The use of permits helps the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) ensure the conservation and sustainable use of the Great Barrier Reef’s state and Commonwealth Marine Parks.

Permits allow us to:

  • reduce impacts on high-use and sensitive areas
  • separate potentially conflicting activities
  • encourage responsible behaviour in all Marine Parks users
  • collect data for planning of Marine Parks
  • monitor activities which may become damaging to the Marine Parks.

Permit enquiries

Agency staff are available to answer your enquiries about permit applications and assessments.

You can find answers on our website to many commonly asked questions — such as when a permit is required and the steps you need to take.

Application forms are also available on our website.

If you have any further questions, please:

Assessment timeframes

The agency assesses between 300 to 400 permit applications for new activities each year. We also manage more than 5800 permissions across some 1300 permits.

We are continuing to see an increase in the number of permit applications for all types of activities.

All level 1 (low risk activities) applications will continue to have a minimum assessment timeframe of 16 weeks. We define low risk activity applications as follows:

  • a *standard access vessel based tourism operation with a maximum of 150 passengers using a vessel up to 35 metres
  • a *standard access aircraft based tourism operation including landing, non-landing and/or scenic flights
  • conducting standard activities including swimming, snorkelling, SCUBA diving, fishing, fish feeding, passenger transfers and
  • non-tourist commercial charters (transport of researchers, film crews and technicians)
  • non-motorised watersports (example kayaks, paddleboards windsurfers) utilised in conjunction with the vessel and not for separate hire
  • motorised watersports (example jet skis) utilised in conjunction with the vessel and not for separate hire or part of a guided tour
  • conduct of a bareboat hire operation
  • vessel charter operation
  • operation of a cruise ship (>70m length)
  • removal of COTS and/or Drupella (using only hand held implements).

*Standard access is defined as:

  • Two days in any seven day period to any location outside the Planning Areas
  • 50 day access per year to each Planning Area with a requirement to obtain a booking
  • continuations of special endorsements which meet reasonable use criteria.

In circumstances where the applicant changes the application from the original lodgement, the assessment timeframes may vary and will be dependent on the applicant providing all relevant information prior to assessing the application.

General disclaimer:

  • Under the Native Title Act, we must provide a 30-day notification period to native title holders or claimants. 
  • If you have applied for a continuation of your existing permit before it expired, you can continue to operate under this permit until a decision is made on your new application.
  • If you have requested changes to your existing permit, the agency must make a decision on the proposed amendments before you can proceed in undertaking those changes.