Licence to purchase chemicals

Licence to purchase chemicals: Hi - I've had a few Year 11 students (Occ Health & Safety topic) ask about licences for chemicals held in schools, specifically the Science Dept.  I had a vague notion the WA Catholic Education Office or WA Education Department owned an umbrella type licence for schools, however I wasn't sure.  I know we need specific licences or special requests for certain chemicals but am not sure for general chemicals.   Can you clear this question for me and the students?

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Publication Date: 24 June 2015
Asked By: Anonymous
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Licence to purchase chemicals

General chemicals do not require a licence to be held in schools. However, as you have mentioned, there are certain chemicals that have regulations regarding their purchase, use and storage

  • Chemicals which have the potential to be used for illegal purposes, such as the manufacture of drugs or explosives.
  • Chemicals which are classified as a poison

These chemicals should be kept to minimum quantities and should be stored securely in order to prevent unauthorized access.

Science ASSIST strongly recommends that all chemicals are securely stored. An information sheet dedicated to security of the science area is currently being written and will be uploaded soon.

Update: The Assist Information Sheet mentioned above is now available—AIS: School science area security

Regarding licences for purchase of certain chemicals, schools would need to approach their school governing body to determine if relevant licences or permits have been obtained prior to ordering chemicals.

Chemicals of Security Concern

These chemicals should be stored securely to prevent them from being used for illegal purposes, such as the manufacture of drugs or explosives. For many of these chemicals, a permit or end-user declaration (EUD) may be required before purchasing, according to the legislation for your jurisdiction (for example, ammonium nitrate). Further details about these chemicals can be found here:


Some chemicals that are used in schools are classified as poisons and listed in the Poisons Standard in Schedules based on their level of toxicity and their use. Poisons that are commonly used in schools are classified as a Schedule 5 (Caution), Schedule 6 (Poison) and Schedule 7 (Dangerous poison). Further details of the classification of medicines and poisons into schedules can be found in The Poisons Standard also known as The Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Medicines and Poisons (SUSMP). See

The regulation of scheduled poisons is managed by the Health Department in each state and territory of Australia.

For example, in WA: There is a difference between a permit and a licence. A permit enables the purchase of a poison, but a licence is required to sell a poison.

Advice on the interpretation of The Poisons Schedule and/or the legal requirements in a particular State or Territory may be obtained from the following websites.


'Chemical Security' Australian Government, Australian National Security website. (accessed June 2015)

'Code of Practice for supply diversion into illicit drug manufacture' (2008). Plastics and Chemical Industries Association website.

'Description of the poison schedule' WA Government Department of Health website (accessed June 2015)

Pharmaceutical Services Unit 2013,Guide to the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Legislation for Poisons Licence Holders NSW Government Department of health website (accessed June 2015)

'The Poisons Standard 2015' (5 February 2015), Australian Government, Comlaw website

'The Poisons Standard (the SUSMP)' (1 June 2015). Australian Department of Health, Therapeutic Goods Administration website

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