Australia Drone Laws in 2020 (updated regulation)

australia-drone-laws
height flight limit

120m max height

drone distance range white icon

30m min distance

plane icon white

5.5 km from airports

can't fly over crowds of people

Don't fly over crowds

All Drone Laws in Australia in 2020 (Ultimate Guide)

Are drones legal in Australia?

Flying drones is legal in Australia. You can fly your toy or hobby quadcopter provided you exercise common sense when operating them. It is however illegal to operate a commercial drone (Remote Piloted Aircraft) without an approved license. 

Can I use a drone to spy on a neighbor? Absolutely not, for the simple reason that laws are all about common sense. The unmanned aviation industry operates under a unique set of common-sense rules and regulations that safeguard the user from soliciting unwanted trouble. 

Contact information

 

If you have any pressing questions or clarifications you can fill out the contact form or call 

+61 131 757.

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What are the drone laws in Australia?

Here is a summary of the drone laws outlined by the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). Special focus on drones over 2 Kg.

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Can I fly my drone in Australia?

Have you ever considered bringing your drone over to Australia and capturing stunning shots of the ocean? If you haven’t, I have. Everything about Aussie is unbelievably spectacular and gigantic enough to be considered a continent. What better way to explore more of the Australian outback than using a soaring drone.

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Is FPV legal in Australia?

Unfortunately, FPV is illegal in Australia. FPV stands for first-person view and is a unique form of video piloting where a camera is mounted onto the drone, which then broadcasts to the pilot. The pilot will be navigating the drone as if they were inside manning it themselves. 

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Can I fly over the land I own?

Absolutely. You can apply for a special authorization to do this. 

  • First, the drone must weigh between 100 g and 25 Kg.
  • The drone should be yours
  • You can only fly over your property.

 

You can not solicit any monetary gain over such an operation. 

If you or the person you have authorized to fly this drone holds a Remote Pilot License (RePL), you can own a drone weighing over 150 Kg. 

 

To get more of the technical bits of information on drones, head over to casa.gov.au. Always keep track of your flight’s records, at any moment CASA can arbitrarily make a request.

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Are the rules available on an app?

Well, CASA had an app, then had it retired. It was known as “Can I fly there.” The app pointed out information on restricted areas and the necessary safety regulations. 

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What “to do” and “not to do” with recreational drones in Australia

Can I drop off an object such as a parcel using a recreational drone?

Yes, provided it does not expose any person or property to risk or damage.

Can a pilot fly a recreational drone over a populated beach, recreational stadium or sporting event?

No way!

Can you take photos or videos of random people on your personal drone?

There is no iron-clad law prohibiting you from doing so. It remains subject to interpretation. Worst case scenario, an aggrieved party might file a privacy complaint to the  Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

Can I use my drone for commercial uses?

You must give CASA  a 5 days heads-up, then apply for a reference number while abiding by all rules pertaining to recreational drones.

Can I fly more multiple drones at once?

No way!

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Rules on commercial drones

The use of drones for commercial use has grown into an industry in Australia. Changes in rules allow you to fly your drone commercially provided it weighs less than 2 Kg. First, you must apply for an aviation reference number (ARN).

Sketch your ARN number onto your drone. 

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How can I register my drone in Australia?

  • You must me over 16 years old
  • You must have an mCasa account
  • You must display proof of identity - Australian credentials such as passport, birth certificate, citizenship, foreign passport, immiCard.
  • The weight, make, model and serial number of your drone
  • Visa credit or MasterCard.

Here is where you can create an mCASA account.

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How can I get my drone licensed?

  • Get a refference number
  • Give express notification before flying your drone
  • Fly within standard operating procedures
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What is the Remote Pilot License (RePL)?

The remote pilot license authorizes the user to fly their drone in special circumstances where specialized training is required.

You can apply for this certificate if:

  • You will be operating outside the standard drone operating procedures
  • Use a drone over 2 Kg for commercial operations
  • If you want to fly on behalf of a ReOC holder.
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How do I apply for a RePL?

