A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use
Laser pointer permits
Some jurisdictions may require laser pointer users to have a permit, in order to legally acquire, import, use and/or possess a laser pointer.
This page lists any such permits and importation regulations we have found.
- This page does NOT cover laser pointer-related laws in general. These can be found on the International laws and the U.S. laws pages.
- This page also does NOT cover any restrictions on children or minors possessing laser pointers. This page only covers restrictions on adults. (Some age-related restrictions can be found on the International and U.S. laws pages.)
If you are aware of a permitting system not on this list, feel free to contact us with links or similar information.
For further reading
An excellent summary of one country’s experience with trying to control laser pointer imports is found in a fascinating document, “Post Implementation Review: Restriction on the Importation of Handheld Lasers”. This 30-page March 2012 review is from the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. It includes statistics on costs; number of seized and destroyed pointers; impact on business, the community and government; and more.
For example, Customs and Border Protection detected 71,052 hand-held high-intensity laser pointers between July 1 2008 and June 30 2011. They note: “Initially, most laser pointers were being imported through the international mail stream. However, there has been an increase in the number of detections of laser pointers at our airports, and it is currently the most common stream for importing laser pointers.”
AUSTRALIA: Importation regulations
- AUSTRALIA, NSW: Possession and use
- AUSTRALIA, WA: Possession; legal to manufacture for legal possessors
- NEW ZEALAND: Restrictions on acquisition of high-power laser pointers
- NORWAY: Application for use of a laser
- SWEDEN: Application for a license
- US, SOUTH CAROLINA, NORTH MYRTLE BEACH: Sales restrictions
AUSTRALIA: Importation regulationsLaser pointers are classified as “prohibited weapons” under Australian law. According to Australian Customs and Border Protection Notice 2014/17, the following items are subject to control under Schedule 13 of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956:
- Laser pens
- Laser pointers, including large-scale laser pointers such as the [Wicked Lasers] Arctic, Lunar, Krypton and Inferno style laser pointers and similar items
- Flashlights or torches with a laser pointer incorporated
- Other laser devices with the appearance of a standard laser pointer or laser pen
- Laser sights for use with items of warfare
The following items are NOT commonly known as laser pointers and thus are not subject to Schedule 13 control:
- Laser modules
- Laser diodes
- Laser sights (excluding those for use with large caliber items of warfare)
- Laser bore sighters
- Medical lasers (excluding those same in appearance to a laser pointer or pen)
- Surveying and construction lasers, such as laser levelers
- Laser guns (excluding those captured as firearms or imitation firearms)
- Laser range finders
Importers must apply for permission to import weapons covered by the PI Regulations. They must complete an “Application for Permission to Import Schedule 13 Weapons” (commonly known as a B710). Attached to the B710 form, must be the original “Importation of Weapons – Police Certification” form (commonly known as a B709B) issued by State/Territory Police.
The Importation of Weapons - Police Certification (B709B) provides evidence to Customs and Border Protection that the importer holds a license or other authorization according to the law of the relevant State or Territory to possess the weapon. Alternatively, it provides evidence that a license or other authorization is not required for that item, under the law of the relevant State or Territory.
The administrative B709B process was introduced at the request of State and Territory Police Ministers. In 1999 the Ministers recommended that the ‘import process for weapons should be similar to the requirements for the importation of firearms’ via a B709A Police Certification.
Once the Police Certification has been obtained, the importer must apply to Customs and Border Protection to obtain a separate permission to import the item into Australia.
The paperwork is processed by Customs and Border Protection. Provided all the requirements of the application have been met, written permission is issued to the importer by the Minister or his/her delegate (sample also provided).
When goods requiring an import permit physically arrive at the border, they are held by Customs and Border Protection, pending production of the original import permit. On presentation of the original permit, and providing any conditions on the permit are met, the goods will then released from Customs control.
Department of Immigration and Border Protection “Firearms and weapons” webpage
AUSTRALIA, NSW: Possession and useA laser pointer is a “prohibited weapon” under New South Wales law. (For the text of the law, click here and scroll down to “AUSTRALIA: New South Wales).
Laser pointers 1 milliwatt or less are legal to own, but they cannot be carried or used in a public place without a reasonable excuse. Such excuses would include “an amateur astronomer, teacher, lecturer or builder who has the laser pointer in their possession at a time and place related to that purpose (i.e., lawful pursuit of that occupation).”
