Purchasing Ethanol in Australia
Some grades of Ethanol are restricted in Australia under the concessional spirits scheme. In order to purchase these chemicals, you are required to meet certain criteria which may require you to obtain a permit.
Why is Ethanol Restricted?
The reason ethanol is a restricted product is due to its alcohol nature. Ethanol (in a diluted form) is present in alcoholic drinks and for obvious reasons, can be a problem if obtained and used for human consumption. You will come across both undenatured and denatured ethanol and it is important you are well aware of the differences.
- Undenatured Ethanol – This type of ethanol needs to be restricted to entities that meet certain criteria (outlined in the next section) due to it being of pure nature with no additives or denaturants. This type of ethanol could be used for human ingestion hence the restriction.
- Denatured Ethanol – This type of ethanol has undergone a process to simply make it undrinkable and therefore, is not restricted. This denaturing process does not alter the ethanol molecule, instead, the ethanol gets mixed with poisonous chemicals so that it cannot be used for consumption.
The restriction on ethanol is different from the restriction on drug precursors. Drug precursors are chemicals that can be used to make illicit drugs and require an End User Declaration (EUD) to be completed prior to purchase and relevant checks performed by your state police force. Ethanol, on the other hand, has a different type of restriction to drug precursors which comes under the concessional spirits scheme. In order to purchase ethanol, you require a permit that is obtained from and managed by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
Who Can Purchase Ethanol?
Your supplier will require an ongoing permit to be able to sell ethanol and depending on the type of permit, it may last up to five years. Your supplier will have restrictions in place for supplying ethanol as per the ATO requirements.
In order for your supplier to supply ethanol to you, you must meet any of the below criteria:
- You (person or entity) hold current concessional spirits permit and the nominated supplier on that permit matches the actual supplier (you can specify up to 4 suppliers on your application). Note that your supplier cannot supply more than the quantity that is specified on your permit.
- You (person or entity) fall into one of the below categories of professionals and institutions:
- Health care practitioners (pharmacist, doctor, chiropractor, dentist, osteopath, physiotherapist, or registered nurse)
- Veterinary practitioners
- Medical, government, and educational institutions
I Need a Permit, How Do I Apply?
The ATO requires you to complete an application form to receive a permit to purchase concessional spirits. This application form requires you to fill out details of the applicant, details of the spirits required, and details of your licensed supplier(s). The form needs to be lodged with the ATO and they aim to process your application within 28 calendar days.
Once your application has been processed and approved, you will require providing your supplier with a copy of your permit before they can supply you with the spirits.
You can find more information including a link to download an application form here.