Fee relief

Any person experiencing financial hardship may apply for fees to be waived, reduced or postponed. At VCAT we call this fee relief. 

You must meet eligibility requirements to be granted fee relief.

Eligibility for fee relief

Only a natural person may apply for fee relief on the grounds of financial hardship. 'Natural person' is the legally correct term to describe a person who is not a corporation.

Non-profit organisations, businesses, government agencies and corporations are not eligible for fee relief.

Financial hardship means that paying the VCAT fee would make the person unable to provide the following for themselves, their family or other dependents:

  • food
  • accommodation
  • clothing
  • medical treatment
  • education
  • other basic necessities.

How to apply for fee relief

Some people are entitled to a full fee waiver. You can also apply for fee relief if paying the fee would cause you financial hardship.

You only need to apply once. Our decision applies to all VCAT fees you are asked to pay in your case.

Applicants entitled to a full fee waiver

You are entitled to a full fee waiver if you are:

  • represented by Victoria Legal Aid or a community legal centre – you must provide a letter from the organisation representing you
  • 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. 

Complete the first section only of the Fee relief application form and submit it to VCAT.

Fee relief is not available if your application is entered as a Major Case (review of a planning decision). 

Applicants experiencing financial hardship

You can apply for fee relief if paying the fee would cause you financial hardship. If we agree, we may waive the fee or reduce the amount you have to pay.

Complete a Fee relief application form and submit it to VCAT. We may ask for documents to support your claim.

Fee relief in cases with more than one applicant

When there is more than one applicant in a matter, all applicants must meet the fee relief eligibility criteria. If one or more applicants don’t apply for fee relief or do not meet the eligibility criteria, the normal fee applies.

Duration of fee relief

When we grant fee relief, the relief applies to all the fees you are required to pay for the duration of the case until it is completed. It does not apply to any other cases you may have at VCAT. You must apply for fee relief separately for each case.

Decisions about fee relief

VCAT’s Principal Registrar or their delegate considers your request for fee relief within two days of receiving your application.

We respond in writing advising the outcome of your request, the reasons for our decision, and details about whether the fee is waived or reduced.

Review a fee relief decision

You cannot request 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 request it is reviewed by the Principal Registrar only on the grounds that it is legally wrong or the reasons for the decision are inadequate. The decision letter tells you how to request a review.

You must apply within 14 days of the decision and provide information about why the decision was legally wrong or the reasons are inadequate. If you provide new information, the decision will be sent back to the original decision maker for reassessment.

Fee refunds

VCAT can refund fees if you have paid a fee more than once or if you have paid a higher fee than the fee you are required to pay. Complete the Application to request a refund form.

Fee postponements

We can only postpone fees in exceptional circumstances, for example in cases where the matter is so urgent that the proceeding must commence before fees are able to be paid.

If your application for postponement is successful, the fee must be paid by the date specified in the decision or, if a date for payment is not specified, within 30 days of the day of the decision. Complete the Application to postpone fee payment form.