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10 things you need to know about helmet laws

Helmet laws - helmet petition, helmet forum helmet forum right edge open

Helmet laws have changed radically in Australia over the past year, leaving riders a little confused about what they can wear and what they can and can’t do with their helmets.

The Federal Government now allows European-standard helmets to be sold throughout the country, and every state now allows them to be worn.

And a recent court case dismissed a fine for wearing a helmet camera, but the verdict doesn’t represent a test case.

Motorbike Writer has been documenting these changes as they have happened with thanks to helmet law experts such as Guy Stanford and Wayne Carruthers.

If the situation changes, you’ll read it here first.

Meanwhile, here are 10 things you need to know about helmet laws as they stand, noting that this situation can change at any time:

1 What should I look for when buying a helmet?

It is now legal for retailers to sell helmets compliant to the recognised standards AS1698, UNECE 22.05, DOT, Snell and BSI. A helmet only has to be “fit for purpose” to be sold and the “purpose” may be either road use or motor sport use where helmets to other standards are allowed. This means that when purchasing a helmet for road use, riders must ensure the helmet is compliant to AS1698 or UNECE 22.05 only.

2 Where can I wear a European helmet?

European-standard or UNECE 22.05 helmets are now approved for wear in all states and territories. While it has been difficult to find a store to sell you one, distributors are now beginning to import them as stocks of Australian-approved helmets run out. Also, importers are starting to bring in brands we have not seen here before.

3 What stickers and labels does my helmet need?

Police in most states believe an AS1698 CAB sticker must be on the exterior of the helmet but it is not specified in any regulations where the CAB sticker should be placed.  The AS1698 standard only requires a label sewn into the liner. UNECE 22.05 only needs a label on the chin strap or liner. You can actually remove outside stickers. CLICK HERE for more details.

AS/NZ1698 helmet sticker laws
AS/NZ1698 helmet sticker

4 Can I wear a camera or bluetooth unit on my helmet?

Neither AS1698 nor UNECE 22.05 have been updated to specify accessory attachment methods. It is not legal to modify a helmet shell to fit an attachment such as drilling holes. but if it is clamped or stuck on with the provided attachments, it should be ok. The position in Victoria is still in doubt.

NSW and Victorian police improperly interpreted the AS1698 specification to determine accessories were illegal on the basis they were rigid external projections protruding more than 5mm beyond the helmet shell. NSW police have been instructed by the Police Commissioner to stop issuing infringement notices for accessories.

A recent helmet camera fine was dismissed in Victoria, but only on the grounds that the laws were too difficult for the public to access, not on the applicable laws. If the Victorian laws become more readily available, there could be concerns for riders in Victoria. Some NSW and Victorian police may still improperly interpret any change to a helmet as making it non-compliant. The argument that compliance only applies at the point of sale has still not been proved.

The ACT government has ratified the legality of helmet cameras and Bluetooth units, while States such as Queensland and Western Australia do not see it as an issue. Meanwhile, bike cops in all states have cameras and Bluetooth units attached to their helmets.

Gopro helmet camera 2015 laws

5 Can I paint my helmet or put stickers on it?

Neither AS1698 nor UNECE 22.05 specify painting or stickers so this is a grey area. Manufacturers advise you don’t and because of that the police may interpret that as meaning the helmet has been modified and therefore non-compliant. If the compliance issue is resolved as only referring to the point of sale, then you should be ok to paint or sticker your helmet, but be wary of solvents and glues that can destroy the helmet’s structural integrity. Read more here.

Painted motorcycle helmets laws

6 When do I have to replace my helmet?

There are no rules regarding a time when you should replace your helmet, except that it must not be damaged with an intact chin strap and unbroken visor. Longevity of a helmet depends on how often you use it and how much you sweat in it. If it becomes loose or is damaged, we suggest you update it. Five years is a recommended maximum. Read more here.

