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 ODS/SGG equipment licence (EQPL) is required for the importation into Australia of refrigeration and air conditioning equipment that contains a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) or equipment that contains synthetic greenhouse gases, including refrigeration and/or air conditioning equipment that contains a hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerant.

An ODS/SGG equipment licence (EQPL) may be required even if equipment, such as air conditioning 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.

The import may meet the requirements for a low volume import exemption or other exemption. If the import is not eligible for an exemption, you will need to apply for an ODS/SGG equipment licence.

Scenario 2 - importing refrigeration or air conditioning not containing ODS or SGGs

Do I need a licence to import refrigeration or air conditioning equipment that does not contain ODS or SGGs?

You do not need to obtain a licence to import equipment that does not contain ODS or SGGs.

However, a person is banned from importing or manufacturing refrigeration and air conditioning equipment that is designed to operate by using only HCFCs or CFC refrigerant. Equipment that is designed to also operate using other refrigerants is not banned.

Scenario 3 - New equipment with no gas in air conditioning system

I am importing NEW equipment with no gas in its air conditioning system. The air conditioning 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 2 above) confirming that the equipment does not contain any refrigerant gas.

Please note that on 1 July 2010 Australia banned the import of most air conditioning 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 air conditioning/refrigeration technician) will be required to confirm whether the equipment has been degassed. All associated expenses relating to the inspection will be met by the importer.

Scenario 4 - importing a vehicle manufactured before 1996

I am importing a vehicle that was manufactured before 1996. Its air conditioning 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 air conditioning unit designed to run only using CFC gases into Australia is a breach of the HCFC/CFC equipment ban under Schedule 4 of the Act.

An ODS/SGG equipment licence (EQPL) cannot be granted.

Scenario 5 - 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 Air conditioning/Refrigeration Technician, specifying that the system has been retrofitted to run on HFC refrigerant, and that the air conditioning 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 air conditioning 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 6 - importing a car manufactured before 1996, gassed

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

The import may meet the requirements for a personal use exemption or a low volume import exemption or other exemption. If the import is not eligible for an exemption, you will need to apply for an ODS/SGG equipment licence.

In addition, you may need to supply the department or Customs officials with documentary evidence (please refer to documentary evidence listed under import scenario 8) confirming that the unit has been retrofitted to run on HFC gas.

Scenario 7 - importing air conditioning equipment designed to run on HCFC regrigerants

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 air conditioning equipment pre-charged with HCFC refrigerant.

Scenario 8 - importing equipment designed to operate using "natural refrigerants"

I am importing a refrigerator (or any other equipment) designed to operate using (or containing) a non-fluorocarbon 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 non-fluorocarbon refrigerant such as Ammonia (R717), Propane (R290), Isobutane (R600a) or any other natural refrigerant, you do not need to apply for an 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 non-fluorocarbon 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 Import Operations Team on +61 2 6274 1373, or via email: ozone@environment.gov.au