These FAQs explain everything you need to know about the National Occupational Licensing System (NOLS). They are based on the proposed system as it is currently described in Decision Regulation Impact Statements released in 2013; a decision on final policy settings will be made by the Standing Council on Federal Financial Relations by the end of 2013.
We often describe each state and territory as ‘jurisdictions’. As NOLS is implemented, the jurisdictions will act as a delegate of the Authority, meaning you’ll continue to deal with the licensing agency you already deal with in your state or territory, though you’ll do so as the holder of a national licence.
View a pdf of the FAQs here
How it affects you as a current licence holder
How it affects you as a licence applicant
15. What about fees?
Changes to licence categories
Application and eligibility
Still got questions? Subscribe to receive our regular newsletters.
NOLS is a single, Australia-wide national licensing system for specific occupations. It removes duplicated and inconsistent regulation between states and territories for these occupations.
Under NOLS, companies and individuals will be licensed to work anywhere in Australia. By reducing red tape and making it easier for people to work around the country, NOLS will improve the efficiency of Australian businesses, with flow-on benefits to the Australian economy.
NOLS will remove the cost of unnecessary training while retaining appropriate qualification requirements, remove the cost of duplicated licences across states and territories, and remove complication and inconsistencies.
At the moment, you need to apply and pay for a licence in every state or territory you work in. Sometimes this means satisfying different qualifications and eligibility requirements or sitting additional tests. This is a cost for licensees who choose to take advantage of mutual recognition arrangements and discourages licensees from working in a different state or territory.
Under NOLS, a licensee will be able to work anywhere in the country without the need to make a further licence application when working in another jurisdiction. Licences will be issued in all states and territories according to the same eligibility requirements.
NOLS is one of the reforms being implemented through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to improve the environment in which Australian businesses operate and to enhance Australia’s economic productivity.
- property occupations (excluding conveyancers and valuers)
- electrical occupations
- plumbing and gasfitting occupations
- refrigeration and air-conditioning occupations.
- building and building related occupations
The Occupational Licensing National Law Act 2010 (the National Law) has been introduced through the Victorian Parliament, which is the host jurisdiction for the National Law. Consultation Regulation Impact Statements (RISs) outlining the detail of the proposed NOLS requirements for each of the wave 1 occupations were made available for comment in 2012, as was the proposed legislation, and interim Occupational Licensing Advisory Committees were established to talk through some issues with industry.
Although the Authority did not develop the policy for Wave 1 occupations (policy was developed by the COAG National Licensing Taskforce), it will be responsible for implementing NOLS for those occupations. The Authority will be responsible for the entire process for Wave 2 and any subsequent occupations.
Decision RISs have been subject to additional state and territory consultation during the latter part of 2013. The feedback from this consultation will form part of a package that will go the Standing Council on Federal Financial Relations, which will make a final decision on NOLS. You can find out more about this process here (pdf).
COAG has announced (pdf) that NOLS will be implemented in 2014 for the Wave 1 occupations. Commencement will occur once legislation is passed by the Victorian Parliament and all other jurisdictions.
You will receive a letter prior to the commencement of NOLS to let you know how your existing licence will transition to a national licence and the date on which national licensing will commence for your occupation. You do not need to do anything for this to happen.
Your ‘primary jurisdiction’ is the state or territory in which your principal place of business is located (if you are a company) or your principal place of residence is located (if you are licensed as an individual). Click here (pdf) to identify your local licensing agency.
If you are already licensed in any jurisdiction you do not need to do anything. Your new national licence will be sent to you automatically. Until then, continue to renew with your current licensing agency.
If you are applying for a new licence now, you need to apply to your jurisdictional regulator and meet the eligibility requirements set by that jurisdiction. Once NOLS commences, this licence will be automatically transitioned to a national licence.
Once NOLS commences any application for a licence will be an application for a national licence.
Your day to day work won’t change, and until NOLS is implemented, you will still apply for and renew your licence in the same manner.
Once NOLS does come in:
- You will be able to work right across Australia – and hire staff from other states – without having to worry about applying and paying for different licences.
- Your existing licence will automatically become part of the new national system on the date NOLS commences. You will be advised of your new national licence category and national licence number.
- Depending on your occupation and jurisdiction, you may receive a new licence card or certificate on the day NOLS commences or you may use your jurisdictional licence, together with your notification letter, until your next renewal date when a new national licence card will be issued.
- For a transitional period, you will be able to use either your new national or existing licence number in your advertising and documentation, but eventually, your state/territory-based licence number will no longer be valid.
- As duplications and inconsistencies are ironed out, some existing non-disciplinary conditions or restrictions may be removed. This process will be underpinned by a “no disadvantage” principle which means that if you are licensed to perform a particular scope of work, you will be able to continue that scope of work under NOLS without needing to satisfy any further licence eligibility or training requirements.
