Excise guidelines for the fuel industry
This document has changed over time. View its history.
02 LICENSING: Applications
This chapter deals with:
- why there is a licensing regime
- what a licence is
- different licence types
- what records need to be kept
- responsibilities of a licence holder
- how long a licence is valid for
- whether licences are transferable
- disclosure of your licensing information
- how to register for excise
- how to apply for a licence
- how to change your licence details, and
- penalties that can apply to offences in relation to licences.
The excise duty attached to excisable fuel products forms a significant component of the overall value of the goods. A licensing regime reduces the risk that the correct amount of duty will not be paid.
A licence is an approval or authorisation to enable you to undertake activities as specified in the licence. If you undertake these activities without a licence or contravene your licence you are committing an offence and may be prosecuted.
A licence is issued to a specific entity and specifies the site or sites  where the activities may be undertaken. This may require you to have more than one licence.
Licences can be issued to:
- partnerships and companies in their own right, and
- individuals and companies in their capacity as trustees.
There may be different licensing processes depending on the type of entity applying for the licence.
A licence is not transferable.
There are two licence types:
- Manufacturer, and
To manufacture excisable goods, the Excise Act 1901 (Excise Act) requires you to be a licensed manufacturer  and that the goods be manufactured at licensed premises in accordance with the conditions specified on your manufacturer licence. 
The term 'manufacture' is defined in section 4 of the Excise Act and includes all processes (that is, operations or actions) used in the manufacture of excisable goods. The definition in the Excise Act is an inclusive one, that is, it includes some processes that might otherwise not generally be considered as manufacture. However, the definition itself refers to the processes that are used in the manufacture of excisable goods It is, therefore, relevant to examine the ordinary meaning of the word and determine its appropriateness for the purposes of the Excise Act.
The courts have extensively examined the meaning of 'manufacture' in the context of legislation other than the Excise Act. Whilst it is not possible to directly adopt judicial interpretation of the word as it appears in other legislation, these cases do provide guidance.
In summary, the courts have given the word 'manufacture' the meaning of either producing a thing which is different from its inputs, or bringing a new article into existence by skill or knowledge. 
The courts considered processes that involved the application of knowledge, the application of skill, experience, services or labour which results in the conversion of materials into a saleable commodity may fall within the definition of 'manufacture'. The commodity must be different from the inputs which went into making it. In an excise context, the conversion may result in a change in physical and/or chemical properties of goods, for example, in colour, shape, density, viscosity, distillation temperature, composition, texture, aroma or taste.
For more information on the Commissioner's view on manufacture for the purposes of the Excise Act refer to ER 2012/1 : Excise the meaning of the expression 'manufactured or produced' for the purposes of the Excise Acts.
The Excise Act and/or Excise Tariff Act 1921 (Excise Tariff Act) specifically exclude certain activities from being excise manufacture. They also exempt certain goods from excise duty.
As a manufacturer licence is only required to manufacture excisable goods, you do not need a manufacturer licence in order to undertake activities specifically excluded from being excise manufacture, or in order to manufacture goods that are specifically exempt from excise duty.
However, it should be noted that just because duty may not ultimately be payable on some goods (because they have a rate of 'free' or are eligible for a full remission of duty), they are nevertheless excisable goods and a manufacturer licence is required in order to lawfully manufacture them.
Exemptions from excise duty
Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) are exempt from excise duty when the fuel is used at the premises specified in a manufacturer licence in the process of manufacturing:
- petroleum condensate or stabilised crude petroleum oil; or
- liquefied petroleum gas, liquefied natural gas or other hydrocarbons.
This is provided the manufacture of the goods is done in accordance with a manufacturer licence. 
Compressed natural gas (CNG) is exempt from excise duty if compressed for use other than as a fuel in a motor vehicle. There are some instances when CNG is compressed for use in a motor vehicle and is also exempt, specifically where CNG is:
- compressed other than in the course of carrying on an enterprise or
- compressed at residential premises in equipment that is not capable of compressing more than 10 kilograms per hour or an amount per hour specified in the regulations, and provided the CNG is not sold or otherwise supplied in the course of carrying on an enterprise.
CNG is also exempt if it is compressed for use in forklifts or motor vehicles of a kind prescribed in the regulations. 
Certain liquid fuels are also exempt from excise duty when used in refining of petroleum condensate or stabilised crude petroleum oil. This exemption applies as these goods are not classified to item 10 of the Schedule to the Excise Tariff Act Schedule). However, fuel for use in an internal combustion engine within a refinery is not exempt.
