Retail exemptions

Who must register or obtain a retail exemption?

Under the Retail Law, a person usually must hold a retailer authorisation in order to sell energy.

Situations where a retailer authorisation is not necessary or appropriate include those where the seller is selling energy incidentally (ie the sale is not the seller’s core business), or where the cost of having an authorisation outweighs the benefits to customers, or where an insignificant amount of energy is being sold. Examples include:

  • Retirement villages where an owner or manager buys electricity from an authorised retailer, then ‘onsells’ it to residents;
  • Caravan parks (or manufactured homes parks) where an owner or manager buys electricity from an authorised retailer, then ‘onsells’ it to residents;
  • Bodies corporate/owners’ corporations who buy electricity from an authorised retailer, then ‘onsell’ it to tenants or residents.
  • Persons selling energy at no profit or as a community service.

People engaging in such activities may be eligible for a retail exemption. The AER administers retail exemptions.

If you own, operate or control a privately owned network, you will need an exemption from the requirement to register with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). Usually if you hold a retail exemption you will also need a network exemption, which are also administered by the AER. The AER's Electricity NSP Registration Exemption Guideline contains more information on these network exemptions, including a full list of the classes of network exemption available.

Exempt Selling Guideline

The AER's Exempt Selling Guideline sets out the AER’s approach to retail exemptions, including a full list of the types of activities which are exempt from the requirement to hold a retailer authorisation.

The guideline will help you understand:

  • whether you need an exemption or an authorisation (Section 3)
  • which type of exemption you need – deemed, registrable or individual (Section 4)
  • who should hold the exemption (Section 5)
  • how to get an exemption (Section 6)
  • how we assess individual exemption applications (Section 7)
  • the conditions exemption holders must comply with (Section 8).

Factsheets for exempt sellers, setting out your requirements and obligations:

AER factsheet - Energy exempt sellers - Your requirements and obligations regarding residential customers ( PDF 96.11 KB )

AER factsheet - Energy exempt sellers - Your requirements and obligations regarding small business customers ( PDF 91.73 KB )

Exemption classes

There are three different types of retail exemptions:

  • Deemed exemptions
  • Registrable exemptions
  • Individual exemptions

Deemed exemption

If you are eligible for a deemed exemption, you do not need to apply to the AER. Instead, you are ‘deemed’ to fall within a particular class of exemption. However, you still need to abide by the conditions attached to the relevant class of exemption. The guideline sets out these conditions.

Registrable exemption

If you are eligible for a registrable exemption, you must register your energy selling activities with the AER by completing the online registration form and submitting it to the AER. Once you have done this and we have published relevant details on our public register of retail exemptions, your exemption will come into force. Please note, the AER does not approve retail exemption registrations.

It is your responsibility to ensure you complete the registration form correctly and comply with the conditions attached to your exemptions. These are specified in the Exempt Selling Guideline. The information you provide in this registration form will be published on the AER's public register of retail exemptions - excepting personal contact details. Do NOT include confidential information in your registration - registrations are not reviewed before publication. By pressing Submit you consent to publication of the registration. If in doubt contact us first before registering to discuss the information to be published.

Individual exemption

If your activities do not fall into one of the AER’s classes of exemption (that is, a deemed or registrable exemption), you may apply to the AER for an individual exemption to cover your activities. Individual exemptions are tailored to specific situations, with conditions attached to the exemption where necessary (the AER will decide on any appropriate conditions when assessing your application). The AER's Exempt Selling Guideline contains information on how to apply for an individual exemption. Appendix B lists the questions to be answered in your application.

Checklist to be included in application

To assist applicants with their individual exemption applications, the AER has developed the checklist below that mirrors the questions asked in Appendix B. We encourage applicants to complete the checklist and submit it as part of their application alongside a cover letter and any supporting evidence required.

AER Individual Exemption Application Checklist - last updated July 2022 ( DOCX 82.78 KB )

We recommend that you contact us to discuss your specific circumstances if you are considering applying for an individual exemption. If you successfully apply for an individual exemption, you will be included on the AER’s public register.

Exemption conditions

The conditions under the Guideline are based on the retail customer protections provided under the National Energy Retail Law (Retail Law). Not all conditions apply to all exemption classes. To confirm the obligations for each particular class of exemption check the table at Appendix A-3.

The conditions cover obligations on matters such as:

Exemption registration form

If you are eligible for a registrable exemption you must complete the registration form.

Register for exemption

Public register of exemptions

Exempt persons who hold individual or registrable exemptions will appear on the AER's public register of exemptions. The public register contains additional information including the location of the exempt site, the class of exemption, the date the exemption was granted and applicable conditions.