Importing vehicles, boats, caravans or any other equipment that may contain refrigerant gas into Australia

What you need to do

The Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989 (the Act) controls the manufacture, import and export of ozone depleting substances (ODS) and synthetic greenhouse gases (SGG) in Australia.

The Act stipulates that an ozone Depleting Substance/Synthetic Greenhouse Gas equipment licence (EQPL) is required for the importation into Australia of equipment that contains ozone depleting substances or synthetic greenhouse gasses, including refrigeration and/or airconditioning equipment that contains a hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) or hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) refrigerant.

An ODS/SGG equipment licence (EQPL) may be required even if the airconditioner or refrigeration equipment is incorporated into another object, e.g. a car, a boat, a caravan, or another vehicle (including earth moving equipment).

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

Important things to note

  • You must find out what type of gas the equipment is designed to operate on, and the quantity of gas in the equipment (if gassed).
  • All documentary evidence needs to be written in English (or translated into English)

The most common import scenarios faced by importers are listed below. This information has been prepared as a guide to inform you on the legislative requirements for importing equipment that may be charged with refrigerant gas. If you have any questions, please contact the Ozone and Synthetic Gas Team on +61 2 6274 1373 or ozone@environment.gov.au

Scenario 1 - Importing a vehicle and/or a domestic fridge/freezer for private or domestic use

I am moving to Australia from overseas and I want to import my vehicle and/or a domestic fridge/freezer for private or domestic use.

You may not need to apply for an ODS/SGG equipment licence (EQPL) if the equipment is kept by you or a member of your household, and

  • The equipment was owned for 12 months* wholly or principally for private or domestic use in the country of export, and will also be used wholly or principally for private or domestic use in Australia.

You must supply documentary evidence (see below) to demonstrate this. Equipment that was owned for less than 12 months will be subject to the licence requirements under the Act.

*Medical equipment does not need to be owned and used by you for 12 months or more prior to importing into Australia.

ODS/SGG equipment on board or incorporated into other equipment (such as air-conditioning equipment contained in motor vehicle or motor home, caravan or camper trailer, watercraft or aircraft) may also be eligible for exemption.

Documentary evidence includes:

  1. Copy of vehicle registration papers or a copy of the purchase invoice must be supplied;
  2. Export Bill of Lading listing household and personal items that you are importing into Australia.
  3. Documentary evidence may also include;
    • A statutory declaration to the effect that the equipment was used wholly or principally for private or domestic use before importation, and is imported wholly or principally for private or domestic use.

If you have been notified by us that you need to supply documentary evidence, you will need to do so within 30 days of receiving that notice. If the department is satisfied with the documentary evidence supplied, it will approve the release of the equipment without the need for an ODS/SGG equipment licence (EQPL), subject to Customs usual requirements being met.

Failure to supply documentary evidence will trigger the licence requirements under the Act.

Note: if you are importing a vehicle that was manufactured prior to 1996 with your personal effects, and the vehicle's air conditioning system is designed to operate on CFCs, the vehicle's air conditioning system must comply with the requirements specified under Import Scenario 7.

Scenario 2

I am planning to import equipment (e.g. a car, a boat, a caravan, a fridge, a cooling table, etc) and the equipment's airconditioning system is gassed with hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerant gas R134a, (or other HFC refrigerant gases such as R404A, R410A, R417A and others); and the equipment is still in the country of origin.

If the equipment's airconditioning is gassed with hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) gas and you want to import it in that condition, you will be required to apply for an ODS/SGG equipment licence (EQPL) before the equipment arrives in Australia.

Important notice: on 1 July 2010 Australia has banned the import of most airconditioning equipment pre-charged with hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) refrigerant. If the equipment's airconditioning is gassed with a HCFC refrigerant such as R22, R123, R401A, R411B, and others, it will not be allowed entry unless the equipment is exempt under the condition outlined in the importer's existing pre-charged equipment licence.

You also have the option of 'degassing' the equipment's airconditioning system prior to importing it to Australia. If the system has been degassed, you do not require an ODS/SGG equipment licence (EQPL). You must provide to Customs (or your Customs Broker, or Freight Forwarder) documentary evidence (please refer to import scenario 5) confirming that the equipment has been degassed.

Please note that degassing the equipment after it has already been shipped to, or has already arrived in Australia is not permitted.

Scenario 3 - Re-importing a vehicle

I moved overseas and when I moved, I took my vehicle (which was purchased in Australia) with me. Now I am moving back to Australia and want to re-import my vehicle.

If you are re-importing a vehicle, you do not need to apply for an ODS/SGG equipment licence (EQPL).

You must supply to Customs (or your Customs Broker, or Freight Forwarder) documentary evidence (see below) confirming that you owned the vehicle before moving overseas, and that it remained registered in your name while you lived overseas. If the department is satisfied with the documentary evidence supplied, it will approve the release of the equipment without the need for an ODS/SGG equipment licence (EQPL), subject to Customs usual requirements being met.