- Your details will be on a national register of licensees. This will be available at www.nola.gov.au and will contain information on every licensed company and every licensed individual across Australia for the occupations covered under NOLS. This will enable anyone to check if a company or individual is licensed, what work is covered by their licence, and if the licence is current.
- If you hold more than one licence (for example, if you work in both NSW and Victoria), only one licence will be transferred into NOLS. Any other licences that you hold for the same work will be de-activated and will no longer need to be renewed. You will receive a letter prior to the commencement of NOLS explaining what will happen to each of your licences.
NOLS will not standardise the way people behave or run their business (conduct requirements). It will only standardise the skills and competencies that are required to carry out the licensed occupation across all states and territories. It simply sets a minimum benchmark for qualifications and skills for each occupation that retains consumer protection without imposing unnecessary cost or bureaucratic burden.
Your licensing agency will continue to issue you notices such as renewal notices; the only difference is, they will issue notices that align with the one national licensing standard that applies to your licence, rather than the local state or territory standards that apply now.
If you are licensed to perform a certain type of work in one jurisdiction state or territory, you will be entitled to perform the same work right across Australia. You do not need to take any action for this to happen and there will be no additional cost to you.
Any conditions or restrictions on your licence as a result of a disciplinary process will be automatically transitioned to the new national licence.
You must familiarise yourself with the relevant conduct requirements applying in any jurisdiction that you work in – just as you do now if you work across borders.
As a current licence holder you won’t need to complete a course or additional qualification to receive or renew your national licence. You will be automatically transitioned to an equivalent licence category without needing to meet additional training requirements.
However, if your licence lapses for longer than three years you will be required to meet the qualification requirements for the national licence if you re-apply for that licence.
If you have a provisional licence, or conditions on your licence that require you to do more on-the-job training, you’ll still be required to finish your on-the-job training before you can be eligible for a full licence – even though only licensees qualified overseas will have to hold provisional licences under NOLS.
People from overseas can apply for a national licence as they do now. They can apply in the jurisdiction they choose will be their primary jurisdiction.
Requirements relating to insurance will remain within state and territory legislation, so you’ll still need to comply with any insurance requirements in the jurisdiction in which you work.
When it is time to renew your licence, you will hear from your current licensing agency as you always do. The only difference will be that the licence you renew will allow you to work across Australia, not just in your primary jurisdiction. Under current proposals, you will be able to choose a one, three or five year licence period for your licence.
State and territory legislation relating to conduct matters such as insurance requirements and codes of conduct and practice will continue to apply and will continue to be enforced by your local licensing agency.
As regulation of conduct will continue to be the responsibility of each state and territory, you will need to comply with the conduct requirements that apply in the jurisdiction in which you operate, including any requirements to hold insurance, just as they do now.
You will still go to your local licensing agency for all licensing matters. The only change is that, instead of using a state/territory-based standard for new licence applicants, your local licencing agency will use a national standard, managed by the Authority.
The licensing agency you currently apply to for your licence will still be who you contact for day to day procedures like changing your address. If you move primary jurisdictions (as opposed to working in another jurisdiction for a six-month contract, for example), you will need to advise the relevant licensing authority, just as you have to at the moment. The only difference is, you won’t need to apply for a new licence. And, under the National Law, you won’t need to pay a fee to notify a change in details or circumstances.
You will be able to apply to a regulator in any jurisdiction that does license the work. That jurisdiction will be known as your ‘issuing jurisdiction’ for that licence category.
You’ll be applying for your national licence through an existing licencing agency in your primary jurisdiction, who will act as a delegate of the Authority. These agencies will set their own fees for national licence applicants, which could be different between states or territories. You won’t pay a fee to have your existing licence transitioned to the new national licensing arrangements.
Any other applicable fees – for example, for licence renewal, restoration or request for a replacement card – will be set by and paid to your relevant state and territory licensing agency in its role as a delegate of the Authority.
NOLS will include a set of national licence categories to ensure consistency at every level. As a result, not all existing state and territory licence categories will continue to be issued under NOLS.
The letter you will receive before NOLS is implemented will confirm this for you.
For some categories, it may mean you no longer need a licence to undertake work. This would mean you can continue to work as always, and you won’t need to renew your licence after NOLS is implemented.
For others, your work will be included in a NOLS licence category with a broader scope of work. These licensees will be transitioned to the broader NOLS licence category with a condition that limits your scope of work to that for which you were previously licensed.
In these cases, your existing licence will sit in transitional licence categories that will not be issued to new licence applicants. So long as you keep your licence current, you will not be required to do any additional training to retain your licence. However, if you allow the licence to lapse and you then apply for a new licence, you will need to meet the applicable eligibility requirements for the full NOLS licence category.
