VSB1 Updates and How it Affects Caravan Manufacturers

As a caravan manufacturer, I presume you are already aware of the shift of all vehicle standards from the MVSA to the RVSA. Effectively, some standards under the ADRs, VSBs and NHVR are being updated too. And here I’m going to focus on the updates on VSB1 to help you be kept in the loop. You ready? This is a long one!


Important Note! Take special attention to the red highlights as these contain or point to the difference between the latest VSB1 (revision 6) and the previous one (revision 5).


A. RVSA – The background of it all

B. The important VSB1 updates – FAQs

C. The important VSB1 updates – Caravan requirements

D. Conclusion


RVSA – The background of it all

The vehicle standards we have been following so far are based on the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 or the “MVSA”. However, there have been significant changes in the automotive industry over the years – particularly on safety, anti-theft technology and environment. So to adapt to these changes,


The entire MVSA will be replaced by the Road Vehicle Standards Act 2018 (RVSA) effective 1 July 2021.


And this is a huge change! That is why the Department started engaging the automotive industry’s stakeholders early on in order to let them contribute in the RVSA’s development. In that way, transitions have become smoother and more bearable as there are corresponding fees involved for doing so.

Have you learnt about this only now? Don’t worry because,


Vehicle manufacturers and importers are given a 12-month transition period to completely shift to a RVSA-compliant business.


Meaning, both MVSA and RVSA will take effect during this transition period. But on 1 July 2022 the MVSA will be completely scrapped and all stakeholders should be RVSA-compliant already.


What does the RVSA mean for caravan manufacturers?


Light trailer manufacturers which supply more than 4 units a year to Australia cannot self-certify anymore. They must acquire a type approval and have the caravans enlisted to a centralised online database called the Register of Approved Vehicles (RAV).


Enforcing the RVSA enables a stricter set of rules to protect both the consumers and the industry from uncompliant caravan manufacturers who are backyard operators. Ultimately, consumers are kept safe from unprofessional manufacturers’.


What is a Component Type Approval?

To be a RVSA-compliant manufacturer, you must be able to prove and be certified that you have the capability to replicate each and every caravan that you manufacture. Not only the caravan itself, but also every component type must be approved under the RVS. Examples of such components include:

  • lamps
  • couplings
  • brake systems
  • tyres
  • safety chains
  • chassis, including drawbars

In case you currently outsource your components because you don’t have yet the capacity to manufacture them, make sure that you get those from manufacturers that have the corresponding Component Type Approvals for such components.

So there you go. Now let’s proceed to the main point of this blog – the VSB1 Updates.


The important VSB1 updates – FAQs

What caravan types are covered by VSB1?

Generally, the latest VSB1 covers trailers with an Aggregate Trailer Mass of up to 4.5 tonnes. Specifically, it covers the following caravan types (this classification is not explicitly stated in the previous VSB1):

Caravans These are considered “pig trailers”
Camper trailers
Mobile kitchen
Goose-neck caravans These are considered “semi-trailers”
Fifth-wheel caravans


VSB1 vs. ADR – which is the priority standard?

The latest VSB1 acknowledges that should it conflict with any ADR, the ADR should be followed.

And to determine if a certain ADR applies to your trailer, search for the Applicability Table for Trailers in the Department’s website.


Are there any alternatives to complying with VSB1?

Yes, for the most part. VSB1 may not necessarily cover all types of designs and installations (for example, the lighting configurations), but the ADRs provide a broader scope. And each ADR document has a section where acceptable alternatives are stipulated.

So in case the design you intended does not meet VSB1, turn to the applicable ADRs and their allowed alternatives.


How should caravan importers comply with VSB1?

Since imported caravans have a sort of “foreign” element, importers expect some deviation in which rules to follow. The truth for you as an importer is that:

  • If you’re the one designing the caravan, you are still obliged to follow VSB1
  • Otherwise, search the ADRs for any alternatives that may apply to your products

Note as well that imported caravans not originally intended for the Australian market must be converted first into an Aussie-friendly one.