Documentary evidence may include:

  1. Purchase documentation and/or previous registration, confirming that the vehicle was registered in your name in Australia
  2. Registration from the exporting country, confirming the vehicle continued to be registered in the your name while overseas
  3. Export bill of lading issued in the same name the vehicle was registered overseas

Failure to supply documentary evidence will trigger the licence requirements under the Act.

Scenario 4

I am importing equipment with an airconditioning system gassed with the hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerant gas R134a (or other HFC refrigerant gases such as R404A, R410A, R507A and others). The equipment is already on its way to (or has already arrived in) Australia.

If you are importing equipment charged with a hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerant gas and the equipment was not degassed prior to being imported it to Australia, you will be required to apply for an EQPL.

Please note that degassing the equipment after it has already been shipped to, or has already arrived in Australia is not permitted.

Scenario 5

I am importing equipment with an air conditioning system designed to run on R134a, but the airconditioning has been "degassed" at the country of origin.

If the system has been degassed, you are not required to apply for am ODS/SGG equipment licence (EQPL), but you must supply to Customs (or your Customs Broker, or Freight Forwarder) documentary evidence (see below) confirming that the equipment has been degassed.

Documentary evidence may include:

  1. A statement issued by the Manufacturer/Supplier (on appropriate letterhead) stating that the equipment is degassed. The statement be dated and signed by the Manufacturer/Supplier representative, and must include the equipment details such as make, model, serial number, etc; or
  2. A degassing certificate issued by a qualified Airconditioning/Refrigeration Technician, attesting that the degassing has been undertaken in accordance with the regulations of the country of origin. The degassing certificate must be dated and signed and contain the contact details of the Technician who performed the work; and must include the details of the equipment being degassed such make, model and VIN / Chassis / Serial number, etc.

If the department is satisfied with the documentary evidence supplied, it will approve the release of the equipment without the need for an ODS/SGG equipment licence (EQPL), subject to Customs usual requirements being met.

If the department is not satisfied with the documentary evidence provided, an inspection (carried out by an independent airconditioning/refrigeration technician) will be required to confirm whether the equipment has been in fact degassed. All associated expenses relating to the inspection will be met by the importer.

Scenario 6 - New equipment with no gas in air conditioning system

I am importing NEW equipment with no gas in its air conditioning system. The airconditioning system will be gassed by a licensed technician once the equipment arrives in Australia.

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 (please refer to documentary evidence listed under scenario 5, above) confirming that the equipment does not contain any refrigerant gas.

Please note that on 1 July 2010 Australia banned the import of most airconditioning equipment pre-charged with HCFC refrigerant.

If the department is satisfied with the documentary evidence supplied, it will approve the release of the equipment without the need for an ODS/SGG equipment licence (EQPL), subject to Customs usual requirements being met.

If the department is not satisfied with the documentary evidence provided, an inspection (carried out by an independent airconditioning/refrigeration technician) will be required to confirm whether the equipment has been in fact degassed. All associated expenses relating to the inspection will be met by the importer.

Scenario 7 - importing a vehicle manufactured before 1996

I am importing a vehicle that was manufactured before 1996. Its airconditioning system is designed to run on chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) and it is gassed

OR

The vehicle’s airconditioning system is designed to run on CFCs and is has been de-gassed.

In accordance with Australia's obligations under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, the import, export and manufacture of certain ozone depleting substances (ODS),such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFC), halons, CH3CCl3 (Methyl chloroform), CCl4(Carbon tetrachloride) and bromochloromethane (BCM) has been banned since 1996; except for a small range of essential uses which meet a very limited criteria, including laboratory and analytical uses. Annex IV of the 7th meeting of the parties to the Montreal Protocol outlines the categories and examples of laboratory and analytical uses.

The importation of a motor vehicle containing an airconditioning unit designed to run on CFC gases into Australia is a breach of section 38 of the Ozone Protection And Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989. An ODS/SGG equipment licence (EQPL) cannot be granted.

If you are importing an old car with airconditioning equipment designed to run on CFC refrigerant, you will be required to contract a licensed technician (prior to importing the vehicle into Australia) to remove the CFC gas (if gassed) and disable the system so that it can no longer operate using a CFC refrigerant.

The licensed technician completing the retrofit will be required to complete and sign the Compliance Report, which you will be required to provide it to the department when importing the vehicle to Australia.

You must supply a copy of the invoice/receipt for the work undertaken attached to the Compliance Report.

If the department is not satisfied with the documentary evidence provided, an inspection (carried out by an independent airconditioning/refrigeration technician) will be required to confirm whether the work has been carried out according to specifications. All associated expenses relating to the inspection will be met by the importer.

Scenario 8 - importing a car manufactured before 1996, not gassed

I am importing a car that was manufactured before 1996. It’s airconditioning unit has already been modified to run on HFC-134a and the airconditioning unit is not gassed.

If the airconditioning unit has been modified and it is not gassed, 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 (see below) confirming that the airconditioning system has been retrofitted to run on HFC-134a, and that the refrigerant has been degassed.

