Certificates of Electrical Safety community information
A Certificate of Electrical Safety (COES) is a legal document issued by a Registered Electrical Contractor or licensed Electrician to record the details of the electrical work they have performed, as required by the Electricity Safety Act and the Electricity Safety (General) Regulations .
Registered Electrical Contractor (REC): in Victoria an Electrician must work for a Registered Electrical Contractor to perform work for a customer. A Registered Electrical Contractor must be registered with Energy Safe Victoria.
Licensed Electrical Workers (LEW): in Victoria includes Electricians and Restricted Electrical Licence holders. All electrical workers must be licensed with Energy Safe Victoria to perform electrical work.
Licensed Electrical Inspector (LEI): in Victoria, Prescribed electrical installation work must be inspected by an independent Licensed Electrical Inspector, your REC must organise this inspection.
For all Certificates of Electrical Safety:
- Registered Electrical Contractors (REC) and Licensed Electrical Workers (LEWs), such as Electricians or Restricted Electrical licence holders, purchase and complete Certificates of Electrical Safety (COES) and provide a copy to their customer.
- Unregistered and unlicensed persons cannot purchase or lodge certificates with Energy Safe Victoria.
- The Registered Electrical Contractor/ Licensed Electrical Worker must provide a copy of the certificate to the customer (the person or company that directly engaged the REC / Electrician to perform the electrical work), Energy Safe Victoria and to other parties as required by the type of electrical installation work completed.
If someone has engaged the Registered Electrical Contractor on your behalf (such as a rental provider, estate agent, builder, etc.), you may request a copy from the customer or from Energy Safe Victoria.
- Work completed on a Certificate of Electrical Safety may be audited by Energy Safe Victoria to verify that electrical installation work is safe and compliant.
- If your Registered Electrical Contractor/ Licensed Electrical Worker refuses to arrange an inspection for prescribed electrical work or to provide a Certificate of Electrical Safety for electrical installation work completed at your property, and you are the customer, please report a safety issue or non-compliance to Energy Safe Victoria.
- Failure to follow the Certificates of Electrical Safety requirements is a criminal offence. A Registered Electrical Contractor/ Licensed Electrical Worker that fails to comply may be subject to disciplinary action which could result in infringements or in severe cases, the suspension or cancellation of their licence.
The types of COES
There are two types of certificates; Prescribed and Non-Prescribed
Prescribed – for electrical installation work that requires inspection by a Licensed Electrical inspector, including but not limited to:
- Consumer mains cables, main switchboard, meter box and main earthing system for your installation.
- Consumer mains cables, main switchboard, and main earthing system for your tenancy (multiple occupancy).
- Motor generator installation.
- Renewable energy generation system e.g., Solar systems (solar photovoltaic generation system), battery energy Storage system.
For Prescribed work and COES:
- The electrician must complete the electrical installation work and test prior to certification.
- An inspection will be undertaken by an independent licensed electrical inspector. Your REC/electrician will organise this.
- Check the inspector who signs the ‘Certificate of Inspection’ field on the Certificate of Electrical Safety has attended your property to conduct the inspection.
- Prescribed Electrical installation work cannot be turned on or left turned on until it has been inspected.
- Inspection of electrical installation work should be completed within 8 business days of completion of the work.
- If the inspection of your electrical work is not completed within 8 business days, you should contact the Registered Electrical Contractor/Electrician for help.
- Licensed Electrical Inspectors (LEIs) are not employees of Energy Safe Victoria. Energy Safe Victoria does not arrange or schedule inspections for prescribed electrical work.
- The Registered Electrical Contractor / Electrician must provide the customer with a copy within 4 days of completion of the certificate once inspection is complete.
Non-Prescribed – for electrical installation work performed within your electrical installation including but not limited to lights, power points, air conditioning, hot water service etc.
- The Licensed Electrical Worker must complete the electrical installation work and test before certification.
- Non-Prescribed electrical installation work is energised (left turned on) once completed.
- An electrical inspection is not required for non-prescribed work.
- The Registered Electrical Contractor / Licensed Electrical Worker will complete the Certificate of Electrical Safety and is required to provide you with a copy within 30 days.
Requesting a copy of a Certificate of Electrical Safety
You can perform a to identify if an online COES has been generated for electrical work completed at your property.
*Note, this search does not include online certificates raised prior to July 2019 or paper Certificates of Electrical Safety.
If you are the owner or occupant of a property or you are the customer (the customer is the person/entity that has engaged the electrician) and have not received your COES copy, or have lost it, complete and return the COES application form to Energy Safe Victoria to request a copy of the COES from Energy Safe Victoria's database.
