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A pre-registration inspection is required if you have, or are buying, a trailer that:

  • has never previously been registered
  • the registration has lapsed for 3 months or more
  • you are transferring the trailer from another state.

NOTE: Unless stated otherwise, the information contained in this guide applies equally to both trailers and caravans

If you are after technical information for the construction of new trailers, please refer to the National Code of Practice for building small trailers also known as Vehicle Standard Bulletin 1 or VSB1.

1Glossary of terms

Glossary of terms


Full Title



Australian Design Rules

ADRs are standards for the safety, anti-theft and emissions of vehicles.


Approved Inspection Station

A business that has been approved to inspect motor vehicles and trailers, to ensure they meet the minimum roadworthy requirements.


Aggregate Trailer Mass

The total mass of the trailer when carrying the maximum load recommended by the manufacturer, including the mass being transferred to the ground through the wheels and the mass imposed on the towing vehicle.



An enclosed trailer, which is intended for use as a mobile home or living quarters when parked.


Gross Trailer Mass

The mass of a trailer being transmitted to the ground through the road wheels when carrying the maximum load recommended by the manufacturer.


Vehicle Identification Number

A decodable combination of 17 alphanumeric digits used to identify a vehicle.

2How do I prove my trailer’s identity at an inspection?

The primary identification number for a trailer may be either a chassis number or a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).  A number plate is not a primary identification number however it can be used to assist with the identification process where required.

3What identification number does a trailer need for registration?

If the trailer was built before 1989 it should have a chassis number as its identification number.

  • Chassis numbers can contain any combination of alphanumeric characters. There is no length requirement for a chassis number.

If the trailer was built after 1989: it will have a 17 digit Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

  • A VIN is made up of 17 alphanumeric characters. These characters are decodable and provide information on the trailer including when it was built, the manufacturer of the trailer, and the type of trailer.

Both chassis numbers and VINs must be permanently affixed to a substantial part of the trailer (generally on the drawbar).

For an identification number to be considered permanently affixed, the VIN or Chassis number must be either:

  • Welded
  • Stamped
  • Etched
  • Embossed

New trailers also require a trailer plate (also known as a compliance plate). The trailer plate contains important information about the trailer including the ATM

It is a legal requirement to have an identification number permanently affixed to a trailer.

Note: Identification numbers are not transferable between other trailers or motor vehicles. It is an offence to dishonestly obtain or attempt to obtain registration or alter or deface an identification number.

4When do trailers need an inspection?

A trailer will require an inspection:

  • Prior to initial registration
  • If the trailer has been unregistered for a period of 3 months or more
  • If the trailer has a defect notice or otherwise needs a roadworthiness inspection
  • To verify the identity or type of  trailer

Inspections may also be necessary in other circumstances, including if the trailer is the subject of an investigation.

5Number plate

Number or registration plates must be affixed to the rear of a registered trailer, they cannot be affixed to a temporary light board.

Number plates must only be affixed to the rear of the trailer they are issued to. Penalties can apply if a trailer is found to have a number plate affixed that was not issued to that trailer.

If you have purchased a trailer and the number plate does not match the registration documentation you will need to surrender the number plates at Service Tasmania and re-register the trailer.

If you need to remove the number plate for repairs or painting, the number plate must be presented with the trailer when having a pre-registration inspection. Even though number plates are not a primary form of identification, they can still assist when other forms of identification may not be available.

6What can I do if I do not have the necessary identification?

In most cases, we are still able to register your trailer even without the identification described above however additional information will be required.

In this situation you will need to provide the AIS with:

  • A receipt of purchase or other proof of entitlement
  • A statutory declaration that includes:
    • The name and address of the previous owner
    • A description of the trailer
    • If you have made any repairs to the trailer
      • If you have replaced the drawbar you should keep the original drawbar and bring it with you to all required inspections. This may assist with identifying the trailer.
    • Any known previous registration numbers
  • And any of the following:
    • A copy of any previous registration papers
    • A photo or other satisfactory evidence supporting the previous registration number issued to the vehicle.

In some cases we may also need:

If this information cannot confirm the trailer’s identity you may be requested to present the trailer for an identity inspection performed by Transport Safety and Investigation Officers. This is a free service, the AIS inspecting your trailer will advise you on how to arrange these inspections.

7Trailer components

The table below shows some of the requirements for various trailer parts that are inspected as part of a pre-registration inspection.

The requirements for trailer parts are determined by the Australian Design Rules (ADRS).

Using this guide can assist you to prepare your trailer for a pre-registration inspection.

If you notice any issues with these components, you should have them repaired or replaced before presenting the trailer for a pre-registration inspection.

If you require more technical information relating to building a new trailer, please refer to the Building small trailers document (VSB1).

Please note this guide is not an exhaustive list of every requirement and is a general guide only.



