Agencies Responsible for regulating drones in the Commonwealth of Australia
Civil Aviation Safety Authority of Australia
Updated February 3, 2023
UAS Laws – General rules for flying drones in Australia
The Australian agency responsible for drone safety, CASA, has provided many internet-accessible details on flying for fun or work. The highlights are enumerated below. For more details go to the link above.
Are drones allowed in Australia?
According to CASA, drones are allowed in Australia for recreational and commercial use, subject to CASA regulations. Read on for details.
Notes for recreational drone pilots flying for fun in Australia
You must not fly your drone higher than 120 meters (400 feet) above ground level.
You must keep your drone at least 30 meters away from other people.
You must only fly one drone at a time.
You must keep your drone within the visual line of sight. This means always being able to see the drone with your own eyes (rather than through a device, screen, or goggles).
You must not fly over or above people or in a populous area. This could include beaches, parks, events, or sports ovals where there is a game in progress.
Respect personal privacy. Don’t record or photograph people without their consent — this may breach other laws.
If your drone weighs more than 250 grams, you must fly at least 5.5 kilometers away from a controlled airport, which generally has a control tower at them.
Remember, you must not operate your drone in a way that creates a hazard to another aircraft, person, or property.
You must only fly during the day and not through clouds or fog.
You must not fly your drone over or near an area affecting public safety or where emergency operations are underway. This could include car crashes, police operations, fire or firefighting efforts, or search and rescue.
If you’re near a helicopter landing site or a smaller aerodrome without a control tower, you can fly your drone within 5.5 kilometers. If you become aware of manned aircraft nearby, you will have to maneuver away and land your drone as quickly and safely as possible.
If you intend to fly your drone for or at work (commercially), there are extra rules you must follow. You may need a remote pilot license (RePL) or fly in the excluded category.
Notes for operating Commercial Drone Services in Australia
Flying for work
If you’re flying for work or for your employer, you must have either:
- an operator accreditation to fly a drone:
- 2 kg or less
- More than 2kg but no more than 25 kg, and you only fly it over your own land.
- a remote pilot license (RePL) and operate for an individual or business that holds a remotely piloted aircraft operator’s certificate (ReOC) to fly a drone of more than 2 kg.
There is no age limit to fly a drone for sport or recreation. To fly for work or for your employer, you must be 16 years or older to:
Flying an RPA Weighing Less Than 2KG
If your remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) weighs less than 2kg, you can fly it for or at work (commercially). You must follow the standard operating conditions, notify CASA of your intention to fly, and keep the required records. If you want to fly commercially outside these rules, you’ll need to get a remote pilot license (RePL).
Flying A Small (2-25KG) Or Medium (25-150KG) RPA Over Your Own Property
You can fly commercially over your own land, provided you are the landowner or leaseholder, and you own the RPA.
For small RPA (2-25kg), you must follow the standard operating conditions, and you must not accept payment or reward. You can also fly a medium (25-150kg) RPA over your own land, provided you hold a remote pilot license (RePL) and register the RPA with CASA.
Getting A Drone Pilot License in Australia (Remote Pilot Licence – RePL)
Before you can get your license, you’ll need to complete the required training through a certified training provider. For more information, go to casa.gov.au/drones
If you intend to fly your RPA for or at work (commercially), there are extra rules you must follow. You may also need to register your RPA and get a license or accreditation.
You must not fly your RPA higher than 120m (400ft) above ground level.
You must keep your RPA at least 30m away from other people.
If your RPA weighs more than 100g, you must fly at least 5.5 km away from a controlled airport, which generally has a control tower at them.
If you’re near a helicopter landing site or a smaller aerodrome without a control tower, you can fly your RPA within 5.5 km. If you become aware of manned aircraft nearby, you will have to maneuver away and land your RPA as quickly and safely as possible.
You must not fly over or above people or in a populous area.
You must keep your RPA within the visual line of sight.
You must not fly your RPA over or near an area affecting public safety or where emergency operations are underway (without prior approval).
Remember, you must not operate your RPA in a way that creates a hazard to another aircraft, person, or property.
Respect personal privacy. Don’t record or photograph people without their consent—this may breach other laws.
You must only fly one RPA at a time.
You must only fly during the day and not through clouds or fog.
Registration of Commercial Drones is required.
Registration for drones, remotely piloted aircraft (RPA), and flying for business or as part of your job is now required.
Some drones don’t need to be registered now. This applies if:
- you don’t intend to fly your drone
- you’re only flying for sport or recreation, including model aircraft flown at CASA-approved model airfields
- you’re a commercial drone repairer or manufacturer, but you must keep records.
- quick, easy, and online
- valid for 12 months.
If you fly a drone, or remotely piloted aircraft (RPA), for business or use one as part of your job, you must register it before you fly.