The important VSB1 updates – Caravan requirements

General Requirements

Vehicle Plate

For you to be able to directly distinguish the updates, I’ve summarised the requirements in a table.

PARAMETER VSB1 rev. 5 VSB1 rev.6
  1. Durable and non-corrosive
  2. Placed where it can be easily seen
  3. Permanently installed – by rivets or welding, for example
  4. Letters must be embossed, indented, etched or engraved
  5. Letter height must be at least 2.5mm
Information to be displayed
  1. Name of manufacturer or importer (whoever is responsible for the trailer’s certification)
  2. Trailer model
  3. Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
  4. Manufacturing date
  5. ATM (kg)
  6. Certification statement
Changes are:

  • In #1, only the name of the manufacturer name is needed
  • #6 requirement is removed
  • The GTM and tare mass must now be displayed as well


Registration Plate

Size :  372mm x 136mm
Location rear of the caravan
Orientation horizontal (landscape)
Mounting height :  The entire plate must be within 1,300mm from the ground
Accessories Lights

Refer to ADR 61/xx for other details not included in the VSB.


Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)

To sum it up, the previous requirements still apply except for the listing for both local and imported caravans which will now be required to be RVSA-compliant (i.e. listed under RAV). Check the Caravan Industry Association of Australia website for more information on the new Enrolment process.


Maximum Allowable Dimensions

Updated Information When measuring the overall width, do not include mandatory lamps, permanent load restraint devices, and tyre pressure and inflation devices.


Wheelbase 9.5m
Rear overhang The smaller value between 3.7m and the length of the front load space The smaller value between 3.7m and 60% of the length from the point of articulation to the “forward line”
Other length measurements
  1. Total length = 12.2m (previously 12.5m in VSB1 rev.5)
  2. Drawbar length = 8.5m
  1. Length from POA to the rear of the trailer = 13.2m (previously 12.3m in VSB1 rev.5)
  2. Length from POA to the most forward point of the trailer (when viewed as shown on the image below) = 1.9m
Width 2.5m 2.5m
Height 4.3m 4.3m


VSB1 Pig Trailer

Pig Trailer

The front load space must not be less than the rear overhang.
The drawbar forms part of the front load space if loaded with gas cylinders or storage boxes.


VSB1 Semi Trailer

Semi Trailer

Image sources: Drawn by CVC in TrailerWin.


Minimum Clearances

  1. Running clearance = 100mm (this requirement is not present in the previous VSB1)
  2. For ground clearance, the midpoint between 2 consecutive axles (in millimetres) must be equal to:

[distance between 2 consecutive axles, in metres] x 33.3

In the case of other points, the vehicle must pass over the peak point of two planes (both with a slope of 1:15) that intersect with each other.


Confused about the two? Here’s the difference:

It is the distance from ground to the lowest point of the vehicle. It excludes unsprung mass (suspension parts that move up & down when the trailer passes a bump) – for instance, tyres, wheels, axles, etc.
The referred lowest point does not include parts that are not supported by the suspension. When measuring for it, do not include the flexible mud flaps.
It is measured with the trailer UNLADEN. It is measured with the trailer loaded to its maximum loaded test mass; and its body horizontal.



In addition to the requirements of the previous VSB1, doors in the left-hand side or at the rear must provide DIRECT entry and exit for passengers, thus must be:

  • Large enough
  • Clear of any obstruction
  • Self-sufficient in a way that users must not have to use additional items to use/access such doors



Caution! Wrong lighting installation is one of the most common causes why caravans are declared non-compliant.


As to date, this requirement set is still under review. But generally, to identify lamps or reflectors that are compliant with the latest regulations, look for either of the following:

  • A document from the component manufacturer, proving the UN approval of the lamp or reflector
  • The Component Type Approval number of the lamp/reflector. This number must appear on the Component Type Approval webpage when searched.