For laser pointers over 1 milliwatt, a person must obtain a Prohibited Weapons Permit, form P638, from the New South Wales Firearm Registry. Note that this form covers prohibited weapons in general; a separately required form goes into details about laser pointers.
The cost for the permit is AUD $127 (USD $96.50).
Applicants must send payment, plus the following documents:
- A completed Application for a Prohibited Weapons Permit, form P638, and
- A completed Prohibited Weapon Laser Pointer Genuine Reason, no specific form number, and
- For business applications only, a completed Business Declaration, no specific form number, and
- Supporting documentation as requested on the Genuine Reason form.
Any additional persons such as employees must also submit an Application for a Person to be Authorised on a Prohibited Weapon Permit, form P639, plus AUD $25.
A permit is issued for a maximum term of 5 years.
There are two exemptions from needing a permit:
- A member of an astronomical organization approved by the Commissioner of Police for use of a laser pointer for activities associated with astronomy. “A member means a person who is currently a member and has been a member for 3 months or more.
- A person who holds a license or permit under the Firearms Act 1996, for use of a laser pointer in connection with a firearm to which the license or permit applies.
Fact sheet with instructions for the laser pointer permit P638
Summary of requirements from the Australian Business License and Information Service
List of approved astronomical organizations
AUSTRALIA, WA: Possession; legal to manufacture for legal possessorsWestern Australia’s Radiation Safety (General) Regulations of 1983 includes regulations about laser pointers in Section 53B. Paragraph 2 describes who may possess a laser pointer, and paragraph 3 states that it is legal to manufacture or sell a laser pointer to a person who may legally possess one.
53B. Laser pointers
(1) A person shall not manufacture, sell, use or possess a laser pointer unless —
(a) it is a class 1 or class 2 laser; or
(b) the Council has imposed a condition in relation to the registration of the laser under section 28 that it is to be used only for the purpose of entertainment.
(2) Despite subregulation (1), a person may use or possess a laser pointer if that person —
(a) is acting in the performance of his or her functions as a member of the Police Force, or a special constable appointed under Part III of the Police Act 1892;
(b) is carrying out scientific research, scientific work or scientific observations, whether or not for remuneration;
(c) is the lawful user of a firearm, within the meaning of section 4 of the Firearms Act 1973, and the laser pointer is part of a laser assisted sight for the firearm; or
(d )has the written approval of the Council to do so.
(3) Despite subregulation (1), a person may manufacture or sell a laser pointer if the person believes, on reasonable grounds, that the laser pointer is for the use of a person referred to in subregulation (2).
(4) In this regulation —
laser pointer means a laser for —
(a) pointing at objects or images; or
(b) recreation or amusement.
NEW ZEALAND: Restrictions on acquisition of high-power laser pointersNew Zealand’s Health (High-power Laser Pointers) Regulations 2013 list restrictions on supplying and acquiring high-power laser pointers, and how to get authorization to supply or acquire such lasers.
Summary of the regulations
These regulations, which come into force on 1 March 2014, regulate the supply and acquisition of high-power laser pointers by—
• prohibiting the supply of high-power laser pointers by anyone other than—
- a person authorized by the Director-General of Health to supply high-power laser pointers; or
- a person authorized by the Director-General of Health to acquire high-power laser pointers who is disposing of high-power laser pointers that were acquired by the person for personal use
• prohibiting the supply of high-power laser pointers to anyone other than—
- a person authorized by the Director-General of Health to acquire high-power laser pointers; or
- a person authorized by the Director-General of Health to supply high-power laser pointers who is acquiring the high-power laser pointers for the purpose of supply
• prohibiting misleading or deceiving a supplier as to whether a person is authorized to acquire high-power laser pointers in order to acquire or attempt to acquire a high-power laser pointer
• establishing a process for the Director-General of Health to authorize the supply and acquisition of high-power laser pointers by a person or class of persons.
These regulations do not apply to the supply of high-power laser pointers to, or the acquisition of high-power laser pointers by, the Armed Forces.
These regulations do not apply to laser pointers with a power output of 1 milliwatt or less.
NORWAY: Application for use of a laserVisit the “International laws” page and scroll down to the item “NORWAY: Possession and use regulated”. This includes information about the application which must be submitted to allow possession and use of laser pointers above Class 2 (e.g., above 1 milliwatt).
