Filming and photography permits

Filming and photography permits

Before you apply

Depending on the scope of your photo shoot or film production there are 2 different application processes for filming and photography permits within the City of Sydney.

To avoid delays to your permit being approved and issued please ensure you follow the correct application process suitable to your shoot or production.

Application processes

Film production and photography application

Filming, photography and drone/RPA permit requests that do not meet the restrictions for the ultra-low impact category need to be lodged with the film production and photography application form.

For more details about the application process and pre-requisite information for submissions to be valid, please refer to the document filming and photography on City of Sydney land.

This application must be submitted with at least 5 working days lead time prior to the first shoot date or the first date of proposed barricading of parking spaces where applicable, whichever occurs first.

Applications received outside of the minimum lead time can be rejected (where approval is possible for late applications in unique circumstances, late application fees will apply).

A technical survey of the film site should be undertaken before lodging the form with all required information completed in the application such as proposed equipment, timings and any special scene requirements (use of prop weapons, police uniforms, and so on).

Ultra-low impact filming or photography application

Ultra-low impact filming and photography includes a maximum of 1 camera, 1 light (if required), sound (if required), 1 tripod (if required) with no other equipment or infrastructure and is purely a piece to camera content piece located in a park, open public space or footpath only.

Please note that no other equipment is permitted under this type of application (no laptops, dollys, off camera playback, more than 1 light or more than 1 camera and so on.) No activities can be approved on any open roadways under any conditions of this ultra-low impact application (no laneways can be permitted, or other areas where there is no usable footpath).

The production should not require parking, traffic control or road closures and it should not affect pedestrians, businesses or residents. There is no application fee for an ultra-low impact application.

The ultra-low impact application is not applicable for commercial filming/photoshoots or where pre-booking of a location is required.

If your production or photo shoots meets all of the above criteria, you can complete our online application form, which requires at least 2 working days to process.

Confirmation on approvals are issued up to the last working day prior to the proposed shoot date.

Drone/RPA use for filming and photography

All commercial drone/remotely piloted aircraft use regardless of size or type requires City of Sydney approval to take-off or land on public land.

From 29 September 2016 the Civil Aviation Safety Authority no longer requires formal certification of drone/RPA operators for drones under 2kg. All commercial operators of a drone/RPA under 2kg must instead register their details with CASA online before any use.

Commercial operators of a drone/RPA under 2kg are still required to follow the standard operating conditions for commercial drones, which include:

  • only flying during the day and in line of sight
  • no flying within 30m of people
  • no flying above 120m
  • no flying within 5.5km of a controlled airport
  • no flying over busy areas such as beaches, parks and sporting ovals
  • all activities on public land must be pre-approved by the local council/authority.

You must be CASA certified to operate a drone/RPA over 2kg for a commercial purpose.

Drone/RPA application – For all commercial RPA use the following documentation must be submitted for all applications:

  • filming production and photography application form
  • CASA issued RPA operators certificate (ReOC) (drones over 2kg)
  • CASA issued remote pilot licence (RePL) for each proposed operator (drones over 2kg)
  • aviation specific public liability insurance certificate
  • flight risk assessment
  • pedestrian management plan with the proposed pedestrian exclusion zone illustrated (30m and so on, depending on the operator’s licence)
  • flight plan if operations are to deviate out of the 30m ground exclusion zone once airborne (maximum altitude must not exceed 400ft or 123m).

No take-off/landing sites on public land are permitted that cannot satisfy the basic conditions of a standard operators certificate.

All standard RPA operator certificates require an exclusion zone of 30m be enforced for all take-off/landing sites, with no operations permitted within 30m of any member of public at any time. As such, the take-off/landing site proposed must be able to satisfy this minimum requirement with scaled exclusion zones illustrated upon a pedestrian management plan to be included with all applications.

Additional restrictions of use – Further documentation must be submitted for all additional operations as listed below:

  • within 3 nautical miles or 5.5km of an airport requires specific CASA approval
  • at night requires specific CASA approval
  • within restricted airspace requires specific approval from the controlling authority
  • within military airspace requires military approval (LOA) and CASA approval
  • out of visual line of sight require specific CASA area approval
  • within less than 30m of a member of the general public requires a specific CASA issued operators exclusion.

