From NICNAS to AICIS – what you need to know

by | Jul 12, 2020 | Compliance/Legislation, Soap | 6 comments

As you may have heard, the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) was replaced by the Australian Industrial Chemicals Introduction Scheme (AICIS) on 1 July 2020.

If you’re not sure what it means for you, I don’t blame you. I’ve only just rustled up the willpower to look at what the key changes are (and I’m a compliance nerd!).

I’ve put together this brief article of FAQs to help you understand what the changes mean to you.

Why the change?

You might be wondering – “Why has the Government made such a change? Apart from trying to make my life more difficult?

Well, it was part of a reform process to improve Australia’s industrial chemical regulations, and followed a whole lot of industry consultation about the proposed changes.

One of the main reasons is that the regulator (now AICIS) wanted to take more of a risk-based approach to the introduction (i.e. importing or manufacturing) of new chemicals. Lower-risk chemicals will now go through a more streamlined introduction process. The regulator says this will be an incentive for businesses to introduce greener and safer industrial chemicals to replace more hazardous chemicals that already exist. And it’ll allow AICIS to spend more time focussing on higher-risk chemicals to help keep consumers and the environment safe.

The new legislation also brings into effect the recent ban on the use of new animal testing data for ingredients used in cosmetics, which is excellent news!

What are the key changes?

Apart from the name of the regulator changing from NICNAS to AICIS, here are some other key changes to be aware of:

  • Legislation – the Industrial Chemicals Act 2019 replaces the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act 1989.
  • Chemical Inventory – the Australian Inventory of Chemical Substances (AICS) has been replaced by the Australian Inventory of Industrial Chemicals (AIIC), generally referred to by the regulator as ‘the Inventory’.
  • Website – the NICNAS website has been archived and AICIS has a new website – https://industrialchemicals.gov.au.
  • Business Portal – the NICNAS Business Services Portal has been replaced by the AICIS Business Services Portal, with enhanced features, where you can register and renew your registration. If you’re already registered, your user login remains the same.
  • Registration costs – In terms of registration charges, there is a new 8-tier structure based on the value of the chemicals introduced (imported or manufactured) in the previous financial year. A fee still applies to all levels.
  • Process for new chemicals – there is a new introduction process for new industrial chemicals with 6 categories based on their risk level, from very low to high risk.
  • Animal testing data – data in support of an application for new industrial chemicals for cosmetics use only may not include animal testing data.

What does it mean for me?

If you’re in the cosmetics industry, but don’t:a) make soap via saponification, b) import finished cosmetic products, or c) import ingredients for use in cosmetic products, then you can stop reading here if you want, as the changes won’t affect you.

However, if you do any of the above in your business, here’s what it means for you.

Registration – if you were previously registered with NICNAS, your registration would have automatically transferred to AICIS on 1 July 2020. Your user registration ID is the same, and so is the annual registration period (ending 31 August).

Reporting – if you used to submit an annual report to NICNAS, you don’t need to complete one this year for AICIS – the first one will be due by 30 November 2021.

Keep reading for more changes based on your situation:

I am a soapmaker who makes soap via saponification
  • Good news for most soapers is that the annual cost of registration has decreased. If you made less than $50,000 worth of soap in the last financial year, you won’t need to pay a registration charge (see the AICIS website for guidance about how to calculate this figure and on registration charges for the other tiers).
  • You will still however be required to pay a $72 fee.
  • If you haven’t registered yet, and don’t plan to sell any soap before the new registration period starts in September, it could be worth holding off on registering until then to save $$ as there is no pro-rata registration.
  • You’ll still need to check that any ingredients you use are listed on the Inventory.
I import industrial chemicals [includes finished cosmetic products and most cosmetics ingredients]
  • See the AICIS website for details on the new registration fees and charges that will apply based on the value of industrial chemicals you import.
  • You’ll still need to check that any industrial chemicals you import are listed on the Inventory.
  • If you want to import an industrial chemical that is NOT in the Inventory, you’ll need to follow the new introduction process based on its risk level and introduction category (you can read more about this here).

Where can I find out more?

  • My Compliance Confidence course covers how to meet your AICIS obligations, plus labelling, claims and much more!

I hope you’ve found this article useful – if so, let me know in the comments.


You may also like..


  1. Sadia

    Thank you. All the info on the site was a bit overwhelming. I still have further reading to do but you’ve made it less scary.

    • Jennifer - Skincare Business Foundations

      Thank you, Sadia! The AICIS website is great but it can definitely be overwhelming when wading through all the content, so I’m happy to hear this article helped you 🙂

  2. Kristie

    Thanks Jen, you’ve a great way of making mud clear!

    • Jennifer - Skincare Business Foundations

      Thanks so much Kristie 🙂

  3. Geoff

    Hi Jennifer, you gave a great summary of the new regulations for soap manufacture in Australia. Are you aware of any specific requirements for the factory that makes the soaps i.e. does it need to be GMP or food grade etc.? I manufacture melt and pour soaps

    • Jennifer - Skincare Business Foundations

      Hi Geoff, thanks for the feedback. No there aren’t any specific requirements for making cosmetics, i.e. you aren’t required to have a licence or be GMP certified. However GMP is of course ‘best practice’. Jen


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Jennifer Rudd Skincare Business Foundations 28

Hi, I'm Jen

Founder of Skincare Business Foundations, I help skincare and beauty founders build compliant and ethical brands that last.


Want to be the first to know?

Download a freebie and you’ll be added to the VIP list for future news, updates and VIP-only offers.


Why ‘Clear Beauty’ is the next big thing

Why ‘Clear Beauty’ is the next big thing

Move over Clean Beauty - a new era of Clear Beauty is here! In this industry, where innovation plays a key role and brands are always trying to stand out amongst their competitors, it’s crucial we think about about not just what we're creating but how we're...

Cosmetic versus therapeutic claims: what’s the difference?

Cosmetic versus therapeutic claims: what’s the difference?

I know from personal experience that marketing claims are one of the most confusing parts of running a skincare business, apart from labelling. Working out what you’re legally allowed to say can be tricky to navigate - particularly when it comes to cosmetic versus...

Cosmetics regulations in Australia unpacked – 2024 update

Cosmetics regulations in Australia unpacked – 2024 update

Cosmetics regulations in Australia Being a compliance nerd, I love educating skincare business owners about the laws and regulations they need to comply with. When skincare brand owners think about legislation they need to comply with, they most often think about what...

Importing cosmetics into Australia (+ CHECKLIST)

Importing cosmetics into Australia (+ CHECKLIST)

I often work with cosmetic brand owners and distributors worldwide who want to import cosmetic products, primarily skincare and hair care products, into Australia. Here's how I can help you if you're looking to sell your cosmetics on the Australian market.  Benefits...