Permits and licences for space activities

The New Zealand Space Agency regulates launch vehicles reaching outer space, launch facilities, high-altitude vehicles and payloads (usually known as satellites) through licences and permits.

New Zealand is a responsible space-faring nation. The Outer Space and High-altitude Activities Act 2017 (the Act) sets out a licensing and permitting regime for space-related activities conducted from New Zealand or by New Zealanders overseas.

Outer Space and High-altitude Activities Act 2017(external link) — New Zealand Legislation

Definitions

Payload

A payload is any object that is carried or placed, or is intended to be carried or placed, in outer space.

High-altitude vehicle (HAV)

A HAV is any aircraft or any other vehicle that travels, is intended to travel, or is capable of travelling to higher than flight level 600 or the highest upper limit of controlled airspace under the Civil Aviation Act 1990.

Launch vehicle

A launch vehicle is any vehicle, the whole or any part of which reaches or is intended to reach outer space or carries or supports the launch of (or intends to support the launch of) a payload.

Launch facility

A launch facility is a fixed or mobile facility or place from which it is intended to launch a launch vehicle and includes all other facilities necessary to launch a launch vehicle (for example mission control facilities).

See section 4 of the Act for a complete set of definitions.

Section 4: Interpretation(external link)

Before you apply for a permit or licence

Contact us if you want to apply for a New Zealand licence or permit, or if you would like further information.

Contact us

Talking about your application with us means that we can make sure you’re meeting the criteria in the Act, and we can process your application more efficiently. We can help you transfer any sensitive information and will ensure this is protected, subject to relevant legislative requirements.

Apply for (or transfer) a Payload Permit

You need a Payload Permit if you plan to launch a payload into outer space from New Zealand. Before you fill in your application form make sure you have everything you need. The application form contains all the information that you need to include. You can also refer to Schedule 2 and 4 of the Regulations (below) to see the information we need to process permits, including payload details.

Complete Form APP-001 to apply for a payload permit to launch a payload into outer space from New Zealand.

Form APP-001: Application form for a payload permit [DOCX, 338 KB]

You will also need to produce an orbital debris mitigation plan that meets the requirements of our regulations.

Requirements for orbital debris mitigation plan(external link) — New Zealand Legislation

Schedule 2: Information required for any licence or permit application(external link) — New Zealand Legislation

Schedule 4: Information required for payload permit or overseas payload permit application(external link) — New Zealand Legislation

Transferring or changing a current payload

If you currently hold a payload permit granted by New Zealand’s Minister for Economic Development, and you want to transfer an interest in that permit or undergo a change of control, you must first apply for approval to do so.

Contact us

Regulations about transfer and change(external link) — New Zealand Legislation

Apply for an overseas payload permit

If you want to launch a payload into outer space from outside New Zealand and you are a New Zealand national or a New Zealand entity (for example a New Zealand registered company), you will need to apply for an overseas payload permit.

Complete Form APP-001 to apply for a payload permit or overseas payload permit. There is helpful information in the form that explains what you need to include.

Form APP-001: Application form for a payload permit [DOCX, 338 KB]

You will also need to produce an orbital debris mitigation plan that meets the requirements of our regulations.

Requirements for orbital debris mitigation plan(external link) — New Zealand Legislation

Read Schedule 2 and Schedule 4 of the Regulations to see the information we need to process permits, including payload details.

Schedule 2: Information required for any licence or permit application(external link) — New Zealand Legislation

Schedule 4: Information required for payload permit or overseas payload permit application(external link) — New Zealand Legislation

Apply for a High-Altitude Vehicle (HAV) licence

You need a high-altitude licence if you plan to launch a high-altitude vehicle (HAV) from New Zealand.

Read Schedule 2 and Schedule 6 of the Regulations to see the information we need for any high-altitude licence application.

Schedule 2: Information required for any licence or permit application(external link) — New Zealand Legislation

Schedule 6: Information required for high-altitude licence application(external link) — New Zealand Legislation

If your high-altitude vehicle is an aircraft as defined by the Civil Aviation Act 1990, we work with the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to make sure that you have the appropriate authorisations.

Civil Aviation Act 1990, section 2: Interpretation(external link) — New Zealand Legislation

If the HAV you plan to launch is not an aircraft, you will need to submit a comprehensive safety case that meets the requirements of our regulations, outlined in our Safety Case Guidance.

Safety Case Guidance [PDF, 932 KB]

Some vehicles are not considered as HAVs under the Act, so they are exempt from being treated as a HAV. Check the regulations to see if your vehicle is exempt.

Outer Space and High-altitude Activities (Definition of High-altitude Vehicle) Regulations 2017(external link) — New Zealand Legislation

Complete Form APP-002 to apply for a HAV licence. There is helpful information in the form that explains what you need to include. 

Form APP-002: Application for high-altitude licence [DOCX, 333 KB]

Before you fill in your application form make sure you have everything you need (refer to Schedule 2 and 6 of the Regulations above).

Apply for a launch facility licence

You need a facility licence to operate a launch facility in New Zealand.

The facility licence applies to launches by a single launch operator, or a standalone facility that will be used by multiple launch operators. 

You can get a facility licence for up to 5 years, but you can renew it before the licence expires.

Read Schedule 2 and Schedule 5 of the Regulations to see the information we need for a facility licence application.

Schedule 2: Information required for any licence or permit application(external link) — New Zealand Legislation

Schedule 5: Information required for facility licence application(external link) — New Zealand Legislation

You’ll also need to include a comprehensive safety case that meets our regulations and requirements, outlined in our Safety Case Guidance.

Safety Case Guidance [PDF, 932 KB]

Contact us

Apply for a vehicle launch licence

You need a launch licence if you plan to launch a vehicle into outer space from New Zealand.

If you plan to launch a vehicle into outer space from outside New Zealand and you are a New Zealand national or a New Zealand entity (for example a New Zealand registered company), you will need to apply for an overseas launch licence.

You can get a launch licence for up to 5 years, but you can renew it before the licence expires.

Schedule 2 and Schedule 3 of the Regulations describe the information we need for a launch licence or overseas launch licence.

Schedule 2: Information required for any licence or permit application(external link) — New Zealand Legislation

Schedule 3: Information required for launch licence or overseas launch licence application(external link) — New Zealand Legislation

You’ll need to include a comprehensive safety case that meets our regulations and requirements, outlined in our Safety Case Guidance.

Safety Case Guidance [PDF, 932 KB]

You’ll also need to produce an orbital debris mitigation plan that meets the requirements of our regulations.

Requirements for orbital debris mitigation plan(external link) — New Zealand Legislation

Contact us

Permits from other jurisdictions

Our regulatory regime is flexible and responsive. If you have licences and permits granted by other regimes, they may already satisfy some of the requirements under the Act. This may help us to avoid over-regulating; or duplicating the work we do to process your permit application.

When you apply for a licence or permit under the Act please provide copies of any licences or permits from other jurisdictions you are relying on, and any conditions imposed when you apply.

Currently, we treat the licences or permits issued by the authorites below as meeting some of our requirements, particularly when they address aspects of technical capability, public safety and/or orbital debris mitigation:

  • US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • US Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – where an applicant also holds an FCC licence and the payload has remote sensing capabilities (e.g. a camera.) A NOAA licence does not meet our requirements for orbital debris mitigation.
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
  • US Department of Defense (DoD)
  • European Space Agency (ESA)

Contact us if you would like to rely on another jurisdiction’s authorisation as meeting some of our requirements.

Contact us

How we collect and use your information

We collect information to help us grant licences and permits, as required by the Act. We work with and share information with other agencies to make sure:

  • the public is kept safe, and operations are conducted safely
  • New Zealand complies with its international obligations
  • risks to national security are managed
  • the activity is in New Zealand's national interest.

We manage all information in accordance with the Official Information Act 1982 and the Privacy Act 2020. Contact us if you have any concerns about how your information is used.

Contact us

Guidance

We are committed to making sure the industry remains safe, responsible and secure and that New Zealand’s international obligations are met, while also fostering growth and innovation.

We produce guidance material to allow the industry to meet the statutory criteria, and as our regulatory regime evolves we may publish more guidance documents here.

Read our Safety Case Guidance to help prepare your safety case when you apply for a high-altitude licence (non-aircraft), facility licence or launch licence so that it meets our requirements.

Safety case guidance [PDF, 932 KB]

You will also need to provide an orbital debris mitigation plan (ODMP) if you're applying for a launch licence, overseas launch licence, payload permit or an overseas payload permit. The Orbital Debris Mitigation Operational Policy sets out the approach that we will take when assessing these applications.

Orbital Debris Mitigation: Operational Policy [PDF, 366 KB]

To support innovation while ensuring the safe and responsible use of space, we have developed an operational policy that we will apply when considering applications for payloads of a size less than 1U.

Payloads of a size less than 1U: Operational Policy [PDF, 336 KB]

To guide applicants, we have developed an operational policy we will apply when considering whether to require liability and indemnity insurance for licences or permits issued under the Act.

Liability Indemnity and Insurance: Operational Policy [PDF, 181 KB]

To guide applicants, we have developed an operational policy we will apply when considering whether an applicant is technically capable of conducting activities under the Act safely.

Technical Capability: Operational Policy [PDF, 360 KB]

Additional application forms you may need 

Form

Complete this form...

APP-200i Additional Ownership and Control (Individual) Detail [PDF, 674 KB] 

For each individual who has a 10% or more ownership or control interest in the applicant (if applicable).

APP-200B Additional Ownership and Control (Body Corporate) Details [PDF, 675 KB] 

For each body corporate that has a 10% or more ownership or control interest in the applicant (if applicable).

APP-600 Additional Contract Detail [PDF, 679 KB] 

If any part of the management, oversight or control of each high-altitude payload or its operation — including the ground segment — is being contracted to another person.

APP-400 Additional Technical Capability Detail [PDF, 680 KB] 

To provide evidence — for high-altitude vehicles that are not aircraft — that the applicant is technically capable of conducting a safe launch, including information about each person who has technical capability relied on in the evidence.

APP-700 Additional Payload Detail [PDF, 704 KB] 

If there are multiple payloads in your application.

APP-800 Additional Overseas Authorisation Details [PDF, 676 KB] 

For applications made under the Outer Space and High-altitude Activities Act 2017 for which there are multiple Overseas Authorisations being submitted for recognition by the New Zealand Space Agency.

Last updated: 06 April 2022