What if you have no experience?

 

  1. Start by applying for the Aviation Reference Number (ARN)

More information available here

  1. Undergo training

Opt for a certified training provider and complete the training – both in theory and practical.

If you intend to fly beyond the visual line of sight, an aeronautical radio operators license comes into play.

 

You can directly apply for the RePL at CASA through their Application for Remote Pilot License form.

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Do RePL’s expire?

Absolutely, not!

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Can I fly a drone in Australia without having it registered?

Is it possible to order or pick a drone off the shelf, and start flying it right away? Yes, but this only applies if:

 

  • The drone is limited to indoor use
  • You have no intention of flying the drone ever again.
  • The drone weighs less than 250 g.
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What is drone accreditation?

If you fly a drone for recreational use or below the 2 Kg group you must register for accreditation. Accreditation is the yardstick set out by the industry to ensure the user is familiar with drone safety rules. 

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Can I travel with my drone to Australia by Airplane?

In Australia you can carry your drone as a carry along or checked luggage. Airlines generally do not mind anyone carrying a drone, the batteries are the main concern. Lithium-ion batteries are a major concern given their ability to cause an uncontrollable fire when manhandled.

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What are the restricted areas for flying drones in Australia?

You can find all the unrestricted fly areas on the CASA website. Find out more here.

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Can I travel with my drone to Australia

As a foreign traveller you need to:

  • Carefully read and understand all drone safety rules
  • Download the CASA certified safety app as it can guide you where to fly or not.

Popular tourist locations such as Sydney Harbor do not authorize drone use.

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What are the rules around recreational drones?

Registered drone users in Australia are in the millions, a sizable chunk of that being recreational drone users. CASA has even laid out some guidelines for all rookies into the drone world.

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What is it about the new privacy laws in Australia?

If a million-plus drone pilots take to the skies every day with their camera-wielding drones, some will definitely nosy around. Is it a good thing? In my opinion absolutely not. However, as it currently stands, it’s almost impossible to file a suit against a drone pilot who has contravened your privacy under the current laws. 

 

Why is that so?

 

First, Australia’s privacy laws are quite vague towards droners unless the person has committed the crime is an organization with a turnover of $3 million or more annually. Your best bet is the anti-stalking law, whose application is limited too. State and territory legislations on surveillance are vague, inconsistent or outdated. 

 

To say it mildly, there are no written laws on drones and privacy.



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New law changes?

Yes. The Australian Civil Aviation Authority is on the verge of reviewing parts of their recreational drone policies. UAV pilots can expect new changes by the end of the decade. As per the bureaucratic process, any new changes must involve years of consultation between the public and aviation industry experts. 


On the bright side, drone users are yet to be classified as a public menace in Australia. The high number of users in the country has brought about some troubling incidents and complaints, but not too to instigate societal unrest.  


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Can I be penalized?

Anyone flying a drone over restricted airspace will have exposed themselves to penalties. In worst case scenarios they will part with $10,500 fine or jail time. Australian police use advanced drone detection devices during major events, so keep off any unauthorized activity. 

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What are my top drones to fly safely in Australia?

My following two recommendations are 2 great compact drones that are quite silent and also small enough to travel with and not stand out as annoying.

1.Dji Mavic Mini - The best international travel drone (under 250g)

 2.7k

30min battery

4km

No follow me

DJI has surprised us with this incredible camera drone under 250g, which is half of the weight required for registering in Romania in the first place.

 

I have covered it much more in depth in my article review and even compared it with the DJI Spark and Mavic Air.

Advantages

  • 30 min battery life
  • under 250g
  • super portable
  • 4km range
  • can edit videos in the app

DISAdvantages

  • no obstacle avoidance
  • no settings for iso and shutter speed

2.Dji Mavic Air - A great professional drone under 500g

4k 30fps

20min battery

4km

3 direction sensors

If you want more control over things like shutter speed, iso and such, the best professional drone that still falls under the 500g category is the DJI Mavic Air.
 
