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  • Writer's pictureMichelle

The Skinny on Laser Laws in Australia - Handheld Lasers

Updated: Feb 29

Handheld Laser in use
Bird Control Group Handheld Laser

The handheld laser is an excellent choice for the person who is routinely checking for birds and encounters problem birds on a regular basis - airfields are a good example. Hand-held lasers with a power range above 1mW are considered a class 13B concealed weapon in Australia and as such are a prohibited weapon. If you have a genuine reason for use, you are able to operate a hand-held laser under restricted conditions and you do require a permit to operate in most Australian states and territories. The following is an excerpt from the latest report from Australian Customs and Border Protection Service.

In an attempt to reduce the incidents, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) amended the Civil Aviation Act to make it a specific offence to irresponsibly direct laser devices at aircraft, attracting penalties of 2 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $5,500.

In Australia, responsibility for weapons matters is shared between the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments.

The Commonwealth is responsible for matters relating to the import and export of weapons, while State and Territory Governments have responsibility for all matters relating to the possession and licensing of weapons, within their jurisdictions.

Provided the goods are for private use, a B709B Form (issued by the relevant State or Territory Police department) is required to verify permission to possess the goods within the nominated jurisdiction.


In Victoria, the Control of Weapons Act 1990 provides the framework for governing the sale, possession, transportation and use of non-firearm weapons and body armor. The Act divides weapons into four basic categories: ‘prohibited weapons’ such as flick knives, crossbows and knuckledusters; controlled weapons such as a baton, bayonet or knife (other than a prohibited weapon); dangerous articles; and body armour.

Individuals, groups of people, or classes of weapon may be able to receive special dispensations to possess, sell and use weapons under the Act either with the approval of the Chief Commissioner (commonly referred to as a Chief Commissioner Approval), or a Governor in Council Exemption Order.

Laser pointers are prescribed as a prohibited weapon in Victoria's Control of Weapons Regulations 2000. Specifically, the control prohibits "A hand-held battery-operated article commonly known as a "laser pointer" designed or adapted to emit a laser beam with an accessible emission limit of greater than 1 mW." People with a legitimate reason to possess such a laser pointer need to apply for a permit from the Victorian Police.

Northern Territory

The Northern Territory Weapons Control Act and Weapons Control Regulations regulate controlled and prohibited weapons in the Northern Territory. Possession of a controlled or prohibited weapon requires the Police Commissioner's approval.

Laser pointers are controlled weapons in the Northern Territory. The control covers hand-held battery-operated article, commonly known as a "laser pointer", designed or adapted to emit a laser beam with an accessible emission limit of greater than 1 mW.

South Australia

Laser pointers with an accessible emission limit of greater than 1 mW is considered a prohibited weapon and possession, and use of such weapons carry a maximum of up to 14 years jail.

You may be able to apply for an exemption to possess a prohibited weapon.

Exemptions may be allowed for:

  • astronomical use by the Astronomic Society SA and Mars Society Australia

  • collectors to add to an existing collection.

  • emergency workers or volunteers

  • executors, administrators and receivers of estates

  • family heirlooms

  • Freemasons

  • lawful and recognized entertainment

  • lawful and recognized sport or recreation

  • legal manufacturers of weapons

  • museums and art galleries

  • preparation of food and drink for human consumption

  • religious purposes

  • Scottish associations

  • security agents protecting or guarding property.

  • service organizations such as the Returned Services League.

The rest of us require a permit to possess and operate a laser pointer. To quote the South Australia Police, Firearms Operations Team.

“A hand-held laser with an output greater than 1mw is classed as a prohibited weapon under the Summary Offences Regulations 2016. To be able to possess one, a person would need to be an exempt person under schedule 2 of the Summary Offences Act 1953, however usage for the sole purpose of bird scaring is not one of those listed. Any situation that falls outside of those exemptions is determined on a case by case basis. There would have to be a very good reason as to why such a device was needed and a non-prohibited weapon could not be used instead.”

Western Australia

In Western Australia the Weapons Act 1999 governs prohibited and controlled weapons listed in the Weapons Regulations 1999.

Western Australia has implemented controls on light pointers, in its Weapons Regulations. Light Pointers are defined as an article made or modified to be used to emit light so as to be used as a pointing device (including a laser pointer).

New South Wales

In NSW, the possession and use of ‘prohibited weapons’ is governed by the Weapons Prohibition Act 1998 and the Weapons Prohibition Regulation 2009.

The Act and Regulations permit the Police Commissioner, or his delegate, to issue Prohibited Weapons Permits authorizing the use of ‘prohibited weapons’ where a person can show a genuine reason for the possession or use of the weapon. A range of permit types are available for ‘prohibited weapons’ in New South Wales including, (but not limited to) for sporting purposes, display in a public museum, and dealer and collector permits.[1]

New South Wales has enacted specific laser pointer controls. Under this legislation 'laser pointer' is defined as a hand-held battery-operated device, designed or adapted to emit a laser beam, that may be used for the purposes of aiming, targeting or pointing. New South Wales has specific offences in respect of persons who have in their custody (or use) laser pointers in a public place. This offence has a maximum penalty: 50 penalty units or imprisonment for 2 years, or both.

Permits required.

  • Application for a Prohibited Weapons Permit P638

  • Business Declaration

  • Prohibited Weapon Laser Pointer Permit Genuine Reason Form

These can all be found at this website.

“NSW has by far the most robust laws on laser pointers in the country”


The Prohibited Weapons Act 1996 specifies prohibited articles and weapons in the Australian Capital Territory. Under the Act, the Registrar may issue a permit authorizing the possession, or the possession and use of a prohibited weapon, or the possession of a prohibited article.

Laser Pointers are prohibited Weapons in the Australian Capital Territory. Specifically, Laser Pointer is defined as meaning a "prohibited weapon that is a hand-held article, commonly known as a laser pointer, designed or adapted to emit a laser beam with an accessible emission level of greater than 1mW".

“ACT follows the same permit requirements as NSW.”


Queensland weapon laws are enshrined in the Weapons Act 1990, the Weapons Regulations 1996 and the Weapons Categories Regulation 1997. Items such as a crossbow, knuckleduster, mace or similar articles are listed as weapons in the Weapons Categories Regulations 1997. An authorized police officer has the authority to issue a license to a person; the license ‘endorses’ the person to possess one or more categories of weapons.

Queensland has drafted legislation to regulate possession of laser pointers. A Discussion Draft of the Weapons Bill 2010 was released for public consultation. The Queensland Government is currently considering issues arising out of the consultation process and has yet to implement any controls on lasers pointers.

2018 - The regulation of laser pointers will align Queensland with other Australian jurisdictions and the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulation 1956 (Cth) which restricts the importation of laser pointers. {source; QLD Police website last updated 07/10/2016)

“We can only assume that QLD will be similar to NSW in the near future”


Tasmania does not have specific legislation that prohibits certain types of weapons. However, under Section 15C of the Police Offences Act 1935 a person, without lawful excuse, must not have possession of, or carry or use, a dangerous article in a public place and carries a fine of up to $2600.

{Tasmania has a Bill before Parliament for offences in respect of persons who have in their custody (or use) laser pointers in a public place. This offence has a maximum penalty: 20 penalty units. "Laser pointer" means a device designed or adapted to emit a laser beam capable of being used for the purposes of aiming, targeting or pointing}

Source; RESTRICTION ON THE IMPORTATION OF HANDHELD LASER POINTERS/Amendment to the /Customs (Prohibited Imports) /Regulations 1956/March 2012

To surmise.

So, whilst it is not a simple process to own and operate a hand-held laser device in Australia, it is possible but difficult. When I enquired to the authorities in each state the common thread was that you need a very good reason to be using a handheld laser and bird control is not one of them. With that being said, each state did mention that a bird scaring cause would be taken on a case-by-case basis so with a genuine reason for use, the correct permits which are state controlled and governed, and a strong case for its use, obtaining a permit is possible. The cost to obtain a permit is $127.00.

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