It is illegal to carry fuel on the back of my van

The short answer to this question is no. Or, at least, that there is nothing publicly available that definitely says otherwise, however this is not necessarily the end of the story.

First and foremost, regardless of where it is stored, fuel can only be carried in approved fuel containers. There are specific regulations and design rules that a fuel container must meet before it is able to be sold in Australia. Same goes for the holder that the jerry can is stored in. For the time being let’s assume you have bought your jerry cans from a reputable retailer and they meet the relevant standards. So too do the jerry can holders on your trailer.781_R__TN800x600

Secondly, you are not allowed to carry more than 250 litres of fuel on your vehicle. So if you have any more than 4 x 20l jerry cans on your trailer and 170l of fuel on the tow vehicle, you could be in trouble.

It can also depend on the type of fuel you carry. Depending on what you read, and how you interpreted it, Diesel fuel is classified in a different category to Petrol and is not considered a dangerous material.

Further complicating the matter is that every state has slightly different regulations regarding carrying of fuel. The following is an extract from another website and is reprinted here as a guide only with the disclaimer that it was from 2011 and could be out of date. Certainly the names of the relevant departments may well have changed.DSC_0202

At the end of the day it is up to the individual to inform themselves of the appropriate regulations and ensure their setup meets those regulations. Always contact the state authorities if you are in any doubt.

One final word on this subject. It may also be prudent to check with your insurer (car and trailer) as to whether or not they will cover you if you are carrying fuel in addition to the standard fuel tanks.


The WA Dangerous Goods Act 1988, and Dangerous Goods (Transport) (Road and Rail) Regulations 1999, contains the relevant regulations, both of which are based on the Australian Dangerous Goods Code (ADGC), sixth edition.

The maximum permissible quantity is 250 litres of petrol, which should be carried in approved containers in either the boot or on external brackets. It can be carried within the passenger compartment, such as the back of a station wagon, in approved, properly restrained containers, but this is not recommended.

Contact the Explosives and Dangerous Goods Division of the WA Department of Mineral and

Petroleum Resources for further into (08 9222 333)


The Transport Operations (Road Use Management – Dangerous Goods) Regulation 1998 permits carrying up to 250 litres of dangerous goods (fuel) for personal use. The responsibility for filling a jerry can and ensuring it is an approved container lies with the person filling the container.

Under the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 owners are prohibited from modifying their vehicle, its parts or equipment, and from carrying dangerous goods (irrespective of quantity or position), in an unsafe manner.

This includes carrying containers upright, ensuring they don’t leak and are properly secured, and do not overload the vehicle (especially if transported on roof-racks). A booklet titled Load Restraint Guide (available from Commonwealth Government Bookshops) should be consulted.

Write to: The Group Manager, Vehicle Safety and Industry Reform Section,

Queensland Transport, PO Box 673 Fortitude Valley QLD 4006.


In South Australia, petrol is covered by the Dangerous Substances Act and Regulations, which are in turn based on the ADGC; therefore, the same 250- limit applies.

Diesel is unregulated, as elsewhere, but the Department for Administrative and Information Services advises that petrol (and diesel) transportation would be covered by the general duty of care provisions contained in Sections 11 and 12 of the Dangerous Substances Act.

The Road Traffic Act has provisions for duly of care relating to vehicle safety issues such as overhanging loads and impact protection. They also state that, while carrying fuel in the driver’s vapour space (in a van or wagon), is much debated, it is up to each individual driver to assess their own risk and duty of care provisions when deciding whether to fit a range tank or carry fuel in jerry cans.

Dangerous Substances Branch, Workplace Services (08) 8303 0447


In Victoria, the relevant legislation is the Road Act 1995, which has been adopted from the, (Dangerous Goods) Act -1995 and the Road Transport (Dangerous Goods) Regulations.