Mandatory Lamps

This section is not present in the previous VSB1. Below is a list of lamps and reflectors that caravans must have in accordance to their dimensions:

All caravans
  • Rear lights
    • Position lamps (also called tail lamps)
    • Brake lamps (also called stop lamps)
    • Indicator lamps
    • Reflectors
    • Lamp for registration plate
  • Front reflectors
  • Side reflectors
>4m long and >1.6m wide; or
>1.8m wide only
Front position lamps
>2.1m wide
  • Front and rear clearance (“end-outline marker”) lamps
  • Side-marker lamps (option 1 or 2) or front position lamps
>6m long Front position lamps
>2.1m wide Side-marker lamps (option 1) or front position lamps
>7.5m long; or
all goose-neck and fifth-wheel caravans
Side-marker lamps (option 2) or front position lamps

Non-triangular rear reflectors are allowed provided that they are combined with other rear lamps.


Important Note In all of the tables below pertaining to lamp requirements,

  • Blank cells means “Not Applicable”.
  • “Offset” means the distance of the lamp from the caravan body’s vertical edge.
  • “Height” means the distance of the lower edge of the lamp from the ground.
  • The Electrical Connection column dictates how the lamp should operate.


Rear Lamps and Reflectors

Tail lamps Red 2 units

350-1500mm height*

≤400mm offset

≥600mm apart**

45° inward
80° outward
15° above & below*** Dependent on the tow vehicle’s tail lamps 49/xx R7/xx
Stop lamps Red 45° in & out Dependent on the tow vehicle’s brake lamps and (any) trailer service brakes 49/xx R7/xx
Indicator lamps Amber 45° in
80° out
Dependent only on the tow vehicle’s indicator lamps;

Phase operation on each trailer side;

At 60-120 flashes/min.

6/xx R6/xx
Centre high mounted stop lamp Red ≥850mm height*****
150mm below the rear window
10° in & out 10° above
5° below
Dependent on the tow vehicle’s brake lamps and (any) trailer service brakes 60/xx R7/xx
Rear reflectors (non-triangular) Red 2 units optional

250-900mm height***

≤400mm offset

≥600mm apart**

30° in & out 10° above & below 47/xx R3/xx
Rear reflectors (triangular) Red 15° above & below 47/xx R3/xx
Registration plate lamps White ≥1 unit/s

Where it illuminates the registration plate with white light

48/xx R4/xx
Clearance lamps on trailers >2.1m wide Red 2 units

Greatest height possible

≤400mm offset

≥200mm from the tail lamp

80° out 5° above
20° below
Simultaneous with trailer’s tail lamps 49/xx R7/xx
Reversing Lamps White 1 or 2 units if trailer length is <6m
Else, 2 units250-1200mm height
If 1 lamp:
45° left & right If 2 lamps:
45° out
30° in
15° above
5° below
Dependent on the tow vehicle’s reversing lamps 1/xx R23/xx
* Extendable to 2,100mm if the body design requires so
** Reducible to 400mm if the trailer width is <1,300mm.
*** If mounted <750mm from the ground, the downward angle may be reduced to 10°.
**** Extendable to 1,500mm if the body design requires so
***** The entire lamp must be above the upper edge of the brake lamps


Front Lamps and Reflectors

Front reflectors White 250-900mm height*

≤150mm offset

≥600mm apart**

30° out
10° in***
10° above & below**** 47/xx R3/xx
Front position lamps White; or amber if combined with side-marker lamp 250-1500mm height *****

≤150mm offset

≥600mm apart**

45° in
80° out
15° above & below**** Must operate with tail lamps 49/xx R7/xx
Front clearance lamps on trailers >2.1m wide
White 2 units

As high as possible

≤400mm offset

≥200mm from front position lamp

80° out 5° above
20° below
Must operate with tail lamps 49/xx R7/xx
It’s okay to not fit such lamps if the trailer has no provision for those, or if the maximum distance of the front position lamp to the front clearance lamp would be ≤1.5m.
* Extendable to 1.5m if body design requires so.
** Reducible to 400mm if trailer width is <1.3m.
*** If cannot be met due to trailer design, add reflectors to achieve this limit.
**** If mounted <750mm from ground, downward angle may be up to 5°. Additionally for front position lamps inward angle may be up to 5°.
***** Extendable to 2.1m if body design requires so.


Side Lamps and Reflectors

Side reflectors Amber or red* 250-900mm height***

≤150mm offset

≥1 unit/s in the middle third of the trailer;

foremost unit ≤3m from the front;

rearmost unit ≤1m from the rear

≤4m apart

45° to the front & rear 10° above & below** 47/xx R3/xx
Marker lamps – Option 1 Amber front & rear 250-1500mm height***

≤150mm offset

45° to the front & rear No specifics required for trailers <3.5t ATM but usually, they are wired together with tail lamps 45/xx
Marker lamps – Option 2 Amber front & red rear 250-1500mm height***

≤150mm offset

If >2.1m wide:
2 at rear

If >7.5m long:
2 each at the front, rear, and middle

If semi-trailer ≤7.5m long:
2 at front, and
2 at rear

74/xx R91/xx


* The rearmost reflector may be red if grouped with other lamps or if its light emitting surface is partly common with the:

  • rear position lamp;
  • rear clearance marker lamp;
  • stop lamp; or
  • red rearmost side-marker lamp
** If mounted <750mm from ground, downward angle may be up to 5°.
*** Extendable to 1.2m if grouped with other lamps, or to 1.5m if body design requires so.
**** Extendable to 2.1m if body design requires so.
***** In this column, “front” means ≤300mm from the trailer front, and “rear” means ≤300mm from the trailer rear. If not practical, place the lamp where closest possible to the trailer front/rear.


Useful Tip Use masking tape as guide to mark the locations where you must put your side lamps/reflectors.


Common Mistakes in Light Installations

Even if standards have already been set out, there are still practices that manufacturers/designers do which are wrongly thought to be okay. That is why the latest VSB1 calls out some of manufacturers’/importers’ common mistakes.

  1. Watch out for tail or indicator lamps that are deeply embedded to the vehicle body. Since these need to be visible 80° outwards, embedding the lamp may prevent it from complying with this visibility requirement.
  2. Since stone guards may obscure front reflectors, you can do either of the following:
    1. Reposition the stone guard where it does not obstruct any reflector.
    2. Place the obstructed reflector on the stone guard itself.
    3. Fit additional reflectors on the stone guard or trailer body to meet the required visibility.
  3. Be careful that NO part of the caravan’s accessories obscure the visibility requirements of each lamp and reflector. A very common example of this is the upright blocks of a side-mounted awning.
  4. It is observed that the mounting height requirements for rear lamps and reflectors are still frequently not followed.
  5. Similarly to #4, even the offset requirements are frequently missed out on. Remember this general rule:

Fit the lamp as close as possible to the vertical edge of the caravan body.


Electrical Wiring


  • Support the wire at every ≤600mm distance
  • Insulate the joints
  • Route the wire where it is safe from physical and thermal hazards or damage
  • Protect the wire with a rubber grommet or any similar material.
  • Provide an earth return wire between the caravan and the tow vehicle.
  • Watch out for AS/NZS 3001 as it is currently being updated.


Caravans with ≤3.5t ATM

Use 7- or 12-pin plugs that comply with AS4177.5-2004 (the AS2513-1982 now omitted). Specifically, the wiring must be as follows:

7 PIN 12 PIN
1 1 Left-hand indicator Yellow
2 2 Reversing signal Black
3 3 Earth/ground return White
4 4 Right-hand indicator Green
5 5 Service brakes Blue
6 6 Stop lamps Red
7 7 Rear position lamps, clearance lamps & side-marker lamps Brown
8 Battery supply (electrical winch now removed) Orange
9 Auxiliaries Pink
10 Earth/ground return White
11 Rear fog lamp Grey
12 Auxiliaries Violet

This table was previously only for trailers over 3.5t ATM.


