Mutual Recognition FAQs


Frequently asked questions on the mutual recognition of occupations.

Table of contents

What is mutual recognition of occupations?

Mutual recognition is the principle that a person who is registered in one state or territory for an occupation is entitled to a registration in a second state for an equivalent occupation, after they have notified the second states local registration authority.

For example, a person who has an electrician’s license in NSW and wishes to work in South Australia will need to lodge an application with the relevant South Australian registration authority to have a South Australian license issued. The South Australian local registration authority will consider the NSW license and assess whether the person is eligible for an equivalent South Australian electrician license.

The operation of mutual recognition is supported by the Mutual Recognition Act 1992. This is an overarching Commonwealth piece of legislation which helps all states and territories act in the same way. Each state and territory also has its own mutual recognition legislation to support mutual recognition. Similar arrangements also exist between Australia and New Zealand through the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act 1997 (TTMRA).

What is an occupation under mutual recognition?

Under the Mutual Recognition Act 1992, an occupation is defined as an occupation, trade, profession or calling of any kind that may be carried on only by registered persons, where registration is wholly or partly dependent on the attainment or possession of some qualification (for example training, education, examination, experience, character of being fit or proper), and includes a specialisation in any of the above in which registration may be granted.

What does a registration cover?

Under the Mutual Recognition Act 1992, a registration includes the licensing, approval, administration, certification (including by way of practising certificates), or any other form of authorisation, of a person required by or under legislation for carrying out an occupation.

What does the registration authority consider in issuing an equivalent occupation registration?

The registration authority will consider if the registration for the occupation in the first state, and the activities it covers, is equivalent to the occupation where a second registration is being sought. The authority does not assess the ability of the person who holds the registration to undertake the occupation. The authority will only grant the new registration if it deems the registration in the first state is equivalent to the occupation in the second state. In some cases, additional conditions may be imposed to the second registration.

How do I apply for recognition of my existing registration in a second state or territory?

To apply for mutual recognition, you must contact the relevant registration authority in the state or territory (or New Zealand) where you wish to work. The relevant registration authority will be able to provide you with the details of the application process. If you do not know who the relevant registration authority is, contact the state or territory government where you are seeking recognition.

While each state or territory may have a different process or set of forms, they all require similar basic information to be provided. This includes the types of registration you hold, or have held, any disciplinary proceedings and giving consent for information to be exchanged between states.

How long does it take to receive a registration?

A general guide is approximately one month, but this will depend on local resources and the complexity of the registration that is being sought. The relevant registration authority should be able to assist you with further information.

What is my equivalent license in another state or territory?

Applications for mutual recognition are assessed on a case-by-case basis by local registration authorities. It is at their discretion to determine what state or territory (or New Zealand) registrations are equivalent to their own. As registrations for the same occupation can vary. It is recommended that you contact the relevant local registration authority for your occupation to discuss what registration you may be able to apply for.

State and territory ministers have also agreed to several mutual recognition declarations that specify occupations of equivalence. These declarations do not cover all occupations or registrations. Further information on the declarations is provided at the end of these FAQs.

Can I apply for mutual recognition if my registration has expired, or has been cancelled or suspended?

No. To apply for mutual recognition, you must have a valid registration in at least one state or territory (or New Zealand).

Can I apply for mutual recognition if a disciplinary condition has been applied to my registration?

Yes, however it is essential that in your application you note any conditions and/or restrictions currently in place on your registration. This could include suspensions, preliminary investigations, or cancellations. Failure to not declare any disciplinary condition may result in your application being discarded and the registration being refused.

It is likely that a registration gained through mutual recognition will be affected by the same conditions applied to your first registration.

I applied for mutual recognition and was rejected – why is that?

For any specific questions about your application for mutual recognition, you will need to contact the registration authority where your application was made.

There are a number of elements a local registration authority will consider when looking at an application. This will include whether all the material required has been provided, if any information provided is false or misleading, and if the occupation for which you are applying for a registration is equivalent to the registration for the occupation that you already hold. The registration authority may also take into consideration local requirements that apply to all people applying for the same occupation registration.

Can I appeal a decision made by a registration authority?

If the local registration authority makes a decision to refuse an application for mutual recognition of a registration, or you are not satisfied by the conditions under which the equivalence is granted, you may seek a review of that decision by applying to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). Contact details for the AAT and information about the review process is available on the AAT's website.

What do I do if I gained my qualification and/or skills in a country outside Australia, and would like to work in Australia?

Before obtaining a registration in Australia, it may be necessary to have your skills assessed and recognised.

If you wish to obtain a registration for a trade occupation, you will need to have your skills assessed by Trades Recognition Australia (TRA). Further information is available from the TRA website. The website also provides helpful information about the pathway to registrations in Australia.For other registered occupations, an assessment is done through the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) process. RPL is performed by Australian Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) and can lead to the award of an Australian qualification. You can find out which RTO is registered to provide a RPL process for your occupation on the My Skills website.

What are mutual recognition declarations?

A declaration is an agreement between ministers from two or more Australian states or territories, identifying certain occupations and their registrations as equivalent. These declarations provide local registration authorities with a list of registrations that have already been agreed as equivalent.

Registrations not included in the declarations are applicable for mutual recognition and will be assessed on a case-by-case basis by the relevant registration authority. It should be noted that not all occupations are registered in all states and territories.

There are no declarations for occupations between Australia and New Zealand.

A full list of the current declarations are below: