Applying for a permit - Frequently asked questions

Do I need a permit for the waste I want to export or import?

If you want to export or import hazardous waste, or move it in and out of Australia (transit) and the material is considered a hazardous waste under the Hazardous Waste Act you must apply for a permit to do so.

Please contact the Hazardous Waste Section of the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, who will provide you with specific advice and guidance on your particular circumstances.

It is best to seek advice before you submit a formal application and the required fees. This is because the costs of some permits are quite expensive, and if it is determined that you do not require a permit, the monies are non-refundable.

What forms will I need to use?

There are several types of permits depending on what country the hazardous waste is going to or coming from and there are several different application forms depending on the permit required. Please contact us to seek further guidance and discuss.

All applications for export, import or transit permits require the completion of the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities Application Form.

If you are exporting waste to an OECD country then you will need to complete two copies each of the OECD-EU Notification Form and OECD-EU Movement/Tracking Form plus one extra copy of each for every country of transit.

If you are exporting waste to a country that is a party to the Basel Convention then you will need to complete two copies of the Basel Notification Form and Basel Movement/Tracking Form plus one extra copy of each for every country of transit.

If you are importing waste from either an OECD or non-OECD country then you will need to complete two copies of the Australia Transfrontier Movement of Wastes Import/Transit Form, plus one extra copy for each country of transit.

All forms required for Hazardous Waste Act permits are available on this website.

OECD countries and countries which are party to the Basel Convention can be found on the following websites:

Application requirements

An applicant must have:

  • appropriate insurance;
  • evidence of financial viability;
  • in the case of all export permits, a written contract or chain of contracts, covering all movements, starting with the notifier and terminating at the disposal facility. The person specified in the contract is responsible for the management of the wastes including their return if necessary; and
  • in the case of all Basel export permits, detailed evidence that the waste will be managed in an environmentally sound manner.

Please note permits are only issued to persons within Australian jurisdiction.

How long before I can get a permit?

If you are applying to export or import waste to or from an OECD country, the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities has 40 days in which to process your application.

If you are applying to export or import waste to or from a country that is a party to the Basel Convention, the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities has 60 days in which to process your application.

Most permits are processed within these time frames, however, if there are difficulties which arise during the assessment process, then the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities may seek an extension of time of up to 60 days. Typically, delays in processing applications arise when authorities in other countries involved do not reply to our requests for a decision about consent.

How much does a permit cost?

The cost of a permit is determined by where you want to send the waste, and how many countries the exported waste transits. For example, if you wish to import hazardous waste into Australia, or export waste to an OECD country, the costs of a permit is in the order of $300-$400. If you wish to export waste to a country that is party to the Basel Convention, the cost of a permit is around $4,400+, as the Hazardous Waste Technical Group has to assess how the waste will be managed in the country of import. An additional cost of $110 is required for each country the waste transits and some countries also charge an extra cost for processing these applications.

All permits issued under the Australian Hazardous Waste Act are valid for up to twelve months. This means that a number of shipments can be made under the one permit, up to the limit of tonnes allowed under the permit, provided that the type of waste and the destination of the waste remains the same.

Who assesses my application for a permit?

On receipt of an application, the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities reviews the information provided and checks that all documents are included and have been completed correctly. The application is received and processed only when all the required information has been provided and the application fee is paid. Once the application package has been accepted, it is then processed by officers from the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.

There are set procedures and processes under the Hazardous Waste Act, the Basel Convention and the OECD Rules and Regulations which the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities has to follow when processing applications for permits.

Information about an application is forwarded to State and Territory Governments who then advise the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities of any relevant information they hold relating to hazardous waste treatment facilities in Australia, and the suitability of the applicant to hold a permit. Information may also be forwarded to the Hazardous Waste Technical Group if there is uncertainty about the status of the material for which the permit is sought. Consents are also sought from the countries of import and transit.

The application for a permit and the assessment then go to the Federal Minister or delegate for a decision on whether or not to grant the permit.

Penalities

It is an offence to export, import or transit hazardous waste from, to or through Australia without a permit. The maximum penalty is up to $1,000,000 for a body corporate or up to 5 years imprisonment for an individual. This applies to offences that are likely to result in injury or damage to human health or the environment. Lesser penalties apply to other offences.

Contact us

For further information in relation to the international movement of hazardous waste please contact:

Hazardous Waste Section
Department of the Environment
GPO Box 787
Canberra ACT 2601 Australia
Phone: 1800 803 772
Fax: 02 6274 1164
Email: hwa@environment.gov.au

You are welcome to call in and see us by appointment.