Most of the world drives on the right side of the road, including the United States of America, Europe and the United Kingdom. What this means for vehicles imported from these parts of the world to Australia is that the driver’s seat is on the wrong side. So-called Left-Hand Drive (LHD) vehicles may be legal to drive on Australian roads under certain conditions but not all of them are. Each state has its own laws regarding what types of LHD vehicles may be driven on their roads.
New South Wales
In NSW, LHD vehicles are legal only if they meet certain provisions. All vehicles over 4.5 tonnes must be Right-Hand Drive (RHD) almost without exception. Special purpose vehicles such as street sweepers are the only LHD vehicles of 4.5 tonnes allowed. Vehicles that are less than 4.5 tonnes and more than 30 years old may be registered with LHD. However, this must be the original state of the vehicle and vehicles that were converted to LHD cannot be licensed even if they meet the weight and age requirements.
Other vehicles of this size that are less than 30 years old usually must be RHD but there are some exceptions. A qualified certifier must assess a LHD vehicle to determine whether it may be registered this way. LHD vehicles that cannot be registered must be converted to RHD and the conversion must be assessed before registration.
Vehicles that are permitted to be registered as LHD must meet all NSW road safety road worthiness requirements. They must have rear-view mirrors on both sides of the vehicle and have headlights that dip downwards or down and to the left. Since most LHD vehicles are imported they also must meet the standards for imported vehicle registration in NSW.
In Western Australia vehicles of less than 4.5 tonnes that are at least 15 years old may be registered despite being LHD. These vehicles must meet certain standards and are licensed for personal use only. The vehicles must meet the requirements of road worthiness in WA including Australian Design Rules (ADRs).
In order to be licensed in WA, LHD vehicles must have seat belts manufactured to British or Australian standards or other standards which are deemed to be as good. American and Japanese seat belt standards are acceptable provided that the seat belts are properly identified as having been made to meet these standards. Appropriately placed head rests and child restraint anchorage points must meet the relevant ADRs based on the age and class of the vehicle.
All LHD vehicles must have two side mirrors without exception. The headlights of the vehicle must dip down and to the left or meet the standards for RHD vehicles. Vehicles manufactured after June 1973 must have amber-colored rear indicator lights.
LHD vehicles may be converted to RHD. It is recommended that this change be made before licensing. The conversion method and manner must meet the minimum requirements for workmanship and safety standards.
In South Australia only vehicles that are over 30 years old may be licensed as LHD. If they meet certain other requirements these vehicles may be fully licensed to be driven on South Australian roads. Vehicles that are less than 30 years old may receive a single-trip exemption in order to be driven from the area of import to the owner’s home or place of conversion.
Vehicles that are licensed in LHD must be identical to the manufacturer’s original specifications. This includes the type of material for some parts but not others. It does include the shape of the vehicle and the features that were originally present. All vehicles must be roadworthy and in good shape which means free of rust and without dents or damage.
Other features may be required based on the age of the vehicle. Vehicles manufactured after 1977 must have head restraints and child restraint anchorage points, for example, while this is not required of vehicles manufactured before 1972. Certain modifications may be made such as the fitting of seat belts or the transformation from a left-hand side exhaust pipe to a rear exhaust pipe since left-hand side exhaust pipes are not allowed in SA. All vehicles to be permanently licensed in LHD must be inspected by a qualified person.
This has been a guest post from Are You Selling, a group of car buyers in Australia. If you’re ready to get rid of your daily driver, so you can upgrade to an import, they might just take it off your hands and offer you cash.