SWEDEN: Application for a license2005 Swedish regulations do not specifically address laser pointers. They were probably developed prior to the time when concern over consumer laser pointer misuse was beginning.
The license information still may be of interest.
6 § A license according to section 21 in the Radiation Protection Law (1988:220) is required for use of lasers in class 3B or 4 if the intended use is entertainment, art or advertising or if there is a possibility that exposures may exceed the MPE-values in public places or in the air.
7 § An application for a license shall be sent to the Radiation Protection Authority and consist information on
1. the intended practice,
2. time and place for the practice,
3. information on the type of laser and its radiation data,
4. name, address, telephone number and the companies registration number and
5. name of a person appointed to be contact person with the Radiation Protection Authority.
If the application concerns education, art or advertisement it shall also include an outline of the premises showing the beam path in relation to the audience.
8 § A license for entertainment, art or advertisement outdoors is granted only if the beam path is terminated in a similar way as indoors or if there are special reasons.
US, SOUTH CAROLINA, NORTH MYRTLE BEACH: Sales restrictionsThe beach resort city of North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina had problems for many years with misuse of laser pointers sold by local merchants. In February 2013 they passed an ordinance restricting the sale of laser pointers to minors.
For the purposes of this page about permits, we are only printing sections which provide exemptions for adults, and the regulations for sellers to adults. The entire ordinance can be found here and also on the U.S. laws page; scroll down to the section “SOUTH CAROLINA: New North Myrtle Beach ordinance of February 2013”.
The city does not regulate the following lasers or laser uses:
1) lasers used by an authorized individual in the conduct of research and development or flight test operations conducted by an aircraft manufacturer, the Federal Aviation Administration, or any other person authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct such research and development or flight test operations;
2) lasers used by members or elements of the Department of Defense or Department of Homeland Security acting in an official capacity for the purpose of research, development, operations, testing or training;
3) lasers used by an individual as an emergency signaling device to send an emergency distress signal;
4) lasers used by public safety officials in the regular conduct of their duties;
4) [sic - should be 5] laser uses specifically permissible by federal or State law;
5) lasers used for legitimate educational purposes;
6) lasers used for testing in the course of product manufacturing;
6) [sic - should be 8] lasers used for legitimate business purposes and during the normal course of such business;
7) lasers in the possession of individuals if such possession is necessary for the individual's employment, education, trade or occupation, and when not in use;
8) lasers possessed and/or used as part of a gun sight, so long as such are possessed and/or used in a lawful manner.
The section on regulated sales describes restrictions on laser power, requires signage, and requires the customer to sign a document which lists laser hazards and restrictions:
Sec. 16-55. Regulated sales.
(a) It shall be unlawful for any person to distribute, sale or barter, any laser pointer or device to any adult except under the following conditions:
----- (1) Any distribution of any laser pointer or device shall be verified by the manufacturer's or distributor's technical specifications confirming that the pointer or device is not more than 1 milliwatt, and the proof of wattage as shown by the technical specifications which must be maintained by the merchant, to be available upon demand of law enforcement. It is the merchant's responsibility to obtain proof from the seller/vendor wholesaler. Laser pointers or devices offered for distribution, sale or barter that do not have the proper proof of wattage limitations are subject to immediate confiscation as contraband. Laser pointers and devices offered for sale in their original unopened packaging which confirms that the devices are 1 milliwatt or less in output are sufficient proof of compliance. If greater than 1 milliwatt, the distribution, sale or barter must be accompanied by a statement concerning their use limitations, as set forth in this Article, with a written acknowledgment on the part of the buyer as to which exception(s) apply to the possession and use of such laser pointer or device.
----- (2) Any distribution, sale or barter of each individual laser pointer or device must be accompanied by the written warnings of use as required herein, and a signed customer receipt that the warnings of use have been provided in conjunction with the distribution, sale or barter. After verifying the adult status of the customer, the merchant shall require the customer to affix his signature under the legible printed name affirming that the warning has been provided and read.
(b) REQUIRED WARNINGS OF USE.
I, the undersigned, have read and understand the warnings of use that are required to accompany the receipt of this laser pointer or device.
