Private Investigators & Drone Surveillance in Australia

Is it legal? What do you need?

Drones, Multirotors, UAVs. This new form of radio controlled aircraft offers another angle on the world and opens up potential opportunities for surveillance use by Private Investigators.


In Australia, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) governs the use of remotely piloted aircraft for commercial use. If you’re thinking of making use of a Drone for surveillance activities it will fall under this category. Within commercial use there are two categories defined by weight. The first, over 2kg, which has a series of requirements attached and a whole lot of paperwork. The second, under 2kg, which carries far less restrictions.

Take note that these laws were last updated on the 29th September 2016.

The kg restriction is important when considering Drones as it goes a long way to determining the type of cameras you’ll have on board. A small lightweight drone will leave you confined to a lightweight camera in the GoPro mould which is likely to provide a more wide angled view. The larger drones are capable of carrying heavy cinematic level equipment and could provide you with high level zoom capabilities.

Noise is also a consideration and the type used will depend on your covert requirements. In some cases a fixed wing long distance UAV will be far more appropriate, however the cost can be prohibitive.

Drone Surveillance Use

There’s an opportunity to make use of Drones for pre-surveillance checks right through to evidence collection, identity checks, asset location for recoveries, accident reconstruction and more. They are already in use by some investigators, however it may be some time before they are considered a standard part of a Surveillance Agents kit.

If you are considering heading down the path of a Surveillance Drone, be sure to read up on all relevant laws in Australia and get acquainted with CASA. If gathering evidence, be sure that it will be admissable.