Drone Laws in Australia
In this post, you will find the Australian laws for the use of drones.
Australia is a huge country with countless opportunities for stunning aerial images. But it also wants to keep track of the drones in the region and has therefore introduced stricter rules. From 28 January 2021, it will be necessary for non-recreational flyers to register their drone and to get accredited with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). Accreditation and registration will already open on 30 September 2020. The requirement for hobby pilots has been postponed, with registration and accreditation opening in March 2022 and being required by 30 May 2022.
All drones for private use weighing more than 250 grams and all drones for commercial use must be registered.
Drones that are used only inside do not need to be registered. If you take your drone to Australia but do not want to fly it, you do not need to register it.
Registration should be done through the myCASA portal. It will last for 12 months and will cost about $20 for recreational drones and up to $160 for commercial drones.
Only drone pilots who are at least 16 years old can register. You need a myCASA account, proof of identity, an aviation reference number (ARN), the specifications of your drone and a credit or debit card.
Please note: For non-Australians, proof of identity does not seem to be easy. It is possible to have your passport verified when you’re in Australia. If you want to do everything online, you’ll need to submit either a certified copy or a number of documents containing your name and address. More information can be found here.
If you want to use a drone that weighs more than 250 grams, you need to get accredited. This means, you need to show that you know the safety rules. The process includes watching a short video and pass a knowledge test that you can repeat as often as you like. The test will be available online for free through the myCASA portal. The accreditation will be valid for three years.
To get accredited, you will need to be at least 16 years old, have a myCASA account, an ARN and proof of identity.
Overview: Drone rules in Australia
Drone labels can be ordered here
Civil Aviation Safety Authority enquiry form
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More about drone rules in Australia
Drones have to always be kept within visual line of sight. Operation in fog or clouds is not allowed, the same goes for anything that obstructs the view, such as trees, buildings and other structures.
Drone flights are only allowed during the day and pilots are only allowed to fly one copter at a time.
Drone pilots under the age of 16 must be supervised by an accredited adult (18 or older).
Safety distances and flight bans
Fly at least 5.5 kilometers away from controlled airports and make sure you don’t endanger manned aircraft when flying near uncontrolled airfields and heliports.
Keep at least 30 meters away from other people and respect their privacy.
Flying over people and populous areas such as beaches, busy parks or sports facilities is not allowed. Keep away from emergency operations, such as accidents or fires.
Keep a safety distance of 300 meters to marine mammals such as whales and dolphins, you should also keep away from birds of prey.
Several popular attractions, such as Sydney Harbor Bridge, are “No Drone Zones”. You can find a map with no-fly zones in Australia here.
By the way: CASA is retiring their “Can I Fly There” app and instead is encouraging developers to create their own drone saftey apps. One currently listed by CASA is “OpenSky” by Wing Aviation LLC.
Drone operations in national parks are being increasingly limited and each territory sets its own rules:
- New South Wales – permit required
- Victoria – private drone flights prohibited, permit for commercial use possible
- Tasmania – private drone flights prohibited, permit for commercial use possible
- South Australia – private drone flights prohibited, permit for commercial use possible
- Western Australia – contact the park administration for private drone flights, apply for commercial permit
- Northern Territory – permit required
- Queensland – not clear for private drone flights/ask the park management, commercial photography requires a permit
- Australian Capital Territory – no authorization required
Those who do not abide by the rules risk high penalties in the lower five-digit range. If you endanger other aircraft, even higher penalties and imprisonment are possible.
Rules for commercial pilots
As long as your drone weighs no more than 2 kilograms, the bureaucratic effort is limited, because you belong to the excluded category Sub 2 kg drones for business use. In this case, you will need an Aviation Reference Number (ARN), accreditation and registration. You also have to complete an online notification form for your flights.
If you want to fly a heavier drone, you’ll need an RPA Operator’s Certificate (ReOC) or, if you fly for someone with ReOC, a Remote Pilot License (RePL). This requires additional documents and proof of knowledge.
We have researched the listed drone regulations for Australia to the best of our knowledge. We cannot guarantee the correctness of the information. If you want to be on the safe side, contact the competent aviation authority. Alternatively, you can also ask the embassy in your country for further information about the regulations. Please leave us a comment when you receive news and/or gain experience with your copter in Australia!