Frequently asked questions – licences and permits for medicines and poisons

What is the difference between a poisons licence and a permit?

A licence allows the holder to sell or supply by retail or wholesale those poisons listed in the licence.

A permit allows the holder to purchase those poisons listed in the permit for a specified use but not for resale.

What types of poisons licences are there?

The types of poisons licences available are as follows:

  • Manufacturer’s licence – this authorises the holder to procure, manufacture and supply by wholesale dealing specified poisons at or from specified premises.
  • Wholesaler’s licence – this authorises the holder to procure and supply by wholesale dealing specified poisons at or from specified premises.
  • Pharmacist’s licence – restricted to pharmacists registered in Australia at or from a pharmacy registered under the Pharmacy Act 2010 (external site).  
  • Schedule 2 Retail licence – allows for the holder to procure and sell by retail poisons included in Schedule 2. These licences are made available to appropriate retail businesses located in regional areas at distances greater than 25 km from the nearest community pharmacy.
  • Schedule 7 Retail licence – allows the holder to sell by retail to authorised persons, agricultural and veterinary pesticides and herbicides included in Schedule 7.

What types of poisons permits are there?

Poisons permits are required by individuals to purchase poisons in Schedules 4, 7 and 8 and by businesses, companies and government departments for poisons included in Schedules 2, 3, 4, 7 and 8.

Permits may be for a single substance such as hydrofluoric acid in Schedule 7 for brick cleaning or they may be for a whole range of poisons such as for a hospital pharmacy. The table below may help to explain.

Who needs a poisons licence or permit?

Generally poisons licences and permits are required by those persons or entities to sell or purchase scheduled poisons. The table below shows what is required for each poisons schedule.

Table 1: Table outlining which licences and permits are required to sell or buy different poisons schedules.

Schedule

Licence required to sell by retail 

Licence required to sell by wholesale

Permit required to sell by retail 

Permit required to purchase for businesses, companies or government departments

2 Yes Yes No Yes
3 Yes Yes No Yes
4 Yes Yes Yes Yes
5 No No No No
6 No Yes No No
7 Yes Yes Yes Yes
8 Yes Yes Yes Yes
9 Prohibited Prohibited Prohibited Prohibited

Any adult person may purchase medicines in Schedule 2 or Schedule 3 over the counter for personal use.

Where medicines in Schedule 2 or Schedule 3 are required for the treatment of a person as yet unidentified (such as employees of a business/department for the provision of a first aid box) a poisons permit to purchase these scheduled medicines is required by the business/company/department.

What qualifications or experience do I need for a permit or licence?

The Poisons Act 1964 (external site) specifies that the holder of a licence or permit must be a fit and proper person.

Generally, it is considered that this requires a tertiary qualification relevant to the poisons listed on the licence or permit or has 5 years' experience in the manufacture, handling or selling of poisons.

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Produced by

Pharmaceutical Services Branch