Permit requirements for national parks, recreation areas and forests

You need to apply for a Commercial Activity Permit (CAP) to conduct activities for commercial gain in a national park or other protected area in Queensland.

You need to apply for a CAP if your activity is designed to make a profit, gain or benefit. This includes some fundraising activities by not-for-profit organisations.

A CAP can be offered for a minimum of 3 months or less, up to a maximum of 3 years. You can apply to have it reissued.

Activities requiring a CAP

The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) uses the following criteria to assess whether you need a permit. You will need a CAP if the:

  • primary purpose of the activity is to make a profit
  • activity, tour, course or transport is provided free of charge, but in conjunction with another commercial product or service
  • service is being provided by someone who is being compensated or paid a fee (e.g. a tour guide or group leader)
  • activity is ongoing or regular
  • entry or participation fee is being collected over and above those costs associated with conducting the activity
  • activity is open to the general public as well as a specific membership group.

Examples of activities requiring a CAP include:

  • guided tours
  • events
  • filming and photography
  • canoeing, rafting or kayaking
  • fundraising and charitable events
  • hang-gliding or paragliding
  • scenic flights
  • vending (e.g. mobile food vending)
  • scuba diving
  • motorised activities.

Learn more about applying for a CAP in national parks and protected areas.

State plantation forests

If you only want to operate in a state plantation forest, you should apply to Hancock's Queensland Plantations for a permit.

If you want to operate in a state plantation forest and a national park, state forest or recreation area, you only need to apply to QPWS.

Public transport services

A CAP is not required for a public transport service, with regular routes and timetables or where passengers pay individual fares, that travels through a national park or other protected area.

Recreation activities

Private groups and individuals involved in recreational or educational activities, other than for commercial purposes, do not require a CAP. Examples include bushwalking or nature study, group activities, recreational hang-gliding, weddings, public meetings or research activities. However, you may require an organised event permit.

Learn more about recreational activities in national parks and protected areas.

Education groups - no daily site fees

Commercial tour operators taking an approved educational group, including school groups, on a commercial tour are exempt from paying daily per person fees for their educational group clients.

Legal considerations

The following laws and regulations apply to commercial activities in protected areas.