The blending of fuel is manufacture for the purposes of the Excise Act if the blending is of one or more of the following (with or without other substances):
Petroleum condensate or stabilised crude petroleum oil;
Topped crude petroleum oil;
Refined or semi-refined liquid petroleum products derived from petroleum;
Liquid hydrocarbon products derived through recycling manufacturing or any other process;
Denatured ethanol for use as fuel in an internal combustion engine;
However certain blending of those products is excluded from being manufacture  . This is where:
- the blending is of goods that have all had duty (customs or excise) paid at the same rate;  or
- the product is covered by a determination made under subsection 95-5(1)  of the Fuel Tax Act 2006 (Fuel Tax Act)  ;
- the product is covered by a determination under 77H(4) of the Excise Act; 
- blends of one type of gaseous fuel where excise or customs duty has been paid on all fuel components of the blend at different rates and no remission has applied to any of the fuel.
Despite the exclusions in 1 & 2 above these do not apply where any of the goods being blended are denatured ethanol for use as fuel in an internal combustion engine or biodiesel.
For more information on fuel blending refer to Chapter 12 - Fuel Blending.
We consider that these common activities in relation to fuel are manufacture:
- crude oil and condensate production
- petroleum refining
- certain blending 
- recycling 
- biodiesel manufacture
- fuel ethanol manufacture
- production of LPG, LNG
- production of CNG for transport use
Excise manufacturer licences specify the manufacturing activity or activities permitted. For example, your licence may show approved activities such as:
- oil refining
- biodiesel manufacture, etc.
You cannot commence to manufacture excisable fuel products without a licence. This means that you cannot test your manufacturing equipment or produce samples to market to potential buyers if you do not hold a licence.
Imported fuel products are subject to customs duty at a rate that is equivalent to the duty on excisable fuel products. If you intend to use imported fuel products in the manufacture of excisable products you will not need to pay the customs duty if you follow the provisions in the Customs Act. If you have any questions regarding this you should contact the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (Australian Customs).
However in general, the provisions provide that if your premises are specified in an excise manufacturer licence and also in a Customs warehouse licence you can enter the imported fuel products for warehousing and then use the imported fuel products to manufacture excisable goods. The liability to pay the customs duty on the imported fuel products is extinguished (except for any ad valorem duty that is payable) upon the manufacture of excisable goods.  You will then be liable to pay excise duty on the excisable fuel products.
Michaels Biofuels imports 10,000 litres of biodiesel which it intends to blend with diesel obtained underbond (duty not paid) from a local refiner to produce a B20 blend to be sold into the Australian marketplace.
Michaels Biofuels has a customs warehouse licence for the facility where the biodiesel will be stored. Michaels Biofuels also has an excise manufacturer licence for the same facility.
The biodiesel is entered for warehousing with Customs at the time it is imported using a warehouse declaration entry form.
Michaels Biofuels blends the 10,000 litres of biodiesel with 40,000 litres of locally manufactured diesel and reports the 10,000 litres of biodiesel used in the blend to Customs.
Michaels Biofuels delivers the 50,000 litres of B20 blend into the Australian domestic market in accordance with their periodic settlement permission and pays the excise duty of 50,000 x $0.389 = $19,450.00.
You can only manufacture goods at the premises specified on your licence.  We may also give you written directions about what parts of your factory any manufacturing process can be undertaken and where inputs used in manufacture, and excisable fuel products, respectively are to be kept.  Under an excise manufacturing licence you are also permitted to store the excisable you manufacture or like goods manufactured by another person at the premises specified in the licence.
If you have a manufacturer licence and wish to store your excisable fuel products underbond at a place that is not specified in your licence you will require a separate storage licence for that place. As fuel blending is considered to be manufacture for excise purposes, storage licences for fuel generally only relate to packaged goods.
If you are in the business of wholesaling and distribution you may wish to store underbond excisable fuel products (whether owned by you or someone else). In either case you would require a storage licence.
Even if you are not the owner of the excisable fuel products, you are still responsible for the security of the goods and may be liable to pay an amount equivalent to the duty if the excisable goods are not kept safely or are not satisfactorily accounted for.
A storage licence will specify the type of excisable fuel products and the location. It will also specify the activities, if any, you can undertake in relation to those goods, and whose excisable goods you can store,  for example:
- goods you own
- goods owned by certain people
- storage of underbond product, and
- packaging (in bottles, tins, drums).
If you hold a valid manufacturer licence, you do not need a separate storage licence to store goods that you manufacture at those premises. The storage of your manufactured goods, whilst not manufacture in itself, is a normal part of the chain of events in manufacturing goods. This includes storing fuel manufactured by someone else but only if your license allows you to manufacture fuel.
