Written-off vehicles

Written-off vehicles are classed as either a statutory write-off or a repairable write-off.

It is against the law to drive a written-off vehicle on the road unless it is a repairable write-off that is currently registered or has been issued with an unregistered vehicle permit or displaying a trade plate and the purpose for it being driven is for repairs or an inspection prior to registration.

Under no circumstances can a statutory write-off be driven on roads.

Repairable write-off

A vehicle considered a repairable write-off if:

  • it is written-off, but is not to be a statutory write-off
  • the cost of the repairs will exceed the insured value of the vehicle
  • it is declared a write-off by an insurer or owner following accidental damage.

Statutory write-off

A vehicle is considered a statutory write-off if it:

  • has severe structural or other damage or deterioration that prevents it from being driven safely on a road.
  • A motor vehicle that meets the criteria as specified in the document entitled Damage Assessment Criteria for the Classification of Statutory Write-offs -  (18.3 MB PDF) published by Austroads Ltd in July 2011
  • is a motor bike, caravan or trailer that is burnt to such an extent that it is fit only for
    • wrecking or scrap
    • is stripped of all, or most of:
      • interior and exterior body parts
      • panels and components
      • wheels
      • guards
      • body
      • chassis components or assemblies.
  • A motor bike that has been
    • fully immersed in salt water
    • fully immersed in fresh water for more than 48 hours
    • has impact damage (excluding scratching) to the suspension
    • at least 2 areas of structural frame damage.

Presenting a written-off vehicle for inspection

When presenting a repaired or rebuilt written-off vehicle for inspection, you must supply:

  • proof of identity of the person presenting the vehicle for inspection to the authorised officer
  • proof of previous registration in Australia if available
  • unless delivered by tow truck the vehicle must have some form of current registration, such as:
    • 'unregistered vehicle permit'
    • 'trade plate' where the plate owner has a financial interest in the vehicle
  • inspection payment receipt
  • the repaired written-off vehicle
  • required Repair Diary fact sheet MR1547 -  (1.3 MB PDF).

Additional requirements may include having a MR1419 Supplementary Restraint System Report (138.1 KB PDF) completed by an accredited agent..

For more information see vehicle inspections or download the MR925 - Written-off Vehicle Inspection Requirements - (714.7 KB PDF).

Booking a vehicle identity inspection (Tier 3)

phone 13 10 84 to make a vehicle inspection booking.

Payments for fees can be made by MasterCard or Visa (debit or credit cards).

If you live within a 100 kilometre radius of the Adelaide GPO, the vehicle must be inspected at:

Vehicle Identity Assessment Station 
7 Naweena Road
Regency Park SA 5010

For rural inspections, the bookings officer will advise you about locations.

Find out if a vehicle is wrecked or written-off

To find out if a vehicle has been recorded as written-off phone 13 10 84 or go to a Service SA customer service centre.

You will need to supply the registration number and vehicle identification number to enable a check to be done.

When to report a written-off vehicle

Penalties apply for not notifying of a written-off vehicle in the following circumstances:

Private owners

Before selling or otherwise disposing of, or dismantling, a registered or unregistered vehicle.


Within seven days of writing off a registered or unregistered notifiable vehicle.

Dismantlers, wreckers and repairers

Within seven days of acquiring a registered or unregistered notifiable vehicle that has been written-off.

This includes vehicles or parts of a vehicle bearing a vehicle identification plate or vehicle identification number.

Auctioneers and motor vehicle dealers

Within seven days of acquiring, but before auctioning or disposing of, a registered or unregistered written-off notifiable vehicle.

Written-off vehicle notices

Written-off vehicle notices must be attached to a notifiable vehicle as soon as possible and before the vehicle is sold or otherwise disposed of.

If it's intended to cancel the registration of a notifiable vehicle, a notification must also be completed and accompany the application for registration cancellation.

Importing a notifiable written-off vehicle into South Australia

You must notify within seven days of bringing the vehicle into South Australia:

  • a written-off vehicle
  • a part of a vehicle bearing a vehicle identification plate or vehicle identification number.

Notification is not required in South Australia, if the current status has been recorded on an interstate written-off vehicle register.

What is a notifiable vehicle

A notifiable vehicle is a written-off vehicle that is less than 15 years from its date of manufacture and is:

  • a motor vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) not greater than 4.5 tonnes to which Australian Design Rules apply
  • a motorbike
  • a caravan
  • a trailer with a GVM greater than 4.5 tonnes
  • a vehicle wrecked or wholly or partly disassembled or a part of a vehicle bearing a vehicle identification plate or vehicle identification number
  • an interstate written-off vehicle not recorded on a written-off vehicle register administered by an interstate vehicle registration authority.

How to notify a written-off vehicle

Complete the notification of a written-off vehicle - (757.6 KB PDF) form and return it to a Service SA customer service centre or, if you are authorised as an agent to issue written-off vehicle notices, phone Service SA on 13 10 84.

Regardless of whether you are a private owner, an insurer or a business associated with the motor trade, you must supply the following:

  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
  • the registration number of the vehicle if available
  • the engine number, vehicle make and body type of the vehicle
  • the date the decision was made to write the vehicle off
  • whether the vehicle is a statutory or repairable write-off
  • the name and address of the person notifying the written-off vehicle
  • the location and severity of damage caused to the vehicle.

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Page last updated 30 November 2016

Provided by:
Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure
Last Updated:
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