Ambulance licensing

Ambulance services

Under the Health Care Act 2008, an ambulance service is defined as “the service of transporting by the use of an ambulance a person to a hospital or other place to receive medical treatment or from a hospital or other place at which the person has received medical treatment”.

Emergency ambulance services

An emergency ambulance service is further defined as an ambulance service that –

  1. Responds to requests for medical assistance (whether made by 000 emergency telephone calls or other means) for persons who may have injuries or illnesses requiring immediate medical attention in order to maintain life or to alleviate suffering; and

  2. Is set up to provide medical attention to save or maintain a person’s life or alleviate suffering while transporting the person to a hospital.

In South Australia, the South Australian Ambulance Service is authorised to provide state-wide emergency ambulance services.  It also has powers under the Emergency Management Act 2004 and the South Australian Public Health Act 2011 to direct a person holding a restricted ambulance service licence to assist with the provision of response and recovery operations in such a manner as SAAS sees fit.  For more information on SAAS, please visit their website.

There are also 3 other organisations who are prescribed by regulation as being authorised to provide emergency ambulance services in South Australia.  These are:

  • Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia Central Operations
  • Australian Helicopters Pty Ltd
  • The Department of Defence

No other organisation or person may provide an emergency ambulance service unless directed by SAAS or granted an exemption by the Minister.

Obtaining a licence to provide non-emergency ambulance services

A non-emergency ambulance service is defined as an ambulance service other than an emergency ambulance service.

All organisations listed above – SAAS, the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia Central Operations, Australian Helicopters Pty Ltd, the Department of Defence – are also authorised to provide non-emergency ambulance services.  The following additional organisations also have a restricted (non-emergency) ambulance service licence:

  • ActFas
  • EMT Ambulance SA
  • IMS Ambulance Services
  • National Patient Transport
  • Paramedical Services
  • St John SA

To obtain a licence other applicants must submit a completed application form, including all requested documents, and the prescribed application fee.  The current application form and prescribed fees can be requested from

Standards and assessment process

Applications are assessed to ensure the applicant has the capacity to provide the services at a standard appropriate for the licence and the applicant is a fit and proper person to hold the licence. The information that may be requested includes:

  • A completed Statutory Declaration-Fitness and Propriety from each person or each director or each officer of the body corporate/incorporated association who does or may exercise control over the operations of the licence holder.

  • A national Police Certificate from each person/director/officer bearer, issued within the past 6 months

  • An Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) company extract search obtained within the previous month of making the application

  • Where the company is a subsidiary, a company structure chart

  • Certificate of incorporation , or other evidence of the status of the incorporated association or body corporate

  • Information from an independent certified practicing account (CPA) or associate chartered accountant (ACA) to verify the licence holder’s financial capacity to provide the intended services.

  • Professional indemnity insurance

  • Where the licence holder will employ registered health practitioners, evidence that they meet the registration requirements of their national board to use a protected title.

  • Where the licence holder will employ unregistered health practitioners, evidence they hold a nationally recognised qualification relevant to non-emergency ambulance services.

  • Evidence of compliance with national guidelines and legislation relevant to the intended services.

As part of the assessment process, the Minister may, by written notice, require the applicant:

  1. To provide further information, documents or records relevant to the application; or

  2. To allow persons authorised by the Minister to inspect premises, vehicles, plant or equipment proposed to be used by the applicant in connection with activities proposed to be authorised by the licence.

Other legislation that may also apply, and for which specific documentation may be sought, includes:


The timeframes to allow for the licensing process, when a complete application (comprising all required forms and the prescribed fee) has been submitted, is 60 days.  If the Department requests the applicant to provide additional information, a decision must be made within 28 days of receipt of the information last requested or within the 60 day period, whichever is later. Applicants should keep these timeframes in mind when submitting an application.


The prescribed fee is indexed each July and published in the SA Government Gazette.  The application fee is $188 (1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020).  The Health Licensing Unit will arrange a customer maintenance form and invoice for you to pay this application fee.


Exemptions from the licence requirements can be sought by application to the Minister for Health and Wellbeing and can be granted for up to 12 months. A Ministerial exemption may be granted, with conditions about rendezvousing with SAAS, for specific geographical locations and organisations. For example, mining companies that may need to perform emergency ambulance transfers in specified remote locations of South Australia. Such exemptions are not transferable to another organisation or to another geographical location.

To apply for an exemption, rather than a restricted ambulance licence, please request an application form by emailing

Ministerial exemptions to provide ambulance services were published in the South Australian Government Gazette 19 December 2019.

Review of decisions

Under s58(17) of the Health Care Act 2008, an applicant or licensee has a right of appeal against a decision of the Minister in relation to non-emergency ambulance services.  The right of appeal is to the Administrative and Disciplinary Division of the District Court.

More information

For more information please contact the Health Licensing Unit via email at or via telephone on (08) 8463 6134.

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