Is It Illegal to Carry Fuel on the Back of a Caravan?

⛽️ Can You Carry Diesel/ Fuel on the Back of a Caravan?

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You’re getting set to head off on a road trip across Australia and need to know all of the right information.

Here we tackle the big one: can you carry diesel or fuel on the back of your caravan, trailer, camper, RV, van or 4WD?

I’ve been in that same situation, wondering the same thing myself. In fact I found it very difficult to find the definitive answer that I was looking for, but today I will share with you what I’ve found.

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Carrying Fuel Regulations for Caravans

Bikes, Jerry Can Holders, Rear of Caravan

Why Carry a Jerry Can?

  • Just in case you hit a head wind and go through the fuel quicker than expected (it happens!)
  • Just in case you bank on pulling into a servo, only to find it closed 5 years ago
  • Just in case you pull into a town and find that they’re fresh out of diesel (have also seen this happen!)
  • To fuel a generator
  • To fuel a diesel heater
How to Install a Diesel Heater →

As we were in the stages of preparing our set-up for travel, it was a no-brainer that we needed a Jerry Can on the back of the van with spare fuel in it. Why did we want to carry spare fuel on our caravan? Mainly for ‘just in case.’

What if we had battery problems somewhere along the way and needed to pull out the generator (it’s never happened yet, touch wood)?

What if we ran out of fuel along the Nullarbor and needed that extra 20L to get us to the next servo? We have never run out of fuel yet, but you know, gotta be prepared!

So we went ahead and bought a Jerry Can Holder to fit behind the spare tyre on the rear of the caravan. But then the question came to me, “are we even legally allowed to store fuel on the back of the caravan?”

I got googling as we were midway through fitting it, just to be sure everything was all above board. My biggest concern was Insurance. I wondered if we’d be covered by insurance if someone ran up the back of us with a jerry can full of fuel on the back.

My Research Findings

After spending a lot of time trawling through Google, I came across hundreds of articles and conversations in forums saying that you shouldn’t carry fuel on the back of a car or trailer.

Even RACQ had an article on the topic (which is no longer available, for some weird reason). They reckoned that fuel can’t be carried anywhere that is prone to impact, which rules out the front of the vehicle, the rear of the vehicle/ trailer, plus the draw bars.

Fuel also should never be carried inside the passenger compartment of the vehicle. So, what’s left? The roof apparently… but that’s not always ideal, plus it adds extra weight up top. Sometimes it can work, but it’s not always the best scenario.

Alas, I couldn’t find anything actually saying whether or not it is illegal to carry fuel on the back of our caravan.

So far, I’d found lots of recommendations but no cold hard facts. I wanted it straight from the horse’s mouth.

The next thing I did was ring the Queensland Department of Transport. The first person I spoke to didn’t actually know the law on the topic, so I got a bit of a runaround until I ended up in the right department (within the department).

What did Queensland Department of Transport say?

When I put the direct question to the employee at Queensland Department of Transport, this is the answer I got:

QUESTION: “Is it illegal to carry fuel in a jerry can on the back of my caravan?”

ANSWER: “There is no law stating that it is illegal to carry fuel on the back of your caravan. As long as it is acceptable with your insurance company, then you are legally allowed to have it there.”

What did our Insurance provider say?

I just needed to make sure that I was complying with my insurance policy. It was time to ring them and get their answer as well.

QUESTION: “Will we be covered in an accident if we’re carrying fuel in a jerry can on the back of our caravan?”

ANSWER: “As long as you’re complying with your state regulations, then yes, you’ll be covered.”

When I asked my insurance provider the same question, they did assure me that we would be covered, as long as we were abiding by the state laws for whichever state the caravan is registered in. It sounds to me like a case of passing the buck, however as long as we were covered, that was my only real concern.

It doesn’t hurt to get this in writing if you’re worried about any future claims around the issue.

Fitting Jerry Can Holders to the Caravan
Fitting Jerry Can Holders to the rear of the caravan

Dangerous Goods Licence

Bear in mind that no more than 250L can be carried without a Dangerous Goods vehicle or licence. Fuel must be always be carried in containers that comply with Australian Standards, like metal or hard plastic purpose-made jerry cans. They’ve also got to be clearly labelled or colour-coded.

Standard Recognised Fuel Colour Codes

🔴 RED = Unleaded Fuel

🟡 YELLOW / BLACK = Diesel Fuel

🔵 BLUE / CLEAR = Water

Where to Carry Fuel on a Caravan

Jerry Cans

As there are no legal requirements with where to carry fuel on a caravan, you are free to store it wherever you like. However, it’s important that fuel is never stored inside the caravan and is always placed away from flamables.

Where to Carry Fuel on a Caravan:

  • Store away from ignition sources (such as the fridge and hot water system)
  • Store fuel in correctly labelled and/ or colour-coded containers
  • Do not store fuel inside the caravan
  • It is legal to carry fuel on the front and rear of the caravan, as long as it’s properly secured
  • Make sure jerry cans are secured in purpose-built jerry can holders

Carrying Fuel Regulations Summary

  1. It is NOT illegal to carry fuel on the back of your trailer or vehicle (in QLD anyway)
  2. Check with your own State Department (links below)
  3. Check with your Insurance Provider if you can carry fuel on the back of a caravan and still be covered (get it in writing)
  4. You can’t carry fuel inside the passenger compartment of the vehicle
  5. Always carry and store fuel in approved and labelled/ colour coded Jerry Cans
  6. You can’t carry more than 250L without a Dangerous Goods vehicle or licence

Keep in mind, that depending on how you store your jerry cans, they may be adding extra length to the back of your van.