You are responsible for the secure storage of all excisable fuel products held on your premises or under your control and must keep or store excisable fuel products only at premises that are specified in your licence. 
You may be responsible for paying an amount equal to the excise duty that would have been payable on any stolen, missing or unaccounted for excisable fuel products. 
Where, after we take stock of excisable fuel products manufactured, and the materials you use in the manufacturing process, it appears to us that not all the duty that should have been paid has been paid, you must pay the difference between the amount paid and the amount that should have been paid. 
If you wish to destroy any excisable fuel products you must first obtain permission from us to do so.
You must not move underbond excisable fuel products, without approval from us. This includes moving excisable fuel products from your licensed premises to any other location or for export. 
For more information about obtaining permission to move excisable fuel products refer to Chapter 5 - Movement permissions.
You are also responsible for ensuring that you comply with the Excise Act and all conditions of your licence. 
You must keep, retain and produce records in accordance with a direction under section 50 of the Excise Act.
If you are a manufacturer or storage licence holder, you will also need to:
- ensure excisable fuel products are only delivered into home consumption with appropriate authority, such as in accordance with a periodic settlement permission or Delivery authority 
- pay the correct amount of excise duty if you are the owner or manufacturer and you deliver the goods into home consumption 
- account for excisable fuel products if requested
- provide all reasonable facilities to enable us to exercise our powers under the Excise Act,  and
- provide sufficient lights, correct weights and scales, and all labour necessary for
- weighing material received into your factory
- weighing all excisable goods manufactured in your factory, and
- taking stock of all material and excisable goods contained in your factory. 
For more information about duty liability and methods of payment refer to Chapter 6 - Payment of duty .
We have the right to enter your licensed premises at any time and can examine and take account of all the goods at the premises.  Note: we will usually only seek to enter your premises during normal business hours.
We can stop any vehicle leaving your licensed premises and check that there is proper documentation for excisable fuel products leaving the premises. We can question the driver about any goods in the vehicle. We can direct that the vehicle be unloaded and goods taken to particular parts of the premises for further examination. We must not detain a vehicle for longer than is necessary to do the checking. 
We can stop and search any vehicle (not just vehicles leaving a licensed premises) without a warrant if we have reasonable grounds for believing that the vehicle contains excisable fuel products and that the vehicle has been used, is being used or will be used in the commission of an offence under the Excise Act (and certain offences in the Crimes Act 1914 (Crimes Act)  and Criminal Code  relating to accessory after the fact, attempt to commit an offence, aid and abet someone to commit an offence and conspiracy to commit an offence). 
We can open packages and examine, weigh, mark and seal any excisable fuel products that are subject to excise control and, if you are a manufacturer, lock up, seal, mark or fasten any plant in or on your factory. 
We can also:
- supervise the manufacture of excisable fuel products,  and
- take samples of materials, partly manufactured excisable fuel products and excisable fuel products subject to excise control, and fuel products that we have reasonable grounds for suspecting are excisable fuel products on which duty has not been paid. 
Unlike other taxation laws the Excise Act does not have a general record keeping provision. The Excise Act does provide that a licence holder shall:
(a) keep such records and furnish such returns as directed
(b) keep these records for the period directed, and
(c) on demand, produce those records to us. 
Any such direction will be in writing and included with your licence. We can amend this direction at any time and will provide written notification of this to you.
We can inspect and take copies of any records kept as directed.
If you cease to hold an excise licence you must still keep all records of your previously licensed activities. Records must be kept for the period of time as directed.
Your licence will state its expiry date. When first issued, the licence is valid until the next 30 September two years after the anniversary of the day it is granted. 
If we grant a licence on 15 September 2014, it will expire on 30 September 2016.
If we grant a licence on 15 October 2014, it will expire on 30 September 2017.
Upon renewal, a licence is valid for a further three years starting from the day after the date of expiry of the existing licence, that is, 1 October three years from the year the existing licence expires.
Generally you cannot transfer your licence to another individual, business entity or premises. The proposed new licence holder must apply for a new licence. You must also request cancellation of your current licence if you are no longer carrying out an excise activity. It is important that you advise us of any change in advance of it taking effect.
The exception to the above rule arises when a licence holder dies. If this is the case, the licence is taken to be transferred to the person's legal personal representative. This allows for the finalisation of the affairs and, unless cancelled earlier, the licence is taken to be automatically cancelled 3 months after the licence holder dies. 
For more information about cancelling licences refer to Chapter 4 - Licensing: Suspension & cancellation .
