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Heavy Vehicle Registration (Qld)

Queensland is part of the National Heavy Vehicle Registration Scheme, which applies to all heavy vehicles. A heavy vehicle is a motor vehicle or trailer over 4.5 tonne Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) or aggregate trailer mass (ATM).


Registration in the scheme does not apply to heavy vehicles that:

  • have conditional registration (non-standard vehicles with a need for limited road access, such as forklifts and tractors);
  • are special interest vehicles, such as a historic vehicle or vintage car;
  • have farm plates;
  • are Queensland Fire and Rescue authority vehicles.

National heavy vehicle number plates are replacing standard number plates on heavy vehicles in Queensland. The plates are transferable when registering vehicles in another state or territory.

Registration costs for a heavy vehicle are set nationally and depend on the vehicle type and number of axles. The amount is made up of:

  • a road use component to help fund road infrastructure that supports heavy vehicles; and
  • a regulatory component that funds operation of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR).

National Heavy Vehicle Regulator

The NHVR is a statutory body responsible for monitoring compliance with Heavy Vehicle National Law. It aims to improve safety and productivity in the industry, make  compliance easier and reduce duplication and inconsistencies between states and territories.

Its functions include:

  • access permit applications;
  • driver fatigue management;
  • national notices;
  • national penalties;
  • vehicle standards modifications and exemption permits;
  • administering the National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme.

National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme

This scheme is a voluntary formal process that recognises operators who have strong safety and other management systems. There are four accreditation modules for which operators can apply:

  • mass management;
  • maintenance management;
  • fatigue management: basic (BFM);
  • fatigue management: advanced (AFM).

Types of heavy vehicle

The definition of heavy vehicle includes a range of motor vehicles, including trucks and buses. Some examples:

Prime mover

This vehicle is designed to tow 1 semi-trailer, which is a trailer that has 1 axle group towards the rear and has some of the load being carried by the vehicle.

Truck road train

This is a combination vehicle that hauls two or more trailers.

Prime mover B-double

This is a prime mover that hauls 2 semi-trailers where the second semi-trailer is a mounted B-double.

Rigid truck

This is a rigid motor vehicle built mainly to carry loads.

Short combination truck tractor

This is a truck designed to carry 1 trailer. It has fewer than 7 axles and weighs up to 42.5 tonnes.

Medium combination truck tractor

This is a truck designed to carry 1 trailer. It has at least 7 axles and weighs more than 42.5 tonnes.


A bus is defined as a motor vehicle designed to carry 10 or more seated adults, including the driver.

Classes of heavy vehicle

National Heavy Vehicle Law divides heavy vehicles into class 1, 2 or 3 vehicles. Class 1 includes special purpose vehicles such as cranes, graders and fire trucks; agricultural vehicles such as tractors, grain augers and combine harvesters; and oversize, overmass vehicle such as prime movers. Class 2 vehicles include B-doubles, A-doubles, vehicle carriers and controlled access buses. Class 3 vehicles do not comply with mass and dimension limits and require permits or exemptions. 

Mass and dimensions

Heavy vehicles on Queensland roads must not exceed national limits for mass and dimension. General mass limits also depend on the type of vehicle, and are up to 20 tonnes. The general dimension limits for heavy vehicles are a width of 2.5 metres, a height of 4.3 metres and length of between 12.5 metres and 53.5 metres depending on the type of vehicle.

For advice or representation in any traffic or other legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Sally Crosswell

This article was written by Sally Crosswell

Sally Crosswell has a Bachelor of Laws (Hons), a Bachelor of Communication and a Master of International and Community Development. She also completed a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice at the College of Law. A former journalist, Sally has a keen interest in human rights law.

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