Water extraction licences

Water trading

Water trading is an exchange of a water entitlement between:

  • a buyer (the water licence holder who gets more water) and
  • a seller (the water licence holder whose water entitlement is reduced).

You can now view the water trade register on the Department of Environment, Parks and Water Security website.

How water trading works

You can only trade water within a declared water allocation plan area.

Each water allocation plan will have guidelines that apply to water trading. If you want to trade water, you should read the trade guidelines in the water allocation plan that applies to your licence.

You can find out more about declared areas on the Department of Environment, Parks and Water Security website.

Find someone to trade with

The department publishes a public register of approved water licences, which can be used to find licence holders to trade water with.

Negotiate the details

The buyer and seller must negotiate the details of the trade including the:

  • amount and security of water
  • length of time the water will be traded
  • price for the water (if any).

The department is not involved in the negotiations between the buyer and seller.

Apply to trade water

Once the buyer and seller have agreed on the trade, they must complete the application form and send it to the department to be assessed. The department will aim to finalise simple trade applications within two weeks.

It will take longer to process trades that:

  • are for more than 1,000 megalitres (ML)
  • require a new licence to be granted
  • are in or impact on groundwater dependent ecosystem areas or groundwater discharge protection areas.

A water trade only takes effect once the controller of water resources has approved the trade.

Step 1. Fill in the form

To trade water you need to fill in the form below.

Application to trade water entitlement PDF (538.5 KB)
Application to trade water entitlement DOCX (71.4 KB)

The buyer and seller must both complete and sign the form. You should review the checklist included on the form to ensure you have included all the information and documents.

Step 2. Submit

You can submit the form and all supporting documents by:


If you have questions about water trading in the Northern Territory, or need help completing the application, call 08 8999 4455 or email water.licensing@nt.gov.au.

Get a print friendly version of the water trading fact sheet PDF (439.4 KB).

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Last updated: 22 September 2020

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