Your questions about the new scheme

Go to our new section on transitioning from NICNAS to AICIS

As we head towards implementation of the new scheme, we'll be updating this section with answers to your most asked questions.

Submit this form if you have a specific question about the new scheme
(select 'new scheme AICIS (July 2020)' under Topic)

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Will my current business registration carry over to the new scheme?

Yes. If you have a current registration with us, we’ll transfer it on 1 July 2020 to the new scheme.

Note, our registration year is the same in the new scheme (1 September to 31 August). Registration and renewals will continue to be online.

I only import cosmetics, not industrial chemicals. Will I have to register?

Yes, you still need to register your business with us. We still regard the ingredients in cosmetics as industrial chemicals under the new scheme.

Can I still introduce industrial chemicals on the Inventory?

Yes, you can still introduce industrial chemicals on the new Inventory if you meet the terms of listing and you've registered with us. We'll migrate every industrial chemical currently on the Inventory to the new Inventory. They'll have the same terms of listing with an improved format.

I only import naturally occurring chemicals, not industrial chemicals. Will anything change?

No, you can keep importing your naturally occurring chemicals if they meet the definition under the old law. You don't need to register with AICIS.

Will AICIS continue doing risk assessments of chemicals on the Inventory, like in IMAP?

Yes, we'll still be assessing the risks of industrial chemicals on the Inventory. We'll be doing this using our new evaluation power. This allows us to evaluate any industrial chemical using a flexible and responsive process. We'll publish the outcomes of our evaluations online.

How will our new scheme (AICIS) work? What are its main functions?

While there will be changes, the basics are the same. We’ll continue to:

  • have the same aim of helping to protect the health of Australians and our environment
  • regulate the introduction (importation and manufacture) of industrial chemicals into Australia
  • define industrial chemicals by exclusion (if a chemical is only for another use, it’s not an industrial chemical)
  • conduct risk assessments on the introduction and use of industrial chemicals and provide recommendations to risk managers
  • publish information about our risk assessments and risk management recommendations — this will be referred to as Assessment Statements and Evaluation Statements
  • maintain the register of importers and manufacturers (introducers)
  • monitor compliance with our law to ensure introducers are meeting their obligations and keeping appropriate records
Will it be easier for me to introduce lower risk chemicals than it is now?

Yes it will. We’re shifting our focus to assessment of higher risk introductions and concentrating more on post-introduction monitoring rather than pre-introduction assessments for lower risk chemicals. This will make it easier for you to bring in low and very low risk chemicals.

Diagram showing potential outcomes of the introduction process.

You can introduce chemicals on the Inventory — called listed introductions — without telling us, if you're registered with us and you comply with any terms attached to the chemicals (same as the current situation under NICNAS).

For chemicals NOT on the Inventory (unlisted introduction), the process will change. You will need to work out whether your introduction is very low risk, low risk or medium-high risk for human health and the environment using the guidance and criteria that we'll publish.

If your introduction is very low risk you:

  • can import or manufacture your chemical without telling us beforehand (provided you're already registered with us)
  • will have to tell us some basic information at the end of the first year you introduce
  • will have record keeping obligations and we may ask you to provide these records in an audit

If your introduction is low risk you:

  • can import or manufacture your chemical (provided you're already registered with us) as soon as you have submitted a pre-introduction report detailing your chemical and your introduction circumstance such as quantity and use
  • will have record keeping obligations and we may ask you to provide these records in an audit
What are the main changes to how I can introduce an industrial chemical into Australia?
There will be 6 categories of introduction from 1 July 2020

There will also be a new process that involves an introducer categorising the risk level of their introduction. You’ll still need to register with us. The types of authorised introduction of an industrial chemical will be as follows. The following information is a summary only. We'll have more guidance for you on all these topics as we head towards the new scheme.

  • Listed introductions – for chemicals already on the Inventory. This category is the same as under NICNAS where you need to search the Inventory for your chemical. If you find it, you'll need to check you can meet any terms we set out for its introduction. Like now, if you can meet the terms (which may include a defined scope of assessment* or conditions about the introduction or use**), you can start to introduce it. If you can’t meet the defined scope of assessment you'll have the option to see if you can introduce as an exempted or reported introduction. If you can meet 1 of these categories, you'll be able to introduce this way. If you can't meet these categories, you'll have to apply to us to vary the inventory. If you can’t meet a condition you will need to apply to us to vary the inventory listing.
  • Exempted introductions – where your introduction of a chemical is very low risk. You'll need to keep records about the chemical and its use. You’ll also need to submit a once-off declaration to AICIS if you introduce any of the following:
    • polymers of low concern
    • low-concern biopolymers
    • chemicals that the introducer has categorised as very low risk for human health and the environment
  • Reported introductions – where your introduction of a chemical is low risk. Before you can introduce, you’ll have to submit a report to AICIS with information about the chemical and its use. You’ll also need to keep records about the chemical and its use.
  • Assessed introductions – where your introduction of a chemical is medium to high risk. You'll need to apply to us to assess the risk and give us information about the chemical and its use. As we do now, we’ll issue an assessment certificate for the introduction. At the same time, we publish an Assessment Statement on the website which details the risks of introducing and using the chemical and includes our recommendations on how any risks should be managed. You'll also need to keep records about the chemical and its use after the certificate is issued. After 5 years your chemical will be listed on the Inventory.
  • Commercial evaluation authorisations – these are time limited authorisations that we can grant so an introducer can determine a chemical's commercial potential. We'll publish details on our website about these authorisations including how long it's in force for.
  • Exceptional circumstances authorisations rely on special authorisation. The Minister grants these if they are satisfied the introduction is necessary in the public interest to manage significant human health or environment risks. For example, an industrial chemical that would normally be unauthorised for introduction could be introduced to treat an oil spill threatening an Australian waterway.

*Defined scope of assessment: A defined scope of assessment is something you may find in an Inventory listing for a chemical. It describes the parameters of how we've previously assessed a chemical. If your chemical is listed with a defined scope of assessment, you must compare your introduction to check and make sure you’re covered.

**Condition of introduction or use**: This is a restriction(s) we can add to the Inventory listing of a chemical. The listing will describe restrictions we've imposed on the import or manufacture of a particular chemical. Restrictions we place on the chemical will usually relate to:

  • how much (volume) you can introduce (import/manufacture) and
  • where (site) the chemical is to be introduced or used

Diagram showing potential outcomes of the introduction process.

If your chemical is listed with a condition of introduction or use, you'll need to check and compare your introduction against the Inventory listing to make sure you are covered.

How will the chemical Inventory work? Is it the same?

The Inventory will work the same way as it does now. It will continue to list chemicals available for industrial use in Australia. If you introduce a chemical that's on the Inventory it will be known as a listed introduction. As is currently the case, you must meet any terms and obligations we list for the chemical and be registered. Some of our terms and obligations will have different names which we'll provide information about. Where you can't meet our terms, you may still be able to introduce as an unlisted introduction, or you may have to apply to us to have the terms changed.

How are chemicals listed under the new scheme?

As is the case now, we'll list a chemical on the Inventory 5 years after we assess it. Certificate holders will still be able to apply for an early listing.

We'll only add chemicals we assess to the Inventory. This will usually be chemicals categorised in the Assessed introduction category.

If your chemical can be introduced in another category (Exempted or Reported) but you want it listed, you'll be able to ask us to assess it.

We'll continue to protect confidential business information in the way we list some chemicals. This means we can't publish certain information about the chemical and its terms of introduction. If you can’t find your chemical or its terms on the Inventory you will have to contact us to check if it is one of these confidential listings.

How will my confidential business information be treated in the new scheme? Are there changes?

You will still be able to apply for protection of your confidential business information (CBI) under the new scheme. There are some differences from the current scheme, including when you can apply for CBI and what protection you specifically will be applying for.

We also have transitional arrangements in place for CBI related to chemicals assessed under NICNAS.

Whilst the administrative processes differ for chemicals assessed under NICNAS and AICIS, the results are the same in that if we approve an application for protection of CBI, certain information about the chemical introduction will be protected and not be publicly available.

We will still need to assess applications for protection of CBI and apply a statutory test. As now, this test will weigh up the commercial impact of publishing the information against the public interest in the information.

If we decline an application, you’ll still be able to ask for an external review by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Periodic reviews of CBI status will still apply (after 5 years).

If your introduction has protection of CBI at the time we change over to the new scheme on 1 July 2020

You’ll keep this protection. The information will not be published.

If we assessed your chemical under NICNAS and it is due for listing on the Inventory after 1 July 2020

You’ll be given the opportunity to apply for protection of your CBI after your assessment certificate/non-listing period expires. We’ll contact you about this.

How will the new scheme balance business confidentiality but still provide transparent information to the public?

One aim of the new scheme is to provide more meaningful and accessible information about a chemical to anyone who is interested. We’ve revised how we’ll present our information to the public on the website. From 1 July 2020, we’ll provide summary information about our assessments referred to as Assessment or Evaluation Statements. These statements will be linked to the Inventory listing and include information about the risks to health and the environment and any risk management measures and conditions we recommend.

The statements and Inventory listing will contain the name of the chemical, unless it has been granted protection as confidential business information. In these cases the name of the chemical will be replaced by a masked version of the chemical name – known as an AICIS Approved Chemical Name – AACN. An AACN provides protection by masking certain parts of the chemical name but still provides transparency to the public regarding the type of chemical being introduced.

There will no longer be a confidential Inventory, but if we grant protection of CBI for an introducer, information on an Inventory listing will be masked or more general in nature.

Read more about the aims of the new scheme and its operation under the Industrial Chemicals Act 2019

Read key information about the new scheme including why the scheme is changing

Last update 12 December 2019