Skip to main content

Do universities and not-for-profit organisations need to register?

If you are a university or not-for-profit organisation introducing industrial chemicals in Australia, you may need to register with us.

Who should read this?

This content is for universities, colleges, tertiary and research institutes, charities and not-for-profit organisations that import or manufacture industrial chemicals (and products designed to release industrial chemicals) and are working out if they need to register with us. This includes organisations that:

  • buy industrial chemicals from overseas for teaching or research – even if another university already imports the same or similar chemicals from overseas
  • manufacture industrial chemicals in a lab or classroom for teaching or research – even if another university manufactures the same or similar chemicals
  • import or manufacture a low volume of chemicals – there is no threshold limit on volume
  • import or manufacture industrial chemicals solely for a not-for-profit purpose
  • import or manufacture industrial chemicals solely for a charitable purpose

Do you need to register?

The process of working out if you need to register is the same as for any other business.

Do you introduce industrial chemicals?

Start by working out if you import or manufacture industrial chemicals (we call this ‘introducing’ industrial chemicals). 

It’s important to note that some chemical introductions don’t count as importing or manufacturing. For example: 

If you’re unsure, you can also use our decision tool – do I need to register with AICIS?


Use our glossary if you need to check on any terminology

Is it for a commercial purpose?

Next, you’ll need to determine if the industrial chemicals you introduce are for a commercial purpose. This includes chemicals that are introduced for the purpose of:

  • making a profit
  • promoting a business
  • carrying on a business or an enterprise  
  • making products that you hand out for free to market your business
  • making products that you give away to another business (this is still considered to be a business enterprise)

If the answer is yes – my organisation introduces industrial chemicals for a commercial purpose, then you must register with us.

However, if you are a university, college, tertiary and research institute, charity, or not-for-profit organisation, then you only need to register under ‘Level 1’ (the lowest level) and pay the registration fee (the registration charge does not apply). This is only to let us know that you’re introducing chemicals into Australia.

If the answer is no – my organisation does not introduce chemicals for a commercial purpose, then you do not need to register with us.

Still unsure? The Australian Taxation Office has more information that will help you work out whether you are carrying on a business.

Not-for-profit organisations and charities must have an ABN and be registered with the Australian Business Register. This will help us to identify you and prove the business belongs to this category.

Create an AICIS business account and register online

You must register your business with us before you start importing or manufacturing. To do this, you first need to sign up to AICIS Business Services then register by completing an online form and paying a fee.

Most universities, colleges, tertiary and research institutes, charities and not-for-profit organisations will register under ‘Level 1’ (the lowest registration level).

Registration lasts for one year from 1 September to 31 August. If you continue to introduce industrial chemicals in Australia, you must renew your registration with us each year.

You register your business with us, not your products or chemicals

How to register

  1. Go to AICIS Business Services and click ‘Sign up’ to create an account. Read the disclaimer then select the check box to confirm you have read and understood the information provided. Click ‘Next’.
  2. Select 'Yes' for the question 'Do you have an active ABN?'. Enter your ABN and click ‘Get ABR’ details to confirm your ABN. Enter the legal name of your business that is connected to the ABN. Select 'Introducer' under 'Type' and select ‘not for profit’ under 'Industry code'. Click Next.
  3. Complete the remaining form and click on 'Submit'. You will receive an email containing your unique AICIS Business Services ID number beginning with “NIC” and instructions about how to set your password. Click on the link in the email. You will be directed to our password reset page. Enter your username and click ‘Reset password’.
  4. You will see a message confirming that your password has been created. Log in to AICIS Business Services and click on the ‘Registration’ tab, then click on ‘Register now’.
  5. Enter the value of the industrial chemicals imported and/or manufactured during the previous financial year (1 July – 30 June). Confirm your information is true and correct, then click on ‘Submit’. If you are registering for the first time and you did not introduce industrial chemicals in the previous financial year, enter a value of $0 AUD.
  6. Click on the ‘Payments’ tab. If you want to pay your registration fee by credit card, use the ‘Pay’ button. If you want to download your invoice and get the details for other forms of payment, use the ‘Download’ button.
  7. Once we process your application, you’ll receive an email and will be able to download your registration certificate from the portal. We'll also publish your business name and registration number on our registered businesses page. Your registration is valid until 31 August each year.

