Heavy vehicles / Heavy vehicle charges

Heavy vehicle charges help to fund better, safer and more productive roads. Charges are made up of a fixed annual registration fee and fuel-based road user charges.

Heavy vehicle charges

Heavy vehicle charges aim to recover heavy vehicle related expenditure on roads from heavy vehicle operators. This allows governments to invest in building and maintaining productive and safer roads.

Charges are a combination of an annual registration and fuel-based road user charges.

The revenue raised by registration charges is collected by state and territory governments. The revenue from the fuel-based road user charge is collected by the Commonwealth Government.

The new regulatory component of the registration charge will be passed onto the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator by participating states and territories.

Determining heavy vehicle charges

The NTC calculates and recommends heavy vehicle registration and road user charges to the Transport and Infrastructure Council based on the pricing principles set by both the Transport and Infrastructure Council (the Council) and the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).

The principles are:

  • full recovery of allocated infrastructure costs while minimising both the over and under recovery from any class of vehicle
  • cost effectiveness of pricing instruments
  • transparency
  • the need to balance administrative simplicity, efficiency and equity (e.g. impact on regional and remote communities/access)
  • the need to have regard to other pricing applications such as light vehicle charges, tolling and congestion
  • ongoing cost recovery in aggregate
  • the removal of cross subsidies between vehicle classes.

To ensure that heavy vehicle charges keep pace with road spending programs, an annual adjustment formula is applied in July to the previous year’s registration and road user charges. This formula is contained in the Heavy Vehicle Charges Model Law.

In some years, we recommended a new set of charges to the Council based on updated methodologies and data. These recommendations are called ‘determinations’. A determination sets a new baseline upon which the annual adjustment formula can be applied to in future years.

On 10 November 2017, the Council agreed to freeze heavy vehicle charges at 2017-18 levels for a two year period (2018-19 and 2019-20). This decision recognised the need for governments to continue to invest in infrastructure to support heavy vehicle productivity, and the need to provide revenue and price certainty to road management agencies and heavy vehicle operators as heavy vehicle road reform is accelerated. 

As part of this decision, the regulatory component of registration charges was adjusted to reflect the revised National Heavy Vehicle Regulator budget for 2018-19 and 2019-20 to incorporate industry funding of the new National Heavy Vehicle Registration System.


Australia uses a pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) model which determines annual registration and fuel-based road user charges. PAYGO was introduced in Australia in 1992 to:

  • help recover the marginal or attributable costs of road wear and tear for each heavy vehicle type
  • recover a share of common road costs which benefit all road users, such as street lighting, rest bays and signage
  • ensure heavy vehicles pay their share of road spending.

Revenue recovered through heavy vehicle charges helps governments provide better and safer roads.

Around 40 per cent of heavy vehicle costs are recovered as state and territory registration fees, with the balance paid through a fuel-based road user charge which is collected by the Commonwealth Government.

To calculate heavy vehicle charges using the PAYGO model, the NTC uses the latest heavy vehicle and trailer population data as well as seven year averages for both road expenditure and vehicle usage data. This data averaging ensures that charges do not change significantly in response to short-term changes in expenditure or vehicle use.

Last Updated: 15/11/2018