It's made mostly for people who want to play around with settings and enter into the pro category.
 

 

DJI lowered it's price since it was first released.

Advantages

  • 3 way sensors
  • 68kph (fastest among the 3)
  • follow me mode(quite a few options)
  • 8gb internal storage
  • ISo & shutter speed settings
  • 6 photo modes
  • takes RAW photos
  • 100mbps bitrate

DISAdvantages

  • battery life ins't that amazing
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Restricted Areas and Geofencing (drone FLying map)

The best way to figure out what areas you can fly in, while you're in Romania is by consulting DJI offilicial map.
They do a great job mapping the places that one should avoid while flying in every country:

  • airports
  • military bases
  • prisons
  • power plants
  • any high risk areas
romania flying map dji

How do you make money with your drone, though?

Okay, so you got your new and fancy drone, but how do you stand out from any dad out there who has the same drone and watched some tutorials online?

I did exactly that and barely had any success. 

But now I’m charging 5x as much as before and even have to refuse clients from time to time.

I even bought about 7 online courses… and I didn’t make much progress.

So how did I finally make it to this level?

If you want the short answer, I learned everything from this guy Alex, who’s making $200 per hour with his drone. And he’s even teaching exactly how to do that.

This is pretty much what you need to know:

how-to-make-money-with-drones

1. Make sure you have a proper drone.

If you have any of the latest DJI Drones, like the Mavic Air 2, for example, you’re ready to start making money.

No need to overthink this, but if it’s any help, check this comparison of the best camera drones compared in 2020.

types of drones

2.Learn how to create the best content to stand out

You won’t stand out from the next dad who bought a DJI drone for Cristmass in the eyes of your clients if you don’t do this.

It’s WAY more important to know what you’re doing than the gear you have.

You’ll need to learn and master the following:

  1.  
  • Flying your drone(to stand out from people with basic drone shots)
  • Preparing for the flight and weather in advance
  • Learn the best drone settings (you need a proper setup template)
  • Create the Video Script (it's way easier if you know what to shoot)
  • Have a set of great cinematic shots you know how to do
  • Know how to edit the video so it stands out
  • Learn how to color grade

This is why you HAVE to invest in a proper way to learn things (instead of watching tutorials here and there).

3.Find clients that pay 5x more than regular

But not so fast.

You won’t make a penny if you don’t know how to find your clients.

I have struggled finding clients even when my videos were getting pretty good.

Until I learned a few tricks and how to find and approach them so they won’t be able to say no.

And what’s best, I learned how to get the price I asked for.

How can you do the same?

I have tested quite a few courses online and watched tons of videos on youtube, but frankly, I have learned more from one single course than from everything else… and all that in like a weekend.

Made back the money from this investment in myself in a single week and then much more.

 

How do I learn all of this? From youtube?

You could simply go online and learn everything in terms of video from youtube, forums, facebook groups etc.

However, let me tell you, it’s the worst way to learn all of this(and the slowest).

You won’t have a Complete Step By step guide on how to do everything.

I found myself frustrated, even after I learned how to do most of the video stuff that I still lacked some knowledge and I didn’t know why my shots weren’t standing out.

I got some general promotion ideas from some articles online, but again… I didn’t have much success and was charging too little for my time.

This is exactly where I learned how to make $200 per hour with my drone (From A to Z)

This course is hold by Alex Harris, who’s an international video creator, director, and drone operator with tons of experience.

And I had a great time stealing his know-how(and greatly profited from it, lol).

I recommend you watch his video presentation bellow and check out the course sales page. It’s quite cheap, considering you’re getting 320+ minutes of everything you need to know, step by step and 80+ minutes on how to actually find the ideal clients for you.

I'm a big drone enthusiast, the owner of DronesGator.com and I also make weekly videos on my drone YouTube channel.

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