Concessions and fee relief
Find out about concession card fees and eligibility for fee relief if you’re experiencing financial hardship. VCAT’s fees are set by the Victorian Government.
If you have a Commonwealth Government-issued Health Card card, you’re automatically entitled to a fee reduction (concession rate).
This Health Care Card is the only card we can accept for concession rate. Provide a colour copy, front and back, of your Health Care Card when you apply.
Other concession cards
If you have any other types of concession cards such as a pensioner card, Seniors Health Card, Veterans, Student or Medicare card, you don’t automatically get a concession rate.
You can still apply for a fee waiver or reduction if you are experiencing financial hardship. This is called fee relief.
If you’re experiencing financial hardship, you may be eligible for a fee waiver, fee reduction, or to pay later.
Who is eligible
Anyone (including sole traders) can apply for fee relief on the grounds of financial hardship.
Financial hardship means that paying any VCAT fee would make you unable to provide for yourself, your family or other dependents, including:
- medical treatment
- other basic necessities.
You automatically don’t need to pay any fees if you are:
- represented by:
- Victoria Legal Aid
- a community legal centre
- a provider under the Tenancy Assistance Advocacy program
- a recognised provider who has deemed you eligible through a means test.
- in a prison or other public institution – you must provide evidence of your status such as your Criminal Record Number
- under 18 years of age – you must provide a copy of your birth certificate, passport, learner's permit or other proof of age
- a protected person or an affected family member who is the applicant in a residential tenancies case arising from family violence.
You must provide a letter from the organisation that represents you with your application.
Who isn’t eligible
You’re not eligible to apply for fee relief as a:
- business or company
- non-profit organisation
- government agency
You are also not eligible if you make a VCAT application to review a planning decision and it becomes a major case.
A business or other organisation may ask to pay at a later date, but only in exceptional circumstances.
So we can assess your eligibility, you’ll need to provide detailed information about your income, expenses, assets and liabilities in your application to us.
Information we need from you
To assess whether you’re eligible for fee relief, we’re required to ask you for detailed financial information.
You need to provide:
- your income - for example, your pay after tax, interest
- expenses - rent or mortgage, food, utilities and more
- value of your assets - for example, house, car, bank balance, shares
- liabilities - for example, mortgage, loans, cards
- colour copy, front and back, of your concession card.
We may ask you for this information as part of your application.
How to apply
You can apply for fee relief:
- at the same time you complete your online application
- with your paper application by completing a Fee relief form
When you submit your application you don’t pay a fee.
We assess your application based on financial information you provide us. We may waive fees, reduce or postpone the amount you have to pay. We send you a letter that explains our decision.
You only have to apply once and, if approved, the relief applies to any fees payable throughout your case.
If we don’t approve your application, the standard fees apply.
If you can’t pay the standard fee, you can withdraw your application at no cost.
More than one applicant
If you’re one of several applicants in a case, and you want fee relief, the other applicants must also be eligible for fee relief.
Each applicant must apply for fee relief separately. If we don’t grant fee relief to any one of the applicants then standard fees apply to everyone.
Ask to pay later
Generally, you pay your application fee when you apply. If you want to pay at a later date (postpone), you need to ask our permission.
We only agree to do this in exceptional circumstances. For example, when your matter is so urgent that the hearing must start before you can organise to pay the fee.
If we grant your application to postpone a fee, you must pay by the date we set in our decision letter sent to you or, if a date isn’t specified, within 30 days of our decision.
Fill out the application to postpone fee payment form.
Disagree with a fee relief decision?
You can’t ask for a review of a fee relief decision made by the Principal Registrar.
If the decision was made by the Principal Registrar's delegate, you can ask for the Principal Registrar to review it. You can do this only on the grounds that it’s legally wrong or the reasons for the decision are inadequate. The decision letter tells you how to ask for a review.
You must apply within 14 days of the decision and provide information about why the decision is legally wrong or the reasons are inadequate. If you provide new information, the person who originally assessed your application reassesses it.
Help and support
How do I pay my VCAT hearing fee?
We tell you in writing if you must pay hearing fees. This includes what the fee per day is, if your hearing will take more than one day.
You must pay before the hearing. If you don’t, your hearing may be postponed (adjourned).
If your hearing is estimated to go for several days and it is not a Planning or Environment and Resources case, we recommend you pay for the following hearing day only. This is so you can avoid overpaying.
You can pay VCAT hearing fees online, by phone, in person or by post.
If you pay using a credit card, we accept only Mastercard or Visa.
You can pay hearing fees online with a credit card from 4.30pm the day before your hearing.
Planning or Environment and Resources cases
We have changed the way hearing fees are paid online.
If you need to pay a hearing fee, we will send you an email with the fee you must pay and a link to the online payment system.
If your matter requires more than one hearing day, the fee will be the total amount for all hearing days.
Call 1300 01 8228 to pay with a credit card (9am - 4.30pm).
Pay in person at 55 King Street, Melbourne between 9am - 4.30pm with a bank cheque, solicitor firm cheque or money order made out to the 'Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal'. We don't accept personal cheques.
When you pay by post:
- download and fill out the credit card payment form, or
- make out a bank cheque, solicitor firm cheque or money order to the 'Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal'. We don’t accept personal cheques.
Send your payment to GPO Box 5408, Melbourne VIC 3001
What other fees could I be charged?
We provide services that support you to prepare for and come to VCAT.
These include when you want to:
- ask us to issue a summons to witness or produce documents
- view a VCAT file when you’re not a party in a VCAT case
- photocopy anything while at VCAT
- use video conferencing for a mediation, compulsory conference or hearing
- view the VCAT register
- become a party and take part in the case (make your own application)
- make an application to ask for costs from another party after we’ve finalised your case
- make an application for a rehearing of your case after we’ve made a decision (reopen an order)
- transfer a case from the Magistrates’ Court to VCAT
- make an application to stop somebody doing something immediately (injunction)
- in planning cases, submit a statement of grounds
- issue a warrant to evict a renter from a residential property.
Who pays for my legal costs?
At VCAT, parties are expected to pay their own costs, unless we order otherwise.
VCAT may only award costs if it is fair to do so.
If you would like someone else to pay your legal costs, tell the VCAT member overseeing your case during the hearing.
Examples of circumstances where an order for costs may be made include:
- where a matter was brought to VCAT without much merit
- where a matter was brought to VCAT to harass, annoy or distress someone
- where a matter was brought to VCAT without a serious purpose
- where someone has unreasonably prolonged a hearing
- where someone deceived VCAT or others involved in a case
- where the application made is not well supported, such as by fact or law.
Section 109 of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Act 1998 governs VCAT's power to award costs.
See also: Should I get a lawyer?
Can I get a refund?
You can apply for a refund if you have:
- paid a fee more than once
- paid a higher fee than you should have
- withdrawn your application soon after you applied.
If you withdraw, you may not get your application fee refunded. For example, if we have progressed your application and are ready for a mediation or hearing.
You can't ask for a refund because you don't get the outcome you want.
Planning or Environment and Resources hearings
If your hearing finishes early, there's no need to request a refund. We'll refund the balance of hearing fees you paid as soon as we can.