All vehicles in Australia are required to have some type of vehicle safety certificate before they can be legally driven; this includes new vehicles just coming off the factory floor and used vehicles that are being sold, including those being imported from other countries. The rules for this certificate will vary according to each state in Australia, so note a few important reminders about getting this certificate in the Australian Capital Territory.
What is inspected
Anything that relates to the safety of a vehicle is inspected for this certificate; you might realize this means the braking and steering system, but may not realize that it also includes any rust that may be forming on the vehicle. Excessive rust can mean that some parts are actually in danger of falling off, causing a traffic hazard. The exhaust is also tested, as an exhaust system that is not working properly means excessive pollution and damage to the environment.
Who performs the inspection
The inspection can only be performed by shops that have been approved of by the State. Before you arrange for any inspection, be sure you've checked that a shop is authorized properly, as just any inspection by just any mechanic will not suffice.
If a vehicle is changing owners and is more than six years old, it will need a safety inspection before that sale can take place. A seller is typically required to have this inspection done before they can list the vehicle for sale and especially before they can accept money for it, so be sure you understand your responsibility as a seller and, if you're the buyer, don't assume you need to have the inspection done as part of the buying process.
Manufacturers of new vehicles will be issued a compliance plate for the vehicles they produce. This compliance plate is given when a manufacturer's factory facility and processes are inspected, as each new car itself may not go through an individual inspection. If you're buying a new car, note the compliance plate as this should be included and obtained before cars are sold.
Vehicles in the Australian Capital Territory are subject to random inspections; this can mean vehicles on the road and any that are in a car park or other such public area. If there are any noticeable defects on the vehicle that would make it unsafe, you can face a ticket or citation even if you have your safety certificate in order for the vehicle.