Commercial operator licence for contractors
A Commercial Operator Licence (COL) is required by people who use agricultural chemicals on another person's property, crop or commodity for a fee or reward (contractors).
The use of this licence includes all ground-based spraying, spreading or dispersing of agricultural chemicals. It excludes aerial spraying.
There is an exemption for specific types of pest controllers licensed by the Department of Health.
Certain types of interstate COLs from participating states and territories are now valid in Victoria. For more information visit the automatic mutual recognition and chemical use licensing page.
Types of COL endorsements
There are four types of COL endorsements, each with a different training requirement:
- agricultural chemicals (other than vermin destroyers/avicides, and fumigants)
- vermin (pest animal) destroyers and avicides
- copper chromium arsenic
A COL can have any one or all of the endorsements, provided the relevant training requirement has been completed.
Authorises the use of agricultural chemicals for agricultural or horticultural purposes, including:
- post-harvest treatment of produce
- the control of weeds, insects and diseases
- rodent (rat and mice) control.
A person who carries on a business that involves the use of agricultural chemicals (herbicide, insecticide or fungicide) only in a garden that's associated with residential premises and who has completed a recognised course in agvet chemical use is exempt from holding a COL.
A recognised course in agvet chemical use (or equivalent) that includes the units:
- AHCCHM307 — Prepare and apply chemicals to control pest, weeds and diseases (previously AHCCHM303)
- AHCCHM304 — Transport and store chemicals.
For example, AgVet Chemical User Course run by AusChem Victoria, ChemCert or various other courses by TAFE institutes and private providers.
Authorises the use of agricultural chemicals for vermin (pest animal) control in rural areas (fox, wild dog, rabbit, feral pig or bird control).
Note: People in the business of pest control for domestic and commercial premises require a Pest Control Licence issued by the Department of Health. For information, contact the Department of Health Pest Control Program on 1300 767 469.
- AHCCHM307 – Prepare and apply chemicals to control pest, weeds and diseases (previously AHCCHM303)
- AHCCHM304 – Transport and store chemicals
- AHCPMG309 – Apply pest animal control techniques.
Alternatively, a course in vermin control or pest animal management that includes the now superseded units:
Any person using products containing 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate) or PAPP (4-aminopropiophenone) under a COL must have successfully completed the 22516VIC Course in Minimising Risks in the Use of 1080 and PAPP Bait Products for Vertebrate Pest Control (or previous equivalents 22275VIC or 21835VIC).
Authorises the fumigation of produce or soil.
- A course in fumigation with methyl bromide, or
- Unit CPPUPM3011 – Manage organisms by applying fumigants to commodities and environments (previous equivalents CPPUPM3011 or CPPPMT3011A).
For example, Asset Maintenance training package – Melbourne Polytechnic Fumigation Course.
Authorises the treatment of timber with copper chromium arsenic (CCA) on behalf of others (timber that is owned by another person).
Note: CCA products are not sold by retailers and are not used by farmers or the general public. Only people working in timber treatment plants use CCA products.
Employees using CCA chemical products must complete the following unit and be listed on the CCA COL (or be working under direct and immediate supervision of a person listed on the CCA COL):
- FWPSAW3242 – Treat timber (previous equivalents FWPSAW3201, FPISAW3201A or FPISAW3201B).
To find out which organisations offer these training courses and where they are run, contact TAFE institutes, AusChem Victoria, private providers or industry organisations.
Apply for a COL
To apply for a COL:
- decide which COL endorsement type you need
- successfully complete the relevant training course or courses
- complete and submit a COL application form.
In your application, you must also provide information on any previous convictions under any of the following Acts:
- Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992
- Drugs Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981
- Dangerous Goods Act 1985
- Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004
- Environment Protection Act 2017
- Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008.
The COL application fee as at 1 July 2023 is $604.20 and the licence is valid for three years.
Chemical users must, within 48 hours of using a product, make specified records of use and keep these records for a minimum of two years.
- Application for a Commercial Operator Licence (WORD - 800.6 KB)
- Application for a Commercial Operator Licence – accessible (WORD - 802.6 KB)
- Application for a CCA COL (WORD - 795.0 KB)
- Application for a CCA COL – accessible (WORD - 794.8 KB)
See all related agricultural chemical use forms.