7 Must the chin strap be done up?

Yes, regulations state it must be securely attached. Police have been known to fine riders for not having the chin strap done up properly. That means you can’t just loop it through the double-d clasps; it must be secure. It might seem petty – and it is – but it is important for your safety. Meanwhile, we are yet to see how the police will respond to the new Australian-designed Vozz helmet which has no chin strap!

VOZZ Helmet laws
VOZZ Helmet

8 Are head-up display units legal?

Neither AS1698 nor UNECE 22.05 have been updated to specify HUD and there is no talk of them being updated to include this latest technology. The units can either be integrated into the helmet or an after market accessory. However, these units are fitted internally and shouldn’t cause concerns from police about distance protruding from the helmet.

9 Are tinted visors and goggles legal?

AS1698 and UNECE 22.05 specify limits on visible light transmittance (VLT) for tinted visors, neither specification has been updated to cover modern optical treatments or internal visors. AS1698 allowable tinting is 50-85% VLT, UNECE 22.05 allowable tinting is  50-80% VLT. Victorian police withdrew a non-compliant helmet fine against a rider for having a tinted visor. However, because it didn’t go to court for a decision, there is no test case and no reason why police can’t continue to interpret the law that way. The ACT is the only government that has specifically ratified internal tinted visors. There have been very few examples of riders being fined, but it makes sense not to wear a tinted visor at night. Meanwhile, the legality of replacement tinted visors is still open to interpretation. Goggles are legal on helmets which are designed for use with goggles. If they are not tinted, there is no problem with helmet goggles.

Motorcycle goggles laws

10 What should I do if fined by police?

We recommend you do not enter into an argument with police on the side of the road. However, you should advise the officer politely that you will be contesting the matter and show them a printed copy of the appropriate state regulation which you should keep with you. Make sure you do that before they start to write out the fine. Also, be aware that they may then start finding other faults such as bald tyres, illegal lights, after market tail tidies etc. Where any infringement notice for a helmet offence is issued ensure your state rider association is informed so the issue can be addressed.

  1. Interestingly what no one has pointed out yet are the implications that the Victorian judgement may have across the board for anything that must meet an Australian standard. Since the privatisation of the standards, most standards are only available by paying a fee. This judgement will be a precent across a lot of industries, from construction to manufacturing and more. This same defence could conceivably be used by a builder who uses sub-standard materials . If the relevant standards referred to in legislation must be freely available then it undermines the income stream of the companies that currently publish the standards and charge for copies. Once this realisation filters out there things could get interesting.

    1. Yes, that has been noted and there could well be an appeal because of the implications

      Standards Austrlia only have themselves to blame though as standards are not split into two sections

      The public part we all need to know, and the private/paid part with all the tests a manufacturer needs to know in order to build components compliant to a standard

    2. If there is a relevant standard for something and a builder or manufacturer failed to follow or comply with that standard they would not be able to use that excuse as the finding was the standard is not accessible by the public, builders and manufacturers are not the public they are the party’s bound by the relevant standards and as such have to know them. So if a builder was brought up on charges for shoddy work saying it was because he could access the standard would only add a charge of negligence and reckless endangerment, he’d be better off saying he was crook and didn’t realise that he was stuffing up.

    1. DOT cannot be legally worn in NSW or in other States, only AS1698 and UNECE 22.05 helmets are approved

      There is a medical excemption system for genuine medical conditions which has some limited ability to use other standard helmets but Doctors certificates are required. Medical certificates are not recognised beyond State borders like eye glass endorsements on licences so exemptions must be applied for in each State separately

      1. Cheers for the reply, shame about the DOT.. someday hopefully they’ll be legal as I have a couple of Bell helmets from the US.

        1. Wait, but the beginning of the article said, “It is now legal for retailers to sell helmets compliant to the recognised standards AS1698, UNECE 22.05, DOT, Snell and BSI.”
          So doesn’t that mean DOT is ok?

  2. Hello Mark, Great laws! The helmet is most essential for safety purpose at the time of driving. These all laws are truly usable for everyone and all helmets are looking cool. Thanks a lot for sharing this wonderful blog.

