AUSTRALIAN REFRIGERATION COUNCIL Ltd
Phone : 1300 88 44 83
Customer Service Hours Monday - Friday 8.30am – 5.30pm AEST
Locked Bag 3033, Box Hill, Vic, 3128

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Frequently Asked Questions

General Facts

  1. What is the ARC and what does it do?

    The Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Regulations 1995 (the Regulations) cover licensing requirements for those who work with refrigerants and refrigeration and air conditioning systems.

    In June 2005 the Australian Refrigeration Council (ARC) was appointed by the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources to administer the refrigeration and air conditioning aspects of the Regulations.

    The ARC is responsible for granting refrigerant handling licences and refrigerant trading authorisations approved under the Regulations.

  2. What is the difference between a Refrigerant Trading Authorisation and a Refrigerant Handling Licence?

    A Refrigerant Trading Authorisation is a business level permit that allows a business to acquire, possess and dispose of refrigerants.

    A Refrigerant Handling Licence is a technician level permit that allows the holder (the technician) to do certain types of work on RAC equipment.

  3. If I have a licence issued by my state regulator (such as the Office of Fair Trading) to work, why do I need to hold a refrigerant handling licence and/or a refrigerant trading authorisation?

    Depending on which state or territory you live in, you may need a state level contractors licence or similar to operate your business. However, state authorities no longer issue licences for refrigerant purchase or handling. To legally undertake either of these activities you must hold the national licence / authorisation, issued by ARC.

    You should also become aware of any other state / territory regulations that may impact on your activities.

  4. Once I apply for a Refrigerant Handling Licence, how long does it take for my licence application to be processed?

    With the introduction of the new online application facility, processing times of applications have reduced. New applications and re-applications may take up to 30 days to process, however the ARC will do its best to process all applications as efficiently as possible.

  5. Penalties under the Act and the Regulations

    To read about current penalties under the Ozone legislation view ARC Fact Sheet 11

    Please note that the value of a penalty unit under the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989 and the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Regulations 1995 increased from $110 to $170 on 28 December 2012.

    The value of a Commonwealth penalty unit is defined in the Crimes Act 1914. This legislation is available on the ComLaw website http://www.comlaw.gov.au/

Refrigerant Handling Licence


  1. Who needs a refrigerant handling licence?

    Any person who handles refrigerant or works on RAC equipment must hold a refrigerant handling licence. Handling a refrigerant means doing anything with the refrigerant, or a component of RAC equipment, that carries the risk of its emission, including:

    • decanting the refrigerant; or
    • manufacturing, installing, commissioning, servicing or maintaining RAC equipment, irrespective if whether or not refrigerant is present; or
    • decommissioning or disposing of RAC equipment where refrigerant is present.


  2. What types of refrigerants do the licences cover?

    The refrigerant handling licence and refrigerant trading authorisation cover all fluorocarbon refrigerants: chlorofluorocarbons, hydrochlorofluorocarbons and hydrofluorocarbons. Examples of these include R12, R22, R134A, R410A and R404A.


  3. Why do I need a Refrigerant Handling Licence to handle refrigerant?

    Fluorocarbon refrigerants are harmful to the environment if emitted to the atmosphere. Under the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Regulations 1995, persons handling refrigerant must hold a current Refrigerant Handling Licence. This licence is issued by ARC on behalf of the Australian government and can be obtained by completing the online licence application form on this website.


  4. What do I do if I don’t hold a Refrigerant Handling Licence, but still want to handle refrigerant?

    Under the regulations it is an offence of strict liability to handle refrigerant without the appropriate licence. You must apply for the relevant refrigerant handling licence.


  5. If my licence has expired, what do I need to do to get a new licence?

    Provided that you have advised ARC of any subsequent change of address you will receive a notification to apply for your new licence.


  6. What is the time frame for implementation of a licence type for marine engineers and other maritime personnel handling refrigerants?

    Under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the department and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), marine engineers holding a current AMSA Certificate of Competency or valid AMSA certificate of recognition as a Marine Engineer Watchkeeper, Marine Engineer Class Two or Marine Engineer Class One will not be required to hold a Refrigerant Handling Licence (RHL) after 1st March 2009.

    These exemptions do not apply for Marine Engineer Class Three, any Marine Engine Driver grade certificates or any other maritime qualification or licence, or any other person who handles refrigerant for any work on refrigeration or air conditioning equipment at sea. All individuals not exempt under the AMSA MoU are required to hold a Marine Transitional Handling Licence which permits the holder to handle refrigerant and undertake work on RAC equipment only when a vessel is at sea.

    Application for a Transitional Marine Handling Licence must include a letter from the employer indicating that the applicant is able to competently handle refrigerant and do the RAC work.


  7. If I need to undertake a course so that I can apply for a Refrigerant Handling Licence, who do I speak to?

    You will need to speak to a registered training organisation (RTO) to determine which licence qualification you are seeking and enrol in the selected course.