All UAV operators must ensure that flights remain in line with the requirements of privacy legislation.

You can download an area map that illustrates the 3 nautical mile exclusion zone for all drone/RPA flights surrounding towered airports in Sydney.

Unauthorised commercial use – All operators found to be operating in breach of a City of Sydney issued approval, in breach of CASA conditions of their operator's certificate or operating without an approval will be stopped, possible infringement notices issued and all details provided to CASA for further action.

Further information and licensing procedure queries can be directed to the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority or phone 131 757.

Other considerations

If you are filming on private property you do not need to apply for Council consent but you will need to submit a filming management plan.

You must also follow the state government's planning restrictions in relation to the property.

The management plan needs to include:

  • your company details
  • a description of the filming to take place
  • the proposed location
  • start and end dates
  • crew size
  • details of temporary structures
  • equipment to be used such as handheld or mounted cameras
  • parking arrangements
  • any expected disruption to the surrounding area such as noise, vibrations, release of smells and the use of lighting or special effects.

When you submit your management plan you need to include copies of approvals that you need from other public authorities such as the police.

Other authorities

Not all areas of the City are under our control. Some areas require permission from other authorities listed in the table below, and as illustrated on the government landowners map.

Other approvals

Notify the police: Filming activities on public land may need to be approved by NSW Police to discuss traffic control, user-pays police personnel and working around other activities that may be planned in the area at the same time.

Police must also be notified if the filming project involves firearms, police uniforms or any other law enforcement-related props.

Parking requirements: The City assesses all parking needs for productions requiring access to on-street parking. You may be allocated or purchase parking spaces for unit and essential vehicles and keep a section of kerbspace for example, to use for filming. Applications must show the exact parking locations on a clear map, the parking restrictions and provide the registration details of vehicles parking on-street. Please note that flexible or unlimited parking permits are not available. Barricading/reserving of parking may be required in some areas, which must be carried-out by authorised traffic controllers.

In areas where parking is in high demand such as residential or business areas, you will need to relocate your unit base and transport your equipment to the film site. Please ask about suitable unit bases if you require further information.

If parking is approved by the City, you must:

  • park only in nominated areas with an approved parking permit
  • ensure the location and parking of production vehicles meets the City's and any police requirements
  • ensure production vehicles do not arrive earlier than the time stipulated in the permit, particularly in residential areas
  • ensure the parking permit is clearly displayed on each vehicle for the duration the vehicle will be parked in the street
  • not move or tow-away any private vehicle from the filming site
  • keep normal access for motorists and pedestrians through the filming unless otherwise approved.

Insurance requirements

All film projects must have public liability insurance and a copy of the certificate of currency must be provided along with the application before any approvals can be provided.

  • Stills shoots, news crew-style shoots, short films, documentaries, student films and children's productions should have $10 million coverage.
  • TV commercials, dramas, mini-series' and films with budgets under $50 million need $20 million coverage.
  • Films with budgets greater than $50 million need $30 million insurance coverage.

Notify the neighbours

Before you start filming you need to letterbox drop the area around your location letting the neighbours (business/residential) know about your production plans at least 5 days before the shoot for standard filming/parking activities and at least 14 days before for road closures.

A copy of the notification letter needs to be provided to the City's film liaison officer for approval before it is distributed. You can download a sample letter.

Our film liaison officer (see Contacts) can provide advice about the specific area that needs to be notified and any additional requirements.


Film, photography and drone enquiries02 9265 9026

Centennial Park, Queens Park, Moore Park, Driver Avenue and other roads withinCentennial Parklands02 9339 6699
Inside train stationsSydney Trains02 8922 4392
Royal Botanic Garden, The Domain, Mrs Macquarie's Chair, Hospital Road and other roads withinRoyal Botanic Garden02 9231 8111
Circular Quay, (part of) The Rocks, Darling Harbour, Pymont wharves, Pyrmont Point and other areas of Pyrmont/Ultimo

Property NSW02 9240 8500

Sydney Opera House (including forecourt areas)Sydney Opera House02 9250 7111
All state roads such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Anzac Bridge, Cahill Expressway, Western Distributor, Botany Road and so on.Roads and Maritime Services02 8396 1400

Last updated: Wednesday, 1 July 2020