The Regulations reference the ADGC under which Regulation 1.10 exempts small quantities of fuel from the rigours of the Dangerous Goods legislation. This refers, again, to petrol only. Diesel is not considered dangerous goods.

They maintain it is the responsibility of the driver items, regardless of type, are firmly and a fuel should be stored in AS2906 containers minimum requirement.

Write to: Victorian WorkCover Authority, Dangerous Goods Unit

GPO Box 4306 Melbourne Vic 3001


The Tasmanian government refers these, issues to the Dangerous Goods (Road and Rail Transport) Regulations 1998, which covers general safety and load restraint safety.

The filling of fuel containers is also covered by AS1940 – Storage and Handling of Combustible and Flammable Liquids. They advise that a person can carry 250 litres of petrol for private use (as per the ADOC), but the containers must meet AS2906 Fuel Containers/Portable/Plastics and Metal.

Tasmanian Vehicle and Traffic (Vehicle Standards) that an object fitted to a vehicle must be designed, built and maintained to minimise the likelihood of injury. As such, this would prohibit the fitting of jerry cans containing dangerous or explosive substances to any vehicle (car, 4WD, caravan, trailer), especially given the likelihood of rear or side-impact collisions.

Owners of vehicles should check the ‘fine print’ of their insurance policies. If fuel is transported in an unsafe manner and an accident leads to greater damage or injury than might otherwise have been the case apportion blame to the driver and/or invalidate the policy.

Write to: The Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources,



The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and WorkCover NSW are the competent authorities for dangerous goods control in NSW. They’ administer the Road and Rail Transport (Dangerous Goods) Act 1997 and the Road Transport Reform (Dangerous Goods) (NSW) Regulations 1998.

Under these laws, jerry cans must be approved containers for the transport of Class 3 liquids (petrol) (ie, AS2906) and the maximum permissible quantity is 250 litres. Diesel is not considered a dangerous good, but a combustible, and must be carried in a safe manner.

Division 9.3.1 (1) (e) of the ADGC states that ‘if the package (ie, jerry can) contains dangerous goods of a kind that may lead to the formation of flammable, toxic or other harmful atmospheres – the package must be stowed so that no harmful atmosphere will accumulate in the cabin If the package leaks’.

The above would indicate that great care should be taken when storing jerry cans inside a 4WD’s luggage compartment, whether it is a separate boot or part of the passenger compartment. AS2906 containers are designed not to vent to the atmosphere, provided they are in good condition and the seals/lids are functioning correctly.

Write to: NSW Environment Protection Authority

Dangerous Goods Office 59-61 Goulburn St, Sydney NSW 2000.


Only containers which comply with Northern Territory Dangerous Goods Regulation 217 can be used to transport flammable, (petrol.) and combustible (diesel) fuels. Essentially, this covers containers complying with AS1533/34 and AS1 940, but ‘approved container’ is also specified which indicates that containers complying with AS2906 would also be acceptable.

The Northern Territory Dangerous Goods legislation is b ADGC, which specifies that not more than 250 litres of petrol can be carried. No quantity is specified for diesel.

Information bulletins are available at or contact

The Department of Industries and Business, Work Health (08) 8999 511 8


The transport of fuel is covered under the Dangerous Goods Act. 1975, Dangerous, Goods Regulations 1978, Road Transport Reform (Dangerous Goods) Act 1995 and Road Transport (Dangerous Goods) Regulations. The latter takes its requirements from the ADGC.

The DGA (1975) Section, 12 and 14 require fuel to be carried in appropriate, containers to prevent spillage or leakage, and make it an offence to carry fuel in a manner likely to cause death/injury, or damage to property.

Section 37(1) of the RTR (DIG) Act1 1995 requires fuel be transported in a safe manner. Sub Section (2) makes it an offence to do so where a person “ought to have known” that what they were doing was unsafe or likely to cause damage to persons or property.

Contact: ACT WorkCover (Dangerous Goods) (02) 6207 6354.