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 are the licence types and requirements for marine engineers and other maritime personnel handling refrigerants?

Under the current Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Regulations 1995 (OPSGHGMR 1995), all 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) for any refrigerant handling work at sea.

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 (RAC) equipment at sea. All individuals not exempt under the current OPSGHGMR 1995 are required to hold a restricted marine RHL which permits the holder to handle refrigerant and undertake work on RAC equipment only when a vessel is at sea.

Application for a restricted marine RHL 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.

contact us

  • 1300 88 44 83
  • 1300 55 40 23
  • Mail:
    Locked Bag 3033
    Box Hill VIC 3128