As well as the protection provided by the Privacy Act, the tax laws have secrecy provisions about using and disclosing taxpayer information. We can only look at, record, discuss or disclose information about you when it is a necessary part of our work, or where the law specifies that we may.
Subdivision 355-B of Schedule 1 to the Taxation Administration Act 1953 (Taxation Administration Act) allows us to record or disclose information about you in certain circumstances. For example, the Excise Act specifically allows us to disclose information about you to Australian Customs.
In relation to licensing information, the Taxation Administration Act specifically allows us to disclose information about:
- whether another person holds a current excise licence, and
- any conditions that apply to their licence.
Information may be disclosed by taxation officers in the performance of their duties and would cover disclosing information:
- to a person dealing or proposing to deal with another person in relation to goods subject to excise control, and
- provided we are satisfied that disclosure is necessary for the purposes of ensuring the dealing or proposed dealing is in accordance with excise law.
Raul is licensed under the Excise Act to manufacture biodiesel. Tim also has a licence to manufacture issued under the Excise Act to allow him to blend biodiesel with diesel to produce biodiesel blends. Tim wants to buy 10,000 litres of biodiesel underbond from Raul. Raul contacts us to check that Tim's license to manufacture is still current. We are permitted to divulge details of Tim's licence to Raul to allow Raul to fulfil his obligations under the Excise Act
You need to find additional storage space for your finished fuel products and, therefore, need to check that the entity who offers to warehouse your products has a licence to store excisable fuel products.
If we decide that the disclosure is necessary, we must provide the information in writing to the person who requires it. If the matter is urgent, we may advise by phone. However, we must later confirm the information by letter or fax.
A disclosure may be initiated by us or by you when you request information.
Anyone who receives such information should use it only for the purpose for which it was given. Any other use may be unlawful.
Note: The Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act) imposes certain obligations on you concerning the privacy of information that you have received about an individual. Further information can be obtained from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner .
Our decision in relation to the disclosure of protected information is not a reviewable decision. However you have the right to make a complaint to the Commonwealth Ombudsman about a range of administrative actions we take or the Australian Information Commissioner if you think we have breached the Privacy Act in dealing with your personal information.
For information about your review rights refer to Chapter 8 - Reviews and objections .
You must register for excise before you can be issued with a licence to store or manufacture excisable fuel products.
While it is not compulsory to provide an ABN or TFN for registration, it will help us to process your application.
If you need an ABN, phone 1300 657 162 for a registration pack. You can lodge your completed ABN registration form with your completed excise registration application.
To register for excise, complete an Application for excise registration (NAT 7103).
If you would like to apply for a licence, you should:
- contact us, and
- lodge an application form together with all the required supporting documents.
To contact us phone 1300 137 290 .
Our staff will:
- discuss your particular circumstances with you
- give you advice about the appropriate licence or licences
- explain how to apply
- explain your ongoing obligations as a licence holder, and
- provide you with a licence application form.
There is no charge or fee for an excise licence.
How do I lodge an application?
You need to complete the relevant form to apply for a manufacturer or storage licence. 
Before lodging your application form, make sure you have included the required supporting documents. Your application form contains information to help you work out which supporting documents you must provide. You may also need to complete other excise forms, depending upon your proposed activities.
Supporting documents include:
- an accurate plan of the premises that clearly indicates the area for manufacture or storage
- a Consent to obtain information - individual (NAT 7112) form, or
- a Consent to obtain information - company (NAT 7106) form
- a Consent to criminal history record check (NAT 16358), and
- an application for permission to move underbond goods.
For more information about movement permissions refer to Chapter 5 - Movement permissions .
You should contact our Licensing staff on 1300 137 290 for advice about the forms and supporting documents that you will need to lodge.
To lodge your completed application form and supporting documents:
- fax them to us on 1300 130 916 , or
- post them to
Excise Licensing Group
Australian Taxation Office
PO Box 3514
ALBURY NSW 2640
You must not manufacture or store excisable goods before your licence has been granted. 
We will ordinarily respond to written information requests within 28 days. If we cannot respond within 28 days, we will contact you within 14 days to obtain more information or negotiate an extended response date.
We can amend your licence for changes that do not involve a change of entity or physical location. This includes a change of:
- business name (that is your trading name)
- postal address, or
- street name or property address made by a relevant authority.
A change in composition of a partnership does not affect the continuity of that partnership. Any one or more of the partners may act on behalf of the partnership in notifying changes. 
You must advise us of any of these changes within 30 days. We will then provide you with an amended licence.
