Ozone Depleting Substance/Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Equipment Licences (EQPL)

Frequently asked questions

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When is an ODS/SGG equipment licence (EQPL) required?

An ODS/SGG equipment licence (EQPL) is required to import equipment that contains ozone depleting substances or synthetic greenhouse gasses into Australia, including refrigeration or air-conditioning equipment that contains a hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) or hydrochloroflurocarbon (HCFC) refrigerant.

The most common types of HFCs and HCFCs are:

HFCs HCFCs
R134a R22
R404a  
R407C  
R410a  

A full list of substances can be found under Schedule 1 of the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989 (the Act), available at www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2011C00372 

An EQPL licence is required even if the air-conditioning or refrigeration system is incorporated into another object, e.g. a car, boat, yacht, caravan, earth moving equipment, vending or ice-making machines, ice cream makers, airconditioners, refrigerators, water coolers, etc. A licence is required by all importers of ODS/SGG equipment, independent of the number of units or the amount of gas in the units being imported, unless the equipment has been degassed prior to being imported (and the importer has documentary evidence to confirm this). In some circumstances, a person moving from overseas bringing their own personal items may not require a licence, please see www.environment.gov.au/atmosphere/ozone/licences/vehicle-import.html

It is an offence under the Act to import ODS/SGG equipment without a licence.

What are the most common types of products imported as ODS/SGG equipment and the quantity of gas in them?

The following list should be used as a guide only. Please note that if the equipment you wish to import is designed to operate on a Hydrocarbon refrigerant such as Ammonia (R717), Propane (R290), Isobutane (R600a) or any other natural refrigerant, you do not need to apply for an ODS/SGG equipment licence (EQPL) but you must supply to Customs (or your Customs Broker, or Freight Forwarder), documentary evidence confirming that this is the case (see below).

Product Common charge sizes (grams) Typical Refrigerant Type/s

Domestic refrigerators and freezers

75-150

R134a

Ice cream maker

300

R404a generally

Ice cream cabinet

500

R404a

Vending machine/Cold drink dispenser/Ice maker

100-200

R134a generally

Commercial refrigerated cabinet

1300

R404a

Commercial refrigerators and freezers

100-300

R134a generally

Bottle coolers

100-300

R134a generally

In line drink coolers

50-100

R134a generally

Food service/Retail display case

150-300

R134a generally

Walk in cold/chill rooms

2000-10000

R404a generally

Vehicle powered fridge ( Camping / 4WD)

50

R134a

Car airconditioner

400-800

R134a generally

Vehicles under 3.5 tonne (e.g. refrigerated delivery van.)

900

R134a

Vehicles over 3.5 tonne (e.g. larger truck)

1600

R134a

Forklift airconditioner

1300

R134a

Earth moving equipment (A/C)

800

R134a

Split system airconditioner (domestic)

750-1500

R410a / R407C

Split system airconditioner (commercial, small)

1000-2000

R410a / R407C

Split system airconditioner (commercial, large)

5000-10000

R410a / R407C

Portable airconditioner (domestic)

250-750

R410a / R407C

Window air conditioner (domestic)

300-800

R410a / R407C

Heat pumps (domestic, air source)

100-200

R410a generally

High pressure chiller (A/C)

4000

R22 / R410a

Commercial chiller or freezer on a boat (Fishing)

10000

R22 / R410a

Technical and other aerosols (eg. lubricating oil, blast bags, mine marking paints, aircraft disinfectant sprays, air dusters, hairspray)

50-250

R134a generally

Novelty aerosols (eg. silly string, decorative snow)

40-80

R134a generally

Safety aerosols (eg. emergency claxons)

40-80

R134a generally

Metered Dose Inhalers (medical aerosols)

10-20

R134a / R227ae

How do I apply for an ODS/SGG equipment licence (EQPL)?

You need to complete and submit an online application form for an ODS/SGG equipment licence (EQPL) and provide any required supporting documentation to the Department. If you do not have access to the internet a paper form can be obtained from the licensing officer on +61 2 6274 1373 or ozone@environment.gov.au

The application must be accompanied by the correct application fee.

Can a licence be issued in the name of a Trust?

A trust is not a legal entity - a licence or exemption cannot be issued in the name of a trust. If you are submitting an application for an organisation registered as a trust, you must make the application in the name of the trustee of the trust (e.g.”Joe Blogs as Trustee for the ABC Trust” or  XYZ Pty Ltd as the Trustee for ABC Trust”) and supply the Department with a copy of the Trust Deed.

Important: If the trustee is a company, the application must be made using the ABN of the trustee. The ABN of the trustee may be different from the ABN of the company acting as the trustee.