No, you will not need to obtain a licence to work in your state if no licence is currently required. However, if at a later date your primary jurisdiction decides to license this work, you will need to obtain a NOLS licence in order to undertake that work.
Other state or territory licences outside the scope of NOLS will continue to be issued by the relevant licensing agency in your jurisdiction.
If your existing licence category is equivalent to multiple NOLS licence categories, you will automatically be issued with all the NOLS licence categories relevant to you. Whether they are on one or more licence documents depends on whether the categories are issued by more than one regulator in your state.
Any requirements that you must follow to display your licence number are part of conduct requirements. As these will still be regulated under relevant state or territory legislation, you’ll need to make sure you know the applicable requirements in the jurisdiction where you’ll be carrying out licensed work.
If your existing licence is suspended, it will be transitioned to a NOLS licence subject to the same period of suspension as the existing licence.
These will be reflected on your national licence. Your notification letter will confirm which national licences you receive and where the conditions on your existing licences continue to apply.
The transitional legislation will specify the equivalent NOLS licence category for each jurisdictional licence category and these licences will be automatically ‘deemed’ into those NOLS categories. These can’t be changed. However, if there is a genuine error arising from the impact of particular conditions on your licence, let your local licensing agency know. The Authority will be working with state and territory regulators to ensure that current licensees are transitioned into an equivalent category of national licence.
Your regulator will assess your renewal under the new arrangements. Expired licences can be restored within three months of expiry.
If you don’t restore your licence in this three month period, you will need to apply for a new licence.
This will be dealt with under the existing state or territory legislation. Any disciplinary outcomes that impact your licence will be applied to your national licence. So, if your licence is suspended, your national licence will be suspended for the same period. Disciplinary action of a serious nature will be displayed on the National Licensing Register.
You’ll have to meet all relevant eligibility requirements of the NOLS licence category you want a licence for. The relevancy of the refusal of your previous application may be considered – for example, if your application was refused because of a probity or conduct issue.
If you obtain a licence on the basis of information or a document that is false or misleading you may be subject to disciplinary action.
If you needed to undertake your current course of study in your jurisdiction prior to NOLS coming in, your apprenticeship or course will be accepted for a set period of time as a valid qualification for an equivalent national licence.
If a contractor does not hold a licence to undertake the relevant technical work, they must nominate someone who holds a corresponding licence to undertake the work in order for the contractor to contract for that work.
As a nominee, you must:
- have agreed to be the nominee for the licence
- hold a licence, without conditions or restrictions, that corresponds to the work you have agreed to be a nominee for
- if you are a nominee for a person who is a member of a partnership, be a partner in, or an employee of, the partnership
- if you are a nominee for a body corporate, be a director or employee of the body corporate
- not be the subject of disciplinary action that prohibits your nomination for a licence of that type.
You will be able to be a nominee or work for multiple licensees. However, you will need to ensure you satisfy the requirements in the National Law regarding nominees and the conduct requirements of the jurisdiction you are working in.
You do not need to live in the same state or territory as your primary jurisdiction, but you must comply with the provisions of the National Law regarding nominees.
Under the National Law, the Authority must determine an applicant’s suitability to hold a licence or be involved in the business of a licensee (as a nominee, director of the company or partner of the licensee). This is known as ‘personal probity ‘and is assessed based on the person’s criminal history and conduct in carrying out business. Criminal history is taken into account to the extent that the offence has a connection to the carrying out of the trade or business.
Conduct requirements are the rules, regulations and laws in each jurisdiction that govern how work is to be performed by licensees. It doesn’t include the requirements you need to gain and hold a licence. Conduct requirements vary between each state and territory and also between each of the occupations licensed under the National Law.
The initial focus of NOLS is on establishing a national licensing framework, consistent eligibility criteria for obtaining a licence and a common system of disciplinary offences and outcomes. Regulation of conduct will continue to be the responsibility of each jurisdiction, and you will need to comply with the conduct requirements that apply in your jurisdiction, including any requirements to hold insurance.
The National Law provides for occupational conduct to be brought into national licensing in the future.
As is the case currently, you will need to meet the conduct requirements that apply to your occupation in the jurisdiction in which you’re undertaking licensed work. It’s your responsibility to familiarise yourself with any legislation that regulates conduct in the relevant jurisdiction, just as you do now.
Regulators in each state and territory will have access to a database that includes disciplinary action such as suspension, cancellation, penalty notices and fines, the number of insurance claims paid against the licensee and any compensation/fidelity fund payments.
Where necessary, regulators will contact other jurisdictions directly for additional information on licensee conduct, as already occurs under the mutual recognition process. These activities will continue to be subject to relevant privacy laws.
Where relevant, licensee conduct information will be displayed on the National Licensing Register, including any significant disciplinary action taken against a licensee within the preceding five years.