Permits for tour operators in parks
If you want to operate a tour business in parks and reserves in the Northern Territory (NT), you need a tour operator permit.
Permits are needed for all these activities:
- guided walks
Before you apply
You must apply for a permit before you want to start doing business in a park or a reserve.
You must understand and follow the:
Not all permit applications are successful.
What you need to apply
When you apply for a permit to conduct a tour, you must give all of the following:
- your contact details and the details of your organisation
- a description of the tour you propose
- the name of the park or reserve you will visit
- names of proposed staff
- employment status of staff - full-time, part-time, casual, contract
- an oath about conservation laws - in the form of a witnessed and completed statutory declaration form .
You will need to provide a copy of your insurance policy certificate of currency.
How to apply
To apply for or renew a tour operator permit, fill in the online tour operator permit application.
For more information, contact the Parks and Wildlife Commission permits and concessions office.
Renew your permit
To renew a permit, you must follow the same process as above but you must include a yearly patron statistics statement from the Australian Government's Department of Business website.
The statement must be about the previous year and must list each month, even if there were no tours that month.
Submit the statement by 31 March with all of the following information:
- park or reserve
- number of tours
- number of patrons.
You can submit the form online or by email, fax, mail or in person to the Parks and Wildlife Commission permits and concessions office.
Who can't get a permit
The following can not get a permit if they are currently accused of, or were ever found guilty of breaking conservation laws:
This applies to all of the following range of laws:
- Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1976
- Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation By-Laws 1984
- any laws or by-laws of the NT, the Commonwealth or a state or territory that relate to protection, conservation or management of native species.
Current tour operator fees are:
- $100 for 4 or fewer park visits
- $500 for 5 or more park visits
- $1,500 for any number of park visits for up to 3 years
- $2,500 for any number of park visits for up to 5 years.
Note that 3 and 5 year permits are available only if you conduct 5 or more park visits in each year.
How you can pay
You can pay by:
- credit card
- online form
- debit card
- cash in person.
If you hold a tour operator permit, you must report all incidents that affect your clients and employees.
You must also report events that could harm the environment or put people at risk.
Reports should be made within 24 hours of the incident.
To make a report, contact the Parks and Wildlife Commission permits and concessions office.
Parks with special permits
Some parks require a tour operator to have a separate special permit.
For more information, you should contact the Parks and Wildlife permits and concessions office.
You need to apply for a separate permit for activities in these areas:
- Garig Gunak Barlu National Park - Cobourg
- Channel Point Coastal Reserve
- Jatbula Trail in Nitmiluk National Park
- the Larapinta Trail within Tjorita - West MacDonnell National Park
- the Larapinta Trail within Alice Springs Telegraph Station Historical Reserve.
The Parks and Wildlife Commission does not issue permits for Kakadu or Uluru Kata Tjuta National Parks.
Go to Parks Australia North on the Australian Government website for information about these parks.
Marine turtle watching permits
Commercial tourism operators must apply for a permit to take or interfere with wildlife before conducting marine turtle watching activities in the NT.
Tour guides must be familiar with marine turtle biology and marine turtle watching codes of practice before leading tours.
Read the Marine Turtle Watching Community guidelines .
To get a copy of the Parks and Wildlife Commission of the NT's marine turtle watch policy and guidelines, contact the Parks and Wildlife permits and concessions office.
Watarrka National Park tour guide safety induction
The Watarrka National Park tour guide safety induction is a new requirement for all guides operating within the park.
Tour operator permit holders must ensure all guides working in the park have passed the induction by 31 March 2017.
Tour guides need to pass an online test about permits and safety for the induction.
They will be given a certificate once they pass the test. This can be used as proof they have taken the induction while they wait for their tour guide ID card to arrive.
Read more about the parks safety induction.
Last updated: 21 March 2022
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