How much is the application fee for an ODS/SGG equipment licence (EQPL) ?

The standard licence application fee is $3,000.

One-off importers planning to import less than five pieces of equipment arriving in one consignment and containing less than 10Kg of gas in total may be eligible for a partial waiver of the licence application fee. The partial waiver reduces the application fee from $3,000 to $400, with the licence expiring fourteen days after the equipment arrives OR fourteen days after the issue of the licence, whichever is the latest. A partial fee waiver is only available once every two years.

There is no provision in the Act or the Regulations that gives the Minister or his/her delegate the power to refund the licence application fee. Please note: this includes situations where an applicant has lodged a licence aplication and then no longer requires a licence.

What happens to the fee collected for an ODS/SGG equipment licence (EQPL) and what does it cover?

Application fees are paid to the department into a special account within the consolidated revenue fund

Application fees do not attract GST and are used solely for the purposes prescribed in section 65D of the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989 (the Act). These include

  • administration of the Act and the Regulations, including the assessment and processing of licence applications;
  • furthering phase-out programs of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) and emission minimisation programs for ODSs and Synthetic Greenhouse Gases (SGGs);
  • management of the National Halon Bank; and
  • research relating to substances that deplete ozone in the atmosphere or SGGs.

The licence application fee does not cover the product stewardship requirement (please refer to Questions 15 to 19).

How do I know if I am a regular importer or a low volume importer?

To determine whether you are a regular importer or a low volume importer, you will be asked the following questions in the licence application form:

  1. Do you intend to import refrigeration or airconditioning equipment in more than one consignment?
  2. Do you intend to import more than five units of refrigeration or airconditioning equipment?
  3. Will the total fluorocarbon refrigerant charge contained in the refrigeration or airconditioning equipment be less than 10 kilograms?
  4. Have you been granted a partial waiver of the ODS/SGG equipment licence (EQPL) (formerly called a pre-charged equipment or PCE licence) application fee in the last two years?

You must be able to answer NO to all the questions above in order to qualify as a low volume importer. If you answer YES to any of the above four questions, you are considered to be a regular importer.

Are there any other fees?

In addition to the licence application fee, importers are required to pay levies based on the type and amount of scheduled substances imported.

The Import/Manufacture Levy is a cost recovery levy which applies to ODSs and is $3000 per ozone depleting potential tonne. For SGGs the amount is $165 per metric tonne.

Is GST payable on the fees?

No GST is payable on licence application or levy fees.

When do I pay the levy that applies to the import of ODS/SGG equipment?

Regular importers must pay the levy on a quarterly basis, by the 60th day following the end of the current reporting period. (please refer to Question 11)

How do I pay the application fee and/or levies that apply to the import of ODS/SGG equipment?

All fees collected, including late fees, are collected on behalf of the Commonwealth and are not subject to GST.

Application Fees: Please note that the assessment of your application will not commence until a cleared payment is received. It may take up to five (5) working days for a cheque to be cleared, which may delay the assessment of your application.

Levy Payments: Levy payments cannot be made until an invoice has been received. Your payment must be received by the Department on or before the due date. Please confirm your financial institution's processing deadlines as it may take up to four days for an EFT payment to be received by the Department. Payments that are not received by the due date will incur a penalty fee. The licence application fee and levies can either be paid by cheque or by electronic funds transfer (EFT). All payments must identify your company name and/or licence number.

EFT payments should be made to:

Account Title: The Department of the Environment
Bank/Branch: Reserve Bank of Australia, Canberra
BSB: 092009
Account Number: 115859

Cheque payments should be made to:

Attention: Accounts Receivable
The Department of the Environment
GPO Box 787
Canberra ACT 2601

What are the reporting requirements for regular importers?

Holders of a ODS/SGG equipment licence (EQPL) are required to provide quarterly reports to the Minister showing the type and quantity of substances imported within that equipment. Licensees then need to pay levies based on the type and amount of scheduled substances imported.

If no imports or exports were made during a reporting period, a 'nil' report is still 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).

Reporting Period Reports Due Levy payment due by
1 January – 31 March 14 April 30 May
1 April – 30 June 14 July 29 August
1 July – 30 September 14 October 29 November
1 October – 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.

If you have any questions about your reporting obligations you may contact the reporting officer on +61 2 6274 1373.

How long will it take to process my application?

Normally, the department will aim to process applications within 2 weeks of receiving a fully completed application form that includes all supporting documentation and payment of the licence fee. However, the statutory timeframes of the Act stipulates that the department may take up to 60 days to process an application. You will need to keep the full 60 day processing time in mind when applying for a licence, as processing times do vary.

Applications should be lodged as early as possible, prior to the proposed goods being imported.