    RTOs include TAFE colleges and private providers who are authorised to issue qualification certificates; many are listed on this web site at http://www.arctick.org/training_organisation.php If you believe that you already have the relevant training and experience, but do not hold the required qualification, you may not need to do any further training.

    Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) and Recognition of Current Competency (RCC) is a process for recognising that you have gained skills, knowledge and experience from other courses, academic education, work experience and training on the job.

    To use RPL or RCC to obtain a licence, you need to obtain the required qualification from a registered training organisation (RTO). In order to do so you must enrol in the relevant course and, having enrolled in the course you may complete it by:

    • Applying for partial or full RPL/RCC;
    • Completing a program of training;
    • A combination of both of the above.

    A trainee Refrigerant Handling Licence may be required. Please contact the ARC for more information on 1300 88 44 83.


  8. Are all refrigerants subject to national controls?

    No. There are national controls on all fluorocarbon refrigerants such as HCFCs, HFCs and CFCs. These refrigerants can damage the ozone layer and are potent greenhouse gases. Other ‘natural refrigerants’ such as ammonia and hydrocarbons are not subject to national controls. However their use may be controlled, for health and safety or consumer protection, by state authorities.


  9. RHL/RTA Overpayments: can I apply for a refund?
    What constitutes an overpayment?

    An overpayment is where an application for a Refrigerant Handing Licence (RHL) or Refrigerant Trading Authorisation (RTA) has been approved and issued, and more than the required application fee was paid.
    The initial application fee applicable for the RHL or RTA type approved does not constitute an overpayment, The initial application fee paid where the application is not approved or the application is withdrawn does not constitute an overpayment.

    How do I apply for a refund if I have overpaid for the licence or authorisation?

    If you have made an overpayment for your RHL or your RTA you can apply to ARC for a refund. Applications for a refund of an overpayment should be made either in writing to: Office Manage, ARC Ltd, Locked Bag 3033, Box Hill Victoria 3128 or by email to enquire@arctick.org
    Your application for a refund of an overpayment should include your RHL or RTA number, your name, your address, your contact telephone number, your email address and a brief explanation of why you are applying for a refund of an overpayment. On receipt of your application, you will be contacted. If an overpayment is confirmed you will be asked to provide details of your credit card for the refund to be paid to and a confirmation email will be sent to you when the refund has been made. Although every effort will be made to refund the overpayment quickly, refunds can take up to 7 days to complete.

  10. Pre-competency based training qualifications and the RHL renewal process

    The ARC licence scheme is underpinned by Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) based qualifications. Certified qualifications are required to be supplied before assessment and issue of licence can be made.

    For technicians who completed their qualifications before the introduction of competency-based training, and who therefore may have difficulty accessing their qualifications and proof of industry experience, the ARC advises the following options:

    If the applicant has a trade qualification certificate but no proof of industrial experience:

    - Documentation for 4 years of industrial experience is required. This could include information such as: level and range of experience, (through a letter from employer or state-based licence). If a sole operator, a letterhead certified by their accountant or lawyer is requested.

    If the applicant has proof of industrial experience but no qualification documentation:

    - The applicant should obtain recognition of prior learning (RPL) through a relevant registered training organisation or trade recognition body.

Refrigerant Trading Authorisation

  1. Do importers of pre–charged refrigeration and air conditioning equipment require a Refrigerant Trading Authorisation?

    NO. Importers of equipment containing fluorocarbon based refrigerants require an import licence issued by The Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Further details can be found at http://www.environment.gov.au/atmosphere/ozone/licences/index.html

  2. What do I need to acquire, store or dispose of refrigerant gas?

    The Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Management Regulations 1995 provide that persons or businesses that acquire, store or dispose of refrigerants must hold a current Refrigerant Trading Authorisation issued by ARC on behalf of the Australian Government.

    Businesses that acquire refrigerant (other than halon) for use in the manufacture of RAC must hold a current Refrigerant and Air-conditioning Equipment Manufacturing Trading Authorisation (RAEMTA).

    Since the amendments to the regulations, a new class of authorisation has been made available for businesses that have no need to purchase refrigerant. The Restricted Refrigerant Trading Authorisation (RRTA) allows the holder to acquire, possess and dispose of refrigerant provided that the refrigerant is only acquired by being recovered from equipment at the end of its useful life and it is only disposed of by being provided to the operator refrigerant destruction facility.

    All three types of Refrigerant Trading Authorisation can be obtained by submitting a Refrigerant Trading Authorisation application via the ARC website, http://www.arctick.org

  3. Is a Refrigerant Trading Authorisation required to sell pre-charged refrigeration or air conditioning units?

    NO. If the refrigerant is contained in equipment, such as a split system air conditioner, a Refrigerant Trading Authorisation is not required. However a refrigerant handling licence is required to install this type of equipment. You should note that restrictions on the sale of this type of equipment may apply in some states and territories. Restrictions can be checked with the relevant state or territory government authorities.