If you need more information on licensing matters contact us as follows:
- phone 1300 137 290
- fax 1300 130 916
- email us at ATO-EXC-Petroleum@ato.gov.au ,or
- write to us at
Australian Taxation Office
PO Box 3514
ALBURY NSW 2640
The following are the penalties that may apply after conviction for an offence.
If you manufacture excisable fuel products without a manufacturer licence, the penalty is a maximum of two years in prison or the greater of 500 penalty units and 5 times the amount of duty on the excisable fuel products. 
If you manufacture excisable fuel products contrary to the Excise Act or any conditions specified in your licence, the penalty is a maximum of two years in prison or 500 penalty units. 
If you manufacture excisable fuel products at premises that are not specified in your licence, the penalty is a maximum of two years in prison or the greater of 500 penalty units and 5 times the amount of duty on the excisable fuel products. 
Keep or store
If you possess or have custody or control of excisable fuel products without permission, the penalty is a maximum of two years in prison or the greater of 500 penalty units and 5 times the amount of duty on the excisable fuel products. 
False or misleading statements
If you make a false or misleading statement, or an omission from a statement in respect of duty payable on particular goods, to us, a penalty not exceeding the sum of 50 penalty units and twice the amount of duty payable on those goods. 
If you do not keep, retain and produce records in accordance with a direction under section 50 of the Excise Act, the penalty is a maximum of 30 penalty units.
If you do not comply with a direction in regard to what parts of the factory can be used for various matters, the penalty is a maximum of 10 penalty units. 
If you do not provide all reasonable facilities for enabling us to exercise our powers under the Excise Act, the penalty is a maximum of 10 penalty units. 
If you do not provide sufficient lights, correct weights and scales, and all labour necessary for weighing material received into, and all excisable fuel products manufactured in, your factory and for taking stock of all material and excisable fuel products contained in your factory, the maximum penalty is 10 penalty units. 
Marks and seals
If we mark or seal excisable fuel products or fasten, lock or seal any plant in your factory and you alter, open, break or erase the mark, seal, fastening or lock, the maximum penalty is 50 penalty units. 
Excisable fuel products
Excisable goods are goods on which excise duty is imposed. Excise duty is imposed on goods that are manufactured or produced in Australia and listed in the Schedule to the Excise Tariff Act.
As these guidelines deal with fuel products, we have used the term excisable fuel products.
Excisable fuel products include:
- renewable diesel
- crude petroleum oil
- heating oil
- fuel ethanol, and
- compressed natural gas (CNG)
- liquefied natural gas (LNG)
- liquefied petroleum gas (CNG).
Goods are subject to excise control from the point of manufacture until they have been delivered into the home consumption or for export.
Goods subject to excise control cannot be moved, altered or interfered with except as authorised by the Excise Act.
Home Consumption 
'Home consumption' is the term used in the Excise Act and this guide to describe when excisable fuel products are released into the Australian domestic market for consumption. The term used in the legislation is 'deliver for home consumption'.
Normally this will be by delivering the goods away from licensed premises but includes using those goods within the licensed premises (for example using fuel to run equipment in your licensed premises). It does not include goods delivered for export or the movement of goods underbond (see definition below) to another licensed site.
The term 'home consumption' is not defined in the Excise Act and there is no definitive case law that looks at the issue in question. However there are several cases where issues closely related to it are considered. 
The conclusion drawn from those cases is that 'home consumption' refers to the destination of goods as being within Australia as opposed to exporting them.
A penalty unit is specified in section 4AA of the Crimes Act and at the time of writing is $210.
Periodic settlement permission (PSP)
Permission granted by us for you to deliver excisable goods from a licensed place into home consumption prior to providing an excise return for the goods and prior to paying the duty. At the end of the period (usually 7 days) you need to give us an excise return specifying all of the excisable goods delivered for the period and you also need to pay the relevant duty.
Section 50 direction
This is a written instruction issued under section 50 of the Excise Act to a licensed manufacturer, or proprietor of licensed premises, to keep specified records, furnish specified returns, retain records for a specified period and produce those records on demand by us.
This is an expression not found in excise legislation but it is widely used to describe goods that are subject to excise control. Excisable goods that are subject to excise control are commonly referred to as 'underbond goods' or as being 'underbond'. This includes goods that have not yet been delivered into home consumption and goods moving between premises under a movement permission.
In this chapter we have referred to the following legislation:
item 1 to 4
11.1 - Attempt
11.2 - Complicity and common purpose
11.5 - Conspiracy
© Australian Taxation Office for the Commonwealth of Australia
You are free to copy, adapt, modify, transmit and distribute material on this website as you wish (but not in any way that suggests the ATO or the Commonwealth endorses you or any of your services or products).