Pesticide Licensing Requirements

Due to the fact that there is a lot of false information around relating to Licensing Requirements, we have researched and found the truth for most states in Australia.  Unfortunately this Information is not easy to come by so we have also included direct contacts where further information can be found.


The law states that a person who carries a business using herbicides, insecticides or fungicide is exempt from needing a commercial operators license (section 30 of the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (control of Use) Act 1992)) provided all the chemical use is done in residential gardens and the person using the chemical has completed a recognised training course in farm chemical use (see below for details on course) .

Further Information: Department of Natural Recourses and Environment: Chemical Standards Branch Ph: (03) 9210 9361, Fax: (03) 9210 9298

The Farm Chemical Users Course is around 16 hours in length and is usually held over 2 – 3 days depending on the institute and area. The price of this course varies from around $100 to $150, once again depending on area and provider.

Further details can be obtained by ChemCert Australia (Vic) Inc. on Ph: (03) 5622 2055, Fax: (03) 5622 2199 or email:

Click here to view a list of providers who are accredited to conduct the Farm Chemical users course.


The law states that all persons who apply herbicides or pesticides for fee or reward to be licensed. To put it simply two licenses are needed, a commercial pesticide firm licence and a pesticide operator license. The current fee for these licences is: Commercial Pesticide Firm Licence: $270 and Pesticide Operator Licence: $135.

Following is a hand out from the Environmental Health Service explaining the legal requirements and reasons for obtaining a commercial pesticide firm licence in addition to the individual operators licence.

1. The government legislation that controls the licensing of commercial pesticide firms and pesticide operations is the 'Health (Pesticides) Regulations 1956' made under the Health act.  This legislation was adopted with the primary aim of ensuring that as far as practicable the health of the public, the environment and all persons handling and applying pesticides are adequately protected.

2. Regulation 63 states that only licensed 'Commercial Pesticide Firms' are permitted to engage in the business of the use and application of pesticides 'FOR REWARD'.

3. Regulation 74 states that only persons who are licensed pesticide operators may apply pesticides for gain or reward and that they must be employed by a licensed commercial pesticide firm.

4. The Health (Pesticides) Regulations are designed so that the licensed COMMERCIAL PESTICIDE FIRM IS RESPONSIBLE by ensuring that the health of the public, the environment and the operator applying the pesticide is protected as far as practicable by:-

4.1 Only employing licensed pesticide operators to apply pesticide for reward.

4.2 Ensuring that licensed pesticide operators are provided with all the necessary safety and protective equipment.

4.3 Ensuring that licensed pesticide operators are provided with vehicles, equipment, fixtures and fitting that are approved and maintained in a safe and efficient working order.

4.4 Ensuring that all pesticides are stored and transported in accordance with relevant legislation.

4.5 Being responsible for the supervision and direction of ALL provisional pesticide operators employed by them.

4.6 The Commercial Pesticide Form is also responsible for maintaining accurate records of the names, addresses, date of birth, date of employment of ALL employees and keeping such records for a minimum of 2 years.

5 The legislation effectively establishes a ‘double level' of protection by placing responsibility on the Commercial Pesticide Firm to ensure that the licensed pesticide operator is adequately supervised and provided with the appropriate equipment to enable the pesticide to be applied as safe as is practicable.

In drafting the legislation and establishing the need for a commercial pesticide form license, authorities acknowledge that the application of pesticides can be potentially hazardous, and that it justifies the ADDITIONAL level of supervision and control.

6. Whilst some owner/operator businesses may dispute the need for a firm licence it would be administratively difficult to differentiate between the business and those with paid employees. There are situations which often change very quickly.

7. All previous appeals or requests to dispense with the need for a Commercial Pesticide Firm have been refused.

For further Information please contact the Health Department of Western Australia on Ph: (08) 9838 4244 or Fax: (08) 9383 1819.


Under current laws in South Australia a licence is needed to spray pesticides, however under the current law there is an exemption. Contractors usually have to apply for exemption but after considerably lengthy phone conversations with Robert Taylor, of department of Human Services they are looking into having the law changed to excluding commercial applicators of low toxicity herbicides such as glyphosate from hand held equipment from the licensing provisions, as is the case in some other States.

The following is an extract from an email to ourselves from Robert Taylor:

“Notwithstanding the current licensing provisions regarding exemptions, DHS has no intention of taking regulatory action against such users, as these people are not included amongst the group of commercial users over whom the Regulations were intended to provide controls.

