Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

Refunds - Information on refunds for application fees

Q: Can I get a refund of a licence application fee?

A: You may be eligible for a refund in certain circumstances. Please refer to the Refund Guidance available here.

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 fluorocarbon 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, as well as conducting compliance and communications activities.

Whilst the ARC can investigate areas of non-compliance or breaches against the regulations, enforcement activities are conducted by the Department.

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.

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.

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.

Penalties under the Act and the Regulations

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

Refrigerant Handling Licence

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.

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.

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.

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 fluorocarbon refrigerant without the appropriate ARC licence. You must apply for the relevant refrigerant handling licence. Click here to see which licences are available through the ARC.

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/email address you will receive a notification to apply for your new licence.

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.

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 here. 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.

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.

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.

Do the licence fees include GST?

All licence fees are GST exempt. The Goods and Services Tax does not apply.

Who can certify my qualifications for a licence application?

  • A person who is currently licensed or registered under a law to practice in one of the following occupations:
    • Chiropractor
    • Dentist
    • Legal practitioner
    • Medical practitioner
    • Nurse
    • Optometrist
    • Patent attorney
    • Pharmacist
    • Physiotherapist
    • Psychologist
    • Trademarks attorney
    • Veterinary surgeon
  • A person who is enrolled on the roll of the Supreme Court of a State or Territory, or the High Court of Australia, as a legal practitioner (however described)
  • A person who is in the following list:
    • Agent of the Australian Postal Corporation who is in charge of an office supplying postal services to the public
    • Australian Consular Officer or Australian Diplomatic Officer (within the meaning of the Consular Fees Act 1955)
    • Bailiff
    • Bank officer with 5 or more continuous years of service
    • Building society officer with 5 or more years of continuous service
    • Chief executive officer of a Commonwealth court
    • Clerk of a court
    • Commissioner for Affidavits
    • Commissioner for Declarations
    • Credit union officer with 5 or more years of continuous service
  • An Employee of the Australian Trade Commission who is:
    • In a country or place outside Australia; and authorised under paragraph 3 (d) of the Consular Fees Act 1955; and exercising his or her function in that place
  • An Employee of the Commonwealth who is:
    • In a country or place outside Australia; and authorised under paragraph 3 (c) of the Consular Fees Act 1955; and exercising his or her function in that place
  • Fellow of the National Tax Accountants' Association
  • Finance company officer with 5 or more years of continuous service Holder of a statutory office not specified in another item in this list
  • Judge of a court
  • Justice of the Peace

For a full list of information about who can complete Identity declarations, endorse photographs and certify documents click here.

Refrigerant Trading Authorisation

Risk Management Plan for refrigerants

A RMP must identify potential risks which could result in the emission of refrigerant to the atmosphere and outline measures to minimise the possibility of those risks occurring.

Your RMP must reflect risks and measures relevant to what occurs with your refrigerant both on and off the job. This applies whether your business is conducted from a vehicle or building, or whether you are a sole trader or employ 100 technicians.

It is important that RTA applicants understand what is required in an RMP as insufficient RMPs are one of the main reasons RTA application assessments are not approved.

A sample RMP covering the broadest risk assessment is available on the ARC website – click here

Only the risks that are valid for your business should be included in your RMP, and the format and medium of the RMP is at the RTA’s discretion.

Below is a guide to ensuring your RMP has the correct information for your application to be approved – and importantly, ensure all risks are identified and the appropriate measures are put in place to minimise refrigerant emissions.


Activity What are the main activities you would undertake on a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis with regards to handling and storing refrigerant?
Potential hazards/risks What are the potential risks of refrigerant escaping associated with the main activities identified in Step 1?
Australian Standard & Code of Practice reference You can view the codes of practice online

The Australian standards for refrigerants can be viewed at
Risk control measures What can you do to reduce the potential risks you identified against each of the main activities in Step 2?
Name of person responsible The RMP must identify the people responsible for ensuring the plan is implemented and confirm the RMP process is being followed.
Review date Identify when the RMP will be reviewed – it must be reviewed (at least annually). It is to ensure activities, control measures and ratings are still valid, including updating those responsible for the RMP and those using it.

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 the Environment and Energy. Further details can be found at

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 of a refrigerant destruction facility.

All three types of Refrigerant Trading Authorisation can be obtained by submitting a Refrigerant Trading Authorisation application via the ARC website,

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 the Environment and Energy Website at:

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.

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.

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. Fax (1300 55 40 23) or email you new business name to the ARC.

Do the licence fees include GST?

All licence fees are GST exempt. The Goods and Services Tax does not apply.

How can I cancel my Refrigerant Trading Authorisation?

Current Refrigerant Trading Authorisations can be cancelled at any time.  Simply log on using your user name and password to access your profile, then follow the prompts to cancel your Authorisation.

2018 Licence Scheme Changes

3-year Refrigerant Handling Licences (RHL) & Refrigerant Trading Authorisations (RTA)

  • From 1 Jan 2018 to 31 Dec 2018 a new option for a three (3) year RHL and RTA will be available – along with the standard permit durations (transition period).
  • From 1 Jan 2019 onwards the default duration for all RHLs (except for trainee RHL) and RTAs will be three (3) years.
  • Costs for the 3 year RTA/RHL will simply be the current annual fee applied over three years.
  • Trainee RHLs will default to 1 year in duration.


If, after the transition period, applicants have genuine concerns or a legitimate reason to seek a shorter permit duration there will be scope for deviating from the default period of three years for full permit holders or one year for trainee permit holders.

Update to RTA and RHL Application Process

From 1 Jan 2018 the process for renewing your RTA or RHL will be streamlined. The renewal option will only be available for RHL or RTA holders renewing greater than 30 days prior to their permit expiring. If it is within 30 days of expiry, the normal application process will apply.

Why are these changes being made?

In 2016 a review of the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Program – including the refrigeration and air conditioning (RAC) licence scheme - was completed by the Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy, following extensive consultation with RAC industry stakeholders through public consultation and targeted consultation with industry representatives.

The review identified a number of measures to be implemented. The two measures which relate to the RAC licence scheme (3 year RHL/RTA option and streamlined renewal process) seek to reduce the administrative cost of the Regulations on business by reducing the length of time a business or individual needs to spend, over the longer-term, gathering information together and applying for a permit

Offshore Applicants

Does ARC accept qualifications and experience 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. VETASSESS 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 here

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.

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 viewed on our web site

contact us

  • 1300 88 44 83
  • 1300 55 40 23
  • Mail:
    Locked Bag 3033
    Box Hill VIC 3128
  • Due to increased volume and the impact of COVID,
    we currently estimate that your application will be
    processed within 2-3 weeks.