Australian Marine Parks

Applying for a licence to undertake tourism activities in our marine parks?

These useful hints and tips will help you to complete your online application form.


To apply for a licence, register on our online system and set up your online account.

Step 1: Prepare

Step one: Prepare for your application

You (the applicant) are responsible for providing sufficient information with your application in order for us to assess it. This must include details about the activities you wish to carry out as well as information on the likely impacts your activity may have on marine park values.

Before you start your licence application, it is important that you have a clear understanding of:

  • what you need to include in your application
  • where you want to conduct tourism activities
  • how you will avoid or mitigate any risks to the marine park values from your activities.

Understand marine park values

When you apply, you will need to tell us if your activity will impact the values of the marine park that you are applying to visit. So it is important that you learn about the marine park values.

When making decisions about what activities can occur and what action we will take to protect our marine parks, we take values into account.

Marine parks have:

  • Natural values (ecosystems, communities, species and ecological features)
  • Cultural values
  • Heritage values
  • Socio-economic values (which includes tourism).

Learn about the values in our marine parks.

What to include in your application

When you apply for a licence, you will need to include supporting information and documents. Your application will not be progressed until the required information has been provided and your application may be rejected if it does not contain all the information needed.

Maps and itineraries

  • Maps and itineraries of your proposed trips.

Files must be smaller than 5 MB and must end with one of the following extensions: pdf, txt, rtf, doc, docx, jpg, jpeg.

Organisation details

Details about your organisation, including:

  • ABN
  • Trading name
  • Director
  • Contact details.

Vessel details

Details about the vessel you will be using to operate tourism activities, including:

  • Vessel name
  • Registration number
  • Vessel type. For example, yacht (monohull, catamaran, trimaran, sloop, catch), game boat, runabout, dingy.
  • Vessel weight (in kilograms)
  • Number of crew
  • Name of owner
  • Vessel tracking system type and number
  • If the vessel has sewage holding tanks
  • Tender vessel names, registration, size and type.

Aircraft details

If your tourism activity includes the use of an aircraft, you will need to provide:

  • Name of owner
  • Max people carrying capacity
  • Make
  • Model
  • Landing locations and dates.

Previous or current authorisation

  • If you hold or have previously held an authorisation from Parks Australia that is related to commercial tourism, you will need to provide the authorisation number or a copy of any current or expired Parks Australia permits or approvals.
  • Copies of current permits or approvals from other government departments/agencies (for example, GBRMPA) related to your proposed commercial tourism activity.

Insurance details

  • Policy number and policy exclusions
  • Copy of the certificate of currency
  • Public liability insurance to a minimum value of $10 million

Files must be smaller than 5 MB and must end with one of the following extensions: pdf, txt, rtf, doc, docx, jpg, jpeg.

Qualifications and experience

  • Qualifications and experience of persons operating the proposed activity
  • Industry accreditations, tourism award, etcetera
  • Examples of customer service such as policies, training and procedures.

Step 2: Register

Snorkelling with jelly fish at Ningaloo Marine Park. Photo: Emily Wood

Step 2: Register on our online system

If you haven’t applied online before, you need to register on our online system and set up your online account.

To register you will need to provide a name, email address and password. The password need to be at least 10 characters, with lowercase letters, uppercase letters and numbers.

You will also need to accept the terms and conditions.

Once you have registered as an Online Services user you can begin your application by clicking on the Apply button.

Step 3: Apply

School of Trevally.

Step 3: Apply for a licence

The online application form is separated into six sections:

  1. Application details
  2. Additional activity details
  3. Purpose and methods
  4. Other permits and authorisations
  5. Applicant details
  6. Declaration

Application details (Section 1)

  1. Enter a name to identify your application

    For example, your company name and the type of tourism activity.

  2. Identify which marine park are you going to

    Select Australian Marine Parks then select Next.

  3. Define the area you plan to visit by drawing on the map

    a) Click the Draw button (top left hand side of map)

    b) Click on the map to start drawing a polygon around your activity area.

    One click on the map will start the polygon and double clicking will complete the polygon. When you double click it will automatically join the end point to the start point of the shape.

    When you have completed the polygon you will need to wait briefly while the parks and zones are automatically calculated before you can continue. When the calculation is complete a box will appear below the map that includes the marine park and zones, latitude and longitude.

    You can add multiple polygons if you are going to different locations.

    You should not apply for areas you may wish to visit in the future, just those you plan to visit.

  4. Attach documents

    Below the location box is an option to attach documents that detail the areas you plan to visit. This is not a mandatory step for commercial tourism activities in Section 1, as the information must be included in Section 2.

  5. Select licence or permit

    You will now be asked if you are applying for a licence or permit. For commercial tourism activities you must select Licence.

    Now click Next.

  6. Select your primary activity: Commercial tourism.

    This will then give you options to select the broad commercial tourism activities you plan to undertake, including aviation, charter fishing, nature watching and/or SCUBA snorkel tour. If you are a cruise ship operator, select nature watching.

    Now click Next.

  7. Enter your activity start and end dates (maximum of two years).

    You will then be prompted to click calculate fee. Please wait a moment while the fee is calculated before you select Save and continue to move onto Section 2.

    Please note, there are no application fees charged for commercial tourism activities.

Additional activity details (Section 2)

  1. Provide additional activity details

    It is important to describe all the activities you plan to undertake, including the purpose and objectives of those activities.

    For example, for charter fishing you should describe what species you target and what kind of fishing methods you use, including whether you use fish feeding or live bait. For SCUBA, you should explain what methods you use, if any, to attract marine species and whether you undertake night dives.

    Example additional activities include: Whale watching, whale shark swims, submersible scuba vehicles, jet skis, island visits.

  2. Attach relevant maps or itineraries

    This could include a detailed map for the area you intend to visit, including anchoring points, and a document describing itineraries, including starting port, tour route and end port.

    Both of these fields are mandatory and must be completed before the application can be submitted.

    You can submit the maps and itineraries using any of the following extensions: pdf, txt, rtf, doc, docx, jpg, jpeg.

  3. Select other activities

    You will be asked to select other activities (if relevant) including drone use and media collection.

    If you plan to use images taken in the marine park for commercial purposes (for example to advertise your tours) then you should include this in your application.

  4. Provide tour information

    Provide details of the maximum length of the tours, maximum frequency of the tours, and maximum size of the tour group.

Purpose and methods (Section 3)

Include the vessel and aircraft details

You need to include the vessel and aircraft details for your proposed activity, including:

  • Is the vessel owned or hired
  • Registration number
  • Name of person or organisation that owns vessel
  • Vessel type. For example, yacht (monohull, catamaran, trimaran, sloop, catch), game boat, runabout, dingy.
  • People carrying capacity
  • Vessel length (in metres)
  • Vessel weight (in kilograms)
  • Vessel tracking system type (if applicable)
  • If the vessel has sewage holding tanks
  • Number of crew.

Explain the potential impacts and risks

You must explain what the potential impacts and risks of the activity on the marine park values, and what you plan to do to avoid or minimise those risks.

All activities have positive and negative impacts on our marine parks. This is one of the reasons why it is important to know the values of the marine parks. The following questions may help to identify the potential impacts and risks of your activity on marine park values.

Will your activity:

  • Reduce the area of occupancy of a species or affect that species habitat?
  • Disrupt important lifecycle behaviours of a species including resting, foraging and breeding? For example seabirds breeding or resting on sandy islands.
  • Interfere with the natural behaviours of a species through activities (such as feeding fish)?
  • Cause damage to sensitive habitat (such as coral as a result of contact with divers, vessels or anchors)?
  • Introduce invasive species or disease?
  • Result in pollution from vessel discharges or accidently discarded waste?

Identify how you will avoid potential impacts:

If you have identified that your activity may impact or risk the values of the marine parks you intend to visit, you will need to describe:

  • How you how you plan to reduce the impacts if they can’t be avoided.
  • The processes you have in place to reduce impacts (for example, procedures to reduce likelihood of introducing pests).
  • Contingency plans in the case of unforeseen events.

Other permits and authorisations (Section 4)

If you hold or have previously held an authorisation from Parks Australia that is related to commercial tourism you will be asked to provide the details (such as authorisation number) and submit a copy of the authorisation.

You will need to provide:

  • Copies of any current permits or approvals from other government departments/agencies (for example, GBRMPA) related to the proposed commercial tourism.
  • Details on your and your staff’s qualifications and experiences, any industry accreditation and awards, as well as details of policies and training that contribute to customer service. The qualifications and experience needs to be in relation to the proposed activity.
  • Details of your public liability insurance. To undertake commercial activities in a marine park you are required to have public liability insurance at a minimum value of $10 million (sometimes more depending on the activity). The final question will ask for policy number, exclusions and copy of the certificate of currency.

Applicant details (Section 5)

You will be asked for the details of your organisation (including ABN) and the primary contact for the purpose of the application.

If you have previously saved your organisation details into your account on Online Services, this information can be included automatically by clicking Yes to ‘Would you like to use a saved organisation from your account?’.

Declaration (Section 6)

For you application to be submitted you must download and sign a completed copy of the declaration.

The declaration is to be signed by the applicant for the authorisation or, if the applicant is a company or other body, by a duly authorised officer. The declaration must be signed in the presence of a witness.

To upload a signed copy of the declaration from your computer, click Choose File. You can now press Submit.

Step 4: Assessment

Snorkelling with a Whale shark. Photo: Chiara Bussini (Exmouth Dive and Whalesharks Ningaloo)

Step 4: Assessment and Decision

Once you have submitted your application you will receive an email notification to let you know it was successful. If you don’t receive this email within 24 hours, please contact us

When successfully submitted, we will assess your activity in line with the legislation. If additional information is needed for the assessment, we will contact you directly by phone or email.

The assessment timeframe (minimum of 8 weeks) will begin when you have provided us with all relevant information. If you had planned to start sooner, you should contact us as soon as possible.

Having assessed an application, we will either:

  • grant in-principle approval subject to conditions
  • refuse the application.

If your application is successful, you will receive a draft licence to consider. This licence will detail where the activities are allowed, the timeframe for the licence, and conditions that must be adhered to.

Once you have reviewed the draft licence and are satisfied with the conditions, you can sign the draft licence and email it back to us. When we have received your signed copy, we will execute the licence and send you a final copy.


Reporting requirements

Within 20 business days of every three months from the commencement date, you will be required to submit a report of your activities in the previous three months.

A reporting template will be provided with your approved licence.

Need help?

Need help?

If you have questions about applying for a licence or questions with the online form, please contact us.

Thank you for your continued support in helping to protect our marine parks.