As for those members who wish to provide a weed control service on a larger scale, they should be advised to contact the Pest Control Unit to obtain the
necessary details, as it is probable that they will be required to complete the relevant TAFE course and be appropriately licensed.”


If you operate a business that provides a commercial spraying service, you must hold a Commercial Operator Licence. This is essentially a business licence. The annual fee for this licence is $108. The Licence applies to any business that uses agricultural chemical products to control insect pests and disease, weeds rodents, bird etc. for fee or reward.

Exemption from Commercial Operator Licence.

If you provide a service for fee or reward which involves some spraying, but the spraying is only incidental to the main service you deliver and you only spray a small amount for agricultural chemical product, you do not need to have a commercial operators licence. To qualify for this exemption, you must purchase, store and handle the products in the containers in which they were sold for home garden use.

For the purpose of Regulation 8 of the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Regulations 1996, a “small amount” of agricultural chemical product means any amount of this type of product, which is registered, packaged and labelled for use as a home garden product in Tasmania. This is provided the product is purchased, stored and handled in packages, which are approved for home garden use.

Generally Home Garden products are limited to small packs of low-toxicity products. They are labelled and packaged especially for the home garden and are available from nurseries.

Examples of Some Home Garden Products Include:

Herbicides: Roundup Herbicide (1 litre pack), Brunnings Glyphosate 360 Weed Killer (1 lite pack), Fast Acting Formula Roundup Weed killer (3 litre ready to use pack), Yates Zero Weedspray Concentrate (200ml & 1 litre packs), Yates Once-a-Year path weeder (200 & 500 gram packs), Zero Weedspray Ready-to-use (750ml pack), Chemspray Tree, Blackberry and Woody Weed Killer (100 & 500 ml packs), Chemspray Bin-Die Selective Lawn Weeder (100 & 500ml packs), Brunnings Feed & Weed for Lawns (5,10, 12 & 20 kilogram packs), Brunnings Lawn Food Plus Bindii Destroyer (2 Litre hose on pack)

Insecticides: Chemspray Clear White Oil Insecticide (200 & 500 ml packs), Chemspray Malathion Insecticide (100 & 500 ml packs), Hortico Carbaryl Tomato Dust (500 gram pack), Confidor Garden Insecticide (25gram pack), Yates Pyrethrum Insecticide (200 & 500 ml packs), Defender Pellets Snail & Slug Killer (500 gram and 1 kilogram packs)

Fungicides: Yates Triforine Rose Fungicide (500ml pack), Yates Mancozeb Plus Fungicide (150 gram pack), Yates Leaf Curl Copper Fungicide Spray (250 gram pack).

For Further Information contact Dawn Latham (Licensing Coordinator) on Ph: (03) 6233 6825, Fax: (03) 6233 3843 or email:


The term pesticide covers a wide range of substances for the control of all types of pests.
A common misunderstanding is that the Pesticides Act 1999, which controls the use of pesticides in NSW, does not apply to the use of herbicides. This misunderstanding arises because the term pesticide is sometimes wrongly used to describe insecticides only. The legal definition of a pesticide under the Pesticides Act does, in fact, cover herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, rodenticides and many other types of substances.

NB. There is no such thing as the Controlled Substances Act. Please refer to the Pesticides Act 1999 and the EPA website for further information.

Lawnmower contractors do not need to be licensed/certified by WorkCover NSW (only urban professional pesticide/fumigant operators).

Lawn mower contractors who use pesticides as part of their job may be required to be certified as competent by the Department of Environment & Conservation under the Pesticides Act 1999.

However, to reiterate the EPA website:
I only use small quantities of pesticides in my work - do I have to be trained?
You do not need to be trained if you only use small quantities of household pesticides as part of your business or work, provided that you do all of the following:

You only apply pesticides that are ordinarily used for domestic purposes (e.g. in the home or garden), and are widely available to the general public at retail outlets such as supermarkets, and you apply the pesticide by hand or by using hand-held equipment, and
if you use the pesticides outdoors, you use no more than 5 litres/5 kilograms of concentrate or 20 litres/20 kilograms of ready-to-use product, or if you use the pesticides indoors you use no more than 1 litre/1 kilogram of concentrate or 5 litres/5 kilograms of ready-to-use product.