Do I need a water licence or permit?

Information to help you find out if you need a water licence or permit for your property.
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Use our flowcharts to find out if you need a water licence or permit to: 

In some instances, you may be exempt from licensing requirements.

Applying for a groundwater or surface water licence or permit does not guarantee access to water or ability to undertake permitted activity.

View our Water Register to understand the water availability in your area. In addition, other agency approvals may be necessary to fully authorise the planned activity.

If you are still unsure, please contact your local department office, call 1800 508 885 or email to confirm your licensing requirements.

Frequently asked questions

Is my property located in a Proclaimed water resource area?

To find out if your property is located within a proclaimed water resource area, refer to the proclaimed area maps.

If you need further assistance, please contact your local department office or email

Read more about water licensing in Western Australia.

Why do I need to water licence or permit?

Most of the state's groundwater resources and surface water resources that are subject to high levels of demand are proclaimed under the Rights in Water and Irrigation Act 1914.

Through the proclamation of certain groundwater and surface water areas, we can actively manage our water resources by:

  • defining the volume of water available for licensing purposes from a particular resource
  • issuing licences and permits for various activities, such as the taking and use of water.

Read more about water licensing in Western Australia.

I recently purchased a property. How do I know if there is a licence to take water associated with the property?

Our online Water Register can be used to search, view and print licensing and water availability information for a property. The register also provides details of the water resources in your area and other licences and licensees.

If you require further assistance you should contact your local department office to determine:

  • if you need a licence to take water
  • if the property has a current licence associated with it
  • whether you are eligible to apply to transfer the licence into your name
  • if you need to apply for a new licence.

Note: In a proclaimed groundwater or surface water area, if your water resource area has reached its ‘allocation limit’ then your application for a new licence to take water may be refused. In this case you may need to find an alternative water source. For example, you may seek to trade or lease water from another licence holder in your water resource area.

For more information go to Transfers, trades and agreements.

I am purchasing a new property that has a current water licence. Do I automatically receive a licence to take water?

No. A licence to take water is not automatically transferred with the sale of the property.

If you wish to use water, the following options are available:

Is a licence to take water required for dams that collect run-off emanating from only one property?

Not all circumstances relating to the taking of localised water require a water licence or permit.

This includes situations where the water source originates on the property and is not contributing (e.g. stream flow) to a water resource downgradient of the property. Such as:

  • Where water is captured from draining the land and it is not stored on a watercourse or wetland. Should a watercourse or wetland exist on the property, any capture of localised waters (e.g. off-stream dam) cannot cause any sensible reduction in the volume or flow in the watercourse or wetland.
  • Where capturing water flow sourced from a ‘spring’
    • Water flowing from a spring that does not extend beyond the boundaries of the land on which it rises
    • Water in any wetland (sourced from a ‘spring’) which is wholly contained on the land on which it is situated.

For more information go to Water licensing exemptions.

It is your responsibility to comply with any other Commonwealth, state or local laws that relate to construction or taking of water in these instances.

Please contact your local department office, call 1800 508 885 or email to confirm your licensing requirements.

Foreign ownership of water entitlements

From 1 July 2017, the Australian Government introduced a new water entitlements register to increase transparency around foreign investment in Australia.

If you are a foreign person (including a temporary resident or a foreign non-resident) and you plan to invest in Australian water, you may need to register your interests in certain water entitlements or contractual water rights.

What you need to know

Foreign persons with registrable water entitlements or contractual water rights need to notify the Australian Taxation Office.

This information will be used to create a register of foreign ownership of water entitlements.

Where to register

To register, log in to Online services for foreign investors and select 'Register asset'.

For more information, go to the Australian Taxation Office website or you can contact them on 1800 050 377.


This is an initiative of the Australian Government, and does not impact on any rights conferred by water licences issued under the Rights in Water and Irrigation Act 1914, or on the water licensing policy and procedures administered by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation.