Ground applicators

If you provide services that use pesticides (other than fumigants) to control weeds or pests affecting plants or soil you are required to hold a ground applicator licence.

All pesticide licences issued by the EPA in NSW are placed on a public register.

If you are an individual undertaking any of the following activities (which are not defined as ‘prescribed work’) you are not required to hold a ground applicator licence but these activities may require training:

  • if you are performing the work as an employee of a local or State public authority on public land
  • for farmers or their employees using pesticides on their own land, or land belonging to a family member
  • in amenity horticulture (including ground and garden maintenance, golf course maintenance, landscaping, floriculture, arboriculture, operations of a nursery)
  • for bush care/bush regeneration (maintaining or restoring native plant communities)
  • for any spraying of plants that falls within the domestic like use exemption
  • if your pesticide use is only for the selling, testing, maintaining or disposing of equipment used in licenced work

For more details consult clause 6 of the Pesticides Regulation 2017.

Applicants for a Ground Applicator licence must have successfully completed the units of competency:

  • AHCCHM307 - Prepare and apply chemicals to control pest, weeds and diseases
  • AHCCHM304 - Transport and store chemicals

There is no requirement to refresh this training as long as your licence remains current.

Competencies that must be obtained for ground applicator work are listed in the current notice of approved units of competency (PDF 685), which was published in NSW Government Gazette No 592 on 23 December 2022. 

Applications for all pesticides licences may be submitted online using eConnect EPA.

To apply for a ground applicator licence, supply:

  • proof of identity and age (you must be 18 years old or older)
  • copies of the statement of attainment or qualifications from a registered training organisation as proof you have successfully completed the training
  • a passport-style photograph taken within 6 months before applying
  • the fee for an application made on or after 1 July 2022 is $425 for a 5 year licence. The fee is applicable to each licence type so if you are applying for other licence types as well you must indicate this on your application and you will be issued one card for multiple licence types.

Note that:

  • the fee can be paid by credit card or EFT
  • fees are subject to a Consumer Price Index increase each July
  • licences are awarded to an individual and cannot be awarded to a business or a business name
  • licences are valid for 5 years or for 1 year - 1-year licenses have a reduced fee.

If you have a current occupational interstate licence, permit or certificate of competency for ground applicator work, you may be entitled to work in NSW under the automatic mutual recognition (AMR) scheme. Find out more about AMR and if you are eligible.

If you are not eligible for AMR or do not want to rely on AMR, you can apply for a NSW ground applicator licence under the mutual recognition scheme using eConnect EPA, the EPA's online licensing portal.

You will have to provide:

  • proof of identity and age (you must be 18 years old or older)
  • a passport-style photograph taken within 6 months before applying
  • a copy of your interstate licence(s)
  • the licence application fee.

However, you do not need to show evidence of training, as it has been recognised as completed when you obtained your interstate registration.

The EPA, under the mutual recognition scheme, will recognise a current equivalent licence issued in another state or territory but needs to determine whether there are any problems with issuing a NSW licence and whether any special conditions may be required. 

Overseas qualifications are not automatically recognised or eligible for conversion to a NSW licence, as Australian licensing requirements fall under local legislation and national standards. To find out more:

  • phone the EPA’s Environment Line on 131 555 (NSW only) or (02) 9995 5000 outside NSW, or
  • email

You must apply for a new licence within 60 days of the expiry date. The renewal fee is $425 for applications made on or after 1 July 2022. The EPA will send current licence holders a reminder notice and a renewal application form in the months before the expiry date.

You can apply to renew your licence using eConnect EPA.

If your licence has been lost, damaged, destroyed or stolen, complete the licence replacement application form. The cost of replacing your licence is $26 for applications made on or after 1 July 2022. You can also use this form if your licence contains a printing error or was not received (there is no charge for this).

Are you a worker from interstate? From 1 December 2022, if you hold a valid and current ground applicator licence in another state or territory (besides Queensland), you may be entitled to work in NSW under automatic mutual recognition (AMR). If eligible for AMR, you may no longer need to apply for, or renew, a NSW ground applicator licence but will need to notify the EPA of your intention to work in NSW.

Find out more about automatic mutual recognition and if you are eligible.

Before applying a pesticide

  • think about any non-chemical ways you could use to control a pest – see non-chemical pest management strategies
  • choose the least persistent and least toxic chemical when you can
  • identify requirements for compulsory notification and record keeping.

Before you apply pesticides outdoors, consider the weather conditions and only spray if you can minimise the risk of spray drift and prevent people and animals from being harmed.

When applying a pesticide

  • minimise the number of articles that need to be washed such as measuring containers, funnels and stirrers
  • wear personal protective equipment as directed on the product label or required under occupational health and safety legislation
  • where appropriate, add rinsates to the tank of pesticide to be used
  • always read the approved product label and follow all label directions – in NSW it is illegal to not follow the label directions on a pesticide
  • under the Work Health & Safety Regulation 2011, obtain Safety Data Sheets (SDS) about the pesticides you use from the chemical’s suppliers, read and understand them, and follow their directions
  • only use pesticides registered or permitted by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA)
  • obtain an APVMA permit if you wish to use a pesticide in a way not covered by the label and strictly follow the permit’s directions
  • take all action to prevent injury to persons, damage to property or harm to non-target plants and animals through the use of a pesticide.

Before you decide that it is safe for people to re-enter a site where pesticides have been applied, make sure:

  • the area has been adequately ventilated
  • there is no vapour or smell present - remember that exposure to odour, as well as vapour, can affect people's health
  • check the label or SDS for instructions on re-entry periods and ventilation.

Always dispose of pesticide products safely and legally, and recycle them when you can.

Some pesticide labels and APVMA permits require you to notify residents, neighbours or other members of the public before or while applying the pesticide. You must follow these label instructions. Look out for particular notification requirements relating to:

  • signage
  • access and re-entry after pesticide application
  • odour and vapour
  • spraying within a certain distance of a property boundary or dwelling (buffer zones).

If you are working for a public authority in an outdoor public place you should check whether you need to provide notice in accordance with the authorities pesticide use notification plan.

Even if you are not required to notify neighbours about any pesticides you are about to use, this is good practice and can help to avoid complaints or disputes. In particular:

  • inform the managers of any nearby sensitive places such as hospitals, schools and childcare centres so they can take steps to make sure the area is avoided if necessary
  • advise parents and patients that a pesticide application is coming up.


Under Part 4 of the Pesticides Regulation 2017, you must make and keep a record of every pesticide application you make.

You must record:

  • who applied the pesticide, for example, if a contractor or employee applied the pesticide, the contractor or employee needs to record their name as well as the name, address and contact details of their employer
  • name, address and contact details of the owner or occupier of the land on which the pesticide was applied
  • the full product name of the pesticide
  • how, when (date and time – start/finish) and where it was applied
  • the order in which the pesticide was applied to each area of the land (such as paddocks or sheds)
  • what it was applied to and how much (including rate and quantity) was applied
  • a description of the equipment used to apply the pesticide
  • an estimate of the wind speed and direction if the pesticide was applied outdoors using spray equipment - the Bureau of Meteorology website has a Beaufort Scale that can be used to assist in recording wind speed for pesticide record keeping purposes

The record must be made within 48 hours of using the pesticide and kept for 3 years.

Another person can make the record for you but it is your responsibility to ensure it is accurate.


In NSW, the misuse of pesticides may be subject to:

  • large fines of up to $120,000 for an individual and $250,000 for a corporation
  • penalty notices for lesser offences of up to $500 for an individual and $1000 for a corporation

If any waterways are polluted, offences may be subject to prosecution, fines and penalty notices under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997.

Apply for a licence

To apply for a: