What is mutual recognition?
In Australia, each state and territory administers its own occupational licences. Mutual recognition of occupations allows people licenced or registered in one part of Australia or in New Zealand, to seek licencing or registration for an equivalent occupation in any other part of Australia or New Zealand. Mutual recognition allows people to use their skills across Australia and New Zealand with minimum regulatory burden and enhanced labour mobility.
It is important to note that not all occupations are licenced or registered in all states and territories.
How does mutual recognition of occupations work?
Mutual recognition works when a person who holds a licence for their occupation in one state or territory, applies for a licence for the same occupation in a second state or territory. Individuals are required to lodge an application with the local registration authority (authority) and pay any associated fees.
The authority will consider if the original licence for the occupation, and the activities it covers, is equivalent to the occupation for which the new licence is being requested. The authority does not assess the ability of the person who holds the licence. The authority will only grant the new licence if both are assessed as equivalent to the occupation for which it is being applied for. They may also choose to impose conditions on the new licence.
Is there legislation to support mutual recognition?
Mutual recognition is supported by the Mutual Recognition Act 1992 (MRA). This is an overarching Commonwealth piece of legislation which helps all states and territories act in the same way. Any decisions made about a license under mutual recognition will use this legislation. However, because occupational licencing is a state and territory responsibility, each has also put in place their own legislation to support mutual recognition. For the arrangement between Australia and New Zealand, the supporting legislation is the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act 1997 (TTMRA).
How do I apply for recognition of my licence in a second state or territory?
To apply for mutual recognition, you must contact the relevant licensing authority in the state or territory where you wish to work. They will be able to provide you with the details of the application process. If you do not know who the relevant authority is, contact the state or territory government where you are seeking recognition.
While each state or territory may have a different process or set of forms, they will all require similar basic information to be provided. This includes the types of licences you hold, or have held, any disciplinary proceedings and giving consent for information to be exchanged between states.
How long does it take to get a licence under mutual recognition?
You will need to talk to the relevant licensing authority in the state or territory where you wish to work for specific information. A general guide would be approximately one month but this will depend on local resources and the complexity of the licence being applied for.
What is my equivalent licence in another state or territory?
It is recommended that you contact the local registration authority for your occupation to discuss what licences you may be able to apply for.
Applications for mutual recognition are assessed on a case-by-case basis by local registration authorities. It is at their discretion to determine what interstate/New Zealand licences are equivalent to their own.
There are also ministerial declarations in place across states and territories. These declarations set out what licenses are already agreed as being equivalent between states and territories. Declarations do not cover all occupations or licences. Further information on declarations is provided at the end of the FAQs.
Can I apply for mutual recognition if my licence is expired, cancelled or suspended?
No. To apply for mutual recognition, your licence must be valid in at least one jurisdiction.
Can I apply for mutual recognition if a disciplinary condition has been applied to my licence?
Yes. While you are able to lodge an application for mutual recognition in the jurisdiction you seek a licence, it is essential that in your application you note any conditions and/or restrictions currently in place on your licence. This could include suspensions, preliminary investigations, or cancellations. Note that failure to do so may result in your application being discarded and licence being refused.
It is likely that a licence gained through mutual recognition will be affected by the same conditions applied to your first.
I applied for mutual recognition and was rejected – why is that?
For any specific questions about your application for mutual recognition, you will need to contact the local registration authority where your claim was made.
There are a number of elements a local registration authority will consider when looking at an application. This will include whether all the material required has been provided; if any information provided is false or misleading; and if the occupation you are applying for a license in is equivalent to the occupation you already hold a licence in. They may also take into account local requirements that apply to all people applying for the occupational licencing.
Can I appeal a decision made by a licensing authority?
If the local registration authority makes a decision to refuse an application for mutual recognition of a licence or registration, or you are not satisfied by the conditions under which the equivalence licence is granted, you may seek a review of that decision by applying to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). Contact details for the AAT, and information about the review process, is available on the AAT's website.
What do I do if I gained my qualification and/or skills in a country outside Australia, and would like to obtain a licence in Australia?
Before obtaining a licence in Australia, it may be necessary to have your skills assessed and recognised.
If you wish to obtain a licence as an air-conditioning and refrigeration mechanic, electrician or plumber, you will need to have your skills assessed by Trades Recognition Australia (TRA). Further information is available from the TRA website. The website also provides helpful information about the pathway to licensing in Australia.
For other licenced occupations, an assessment is done through the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) process. RPL is performed by Australian registered training organisations (RTOs) and can lead to the award of an Australian qualification. You can find out which RTO is registered to provide a RPL process for your occupation on the My Skills website.
It is recommended that you contact the licensing authority within the state you are seeking a licence as soon as possible, to determine their specific requirements and their preferred RTOs.
A ministerial declaration is an agreement between ministers from two or more Australian states or territories, identifying certain occupations and their licences as equivalent. These declarations provide local registration authorities with a list of licences that have already been agreed as equivalent.
Licences and registrations not included in ministerial declarations are applicable for mutual recognition and will be assessed on a case-by-case basis by the relevant registration authority. It should be noted that not all occupations are licenced in all jurisdictions.
Presently there are no ministerial declarations for occupations between Australia and New Zealand.
Current ministerial declarations can be found by visiting the Federal Register of Legislation website and searching for 'mutual recognition declaration'. Links to the current declarations have been provided below;
- Carpenters, Joiners, Bricklayers, Builders, Plumbing occupations, Automotive-gas Installers, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Mechanics, Electricians, Electrical Fitters, Cable Jointers, Lineworkers and Restricted Electrical Licences - Please note that the Builders' schedule has been updated and can be found here
- Electrical Contractors
- Driving Instructors, Drivers Transporting Dangerous Goods and Explosives, Passenger Vehicle Drivers, Pilot and Escort Vehicle Drivers, Property Agents, Valuers and Conveyancers
- Gaming, Shotfirers, Pyrotechnicians, Pest and Weed Controllers and Building related occupations
- Motor Vehicle Repairers
- Restricted First Class Mine Manager's and Limited Mine Manager's - Ministerial Declaration between Queensland and South Australia only
- First Class Mine Manager's [restricted to coal mines], First Class Mine Manager's, First-class Underground Mine-manager's, First-class Mine Manager's [metalliferous mines], First-class Mine Manager's [underground metalliferous mines], and Limited Mine Manager's [open-cut coal mines] - Ministerial Declaration between Queensland and South Australia only
- First Class Mine Manager's [restricted to coal mines], First Class Mine Manager's, First Class Underground Mine Manager's, Above Ground Mine Manager's [metalliferous mines], Below Ground Mine Manager's [underground metalliferous mines], and Open Cut Mine Manager's [open cut coal mines] - Ministerial Declaration between New South Wales and South Australia only
- First Class Coal Mine Manager's, and Open Cut Mine Manager's [open cut coal mines] - Ministerial Declaration between New South Wales and Western Australia only