This applies to all drones that you fly to provide any type of service – no matter how much it weighs. This may include activities such as:
- selling photos or videos are taken from a drone
- inspecting industrial equipment, construction sites, or infrastructure
- monitoring, surveillance, or security services
- research and development
- any drone activities on behalf of your employer or business.
You must be 16 or older to register a drone.
You must also get an RPA operator accreditation if you fly your drone for business or use one as part of your job unless you have a remote pilot license (RePL) or only fly for sport or recreation.
For drones flown for business or used as part of your job:
- 500 g or less, it’s free to register
- more than 500 g, a registration levy of $40 per drone applies.
Registration is mandatory. In exceptional circumstances, you may be eligible to apply for a refund of the remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) registration levy.
Register your drone now.
It only takes a few minutes to register your drone using myCASA.
For more information, visit: https://casa.gov.au/drones
Useful published information on flying drones in Australia
Here is a useful introduction video provided by CASA…
NOTE: Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (SUAS), Small UAS, Remote Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS), unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), and drone are interchangeable terms unless specified. Model Aircraft, toy, remote-controlled, and RC aircraft may be covered by the same regulations unless specified.
Traveling with a Drone?
Click here to read our Comprehensive Guide For Traveling With A Drone.
NOW ITS YOUR TURN
11 thoughts on “Drone Laws in Australia”
I used the fly App recommended by CASA on Saturday around my house and just down the road about 3 house down. The drone was in sight and 30 meters high. The video wasn’t on and I had the camera straight ahead just practicing.
I bought my drone back over my 2 story home and was landing on my driveway when my neighbour drove up. Jumped out of his car and knocked my drone to the concrete threw a tail over it and put it in his car and said he was taking it up the police station. I yell that mine and I wasn’t breaking any laws. He got out of his car and threw it on the lawn in front and told me he was going to stick it up my arxx if I fly it over his house. I’m now got him on a malicious damage charge he’s going to be taken to court and pay for my drone and court costs probably put a AVO on him as well.
I did nothing wrong.
The laws about flying drones are restrictive, but they make sense. The world is not about us as individuals but about all of us as a community. What we need in addition to telling us what we cannot do are laws telling us what we can do. For example, can we fly in a National Park and photograph birds or scenery, subject to the existing rules? A list of things that we are allowed to do would be helpful!
I live on a rural property. Someone flies a drone over my property and around my house, breaching my privacy. Currently there are no laws in Australia to stop this. When I did my drone licence training the instructor said that this was the case because you cant stop planes flying over your land so that is why.
I think that given we already have a 120m ceiling height, the law should be as follows:
It is illegal to fly a drone over private property without their written consent.
Aircraft would still be able to fly over because they would be above 120 m.
You don’t own the sky as long as they are 30 meters from anyone
Fact you have to pay for expensive courses with a”provider” is pure simple corruption and wrong. USA u can learn yourself then FFA test you. Typical stupid Aussie jobs for mates. Protectionism of pals and good old class discrimination, have cash get licence.. Should be ashamed CASA I was student pilot as a kid this rubbish wouldn’t fly then what happened to you? Drones are a new inovation you allowed idiot politicians to crush like they did all. Can’t wait till Albo mob gets here.Because,without paying u cant fly nowhere now so that a scam. I can’t fly where I was born, infested by rich people need a licence. Pathetic CASA.
As always, the rules are never as clear as they really could be. What if you want to capture footage for your school and you are a staff member? Is this being employed and needing a licence/registering it or does sport and recreation still apply? Our sports days and other fun events would look more outstanding if we grabbed photos from a drone. As someone else has stated, so many laws and refs now that living is becoming a drudgery, we should be embracing our shorts lives and just use commonsense.
Rules OK but more leniency should be given to those who fly FPV. For example, is it OK to fly with goggles if you have a ‘spotter’ with you? And what if you stand next to a lake or sea and fly over water?
Looks like CASA updated the lower limit to 250gm instead of 10gm previously. see https://www.casa.gov.au/knowyourdrone/drone-rules
Thank you David. Updated above
We should all respect the safety of others. But the cost involved in just doing quite a few different activities just once each a year even staying legal incase you might want to do it really limits the fun you can have in Australia. for boating you need registration of the boat the car the trailer and annual licence fees, hunting you need hunting permit gun registration and licencing fees. And now drone costs as well It all adds up quickly not to mention initial coarse fees and time needed to do it all that combined with very restrictive regulations and an intrusive surveillance system to enforce it all . It’s almost impossible to live a full life anymore and it’s only going to get worse. Australia is not really a free country anymore and now I’m ashamed to be a citizen of it.
Yeah too many grumps working in councils with their only mission is to make everyone’s lives a misery. They will find a way to charge you for breathing soon enough.