WARNING ON POSSESION [sic] AND USE OF A LASER POINTER OR DEVICE
PARENTS! DO NOT BUY THIS PRODUCT FOR MINORS!
THIS PRODUCT CAN BE CONSIDERED A WEAPON!
- Laser beams can temporarily blind or disorient an operator of an airplane, helicopter or vehicle when the beam is directed toward them. The beam is much larger at long distances than you might think. Even though the laser projects a small, millimeter-sized dot close up, at longer distances the beam can be many inches across. When the beam hits the windscreen of a cockpit, or the bubble of a helicopter, imperfections in and on the glass spread the light out even more, making it impossible for the pilot to safely navigate. Pilot exposure to the beam can result in flash blindness, glare and distraction in the immediate task of piloting the aircraft. Pointing a laser at an aircraft places all the persons aboard in mortal jeopardy.
- It is a federal felony crime to aim a laser pointer at an aircraft, or at the flight path of an aircraft. The federal penalty is up to 5 years in a federal prison and/or a fine of several thousand dollars. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration "will pursue the toughest penalties" against persons who deliberately aim lasers at aircraft, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced on May 16 2012. Since June 2011, FAA has taken action against 28 persons, with an average fine of $11,000 per laser strike. The highest penalty sought so far is $30,800. FAA has directed its staff not to seek warning notices or counseling, but to use "moderately high civil penalties" for inadvertent laser illuminations, and maximum penalties for deliberate violations. Horny County will inform the federal authorities of any arrests relating to this crime so that appropriate prosecution to the fullest extent of the law can be achieved at the federal level.
- Section 55-3-130 of the South Carolina Code of laws also makes it criminal offense to point, aim, or discharge a laser device at an occupied aircraft, in the air or on the ground, providing a potential sentence for a first offense of one year in prison, a fine of $2,000, or both. A second or subsequent violation triggers the possibility of even greater sentencing.
- A laser's light is concentrated into a narrow beam. If aimed at a person's eye from close up, most or all of the light goes through the pupil. The already-concentrated light is further focused by the lens onto a sharp ("diffraction-limited") dot on the retina. Even at the lower power outputs, the power density from a 1 milliwatt laser, focused to a point, is brighter than the equivalent area of the sun's surface. This can cause a detectable injury to the retina, if the laser stays in one spot for a few seconds. Laser beams can permanently blind a person or animal when the beam is directed into their eyes.
- Any person of 17 years or older who possesses a laser pointer or device unlawfully, or who points a laser beam toward any vehicle, person or animal is subject to a conviction for violation of City ordinance, for assault and battery, and/or for mistreatment of animals, with a $500.00 fine and up to 30 days imprisonment, or both, as well as being civilly liable for any personal injury to a person or animal, or damage to property, that might result from this illegal act.
- PARENTS, GUARDIANS, RESPONSIBLE ADULTS: YOU WILL BE HELD PERSONALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE MISUSE OF THIS DEVICE BY ANY MINOR TO WHOM YOU PROVIDE THIS DEVICE, OR BY ANY OTHER PERSON TO WHOM THAT MINOR PROVIDES THIS DEVICE.
- Any parent, guardian, person acting in loco parentis, or responsible adult person, who purchases a laser pointer or device for a minor, or who allows a minor in their custody to access, possess or use a laser pointer or device within the unincorporated area of Horry County, and that laser pointer or device is possessed or used unlawfully, is subject to arrest and prosecution, and upon conviction, is further subject to a fine of $500.00 and up to 30 days imprisonment, or both. The parent is chargeable as a principal to the crime along with the minor in possession, or who illegally uses the device as a weapon, and is also subject to prosecution for contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
- Any minor 16 years or younger, who is in possession of, or who uses, a laser pointer or device unlawfully, is subject to service of a juvenile summons and will be prosecuted in Family Court by the Solicitors Office.
- Lasers in the unlawful possession of minors are subject to immediate confiscation as contraband, in addition to any other law enforcement action.
- Laser pointers or devices that are used illegally are contraband, and subject to immediate confiscation, in addition to any other law enforcement action.
Print merchant name and signature that adult status has been verified, and that manufactures technical specifications are available to prove that the device is 1 milliwatt or less, or if greater than 1 milliwatt, set forth specific exception(s) applicable to possession and use.
Print customer's name and signature that affirms the warning have been received and read.