Licensing and quota systems

The Montreal Protocol requires each Party to the Protocol to establish a system for licensing the import and export of new, used, recycled and reclaimed controlled substances1. Currently all Parties have ratified the 1997 Montreal Amendment which required the establishment of the licencing systems for ozone depleting substances (ODS). With the adoption of the Kigali Amendment on HFCs, the establishment of licencing systems for HFCs need to be in place by 2019 (or three months after the Amendment is ratified by 20 countries).

Furthermore, the Executive Committee of the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol required that from 2013 onwards that for all submissions of new HCFC projects, countries must confirm that they have established an enforceable licensing and a quota system for HCFC imports, and –if relevant – also for HCFC production. It is  required that the system is capable of ensuring a country's compliance with the Montreal Protocol HCFC phase-out schedule for the duration of HCFC Phase-out Management Plan (HPMP) agreed for that country.

An effective and operational licensing system can be considered to be crucial for compliance with commitments under the Protocol. It facilitates control of country’s ODS supply & monitoring and collecting data, it facilitates quota allocation and can be part of a strategy to reduce illegal imports and exports.

The objective of establishing an import/export quota system is to ensure that the country will not import/export more of a substance (or group of substances) than the limit for that country according to its relevant legislation. In the case of ODS, and HCFs in the future, the limit set for a country by the Montreal Protocol is reflected in the country’s national legislation.

An import/export quota system is usually part of an ODS licensing system which has been established in a country, although some countries may decide to establish it based on a separate administrative order, which may be easier than amending the existing ODS legislation. An import/export quota can be defined as the quantity of individual substance (or group of substances) covered by the quota system which is allocated to an eligible importer/exporter for a given period of time (usually for one calendar year).


UN Environment OzonAction provides assistance to developing countries with policies and legislation, including on licensing and quota systems, needed to comply with their various commitments under the Montreal Protocol.

 1 i.e. the ozone depleting substance listed in Annexes A, B, C and E to the Protocol, and HFCs (Annex F) licencing systems to be in place by 2019.