Additional notes/Images


Must meet either option 1 or option 2

Option 1

A coupling manufactured to Australian Standards must be marked with specific information including:

  • Australian Standards (AS)   number,
  • Manufacturers name or   trademark,
  • 50 for a 50mm ball coupling,
  • Maximum load rating of the   coupling. This must be equal to or greater than the trailer’s ATM.

Option 2

European style couplings that are marked in accordance with ECE R 55 must be marked with:

  • The manufacturer’s name or trademark,
  • B or B50-x
  • The maximum D-Value (shown   in table)
  • ‘S’ followed by the   permissible vertical load.




6.4 or more


14 or more


20 or more

All couplings must have an operating secondary locking mechanism to make sure they stay connected while you are on the move.

Examples of these are:

  • Spring-loaded mechanism   (Left)
  • Trigger and key mechanism   (Right)

Safety chains

Make sure safety chains are permanently fixed to the drawbar of the trailer.

The chain should be fixed to prevent the chain mounting point from hitting the ground if the trailer is dislodged from the vehicle.


Also check that safety chains are not worn, stretched or cracked.



There are different braking requirements depending on the trailer’s GTM.

  • If the GTM is 750kg or less and the trailer has one axle (or two axles less than 1.0m apart)
    • There are no braking   requirements. However where brakes are fitted they must be operational.
  • If the GTM is above 750kg or   the trailer has more than one axle:
    • It must have an efficient   braking system on at least one axle.
  • If the GTM is above 2000kg
    • It must have an efficient braking system of the breakaway type on all axles.

For a trailer with a GTM above 2000kg the braking system must apply the trailers brakes for at least 15 minutes in the event the trailer becomes detached from the towing motor vehicle.

Rear lights

Lights must be fitted to the rear of the trailer and be in working condition.

Trailer light boards are to only be used to supplement existing trailer lights.

Lights that are required on the rear:

  • A Number plate light
  • Brake lights
  • Taillights
  • Indicators

Side marker lights

Must meet either option 1 or option 2

Option 1

Trailers more than 6000 mm in length:

  • Between 250 mm and 1500 mm above the ground
  • At least one side marker light in the middle third of the trailers length
  • Additional side marker lights maybe required so that:
    • The distance from the rear of the trailer to a side marker light does not exceed 1000 mm
    • The distance from the front of the trailer coupling to a side marker light does not exceed 3000 mm
    • The distance between any side marker light does not exceed 3000 mmm

Option 2

Trailers more than 2100 mm in width or 7500 mm in length.

  • More than 2100 mm in width – two lights no more than 300 mm from the rear of the trailer.
  • More than 7500 mm in length – two lights no more than 300 mm from the rear of the trailer, plus two no   more than 300 mm from the front of the trailer (excluding drawbar), plus two   midway between the front and rear lights.
  • A semi-trailer equal or less than 7500 mm long – two lights no more than 300 mm from the rear of the trailer, plus two no more than 300 mm from the front of the trailer.


The following table sets the requirements that must be followed in regards to the placement of reflectors.







(may be incorporated in the lights)


Triangular or non-triangular


Both sides

At least 1 on each side








Check that tyres:

  • Have a minimum of 1.5mm of tread across the surface of the tyre,
  • Are of the same size,
  • Are not perished, cut or cracked,
  • Are suitable for road use.


Check that wheels are secure, with:

  • No missing studs,
  • No missing nuts.

Check that rims are not:

  • Cracked,
  • Buckled,
  • Corroded,
  • Missing pieces of casting (Minor scratches or marks are ok).


Check that suspension…

  • Is correctly aligned,
  • Springs and spring mountings are secure and not excessively worn,
  • Springs are not broken or damaged .


Check that :

  • Mudguards cover the full   tyre width
  • All tailgates, doors and body panels are secured


Can be a maximum of 8.5 metres from the centre line of the axle group or single axle of the trailer Ensure the drawbar is fit for purpose and its mounting points are not cracked, loose, bent or deformed.


8Registering your trailer

Before taking your trailer for an inspection you should:

  1. Confirm your trailer’s identification based on the information provided in this guide.
  2. Check your trailer against the above table.
  3. Contact an Approved Inspection Station (AIS) to book you pre-registration inspection.
  4. Take your trailer to an AIS:
    1. You are able to tow your unregistered trailer to an AIS subject to having a booking
    2. You will need to take the most sensible direct route to the inspection station
    3. The trailer will be inspected to the relevant vehicle standards.
  5. If the trailer passes its pre-registration inspection you will need to take the following to a Service Tasmania outlet:
    1. The passed inspection report (Application for registration of a light motor vehicle or trailer) including reverse side.
    2. Your licence or other evidence of identity.
    3. Your proof of entitlement.
    4. And pay the fee.