Warning Do not designate these pins otherwise, nor plug an additional circuit in a designated pin. There are “auxiliaries” pins designated for those.


Caravans with >3.5t ATM

Use lighting connectors that comply with either of the following:

  • ISO 1185:2003
  • SAE J560 – 2016-04-01
  • AS 4735 – 2003 (previously not included in VSB1 rev. 5)
  • AS 4177.5 – 2004 (previously not included in VSB1 rev. 5)



Provide an electrical conductor (other than the trailer coupling) that returns the electrical path between the circuits of the trailer and of the tow vehicle.
AC-powered electrical installations that do not connect to the tow vehicle must be compliant with AS/NZS 3001:2008.


Tow Components

VSB1 states that this section is still being reviewed. Nevertheless, I’ve included important updates here.


Drawbars and Drawbar Safety Chain Attachment Points

These shall be securely attached to a main structural member, and be able to withstand the following forces for 10 seconds without any form of cracking, deformation, degradation or cracking:

Longitudinal tension & compression N 1.5 x 9.81 x ATM (kg) 9.81 x ATM (kg) — tension only
Transverse thrust N 0.5 x 9.81 x ATM (kg) N/A
Vertical tension & compression
(for rigid drawbar trailers only)
N 0.5 x 9.81 x ATM (kg) 0.5 x 9.81 x ATM (kg) — tension only


Useful Tip You can use your own testing method as long as it’s approved by the Department. Some examples include the dynamic test in ADR 62/02 and the test/s described in Chapter 14 of VSB1 revision 6.


Drawbar Safety Chains

You must fit such chains or cables if your caravan does not have an emergency brake system or if it has rigid drawbars.

≤2.5t Fit 1 safety chain compliant with AS 4177.4-2004; or
1 safety cable with the same certified load capacity
>2.5t but ≤3.5t
>3.5t Fit 2 safety chains of the following specifications:

  1. Compliant with AS 2321-2001 as a Grade T chain (the 1979 and 2006 versions now removed),
  2. Made of steel that has a breaking stress of at least 800MPa,
  3. With each chain 6mm in size and having a breaking load that is both:
    • ≥5.1t, and
    • greater than the ATM of the caravan


Safety Chain Markings

Such markings must be:

  • Placed at least on every fourth link, and
  • Compliant with AS 4177.4 – 2004 which states that the format must be as follows:

XXX 4177 35

where: XXX – name of the manufacturer or importer
4177 – the AS number
35 – the chain rating (i.e. 3,500kg)

Safety Chain Markings


Warning! Do not weld your safety chain if it’s a ‘Grade T’ one.



In summary, couplings must be positive locking. In addition for caravans with an ATM ≤3.5t, these must be of the quick release type.

50mm ball couplings on trailers of ATM ≤3.5t
  • The coupling body must comply with AS 4177.3 – 2004
  • The mounting height must be 350-460mm from the ground to the centre of the ball and with the trailer laden (previously, the range was 350-420mm)
Vehicles towing trailers of ATM ≤3.5t Compliant with AS 4177.1 – 2004
Other couplings;
Couplings that comply with UN R55/01
Must comply with ADR 62/xx

The section for fifth-wheels and kingpins were removed in the latest VSB1, but do still check ADR 62/xx.



Useful Tip If your trailer’s braking system complies with the UN regulation R13 – incorporating the 11 series of amendments, then you’re good to go! No need to read follow the table below.


Caravans with ≤750kg GTM If your trailer has a single axle only, then you won’t need to fit brakes.
Caravans with >750kg GTM; or
with >1 axle
Fit your trailer with an efficient service braking system that’s activated by the tow vehicle (except for over-run brakes).
Caravans with ≤2t GTM Over-run brakes are allowed.
Brakes may be on one axle only.
Caravans with >2t GTM Install the system such that all brakes are operating on all wheels.

