What you need to know about caravan registration

One of the great Aussie dreams is to own a caravan. But, there is so much you need to know before you decide to purchase one. One of the biggest differences between car ownership and caravan ownership is the registration.

Here’s what you need to know about caravan registration in Australia.

If you own a caravan that is registered in Australia, you may already share my concerns. The cost of registering your caravan includes weight tax amongst other things. The weight tax compensates for the damage to the roads, but it is grossly unfair because private caravans do virtually NO damage to the roads compared to business vehicles. The scale of “weight tax” versus “fees” is outdated to say the least. It assumes that business vehicles do 60% of the damage and caravans do 40% of the damage.

Fees do vary dependent on circumstances. The best place to check or calculate your potential fees visit the office registration portal here.

Note: light vehicles up to 4.5 tones Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) attract vehicle tax based on the tare (unladen) weight of the vehicle. The more it weighs, the higher the vehicle tax. In addition, vehicles used for business purposes attract higher vehicle tax than those for private use.

Modern caravans weigh more than they did twenty years ago but so do business vehicles. In spite of this, the RMS website still offers a scale that only goes up to 2504 Kgs. The tax that is charged for private caravans is marginally less than that charged for business vehicles and that is the problem.

Studies show that the average Australian Caravan travels on 12,000 kilometres per year. I know that an average private caravan will travel less than 12,000 kms per year with few exceptions. But, If you have any doubts about that, ask people in caravan parks how often they use their caravan and how far they go for each trip. Next go to some of the larger tyre fitting companies and you’ll discover that tyres on a private caravan are often replaced when the six year “use by” date is reached – long before the tyres are worn out.

You might also check with some of the owners of business and commercial trailers to get an idea of the kilometres they travel each year. The picture will become quite clear. Private caravans should be charged about ONE PERCENT of the amount of weight tax that business vehicles are charged – if anything at all.

Another factor that is being ignored is that business vehicles carry much heavier loads and therefore cause much more wear and tear to the roads than private caravans - carrying a BBQ and a fishing rod. The weight tax is charged according to the unladen weight and not the fully laden weight, putting the caravan at another disadvantage. The end result is that the vehicles that carry the lightest loads and travel small distances are paying paying 60% of the weight tax that is paid by vehicles that carry maximum payloads and travel long distances – and which are responsible for the bulk of the wear and tear of the roads.

An additional factor that is being ignored is that private caravans do much of their travelling in other states. The damage that is being done to NSW roads by caravans is insignificant compared to business vehicles – and yet we pay 60% of the amount of tax that business vehicles do.

The result of this grossly unfair tax is that yearly registration renewal of a caravan that is “well equipped” can be over $700 yearly in NSW and less than $100 in other states. Mine is an example.

It is not at all surprising that many caravans are registered interstate using “dubious” addresses.

To conclude,

Caravan registration can be an extensive and complicated process. There are many factors that contribute to the end price you are going to pay in fees. It is so important that you do your research prior to purchasing a caravan and understand the ongoing registration and maintenance fees.

Requirements and regulations do change from time to time, so it is so important that as a caravan owner you continue to research or you could face a shock.

For a complete breakdown of registering a caravan please visit the government website here.


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DISCLAIMER: This is all based on opinion please research and consult with all relevant parties to make the best buying decision.