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Australian & European Motorcycle Helmet Standards

Prue Mottram

In Australia in 1972, it became law that wearing a helmet that met a certain standard, was mandatory when riding a motorcycle on the road.

There are a couple of different standards that are now legally accepted in Australia. Today I'll run you through them.

In Australia, helmets must meet either the Australian Standard or the European Standard for them to be legally used on the road.
Australian Standard helmets are “certified” by a privately owned certification services company.
European helmets are “homologated” by a European government.

DOT and SNELL helmets are not currently legal for Road use in Australia.
(Side note - ECE helmets are not legal for road use in the USA, DOT helmets are not legal for road use in the UK.)

All helmets must be marked as to what standard they comply to. Helmets must have a label sewn into the helmet declaring the standard that they meet. This is generally either in the crown liner of the helmet for Australian Standards, or on the chin strap for European Standard. There may also be a sticker on the outside of the helmet.

Australian Standards
The two Australian standards are AS 1698-1988 and AS/NZS 1698:2006.
For Australian Standard compliant helmets, as indicated in the standard, no attachments should be made to the helmet except those recommended by the helmet manufacturer.

(Side note - you can now remove the outside Australian Standards sticker from your helmet IF there is a label sewn inside the helmet.)

European Standards
ECE stands for Economic Commission for Europe, which was created by the United Nations. On Friday 11th December 2015, helmets passing the European Standard 22.05 became legal for use on NSW roads. The remaining States and Territories followed suit and by 2016 ECE helmets were legal across Australia. This change was accepted warmly by motorcycle riders, and sellers of motorcycle gear alike. European Standard helmets tend to be lighter and cheaper, but just as strong as Australian Standard helmets. The range of helmets available to suppliers grew immensely. The European standard is also known as ECE 22.05. The mark will be in the form of a circle surrounding the letter "E", followed by the distinguishing number of the country that has granted approval. The number to the right of the "E" may vary from one model of helmet to another.

The current numbers and their corresponding Governments are; 1 for Germany, 2 for France, 3 for Italy, 4 for the Netherlands, 5 for Sweden, 6 for Belgium, 7 for Hungary, 8 for the Czech Republic, 9 for Spain, 10 for Yugoslavia, 11 for the United Kingdom, 12 for Austria, 13 for Luxembourg, 14 for Switzerland, 16 for Norway, 17 for Finland, 18 for Denmark, 19 for Romania, 20 for Poland, 21 for Portugal, 22 for the Russian Federation, 23 for Greece, 24 for Ireland, 25 for Croatia, 26 for Slovenia, 27 for Slovakia, 28 for Belarus, 29 for Estonia, 31 for Bosnia and Herzegovina, 32 for Latvia, 34 for Bulgaria, 36 for Lithuania, 37 for Turkey, 38 (vacant), 39 for Azerbaijan, 40 for The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

There is currently no 15, 30, 33, 35, 38 or 41.

The numbers on the ECE have different meanings as illustrated below.

For ECE 22.05 compliant helmets, no component or device may be fitted to or incorporated in the protective helmet unless it is designed in such a way that it will not cause injury and that, when it is fitted to or incorporated in the protective helmet, the helmet still complies with the requirements of this standard.

No matter what standard your helmet passes, it must be in good condition when being used on the road.
Examples of a helmet that is in good repair and proper working order and condition are:

  • A helmet that is scratched or marked but the scratch or mark has not
    *Penetrated the helmet’s outer shell; or
    *Damaged the helmet’s retention system; or
    *Damaged the helmet’s inner lining.
  • A helmet that is damaged to a degree that might reasonably be expected from the normal use of the helmet.

According to my sources, there is no law that prohibits the attachment of a camera to a motorcycle helmet. As long as the helmet remains compliant with the above mentioned standards, and is an approved attachment (according to the helmet manufacturer). However, if you come off a motorcycle and hit the helmet where the camera is counted, it could compromise the integrity of the helmet and hinder its safety capabilities.
There are also many reported cases where a rider has been served a fine for having a camera attached to his/her helmet.
Cameras on body mounts and motorcycle mounts are a safer option if you're wanting to record your ride.

Once a helmet has been dropped from any height, or crashed in, it should be replaced. (And by should, personally I say MUST) Motorcycle helmets, road helmets in particular, are designed for one impact only. If you use a damaged/compromised helmet, it will not protect you as well as it should. This means that you may sustain an injury that you wouldn't have sustained if your helmet was in good condition.
It is a grey area, however there is also the chance that an insurance company may use the fact that it was previously damaged, to reject an insurance claim for either your helmet or a head injury. Double check with your insurance supplier.

It is not in the standards or the law, however it is recommended that helmets are replaced after about 5 years. That is something I will delve into in another article.

In conclusion
A helmet that meets either the Australian or European Standards is legal to wear on the road in Australia, ensuring it is in good condition. The Australian Standard is to a degree being phased out of motorcycle accessory shops as the European Standard opens up a large range of helmets to riders. Ensuring you are wearing a helmet that passes one or the other will keep you out of strife.

Below are links to Transport NSW and the Motorcycle Council of NSW websites in regards to helmet laws.

Ride safe and have a good one!

Got questions? Send me an email at

This advice is a guide only. It is general in nature. It cannot be relied upon for you to make decisions.