You must have a return authorisation to return a space object to a place or area in Australia, or overseas if you are an Australian national carrying out the return or with an ownership interest in a payload. These returns may also be covered as part of an Australian launch permit. 

There are two types of applications for return authorisations:

  • Standard return application (for most types of return)
  • Overseas return application (for returns overseas that meet certain criteria)

Standard return application guidelines

These guidelines provide detailed information on standard return authorisations, including application and supporting evidence requirements.

Return authorisation application guidelines [PDF 663 KB]

Return authorisation application guidelines [DOCX 447 KB]


Overseas return authorisation guidelines

You can make an overseas payload return application if all of the following apply:

  • you are returning an object to a place or area overseas.
  • the payload is carried by another space object that does not require a return authorisation.
  • you are an Australian national that has an ownership interest in the payload.

These provide detailed information on how to apply for an overseas payload return authorisation, including the application and supporting evidence requirements.

Overseas Payload Return Authorisation application guidelines [PDF 601 KB]

Overseas Payload Return Authorisation application guidelines [DOCX 425 KB]


Application overview – standard return authorisation

The application process consists of four key stages:

1. Expression of interest

2. Application plan workshop

3. Application assessment

4. Ministerial decision.


Application process stages – standard return authorisation


Expression of interest

You submit an expression of interest using the form below.

We’ll review your expression of interest and then schedule an application plan workshop once we have sufficient information to proceed.

NOTE: initiating your expression of interest is not an application submission, you will need to provide further documents

Application plan workshop

During this workshop we:

  • establish the status of your application.
  • develop a shared understanding of application requirements that need to be met.
  • set and agree application and assessment timeframes.
  • clarify roles and responsibilities.
  • establish principles for how we engage throughout the application and assessment process.

After the workshop we will provide you with a copy of a customised form and an application plan which will help guide you through the remaining stages of the application process.

Application assessment

You provide completed modules in line with your application plan.

We commence assessment of your modules, meet with you to clarify information, and provide feedback on progress.

We will consult with federal, state and territory authorities to see if there is any reason, including relating to Australian security, defence, or international relations, why a launch facility licence should not be granted.

We then make recommendations to the Minister (or their delegate).

Ministerial decision

The Minister (or delegate) decides whether to grant the launch facility licence, taking into consideration advice from the Agency.

The Minister has discretion to seek further information from applicants and return authorisation holders.


Application overview – overseas return authorisation

There are three steps in the authorisation process:

1. You submit a complete application

2. Application assessment

3. Ministerial decision


Application process stages – overseas return authorisation

Acceptance of complete application

We first check that your application contains sufficient information and evidence against each of the requirements in the Act and the General Rules for an overseas payload permit.

If your application is considered complete, we will accept the application and commence assessment.

A complete application is one that contains sufficient information about the following:

  • the applicant
  • organisational structure and personnel
  • the launch (noting that options for the proposed launch facility and vehicle may be provided and later confirmed)
  • the payload
  • launch safety.
  • debris mitigation strategy and orbital debris assessment
  • signed declaration and undertaking in relation to the payload.
  • contract details

If we consider your application incomplete, we will notify you and provide you with feedback. We approach this as an iterative process and understand there may be several iterations until an application is considered complete.

In limited circumstances we may accept a signed declaration and undertaking or copies of relevant contracts after you have submitted your application, within an agreed timeframe.

You may also provide information updates.


We conduct an assessment of your application against the criteria to ensure that all arrangements to be put in place are adequate, relevant, and appropriate for the proposed launch of your payload or payloads.

We may request further information or clarification to support our assessment.

We then make a recommendation to the Minister (or delegate).


The Minister (or delegate) makes the decision on whether an overseas payload permit should be granted, considering advice from the Agency.

The Minister, through the Agency, may request further information or clarification to support their decision.

Before you apply, download and read the relevant application guidelines.

For standard return authorisations you should then complete and submit an expression of interest form providing supporting materials demonstrating your progress against the application requirements.

Once we receive your expression of interest, we will contact you to discuss your application and schedule an application plan workshop once we have sufficient information. This will give you the opportunity to discuss your plans and have any questions answered. We can also provide more information about the application and assessment process.

For overseas return authorisations you should complete and submit an application form. Make sure you include enough detail and supporting evidence in your application to help us assess your eligibility for an overseas payload permit – such as plans, procedures and diagram – that support your statements against the requirements.

Your application must be in writing and in English. Documentation that is not in English must include an English translation.

The legislation and its associated framework are outcomes based, so you can tailor your application to your activity.

There are no fees for applying for a launch facility licence, or for having your application assessed.

For a standard return application, it generally takes around 6 months to assess your application. We’ll discuss timelines with you and agree on these as part of your application plan workshop.

Following the workshop, we provide an assessment plan that will clearly outline these timeframes to help guide you through the application and assessment process.

If information is missing, inaccurate, or lacks sufficient detail we will discuss with you and agree timeframes to submit additional information. This may impact overall assessment timeframes.

Overseas payload return applications may take up to 3 months to assess once you submit a complete application.

Our department recognises the First Peoples of this Nation and their ongoing cultural and spiritual connections to the lands, waters, seas, skies, and communities.

We Acknowledge First Nations Peoples as the Traditional Custodians and Lore Keepers of the oldest living culture and pay respects to their Elders past and present. We extend that respect to all First Nations Peoples.