Along with your completed form, please provide documentation showing your name and the search address as evidence you are entitled to certificates issued for the property. This can include a utilities notice, a rates notice or both sides of a drivers licence. as per page 2 of the search application formDownload the COES application form
Return your completed form and supporting documentation to:
Energy Safe Victoria
COES application form
PO Box 262
COLLINS STREET WEST VIC 8007
It may take up to 5 business days to process an application for a Certificate of Electrical Safety, not including additional time required to obtain a copy from the Registered Electrical Contractor/ Licensed Electrical Worker via the complaints process.
There is no guarantee a Certificate of Electrical Safety will be provided once a search has been completed.
Additionally, the Act only requires a Licensed Electrical Worker (LEW) or Registered Electrical Contractor to retain a copy of a COES for three years. Energy Safe Victoria will not actively pursue anything beyond this period.
Note: A Certificate of Electrical Safety search does not search for safety reports completed for rental properties as per the Residential Tenancies Regulations 2021. Please see our page on Residential tenancy changes for more information.
Anyone else may request a copy of a COES via a Freedom Of Information (FOI) request.
If you are unable to obtain your COES
If electrical work has been completed within the last three years and a Certificate of Electrical Safety has not been issued, you may lodge a complaint for Energy Safe Victoria to take action. A Registered Electrical Contractor/ Licensed Electrical Worker cannot refuse to issue a Certificate of Electrical Safety for any reason including payment issues or contract disputes.
Obtaining a Certificate of Electrical Safety is not always possible, even when a person is entitled to a copy.
If you need a Certificate of Electrical Safety for completed electrical work and Energy Safe Victoria is unable to provide a copy or identify the original Registered Electrical Contractor/ Licensed Electrical Worker, consider getting another A Registered Electrical Contractor/ Licensed Electrical Worker to check and test the electrical work and ask them to provide a COES for that work.
You may find a Registered Electrical Contractor in your area by checking our website’s public search , your local trades directory, community advertising or via an internet search.
Note: For safety checks completed on rental properties as per the Residential Tenancies Regulations 2021, an Energy Safe Victoria Certificate of Electrical Safety is not the correct form to be used for electrical checks. However, a Certificate of Electrical Safety must be issued if any electrical repair or maintenance work is carried out. Please see our page on Residential tenancy changes for more information.
Charging customers fees for COES
Can RECs and RELs charge an administration fee for the purchase of COES?
Yes. A Registered Electrical Contractor (REC) or a Restricted Electrical Licence holder (REL) may charge their customers fees for the administration of Certificates of Electrical Safety (COES).
Energy Safe Victoria advises the following:
A Registered Electrical Contractor or Restricted Electrical Licence holder can seek payment from their customers for the purchase amount of Certificates of Electrical Safety. The authorised purchase amounts for Certificates of Electrical Safety is legislated in the Electricity Safety s45B(12) and Regulation 265 of the Electricity Safety (General) Regulations . This amount is GST exempt.
However, a Registered Electrical Contractor or Restricted Electrical Licence holder may choose to charge their customers an additional handling fee for their time in purchasing the COES, filling it out and lodging it with Energy Safe Victoria as required. This additional fee amount is determined by the Registered Electrical Contractor or Restricted Electrical Licence holder and should be explained by the these entities to their customer.
Some Registered Electrical Contractors or Restricted Electrical Licence holders elect not to separately list Certificate of Electrical Safety Fees on their invoices, instead the Certificate of Electrical Safety and administration fee form part of the various items or may be included as part of one lump sum in their invoice. Although the purchase of a Certificate of Electrical Safety from Energy Safe Victoria does not attract GST, an Registered Electrical Contractor or Restricted Electrical Licence holder may be required to add GST to the amount they charge their customers. Energy Safe Victoria cannot give advice regarding GST.
The amount the Registered Electrical Contractor or Restricted Electrical Licence holder charges the customer for the Certificate of Electrical Safety, including handling fee, is a contractual issue between the Registered Electrical Contractor or Restricted Electrical Licence holder and the customer. If a customer believes they have been over-charged for this, the customer should contact Consumer Affairs for help.
Audits of electrical installation work
Work completed under a COES may be audited by Energy Safe Victoria to verify that electrical installation work is safe and compliant.
Auditors may make an appointment, visit your premises and ask to view and test the electrical installation work as described on the COES. This service is free and you may refuse an audit at any time.
Auditors must produce their Energy Safe Victoria Auditor ID cards when introducing themselves and will leave a copy of the brochure ‘Safety audit of electrical work’.
You can read more about our Certificate of Electrical Safety Audit program
Date: 21/03/2023 5:06
The currency and accuracy of this document cannot be guaranteed once printed or saved to a storage device. If in doubt, please check the ESV website for the current version.
Reviewed 31 January 2023