  3. Unfortunately some of the state in USA do not have a helmet law. But whether it has a law or not it is very necessary to wear a helmet for personal safety and for prevent serious head injury while a crash.

  4. “The AS1698 standard only requires a label sewn into the liner.”
    Are you sure about that?
    When I was a member of the AS1698 standards committee, the reg said “AS1698 had to be marked either on the liner, OR a sticker on the outside” so most manufacturers put them on both.

  5. I have only recently arrived from the UK and have brought with me a helmet with an ACU Gold sticker on it and an “E9” tag on the chin strap. I am completely confused as to whether this is now legal to use on NSW roads or not – some sites say that this standard is better than UNECE 22.05 as it is awarded to helmets used in racing, but without that valuable ECE sticker, are the police going to fine me?? One site says that because it has the E9 tag on the strap, this means that it does comply with 22.05 standards. But as the police have a ‘no room for negotiation’ attitude towards breaking the laws, I don’t want to be hit with a fine and points for not having the story straight, neither do I want to replace my 300 pound helmet if I don’t have to. Any advice, gratefully received.

    1. The E9 on the chin strap indicates it is UNECE 22.05 compliant and was approved in Spain, the precise wording which should be on the strap is below

      “An international approval mark of a circle around the number “E” followed by the number of the country which has granted the approval followed by the approval number, a dash and a symbol as set out below
      “J” if the helmet does not have a lower face cover
      “P” if the helmet has a protective lower face cover, or
      “NP” if the helmet has a non protective lower face cover
      The symbol is followed by a dash and the production serial number
      On helmets the marking is required to be sewn onto the retention system (chin strap).”

      It is not uncommon for helmets which have been certified to multiple standards to only have one “sticker” on the exterior of the helmet.

      The advice to riders on the WA Road Safety web site is to look for that UNECE 22.05 chin strap label, not any other “sticker”, stickers are too easy to produce and counterfeit

      Police training on what stickers should be on a helmet and where is unfortunately poor and so there are some instances of infringement notices issued.

      Where any rider is issued with any helmet related infringement notice they should contact their State Rider Association

  6. Hello

    I own a HJC RPHA Max modular helmet and I’d like to know if the regulations in Queensland allow you to wear it as an open face helmet when riding, meaning having the front lifted up (not just the visor)?
    It gets pretty hot and humid in summer and it helps keep cool when the front is open. Also, I wouldn’t need to buy a second open face helmet.


    1. Hi Yoshi,
      This tis a tricky one.
      The only modular helmets approved for riding in the one position are those where the chin bar goes all the way back over the head like the Shark Evolution.
      Old police ride with theirs open, even though it is officially illegal.
      However, we have never heard of anyone being fined for it and cannot find reference to it in any road rules..

    1. Hi Eduardo,
      Definitely not.
      DOT-approved helmets are NOT permitted in Australia.
      If that style is your choice, you can pick up a similar helmet here for about $100.

      1. Above it states you now can wear DOT approved helmets 1 What should I look for when buying a helmet?
        It is now legal for retailers to sell helmets compliant to the recognised standards AS1698, UNECE 22.05, DOT, Snell and BSI. A helmet only has to be “fit for purpose” to be sold and the “purpose” may be either road use or motor sport use where helmets to other standards are allowed. This means that when purchasing a helmet for road use, riders must ensure the helmet is compliant to AS1698 or UNECE 22.05 only.

        1. Hi Scotty,
          It is legal for them to sell DOT helmets, but not legal for you to wear one. (It’s about similar to rules tat allow radar detectors to be sold, but not used in some states!)
          You may be able to wear a DOT helmet on some race tracks, depending on who sanctions the event. However, you can’t wear them on the road.

  7. Hi,do u know where i can apply to get australian helmet license?i have a friends who have a helmet manufacturer in indonesia and willing to try australian market..


  8. Hi,
    I cannot believe that which I am reading above. It seems that State Authorities cannot get their rules clear and consistant, so the Police invent their own interpretations, and these vary from time to time and place to place. I suggest that any laws or rules or regulations that are not clear to the average person, or are contradicted by other rules, should be regarded as invalid.
    It is only fair that motorcyclists should have the same certainty regarding equipment that car drivers have. As the States have proved they cannot get their acts together, this seems another case for federal legislation.
    Rod – Canberra

  9. Hi guys I live in North Queensland,
    I’ve been wearing a DOT FMVSSNo.281 for years. Been pulled over by police many times checked the bike and helmet. and sent on my way. So maybe I’m lucky or the helmet is legal.
    Safe riding.

    1. Hi JR,
      I have a couple of DOT helmets that are also ECE approved which is legal.
      But if it only has DOT approval it is illegal and you are very lucky.

  10. Hi Mark,
    I am planning to buy an Arai helmet in Japan when visiting and bring it back to Australia to use for road. They are exact same qualities and same helmet as you can buy in Australia but it doesn’t come with Australian Standard sticker. Does it still make a helmet not legal?

    1. Hi Shiggy,
      I doubt it. Helmets they sell in Japan will likely just have a JAS sticker or label, not an ECE sticker.
      Unless they have an ECE sticker or label, it will be illegal to wear in Australia even though it is basically the same helmet.
      Makes no sense, right?

  11. G’day, yesterday issued with an infringement for helmet not compliant. No sticker on outside. I did say to him I had removed it. I do not like stickers and labels. I complied with the police officer and accepted his agenda. He also informed me a Australian standard label should be stitched on the inside. A label was not visible when he looked inside. The process of a check of licence and rego was under way while I stood silently accepting my situation. After a couple of minutes I was adamant a label did exist and moved the liner about to expose the stitched in label. I sensed he was surprised, but he was quick to say “it must have the sticker on the outside”. Again I accepted it. No point in arguing with the law. I believe he was going to find a reason to get some funds one way or another. And just as quick he said ” you can get the sticker on ebay”. I remained silent. As I was handed the infringement he explained it to me and also pointed at the bits I would be interested in. Fine $317, demerit points 3, pay by 4/6/18. “You can go now”.
    I am just venting. I will pay and move on.

  12. The external label from a CAB (Conformance Assessment Body) on AS1698 helmets was only required on helmets produced after around 2011 in some States but not all, ACCC Consumer Protection Notice 9 which applied to sales of helmets up to 2010 removed the clause in the AS1698 which allowed State Regulatory Authorities to impose the external sticker requirement

  13. Hi . I have a zeus helmet . The label stitched in the liner has come away after being washed a few times . Does that make my helmet illegal to wear .

  14. I wanna know why i just got issued with a $319 fine for the strap on my qualified helmet was not strapped correctly (double d bullshit loop that takes 40-50 secs everytime. I also strap it enough so it won’t “come flying off” as the officer said. I own a manual car licence with a 49cc scooter and he asked if I knew how to double loop it (obviously not) for many reasons. I don’t have a motor bike licence nor need one, I searched QLD helmet strap training (none) so there for i need to resort to youtube or as the officer said “did you ask anyone?” WTF is that. How can you expect the proper methods when our own laws don’t provide training or general know how and is able to fine you over this. Absolute bullshit. I’m gonna take this further. You would think if they qualified me for a license it would be part of it. $319 revenue xmas raiser while cops are blitzing everything they see at the moment, I almost get hit by a moron driver that doesn’t check before they merge or pull out from some corner or break / headlights out and these dummies are still on the road. I find this situation so jaded it’s not funny.

  15. I was wondering if there is a law in Australia against other attachments for helmets such as helmet pigtails? They are attached by suction cup so no integral damage is done to the helmet and I’m not seeing anywhere thats says I can or can’t.

  16. It’s good to know that helmets should be replaced after five years, an old, worn-down helmet could be fatal. I have a few helmets that I have kept for quite a long time so it’s probably for the best that I replace it as soon as I can. I want to make sure that I am protected when I am on my motorcycle, I will be sure to buy a new helmet soon.

  17. Hi, we are riding Route66 from Chicago to L.A and wanting to take our own full face helmets. Do you know if this is okay to do over there?

  18. Hi. I bought a Bitwell Gringo helmet off ebay but the only cert is a Dot sticker on the back off the helmet . Is this legal to wear in Australia as it doesn’t have the “as1698” sticker. I bought this before they started selling them in Australia, its brand new still sitting in the cubboard.

    1. Hi Christopher,
      Sorry, but that is NOT legal to wear in Australia, unless on the inside there is a CE label.
      Check the lining and the chin strap and send me photos of the labels.

  19. hi my helmet the “icon airflight” only has a DOT sticker is there a way I can apply for a CE label for my helmet?

    1. Hi Jack,
      No, sorry, that’s not possible.
      You would have to buy one that is already EU approved.
      They might look the same and could very well be exactly the same, but that’s the law.

  20. Hi

    I recently bought a JIEKAI moto cycle helmet, which they claim is DOT and ECE compliant. There are no stickers anywhere on the helmet. I know it has chinese GB 811-2010 certification and it feels heavier and looks strnger than my current AS/NZ 1698 certified helmet. This brand is being strongly promoted in Australia. Is it legal in Australia and does anyone Know the Australian equivalent of this chinese standard.

  21. I was riding with my helmet on. I pulled into a petrol station to fill up. Officer came up and said your helmet isnt secured and issued a fine. 3 points and $330. I had my helmet done up , the strap was through the d rings and buttoned up. The fine states i have been issued with failing to wear a helmet. im debating whether to go to court. Ive had it reviewed and they said nope. I can understand if i want wearing one, sure, or chin strap waving down and not attached. Law says with vic roads as im in Victoria, helmet must be secured and fastended. those are the words…debating if i take it to court and put ti forward it was secured and fastended just not doubled up and around the d rings…i dont know were to go to ask i think its really rough. In future it will be read riding a motorcycle with no helmet…thats just wrong…what you rekon likelyhood is?

          1. In the add I provided it states its ECE /DOT . Is there different ECE standards. I will ask the supplier.

  22. Mark one of the reasons for confusion over DOT legality in particular – which continuing queries here confirm, is that Google constantly headlines your para 1 above: as follows:
    “ It is now legal for retailers to sell helmets compliant to the recognised standards AS1698, UNECE 22.05, DOT, Snell and BSI. “
    If the reader does not drill into the full article but merely reads the Google header they will assume there are 5 legal standards in Oz rather than the 2….


    1. Hi John,
      They don’t need to drill very far.
      These are the next two sentences:”A helmet only has to be “fit for purpose” to be sold and the “purpose” may be either road use or motor sport use where helmets to other standards are allowed. This means that when purchasing a helmet for road use, riders must ensure the helmet is compliant to AS1698 or UNECE 22.05 only.”

  23. Would I be correct in believing that it is legal to purchase a helmet that is stated to be “Fully UK road legal Ece22.05 P/J Rated” from the UK and wear it here in Australia as long as it has the Ece22.05 label on the chin strap or liner and does not require the AS1698 label because it already has the Ece22.05 label?

  24. I just looked at my son’s helmet that he bought here in Australia and it doesn’t have an AS1698 or UNECE 22.05 label but it does have a label that has E3 in a circle then two sets of numbers after it. Is this a new type of label or standard?

      1. Thanks Mark, I was just a little concerned that we might be buying helmets from bike shops here in Australia that might not be legal.

      2. Hi Mark I have 2 helmets the first one has only a E11 with a circle around it on the chin strap, the second helmet has DOT on the back as well as ECE 22:05 on the back are both these helmets legal here in QLD?

  25. Hello everyone,

    I am very confused regarding helmet visor laws. I wanted to replace my AGV clear visor to iridium blue visor. I believe the VLT is 50%. Is it legal to use it in Queensland? I don’t see many articles regarding that.

    I checked the AS1698 and ECE22.05 articles, it mentions visors should have 50% or more visibility.
    I have been very unlucky to get pulled over for small things and have got tickets. I don’t want to be fined again.

    Please advice.


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