Heavy vehicle frequently asked questions

Answers to some of the more frequently asked questions about how the commencement of the HVNL will affect you and your business.

What is the Heavy Vehicle National Law?

The Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) brings together model legislation developed over the last two decades by the National Transport Commission (NTC), States and Territories.

The HVNL establishes the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) and a single national system of laws for heavy vehicles over 4.5 tonnes GVM and is expected to deliver business and safety benefits to the heavy vehicle industry. 

In addition to passing the HVNL, States and Territories agreed to four regulations made under the Law. Those regulations are:

When will the Heavy Vehicle National Law take effect?

On 10 February 2014, the HVNL commenced, replacing existing laws governing the operation of all vehicles over 4.50 tonnes Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) in South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania.

Both Western Australia and the Northern Territory have not adopted the HVNL at this point in time and will continue to govern heavy vehicles under their own state law.

What is the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator?

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has been established to provide a one-stop-shop for heavy vehicle road transport business. 

The primary functions of the NHVR are: 

  • To administer one set of laws for heavy vehicles under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL)
  • Minimise the compliance burden on the heavy vehicle transport industry (whilst ensuring the previous principles of reform are maintained)
  • Reduce duplication and inconsistencies across state and territory borders by working with transport agencies to implement the national laws and any future reforms.  

Now that the HVNL is up and running, will I still do business with the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI)?

Now the NHVR has assumed legislative responsibility for most heavy vehicle functions, in most instances the NHVR will be your first and primary contact. However, you will continue to deal directly with DPTI for some matters, including:

  • heavy vehicle registration and driver licensing
  • road rules
  • drink and drug driving
  • booking heavy vehicle inspections
  • enrolling in the Intelligent Access Program.

Will I still be able to do business at Service SA customer service centres?

You will still be able to do much of your heavy vehicle business at Service SA Customer Service Centres including:

  • paying heavy vehicle registration fees
  • renewing driver licences
  • booking heavy vehicle inspections
  • purchasing national driver work diaries. 


Has DPTI resumed processing permit applications? 

From 27 February 2014, the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) has temporarily resumed the processing of permit applications for all Class 1 oversize/overmass and special purpose vehicles and all Class 3 vehicles undertaking trips solely within South Australia (that is, no border crossings). 

The NHVR will continue to deal with all other permit applications, including cross-border travel. 

Why isn't the NHVR processing all access permit applications? 

The NHVR has experienced a number of implementation and transition issues affecting the processing of access permit applications. To reduce the impact of these issues on the heavy vehicle industry, SA (along with QLD, NSW and VIC) have been given delegated authority by the NHVR to undertake some permit application processing, as outlined above.

How do I apply for an access permit?

For application forms and information on how to apply for permits for Class 1 oversize/overmass and special purpose vehicles and all Class 3 vehicles with routes entirely within South Australia, visit who needs a permit

I have already applied to the NHVR for a permit. What happens to my application?

Please do not submit the same application to both the NHVR and DPTI, as this can lead to delays through the need to conduct additional checks between agencies regarding the issuing of permits.

Permit applications for Class 1 oversize/overmass and special purpose vehicles and all Class 3 vehicles with routes entirely within South Australia that were submitted to the NHVR prior to the 27 February 2014, but not processed before that date, are being redirected to DPTI for assessment and permit issue. 

I already have local government consent/pre-approval for my route. Can I continue to use this?

Existing local government pre-approvals can continue to be used for applications submitted to the NHVR or DPTI. Proof of pre-approval must however be provided with your access permit application and your vehicle cannot travel on the pre-approved route until an access permit has been issued.

How long will it take to issue my permit?

DPTI is doing all it can to process applications received under this delegation within similar timeframes to those before the commencement of the NHVR, with many being processed within the same day. 

Where required routes use local government roads there's still a need to obtain formal consent from the relevant local Council or Councils (unless pre-approval is provided) before a permit can be issued. While this can lead to longer processing timeframes, DPTI will continue to liaise with local government to assist them in their role as a road manager, including access consent. 

Will DPTI always be processing these access permit applications?

No. DPTI will only be processing access permit applications under this temporary measure to assist the NHVR and reduce the impact to industry. At this stage, no time limit has been placed on these arrangements, including when the NHVR will assume full responsibility. 

Who do I speak to about my access permit application?

Contact the DPTI Vehicle Permits Team on telephone 1300 882 249 or email for the following enquiries:

  • Any remaining outstanding access permit applications submitted before 10 February 2014
  • access permit applications for Class 1 oversize/overmass and special purpose vehicles and all Class 3 vehicles for routes entirely within South Australia submitted to either DPTI or the NHVR from 27 February 2014.

Enquiries regarding all other access permit applications should be made to the NHVR on telephone 1300 MYNHVR (1300 696 487) or email

Fatigue management

Have the arrangements for work and rest hours changed under the HVNL?

There is no change to the work and rest hours. Some improvements have been made under the HVNL so that two-up drivers working standard hours will be able to take the block of five hours rest that is required in 24 hours in the sleeper berth of a moving vehicle, in contrast to the current requirement that the vehicle be stationary. 

The three current work/rest options for fatigue management will remain under the HVNL:

  • Standard hours - For operators who do not have accreditation for fatigue management. Drivers must work to standard hours if the operator they work for does not hold BFM or AFM accreditation.
  • Basic Fatigue Management (BFM) - For operators that require some flexibility in their work and rest hours. To be eligible to operate under BFM, operators must be accredited under the NHVAS.
  • Advanced Fatigue Management (AFM) - For operators who are able to demonstrate accountability for managing fatigue risks. To be eligible to operate under AFM, operators must be accredited under the NHVAS.

When do I need to use a work diary?

As with requirements prior to the National Law, you must carry and complete your work diary when you are driving a fatigue regulated heavy vehicle for all work undertaken in an area greater than 100km from your base, or if you operate under Basic Fatigue Management (BFM) or Advanced Fatigue Management (AFM). Again as before, you're still required to monitor your work and rest hours for all local area work (that is work less than 100km from your base), but you do not need to use a work diary to record those times.

For more information on sale points and fees, visit National Work Diaries.

Enforcing the new law

Will industry be working to a completely new set of rules now that the HVNL has commenced?

No. Most jurisdictions have been working toward national consistency for a number of years, the new laws are largely the same as the old South Australian legislation. The HVNL is a consolidation of the national model laws for heavy vehicles and the previous laws in place in each State and Territory were generally based on those model laws.

Who can enforce the HVNL? 

There are no changes to enforcement arrangements under the HVNL. DPTI's on-road authorised officers and South Australia Police will continue to enforce heavy vehicle laws in South Australia

Is it true that penalties will increase?

The HVNL establishes nationally consistent penalties for heavy vehicle offences in all participating jurisdictions (South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania). As with many jurisdictions, some penalties have gone up, while others have gone down.

View the current penalties under the HVNL.  

What happens if I receive a fine?

As any offence committed under the HVNL will be issued and processed through South Australia's existing enforcement system, if you receive a fine under the HVNL you will still make payment or contest the offence as per the instructions on the reverse of the infringement notice.

Page last updated: 1 September 2015