Fit the caravan with an efficient emergency braking system (EBS). This system must work in a way that when the caravan is accidentally disconnected, the EBS must be able to immediately brake the caravan and hold this position for at least 15 minutes.

(requirement on hydraulic brake hoses now removed)

This section is still under review though, so be sure to check for updates every now and then.


Axles and Suspensions

The previous requirements of VSB1 still applies except that for non-load sharing suspensions, the 120% required rating must be achieved with the caravan at its ATM and on a level surface. The Department is yet to add a diagram for this.


Wheels and Tyres

Summarily, there’s no change in wheel requirements as far as VSB1 revisions are concerned. But for tyres, there are some updates:

PARAMETER VSB1 rev.5 VSB1 rev.6
Standards which the tyres must comply with (as applicable) For standard tyres, follow ADRs:

  • 23/xx
  • 42/xx

For retreaded tyres: AS 1973-1993

All tyres (including retreaded ones) must follow ADRs:

  • 23/xx
  • 42/xx
  • 95/xx
  • 96/xx
Tyre placard requirements for caravans with GTM ≤3.5t
  1. Durable and placed where easily seen.
  2. May be incorporated in the vehicle plate.
  3. Must not be referred to by the name of the manufacturer or brand.
  4. Must include these minimum details:
    1. tyre size
    2. load rating
    3. speed rating
    4. cold inflation pressures
    5. statement about the speed category which the tyres must have
Same, but with requirements #3 and #4.e. removed



Basically, the requirements are the same as those in VSB1 revision 5 except for the approach of complying with the mudguard’s length requirements.
To be more specific:

Caravans with a GTM >3.5t

vsb1 revision for mudguard - Caravans with a GTM >3.5t

*For off-road caravans, you may extend the 230mm limit to 300mm.

The mudguard must extend forward to the front line, or further.
The mudguard (plus the mud flap) must extend rearward to the blue dot, or further. However, do not follow this limit if the mudguard/flap enters the green area.

Caravans with a GTM ≤3.5t Option 1: same as that for caravans with a GTM >3.5t
Option 2:

vsb1 revision for mudguard - Caravans with a GTM ≤3.5t

The mudguard must extend forward to the red dot, or further.
The mudguard must extend rearward to the blue dot, or further.

Caravans with >1 axle in an axle group Option 1: Fit a mudguard for every wheel
Option 2: Fit one mudguard that covers all wheels In either case above, both the mudguard’s front and rear shall comply with the same requirements as that for caravans with a GTM >3.5t.


Safety Features

Bumpers The ends must turn inwards (see ADR42/xx) – this is not mentioned in the previous version of VSB1.
Fire Extinguishers
  1. Compliant with AS 2444-1985. Other standards (i.e. AS 1850 and other versions of AS 2444) previously allowed are now removed.
  2. Fit class 1A:5B extinguisher/s and (any) fire blanket/s.
  3. Single compartment caravans must have ≥1 fire extinguisher/s.
  4. Multi-compartment caravans must have ≥2 fire extinguisher/s.
  5. Opt for fire blankets in areas near cooking appliances.
  6. Consider providing flexible hoses and personal protective equipment for enhanced safety measure.
  7. For smoke alarms, check the requirements of your state/territory.
LPG Installations VSB1 previously enforced compliance with AS/NZS 5601-2004, but now nominates the updated version which is AS/NZS 5601.1:2013. Even so, note that an even more updated version (AS/NZS 5601.2:2020) is currently on the works.



So what do you think about these changes? To be honest I personally think that it will be much easier after implementation. So, good grief to incoming manufacturers and importers who won’t have to undergo the transition of all Australian vehicle standards.

But for existing manufacturers and importers, painstaking as the transition may seem to be, note that no transition is easy. Although you’ll need to shell out some extra cash for this, it can only get better from here. And what will you get? Standards that are more suitable for today’s technology and enhanced security from fraudulent schemes. It’s a good deal, isn’t it?



For more information see the About Us page

Recent Posts