FBT Q&A ‘ What is meant by the term ‘payload’ of a vehicle?

FBT, Public
Author: Steve Griffiths
5 Oct 2017


We are looking for guidance as to what constitutes the ‘payload’ of a vehicle.

We have been working off the manufacturer’s compliance plate, however we have been told that if the dealer installs accessories, e.g. canopy, bull bar, that the payload will then be reduced from that stated on the compliance plate.

This could mean the difference between buying certain models of the same vehicle that may or may not qualify as being principally designed to carry passengers.


The ‘payload’ or ‘carrying capacity’ of a vehicle simply means the maximum load your vehicle can carry as specified by the manufacturer. It is calculated by deducting your vehicle’s Kerb Mass from its Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) and what’s left is the amount of stuff (including passengers) you can load into it.

Miscellaneous Taxation Ruling MT 2024 provides the following formula to calculate the carrying capacity of a vehicle:

Maximum loaded vehicle weight (e.g. gross vehicle weight/mass).


Unladen vehicle weight (e.g. basic kerb weight/mass) as per Australian Design Rules. This is the weight of the vehicle with a full capacity of lubricant, coolant and fuel together with spare wheel, tools (including jack) and installed options. It does not include the weight of goods or occupants.

In regards to installed options, it seems that items that are not standard options for the particular vehicle model being acquired aren’t added to the unladen weight. The following ATO private binding ruling appears on point and provides a good analysis of the issue:

ATO private binding ruling No. 1012 873792262

This article provides a general summary of the subject covered as at the date it is published. It cannot be relied upon in relation to any specific instance. TaxEd Pty Ltd and any person connected with its production disclaim any liability in connection with any use. It is not intended to be, nor should it be relied upon as, a substitute for professional advice.


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