Just researching legal oddities and came across this one:

Dumb Laws in Australia

Only licensed electricians may change a light bulb.

Some sources attribute it only to the state of Victoria.

Does anyone know if it's true or not?

  • It's possible someone took the list of exceptions to be a list of specific examples of license-required actions.
    – corsiKa
    Commented Jun 5, 2015 at 16:57
  • These Australians are crazy! TOK TOK TOK
    – user7920
    Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 19:21

2 Answers 2


Victoria is the only state where to my understanding the usual exceptions to requiring licensed electrical contractors are not directly listed in the relevant Act, so my answer focuses on the situation there.

Electrical work in Victoria is regulated by Energy Safe Victoria.

Their website lists the legislation they administer.

One of the documents they have there is this one, pursuant to the 1998 Act, which in part 3 (page 9 of the pdf) lists some exceptions to the broad rule that only licensed electrical contractors can carry out electrical work. In particular, subsection (c) exempts work:

(c) involving the insertion or removal of –
(i) a plug into or from a socket designed for such a plug; or
(ii) a light globe, fluorescent tube or starter for a fluorescent tube, where access to live parts is not required; or
(iii) a fuse element.

So putting a plug in a socket, (and removing it), changing a light bulb and changing a fuse are all explicitly exempted from the rule. That is, those things are allowed to be carried out in Victoria without a licensed electrician.

  • Could you please expand how you reached your "understanding"? For example, this would appear to be the relevant equivalent in NSW, and it doesn't mention light bulbs.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Jun 5, 2015 at 3:34
  • 4
    @Oddthinking You're not looking in the right places; that's law about contracting people to do building work including electrical wiring work. The ELECTRICITY (CONSUMER SAFETY) ACT 2004 - SECT 3, for example, excludes from classification as electrical wiring work "(b) any electrical article connected to, and extending or situated beyond, any electrical outlet socket" and "(d) any electrical equipment operating at not more than 50 volts alternating current or 120 volts ripple-free direct current".
    – Glen_b
    Commented Jun 5, 2015 at 4:13
  • 3
    @Oddthinking the relevant authority in NSW is the Department of Fair Trading and their page on electrical licensing also directly quotes those exemptions.
    – Glen_b
    Commented Jun 5, 2015 at 4:20
  • 2
    In South Australia electricians are responsible for work from the point of supply, up to and including the electrical wiring on the consumer's property from the main switchboard to the building and wiring within the building to the electrical appliance. Queensland is mentioned elsewhere on this page. I saw the legislation for WA long ago, but haven't looked recently, that one's from memory. I haven't seen relevant legislation for Tasmania nor any territories, but I haven't seen any mentioned in articles that bring it up; I've only ever seen Victoria named. So not-quite-complete knowledge.
    – Glen_b
    Commented Jun 5, 2015 at 4:27

It's not true in Queensland, at least.

The Electrical Safety Act 2002 specifies that "electrical work" may only be done by licensed electricians, but Section 18-2-c specifically excepts changing light bulbs from electrical work.

Electrical work does not include the following .... replacing electrical equipment or a component of electrical equipment if that task can be safely performed by a person who does not have expertise in carrying out electrical work;

Examples for paragraph (c)—
• replacing a fuse
• replacing a light bulb in a light fitting

Victoria's Electrical Safety Act does not have a list of exceptions, so one might include the changing of a lightbulb as "installation of an electrical device" which does require licensing.


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