What Do Food Trucks, Caravans and Boat Trailers Have in Common? All Are SPV’s, and All Must Comply With Updated Standards

With spring just around the corner, it won’t be long until we start seeing the return of regular food-truck events, but if you’re looking to import one – or any other kind of special purpose vehicle – it’s important you’re aware of changes in import arrangements.

Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) are road vehicles that are designed for a special purpose, do not comply with applicable national road vehicle standards, and could not operate for its intended purpose if it did comply with those standards.

They include food trucks, caravans, and boat trailers, all of which have become increasingly popular in recent years.

While SPV’s don’t comply with national road vehicle standards, they do have to comply to an extent that makes them suitable for use on a public road in Australia, while new regulations also came into effect from July 1, as part of a continued transition toward full compliance.

SPV’s must now demonstrate compliance with Australian Design Rules (ADRs) applicable to brakes, lights, and mirrors, while SPV trailers must also demonstrate compliance with relevant ADRs applicable to brakes, lights, and mechanical connections.

So, what does this mean for your import? We’re glad you asked.

First and foremost, it’s vital that you do your due diligence before making any SPV/SPV trailer purchase and ensure your supplier and/or manufacturer are aware of the compliance standards.

There’s a huge amount of free, easy to find information online – the Department website is a great place to start – which clearly outlines the various rules and standards, and it’s worth reading through before making your purchase.

Trust us, it’s not much fun learning that your SPV won’t meet required regulations after you’ve already paid for it.

It’s also important to secure an approved Vehicle Import Permit before organising shipping. Should your SPV or SPV trailer arrive in Australia without one, not only will you be forced to export it again – it will be at your own cost.

You should complete and lodge relevant documentation that demonstrates full compliance with the ADRs as soon as you can, remembering that technical requirements for each relevant ADR must be met, whether they’re specific to an Australian or International Standard (a UN Regulation, for example).

Documentation is key, however. Claiming your SPV is compliant without including the necessary documentation could see your import permit knocked back.

There’s not much we haven’t seen in this business, and we speak from experience when we say that simply attaching a manufacturers quote or specification details is unlikely to meet the required documentation criteria.

Pleading ignorance won’t help you either, and as always, if you’re in doubt, we recommend engaging a professional to help you through the process.

Finally, it’s worth remembering that the various rules and regulations are in place for a reason.

Australia has some of the safest roads in the world, and it’s a fair argument that the various ADRs and standards that are in place play a role in that.

It’s also worth remembering that as of July 1, 2024, SPVs will be required to comply with all applicable ADRs, unless they can demonstrate that complying with a particular ADR means the vehicle won’t be able to operate for the purpose for which it was designed.

With less than 12 months until that deadline, it’s worth keeping in mind if you or your business are considering making an SPV import next year.