After you register

Categorise your chemical introductions

After you register, you’ll need to categorise each chemical that you want to introduce into one of 5 introduction categories:

  • Listed
  • Exempted
  • Reported
  • Assessed
  • Commercial evaluation

Start by checking whether your chemical importation or manufacture (introduction) can be categorised as ‘listed’. To do this, search the Australian Inventory of Industrial Chemicals (the Inventory) by entering the CAS number or CAS name for each industrial chemical you want to introduce into the search bar. You can also search by keyword.

If your chemical is not listed on the Inventory, then you would need to categorise it as either exempted, reported, assessed or a commercial evaluation. For details, see our guide to categorising your chemical importation and manufacture.

If you’re introducing chemicals solely for research purposes, see our extra resources to help categorise chemicals introduced for research and development.

Keep records about your chemical introductions

You must keep records about your introductions. There are different record keeping obligations for each introduction category. For details, check our page on reporting and record-keeping obligations to make sure you have all the information you need to ensure your chemical introductions are authorised.

Report information about your chemical introductions

There are different reporting obligations for each introduction category. You must check these and make sure that you can meet them.

All introducers, regardless of the introduction category, will need to submit an annual declaration. This is a declaration you make about the industrial chemicals you imported or manufactured in the previous registration year and confirms that your introductions were authorised under our laws. You can only submit your annual declaration after the registration year has ended (after 31 August) – not during the registration year. The deadline for submitting your annual declaration is 30 November each year.

If you import or manufacture certain types of chemicals that are authorised as exempted introductions, you will need to submit a once-off post-introduction declaration after you introduce the chemicals.

If you import or manufacture chemicals that are authorised as reported introductions, you will need to submit a pre-introduction report. This is a once-off mandatory report that you submit before you introduce the chemicals.


ACME Not-For-Profit Pty Ltd would like to import ballpoint pens directly from an overseas supplier to sell at charity events, then donate the profits to medical research. ACME works out that ballpoint pens are regulated as industrial chemicals in Australia (because they are designed to intentionally release industrial chemicals from the ink). Although ACME intends to donate the profits from selling the pens, it has a registered business name and is ‘carrying on a business or an enterprise’.

ACME Not-For-Profit Pty Ltd signs up for an account with AICIS Business Services, registers the business and pays the ‘Level 1’ registration fee (the lowest level). ACME then obtains the CAS numbers for the chemicals in the ink and use these to search the Inventory. All the ingredients are listed on the Inventory, so ACME is authorised to import the pens as a ‘listed introduction’.

ACME keeps records about the chemicals it imports and submits an annual declaration at the end of the AICIS registration year.

Frequently asked questions

Q. I belong to a special interest group for chemical safety, which has members from state universities and government agencies. Do we need to register with AICIS?

A. If the members of the special interest group imports or manufactures industrial chemicals for commercial purposes under their ABN, then the answer is yes – the individual members will need to register with AICIS.

However, if the interest group simply shares ideas and resources about chemical safety, then the group does not need to register with us.

Q. I work in a research centre at an Australian university. We import some industrial chemicals for experimentation and manufacture other industrial chemicals for the purpose of research and development. We don’t sell the chemicals we create. Should the university register with AICIS?

A. Yes – you will need to register the university with us as you are importing and creating new chemicals as a result of the research – which meets our definition of ‘manufacture an industrial chemical’. You can register online at AICIS Business Services and pay the level 1 fee.

Last updated
Was this page helpful?
For broken links or technical issues, please provide as much detail as possible. Do not include your name, email address and other personal or commercially sensitive information.

Keep informed with updates