthy inspection HOWEVER they do not always look on this kindly and may pick at the vehicle more. They also have a right to refuse a vehicle if it is 'grossly' unroadworthy.

    Another thing with the identity check is that rego.act may use the ID check as a way to check the inspection done by the authorised inspection station. So, it's best to present your bike for the ID check in at least as roadworthy as you made it for the roadworthy inspection.

    Don't be a dick and get a bike passed somewhere, then put all your blingy aftermarket stuff on it and go to the ID check and say "but they passed it like this!". You just make it harder for everyone else to get their bike registered.

    The current price for an ID check is $45.70.

    There does exist a 'complex' ID check rather than the simple one. This is performed for vehicles without a definitive history and written-off vehicles (more on this below). An example of a lack of a definitive history would be a 'barn find' motorcycle. A complex ID check costs a tear-bringing and wallet-lightening $497.50. Fortunately, they are not very common.

    Registering written-off vehicles
    The rules for registering written-off vehicles changed in the middle of 2012. Now, repairable roadworthy vehicles can ONLY be registered in the ACT if they were registered in the ACT at the time they were written off.

    I believe if it is a written-off vehicle currently registered interstate then you should be able to transfer the vehicle into your name having passed a roadworthy inspection AND an ID check if it's less than or equal to 10 years old. This is not legally binding advice, though :).

    To register a repairable write-off in the ACT, you need
    * A passed roadworthy inspection;
    * A passed ID check (a 'complex' one, so $497.50);
    * Proof of ACT address;
    * Proof of identity (your ACT drivers licence suffices for these two);
    * Receipt for purchase of vehicle; and
    * Previous numberplates for the vehicle.

    Getting the paperwork processed and paying more fees
    When you have your roadworthy and/or ID check paperwork completed and passed, you need to attend a Canberra Connect shopfront (see top of this article) to get the paperwork processed.

    You will need a receipt for the vehicle. This receipt needs to have the sellers name, phone number and address. It helps to also have their drivers licence number on it. This receipt can be as simple as a handwritten piece of paper or as complex as a tax invoice from a dealer.

    You will need both proof of identity and proof of garaging in the ACT. If you have an interstate licence and somehow convinced someone you're allowed to keep it and not transfer it to the ACT, then the proof of garaging needs to be proof that you have a property in the ACT.

    There are a few fees you need to be aware of, on top of the fees you've just paid to get a roadworthy and possibly an ID check, too.
    One of:
    * $47.70 to establish a registration for a motorbike not from the ACT
    * $40.20 to re-register a vehicle that's from the ACT but outside of the 12 months grace period.
    * $34.50 to transfer a bike currently registered in the ACT

    You may also be stung $93.10 for a late transfer. This is a transfer that has occured more than 14 days after the purchase of the vehicle. You can sometimes argue this if you couldn't get an ID check or a roadworthy inspection within the 14 day period but it becomes VERY hard to argue once it's more than a month since you bought the vehicle.

    Stamp duty: this is approximately 3% of the purchase price OR market value of the bike. It's a little bit more if the vehicle is worth more than $45,000 too. There is an online calculator:

    The shopfront staff don't tend to question receipts which are for a lowish amount for the bike. However, buying a 2012 model Ducati for $500 will probably be questioned and you'll be stung for the stamp duty payable for the full 'market value' of the bike.

    If the vehicle is interstate or unregistered you will also have to pay some period of registration. This can be 3, 6 or 12 months. Note that 3 and 6 months cop a ~$25 admin fee, so over a year 2x6 months rego costs you $50 more and 3 months costs you $100 more. Below is the proper cost breakdown.

    If the vehicle is currently registered, you have the option of putting some more rego onto it, fees are as per registration costs below.

    The final thing to note is that on one occasion, transferring an RGV250 into my name, the shopfront attendant noticed that it wasn't a LAMS bike and checked my licence class. You are allowed to register non-LAMS vehicles even if you are on your restrictions but they are at least going to ask you not to ride it.

    Registration costs
    Fees vary according to capacity in the ACT.
    Up to 300cc
    3 months: $86.40
    6 months: $145.00
    12 months: $233.40
    300cc and above
    3 months: $189.60
    6 months: $350.10
    12 months: $638.10

    I just moved to the ACT, what do I need to do?
    You'll need a roadworthy inspection (see above) and you'll pay stamp duty on the value of the vehicle, plus the fees for a new registration and also you'll have to pay for some registration period. You won't need an ID check if the bike was already registered in your name.

    x months rego every 12 months (periodic registration)?
    One of the cool aspects of the ACT system is that expired registrations (< 12 months expired anyway) can be renewed and the rego starts from the date you renew, not from the date it was due. Since you can put 3 or 6 months on a vehicle, you can 'get away' with a vehicle you only use now and then having only 3 months rego every 12 months. Very handy for those project bikes or other bikes that only see occasional action.

    History rego
    Historic rego is out of the scope of this article, but read up

    Defects can be issued by police officers and transport inspectors. They even operate in carparks for government departments - you're really only safe in your driveway or garage.

    A simple defect (the most common one to be issued) needs to be cleared within 1 month, but the vehicle can be driven in the meantime. It requires a roadworthy inspection to be performed. This can be performed at any approved inspection station unless the defect notice specifies you must attend the Dickson inspection station.

    Commonly, bikes are defected for tyres with insufficient tread, loud aftermarket exhausts or fender eliminators / not having a rear reflector or mudgard.

    You can also, in some situations, receive a more stringent defect notice which is the old 'canary', which means the bike can't be ridden and needs to be towed. These, I believe, need to be cleared at Dickson only.

    You can receive a defect interstate. These can be cleared at approved inspection stations in the state you received the defect, or at an inspection staton in the ACT. In the case of clearing it in the ACT then it will automatically be cleared in the state it was issued UNLESS the defect was received in WA or Tasmania. In these cases, the paperwork needs to be manually sent along with a sucking up letter to the states' relevant transport authority.

    You can also receive an ACT defect on an interstate registered vehicle. Again, these can be cleared in the state the vehicle is registered in OR at an approved inspection station in the ACT. Again, if the vehicle is registered in WA or Tasmania then you need to chase it with those states' transport authority - those two states are not part of the national vehicle defect scheme. (I have first-hand experience here).

    Modified vehicles
    Highly modified vehicles, like motorcycles with altered frames or turbocharger systems, fall into the modified vehicle area and are beyond the scope of this article. You can read up on what you require at, but in general, you need an engineers certificate in addition to the paperwork listed above.
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