It is an offence under the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989 (the Act) to import, export and manufacture hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), and nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) without a controlled substances licence for synthetic greenhouse gases unless an exemption applies. To import HFCs you must also have been granted a quota allocation by the Department.
A controlled substances licence for synthetic greenhouse gases covers bulk gases which are gases in containers, such as cylinders. It does not cover products or equipment such as refrigerators or car air conditioners which already have gas in them. If you are importing equipment or products containing synthetic greenhouse gases you should apply for an equipment licence (EQPL) instead.
If you are unsure of which licence to apply for, please contact the Import Operations Team.
The material on this page is a summary and is intended for general information only. If you import or are considering importing bulk HFCs please refer to the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989 and associated Regulations for full details and consider obtaining independent legal advice.
Click on a heading below or Show all | Hide all
How to apply
Controlled Substances Licence Application Form
In granting a licence, the Minister or delegate will consider whether the applicant is a fit and proper person. Section 16 of the Act lists matters the Minister or delegate must take into consideration when making this decision.
A controlled substances licence for synthetic greenhouse gases comes into force on the day specified on the licence and stays in force until the end of the licence period in which it is granted, unless it is cancelled or stops being in force for any other reason prior to the date.
Licensing periods run for two years. They commence on 1 January in even numbered years and end the following (odd numbered) year on 31 December. For example, 1 January 2018 to 31 December 2019.
Summary information about controlled substances licences for synthetic greenhouse gases
Apply for this licence if you wish to import, export or manufacture synthetic greenhouse gases including hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) or nitrogen trifluoride (NF3).
Applications should be lodged as early as possible prior to the proposed goods being imported, exported or manufactured.
The Department aims to assess applications within two weeks of receiving a fully completed application form including all supporting documentation and payment of the licence application fee. Please note that the statutory timeframe of the Act, stipulates the Department may take up to 60 days to decide whether to grant a licence.
A non-refundable application fee of $15,000 is payable with an application for a controlled substances licence unless a waiver has been granted. There is no provision in the Act to refund the licence application fee.
Please note that the licence fee is non-refundable even in situations where an applicant has lodged a licence application and then no longer requires it.
Unless you are applying for a waiver of the application fee, assessment of applications will not commence until the full application fee of $15,000 is received by the Department.
The Minister or delegate may waive the application fee for a controlled substances licence if:
- the licence is applied for to allow the manufacture, import or export of less than half a tonne of a scheduled substance; and
- the Minister or delegate is satisfied that the import, export or manufacture is for test purposes.
Note: if you are applying to import, manufacture or export both synthetic greenhouse gases and HCFCs, a non-refundable application fee of $30,000 applies as two licences are required.
Note: Medicines, veterinary medicines, medical devices and veterinary devices that use synthetic greenhouse gases may be exempt from licensing and levy requirements under the Act.
Importers who import a mix of exempted and non-exempted items are required to hold the appropriate licence and to report on and/or pay import levies for the non-exempted items.
Importers are strongly advised to contact the Import Operations Team to discuss any potential exemption prior to the import of the items and before payment of the non-refundable licence application fee.
Required information and supporting documentation
When applying for a licence or exemption under the Act, you are required to provide supporting documentation and detailed information about yourself and your organisation (if applicable), as well as information about the proposed activity (e.g. import, export or manufacture of synthetic greenhouse gases).
A summary of the information that you need to complete the application, along with a list of supporting documentation you must submit with your application, is provided below.
You will need the following information to complete the application form
- Personal/Company details – the legally recognised name of the entity applying for the licence. In the case of organisations, the legal name must match the name registered on the Australian Business Register website
- The current Australian Business Number (ABN) (if an organisation)
- Street and postal address
- The name and contact details of the applicant (if an individual) or authorised person (if an organisation) signing the application form
- The name and contact details of the person who will be responsible for submitting reports to the Department
- The name and contact details of the person who will be responsible for handling accounts enquiries from the Department
- Details about the proposed activity (import, export or manufacture of synthetic greenhouse gases), including country of origin or country of destination
Required supporting documentation to accompany the application form
- A copy of the certified identification of the person signing the application form. For organisations, the person signing the application form must be the director or a person in the organisation who has the authority to sign on behalf of the director(s). Please refer to the list of people able to certify documents in the Statutory Declaration Regulations 2018.
- Documentation confirming membership with an approved product stewardship scheme, currently Refrigerant Reclaim Australia (RRA)
- If a trust, a copy of the deed confirming person signing the application has the authority to sign on behalf of other trustees.
- If a partnership, you must supply a document that shows authority to sign and submit this licence application on behalf of the other partners.
- If you are applying for a fee waiver – supporting documentary evidence that the import/export is for test purposes and the amount is less than half a tonne.
Who can use the licence
It is a condition of all licences that the licensee does not allow another person or business to use their licence number.
Reporting and levy requirements
Holders of a synthetic greenhouse gas controlled substances licence are required to provide twice yearly reports to the Minister showing the type and quantity of synthetic greenhouse gases manufactured, imported, and/or exported.
Based on the quantity of synthetic greenhouse gases manufactured and/or imported, licensees are required to pay a levy at the end of each reporting period. The Import/Manufacture Levy is a cost recovery levy and is $165 per metric tonne.
Note: For reporting periods after 1 January 2018, if the total of the licence levies payable by a licensee for a reporting period is less than or equal to $330, the levy will be waived. This amount is specified in the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Regulations 1995 (the Regulations) and may change in the future. Any changes to this threshold will be amended in the Regulations and notified on the Department website
If no imports, exports or manufacture occurred during a reporting period, a report is not required.
Reports may be lodged at any time before 11.59 pm on the 14th day following the end of each reporting period (including at any time during the relevant reporting period).
The Import/Manufacture Levy is payable by the 60th calendar day following the end of the reporting period (see table below).
|Reporting Period||Reports Due||Levy payment due by|
|1 January – 30 June||14 July||29 August|
|1 July – 31 December||14 January||1 March*|
Note: If the last day of the reporting period falls on a weekend or public holiday, the report is due by 11.59 pm on the next business/working day.
* Note: In a leap year 60 days will be 29 February
The Department cross-checks information provided on reports with data provided by Australian Border Force. Inaccurate reporting and late submissions are offences under the Act.
Controlled Substances Reporting Forms
- Form 3: SGGs Reporting - Report imports and/or exports of SGGs (HFCs/PFCs/SF6/NF3)
HFC phase-down and import quota
Australia is phasing down the import of HFCs, and has introduced a quota system to limit the amount of HFCs being imported each year. To import HFCs you must be allocated quota as well as hold a controlled substances licence.
Importing HFCs in disposable containers
The import of non-refillable containers containing HFCs is prohibited under the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956.
Non-refillable containers are specifically manufactured single use containers used for servicing or commissioning equipment. After use the containers are sent for disposal and deliberately punctured, in accordance with pressure vessel regulations, emitting the residual amount of gas to the atmosphere.