Can I use another person's licence?

It is a condition of all licences that the licensee does not allow another person or business to use their licence number.

If you can identify a current licence holder who wishes to transfer their licence to you, a joint application for a transfer of a licence from the licensee to another person (the transferee) can be made. The department will not impose any application fee on you to complete the transfer although the new licence holder (the Transferee) will still be required to pay the licence levies and report on a quarterly basis.

For further information please contact the Licensing Officer on +61 2 6274 1373 or ozone@environment.gov.au.

How long is my licence valid for?

For low volume importers where a partial fee waiver has been granted, an ODS/SGG equipment licence (EQPL) will commence from the date it is issued and expire fourteen days after issue OR fourteen days after the equipment is imported, whichever is the latest.

Since 18 May 2011, when amendments to the Act came into force, regular ODS/SGG equipment licences (EQPL) granted on and after that date generally expire two years from the date on which the licence is granted, unless a shorter date is specified.

What is Product Stewardship?

Product stewardship is about managing a products environmental impact over the whole life cycle of the product, including recycling and/or destruction at the end of the product's life. Holders of regular ODS/SGG equipment licences (EQPL) who are not low volume importers, are required to hold membership with an approved product stewardship scheme. Currently, this means that holders of "regular" EQPL licences who are importing airconditioning or refrigeration equipment are required to be members of Refrigerant Reclaim Australia (RRA).

That is because importers cannot be physically responsible for the actual gas they import. In most cases, importers on-sell these products and the lifetime of ODS/SGG equipment is often many years. By joining a national product stewardship scheme, an importer is able to manage their product stewardship responsibilities.

In the case of refrigerant gas, product stewardship centres are responsible for the recovery and destruction of gas at the end of life, either during equipment maintenance or decommissioning.

By joining such a scheme, importers contribute to a mechanism that manages the entire lifecycle of the products they have imported.

How does a Product Stewardship Scheme work?

The existing voluntary industry scheme, Refrigerant Reclaim Australia (RRA), operates by charging a levy of $2.00 plus GST per kilo of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) and Synthetic Greenhouse Gases (SGGs) refrigerant imported. There is a flat annual fee of $200 plus GST for smaller importers.

RRA then pays a fee for the return of any used ODSs or SGGs to tradesman who recovers these gases and returns it to wholesalers (who are participants in the RRA program).

The gas is then transported to RRA for the safe disposal of waste fluorocarbon refrigerants when the gases recovered are too contaminated to re-use or re-claim.

How much will it cost to join a Product Stewardship Scheme?

The cost of licensees will vary, depending on the type of product stewardship scheme. Licensees may choose to join an existing scheme or establish a new scheme, either individually or with other importers.

The cost of the existing industry scheme, Refrigerant Reclaim Australia (RRA) is $2.00 plus GST per kilo of ODS or SGG refrigerant imported. There is a flat annual fee of $200 plus GST for smaller importers.

For further information please contact RRA directly via:

Post: GPO Box 753 Canberra ACT 2601
Phone: +61 2 6230 5244
Fax: +61 2 6230 4533
Email: importers@refrigerantreclaim.com.au
Web: www.refrigerantreclaim.com.au

How do I join an approved product stewardship scheme?

Licensees can consider joining the existing voluntary industry scheme, Refrigerant Reclaim Australia (RRA), or join with other importers to establish a scheme tailored to their needs. Currently, Refrigerant Reclaim Australia (RRA) is the only approved scheme in Australia and they charge a membership fee (See Question 17).

To join the RRA product stewardship scheme, please contact RRA directly via:

Post: GPO Box 753 Canberra ACT 2601
Phone: +61 2 6230 5244
Fax: +61 2 6230 4533
Email: importers@refrigerantreclaim.com.au
Web: www.refrigerantreclaim.com.au

Can licensees join one scheme now and change later?

Yes. To change from one scheme to another, licensees will be required to inform the department of the alternative scheme (of which they intend to become a member) while remaining a member of the scheme on the licence until the department approves the new scheme and informs the licensee of this.

Can I appeal a decision made in relation to my licence application?

If you disagree with a decision made relating to your licence application you can write to the department requesting a reconsideration of the decision and provide further information to support your claims.

You can apply for an independent review of the decision to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) within 28 days of receiving written notification of the outcome of your licence application. Applications should be made to the Deputy Registrar of the AAT in your capital city.

Note: The 28 days for appealing to the AAT commences on the day the original decision is received by you regardless of whether you have asked the department to reconsider the decision.

Contact for more information

For more information please contact the Import Operations Section on:
Phone: +61 2 6274 1373
Email: ozone@environment.gov.au