    A Pre-charged Equipment import licence is required if you intend to import refrigeration or air conditioning equipment that contains a HFC or HCFC refrigerant charge. More details can be found on the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities Website at: http://www.environment.gov.au/atmosphere/ozone/index.html

  4. Can my business be listed in “find an authorised organisation”?

    YES. Complete a Refrigerant Trading Authorisation application form and when approved your listing will appear under your nominated major activity.

  5. Are all refrigerants subject to national controls?

    No. There are national controls on all fluorocarbon refrigerants such as HCFCs, HFCs and CFCs. These refrigerants can damage the ozone layer and are potent greenhouse gases. Other ‘natural refrigerants’ such as ammonia and hydrocarbons are not subject to national controls. However their use may be controlled, for health and safety or consumer protection, by state authorities.

  6. RHL/RTA Overpayments: can I apply for a refund?
    What constitutes an overpayment?

    An overpayment is where an application for Refrigerant Handling Licence (RHL) or a Refrigerant Trading Authorisation (RTA) has been approved and issued, and more than the required application fee was paid.
    The initial application fee applicable for the RHL or RTA type approved does not constitute an overpayment. The initial application fee paid where the application is not approved or the application is withdrawn does not constitute an overpayment.

    How do I apply for a refund if I have overpaid for my licence or authorisation?

    If you have made an overpayment for your RHL or your RTA you can apply to ARC for a refund. Applications for a refund of an overpayment should be made either in writing to: Office manager, ARC Ltd, Locked Bag 3033, Box Hill Victoria 3128 or by email to enquire@arctick.org
    Your application for a refund of an overpayment should include your RHL or RTA number, your name, your address, your contact telephone number, your email address and a brief explanation of why you are applying for a refund of an overpayment. On receipt of your application, you will be contacted. If an overpayment is confirmed you will be asked to provide details of your credit card for the refund to be paid to and a confirmation email will be sent to you when the refund has been made. Although every effort will be made to refund the overpayment quickly, refunds can take up to 7 days to complete.

  7. If my business changes its ABN, do I need a new RTA?
    If you change your Australian Business Number (ABN) and hold a Refrigerant Trading Authorisation (RTA), you will need to apply for a new RTA under your new ABN, and your existing RTA will be cancelled. When an ABN is changed, by law a new business entity is created and this means a new RTA application is required for the new entity. If you change your business name but retain the same ABN, you will not need to lodge a new RTA application, but you must notify ARC of your business name change so we can update your details. Change of detail advice forms are available for download on the ARC website at www.arctick.org

Offshore Applicants

To work with refrigeration and air conditioning equipment in Australia you are required by law to hold a Refrigerant Handling Licence. This is a nationally recognised licence and the scope of the licence will depend on the qualifications you supply. The licence covers not only refrigerants but any and all equipment or apparatus with the potential to carry or hold Ozone Depleting or Synthetic Greenhouse Gases.


  1. Does ARC accept qualifications and experienced gained overseas?

    Your overseas qualifications will need to be assessed to Australian standards before they can be accepted as part of the licence assessment process. Trades Recognition Australia is a national organisation who can assist. As well, there are many state-based registered training organisations (RTO) who can provide recognition of prior learning. Visit the Training Organisations directory on the ARC website to search for RTOs.

    For further information we recommend you visit their websites. We suggest you contact ARC once you arrive in Australia and we will assist you with your application. Information regarding Refrigerant Handling Licences can be view on our web site www.arctick.org


  2. I have already had my skills and qualifications assessed as part of the visa application procedure and have already received my skilled migrant visa.

    In most circumstances you are required to complete some form of Gap Training. If you have an “Offshores Technical Skills Record” and you’re working for an employer you can apply for a trainee licence. Your proof will be the Offshores Technical Skills Record and you will also need to supply certified photo along with the supervisor declaration.


  3. Can I make an application for an ARC licence before I arrive in Australia?

    Yes, however if you haven’t had your qualifications/experience recognised by the above organisations, you application will be assessed as incomplete, You will have 6 months from the date of the application to supply your documentation, e.g. proof of Enrolment, Supervisor’s Declaration and Passport Quality Photo.

    If you fail to supply the documents within the required time frame then the application is taken to have been withdrawn with loss of the application fee, and you will be required to start again as a new applicant.

    We suggest you contact ARC once you arrive in Australia and we will assist you with your application. Information regarding Refrigerant Handling Licences can be view on our web site www.arctick.org

© 2014 Australian Refrigeration Council | www.arctick.org | Website by Jaydean
Disclaimer: The Australian Refrigeration Council ("ARC") licences persons in accordance with the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Regulations 1995. The ARC does not warrant or guarantee the quality of any work performed or product provided by a person licensed by it. Any warranties required should be obtained directly from the licensed service provider.