Documentary evidence may include:

  1. An invoice that clearly specifies the work carried out in the vehicle, confirming that the vehicle’s air conditioning system has been retrofitted to run on HFC refrigerant.
  2. A statement/report issued by a qualified Airconditioning/Refrigeration Technician, specifying that the system has been retrofitted to run on HFC refrigerant, and that the airconditioning system does not contain any gas
  3. Documentary evidence must include the vehicle’s details such as the make, model and VIN / chassis number, etc
  4. Documentation confirming that the vehicle's airconditioning system has been degassed prior to being imported. You may use the compliance report below as a template
  5. Compliance report form for equipment that operates on Hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) or Hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) or Chloroflurocarbons (CFC) (DOCX - 50.96 KB) | (PDF - 35.6 KB)

If the department is satisfied with the documentary evidence supplied, it will approve the release of the equipment without the need for an ODS/SGG equipment licence (EQPL), subject to Customs usual requirements being met.

If the department is not satisfied with the documentary evidence provided, an inspection (carried out by an independent airconditioning/refrigeration technician) will be required to confirm whether the airconditiong system is degassed or that it has been modified according to specifications. All associated expenses relating to the inspection will be met by the importer.

Scenario 9 - importing a car manufactured before 1996

I am importing a car that was manufactured before 1996. It’s airconditioning unit has been modified to run on HFC R134a and the airconditioning unit is gassed

If the airconditioning unit has been modified and you want to import it gassed, you will be required to apply for an ODS/SGG equipment licence (EQPL).

In addition to the licence application, you must supply the department documentary evidence (please refer to documentary evidence listed under import scenario 8) confirming that the unit has been retrofitted to run on HFC gas.

If the department is satisfied with the documentary evidence supplied, it will approve the release of the equipment without the need for an ODS/SGG equipment licence (EQPL), subject to Customs usual requirements being met.

If the department is not satisfied with the documentary evidence provided, an inspection (carried out by an independent airconditioning/refrigeration technician) will be required to confirm whether the equipment has been in fact degassed. All associated expenses relating to the inspection will be met by the importer.

Scenario 10

I want to import a boat (or a caravan) and it contains a small fridge/freezer charged with refrigerant gas. The boat’s cabin is equipped with an airconditioning system and it is gassed. It is not personal property as described in scenario 1.

You will be required to apply for an ODS/SGG equipment licence (EQPL) if the equipment on board the vessel (or caravan) has not been degassed prior to being imported to Australia.

If you decide to degas the equipment on board of the vessel prior to importing it into Australia, then n ODS/SGG equipment licence (EQPL) is not required but you must supply the relevant documentary evidence (see below)  to Customs (or your Customs Broker, or Freight Forwarder) confirming that the equipment has been degassed prior to being imported. You may use the compliance report below as a template.

If the department is satisfied with the documentary evidence supplied, it will approve the release of the equipment without the need for an ODS/SGG equipment licence (EQPL), subject to Customs usual requirements being met.

If the department is not satisfied with the documentary evidence provided, an inspection (carried out by an independent airconditioning/refrigeration technician) will be required to confirm whether the equipment has been in fact degassed. All associated expenses relating to the inspection will be met by the importer.

Please note that degassing the equipment after it has already been shipped to, or has already arrived in Australia is not permitted.

Scenario 11

I am importing air-conditioning equipment designed to run on hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) R22 (or other HCFC gases such as R123, R401A, R411B, and others).

On 1 July 2010 Australia banned the import of most airconditioning equipment pre-charged with HCFC refrigerant.

Scenario 12

I am importing a fridge (or any other equipment) designed to operate using (or containing) a Hydrocarbon refrigerant such as R170, R290, R600, R600a, R717, R744, etc (also known as "natural refrigerants")

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 a pre-charged equipment licence but you must supply to Customs (or your Customs Broker, or Freight Forwarder), documentary evidence (see below) confirming that this is the case.

Documentary evidence may include:

  • Copy of the purchase invoice or relevant page(s) of the equipment's instruction/user manual confirming that the equipment is designed to operate on Hydrocarbon refrigerant; OR
  • A statement issued by the equipment's manufacturer (on appropriate letterhead) specifying the equipment's details such as make, model, VIN/serial numbers, the type of Hydrocarbon refrigerant the equipment is designed to operate; OR
  • A certificate issued by a qualified Airconditioning/Refrigeration Technician attesting that the equipment is designed to operate on a Hydrocarbon refrigerant. The certificate must include details of the equipment such as make, model, VIN/serial number, the type (if the equipment is gassed) of Hydrocarbon refrigerant the equipment is designed to operate. The certificate must be dated and signed, and contain the name and contact details of the Technician who examined the equipment.

If the department is satisfied with the documentary evidence supplied, it will approve the release of the equipment without the need for am ODS/SGG equipment licence (EQPL), subject to Customs usual requirements being met.

If the department is not satisfied with the documentary evidence provided, an inspection (carried out by an independent airconditioning/refrigeration technician) will be required to confirm whether the equipment is in fact designed to operate on a Hydrocarbon refrigerant. All associated expenses relating to the inspection will be met by the importer.

Your import does not fit in to any of the above scenarios?

Please contact the Ozone and Synthetic Greenhouse Gases Team on +61 2 6274 1373, or via email: ozone@environment.gov.au