6 Caravan Length Measurements →

State Department Contacts

For more information, contact your respective State Department of Transport & Main Roads to check with what information they have issued:

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CONCLUSION – Can You Carry Fuel or Diesel on the Back of a Caravan?

When asking the question, “Can you carry fuel or diesel on the back of a caravan,” the short answer is yes. However, it’s important to ensure that the fuel is stored in a correctly labelled and/ or colour-coded container. Plus, it must always be secured well and stored away from flammables.

My biggest piece of advice is to double-check with your own State’s road authorities and insurance company, as these laws could change at any time.

Everything You Need to Know About Caravan Insurance →
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34 thoughts on “⛽️ Can You Carry Diesel/ Fuel on the Back of a Caravan?”

    1. Looking at that article it seems it can be carried in the cab while transporting it in the community, however they still recommended it being outside the vehicle if possible. Obviously that would not be wise when travelling longer distances.

  1. Geoff Robertson

    I wonder whether the colour of the Jerry cans means they are of different compounds. I have used red cans for diesel for years with no problems, but if there is an issue, I’d like to know.

    1. No, it doesn’t mean the container is made of a different compound. The colour coding is purely so that everyone has a universal understanding of what’s in the container. For example, if you were to have an accident, the emergency workers could quickly and easily see that there’s a petrol jerry can on the back of the vehicle that needs to be removed.

  2. Great article thank you. For you information, Beware that in some Indigenous Communities you are not allowed to carry unleaded petrol. The roadhouses serve OPAL fuel instead of the unleaded. You can get diesel and carry diesel easily. I have come across this in researching travel from Qld to WA and will be going through some communities on the way and also need a permit to travel through them.

  3. So is it ok to store fuel (petrol) in the toolbox which sits on the drawbar of my teardrop? I am at a bit of a loss as to where to keep the extra fuel I will be carrying on a trip later this year.
    I might add the battery lives in the toolbox.

    1. I don’t think storing fuel and a battery inside the same box is recommended. There is a chance that the battery could leak among other accidental occurrences. If you could store the fuel in a separate way on the drawbar without being inside that box, it’d be okay.

      1. The main thing with storing petrol in a closed in area with a battery is if the fuel fumes fills that area even with the lid still on and the battery shorts and sparks for any reason the fumes will explode and for inside a vehicle with the occupants the fumes will overpower them and they will pass out or worse.

  4. I’m looking for the same info. From my experience in NSW, it depends on who you talk to, what day of the week it is etc, and you have Buckleys of getting them to provide it in writing. And you need to ensure your compliant with every state you intend to to visit as they all vary. It’s not uncommon to have an engineer certified vehicle in NSW and have it defected in Qld. Why can’t we have a national set of specs and rules 🙁

    1. Yeah it 100% depends on all of those things (who you talk to, day of the week and whether or not it’s a full moon) – so frustrating! You legally only have to be compliant in the state that your vehicle is registered in. As some of the rules conflict each other in various states, it’s impossible to comply with everyone all of the time.

  5. Carol Colborn

    Great to know. We did 8 years of RVing in the US but didn’t about it. We carried the Jerry can in one of the storage bins under the RV.

  6. The Spicy Travel Girl

    How interesting! I’m hoping to get my driver’s license this summer and the thought of getting a caravan is very tempting. Thanks for your advice.

  7. It’s slightly mad that it was so hard for you to get a straight answer, and that when you did, it was a case of passing the buck. Still this is good to know and now at least google will bring people to your blog when they have the same question. 🙂

  8. That is some research you have done! I live in India and we carry extra fuel all the time during road trips especially in far off mountain areas where fuel stations are not very near. Good to know about the options for an Australian road trip!

  9. This is such a helpful and such a practical article! I’ve only done one small road trip in Australia last year (3 days Great Ocean Road) but can imagine making a bigger one in the future so at least I know this now! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  10. This is great information on whether or not it is legal to carry fuel on the back of a Caravan not to mention even if it is legal what does your insurance company say. I would never have assumed it was illegal but I guess the potential for an impact explosion could be possible in my cartoon Road Runner mindset! I mean we carried cans of petrol mix in our cross country India trip in our tuk tuk cause like you said, you never know when you run out of cant find a station.
    I guess the best thing to do is to ask your insurance company after contacting local authorities.

    1. That’s basically what it comes down to. Making sure you’re covered by insurance in any situation. Nothing worse than finding you’re not covered for an accident with such an expensive item.

  11. I sounds like it took a lot of effort to source all of this information! I’m sure it will be extremely helpful for people in similar situations to yourself. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

  12. Thanks for sharing all the research you’ve done! I live in the US, but it is really helpful to hear your process to help figure out which steps to take first to determine local regs! Sometimes it’s really confusing to decide where to even start! Appreciate it.

    1. I imagine the rules could be different over there, but still something worth looking at for people who RV anywhere in the world.

      1. When I was in the army every Land Rover had 2 diesel fuel jerries on the back and the Unimogs had them under the deck at the rear so I’m guessing the military wouldn’t allow us to break any road laws.

  13. I’ve done the trip across the nullabor a few times. I did it many times in a Toyota Coaster decked out as a camper and we never used Jerry cans. We installed a second fuel tank instead.

    1. Sounds perfect. We’ve got a long-range fuel tank, plus a sub tank for the car. We’ve learnt to always carry a jerry can as well, just in case you hit a head wind etc.

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