Who needs a tour operator licence?

A person or business who conducts an organised tour or recreational activity for profit on public land is required to hold a tour operator licence.  

If the tour or activity is carried out regularly and has a commercial purpose – a licence is generally required.

Where a licence-holder engages a third party to deliver some or all of the licensed activities, third parties must also hold a tour operator licence.

Who does not need a tour operator and activity provider licence?

Organisations that provide a service solely to their members (e.g. a bushwalking club that provides a leader), and who do not receive a financial reward over their direct costs, do not require a tour operator licence.

Private individuals or groups hiring equipment, vehicles or vessels on public lands where an itinerary (including a public land destination) or guided tour is not provided as part of the service, do not require a licence.

Public or private transport where an itinerary (including a public land destination) or guided tour is not provided as part of the service, do not require a licence.

Do school groups require a licence?

No. Primary and secondary schools do not require a licence where the activities are conducted by staff as part of the curriculum. School groups are required to follow the Department of Education and Training (DET) Safety Guidelines. However, where schools contract a third party to deliver organised tours or outdoor recreational activities on public land, a licensed tour operator should be used.

Do higher education providers require a licence?

Higher education providers do not require a licence where the activities are conducted by staff as part of the curriculum. Higher education providers, including TAFE and universities, may require a licence where the activity has a significant commercial purpose.

Do community markets or other one-off events require a tour operator and activity provider licence?

No.  Tour operator licences are required for regular access to public land for organised tours and recreational activity for profit. Persons planning to hold a one-off event on public land should apply to the relevant land manager for an event permit.

Is a tour operator and activity provider licence required where activities are already approved under a lease?

No. Lessees are not required to obtain a tour operator and activity provider licence for activities already covered by the terms of their lease. However, operation of organised tours or recreational activity for profit that are not within the terms of the lease, or are not carried out within the leased area, may require a licence.

Is a tour operator and activity provider licence required from each land manager if an activity crosses land management boundaries?

A tour operator licence is required for the public lands and waters where the organised tour or recreational activity takes place.

A tour operator licence is not required to access public land that is not part of the tour or activity itself. However, permission to access this land must be sought from the relevant land manager, who may require businesses to obtain alternate permits, licences, or leases for such activities.

Further assistance

If you are unsure whether you require a tour operator licence, please contact the relevant land manager, if known, or contact DELWP for further advice.

Page last updated: 04/09/19