Permits and lighting fires

Find out when and where you need a permit to light a fire in the Northern Territory (NT). 

When you need a permit

You must have a permit to light a fire in all the following NT fire protection zones:

  • all of the Vernon region - the greater Darwin rural and Batchelor/Coomalie areas
  • within a 50km radius from Katherine post office
  • within a 50km radius from Tennant Creek post office
  • within a 50km radius from Alice Springs airport.

The only exception is for a cooking fire, provided you have a clear area 4m around the fire, it is always attended and it is thoroughly extinguished before you leave.

When conditions are safe, landowners outside of fire protection zones can use a fire to reduce fuel loads or create firebreaks, providing they can control the fire.

Penalty for not having a permit

If you light a fire without a permit in a fire protection zone you may be fined up to $33,000 or imprisoned for up to five years.

How to get a permit

In towns and built-up areas you can get a permit from the NT Fire and Rescue Service. Read more about permits to burn on the Police, Fire and Emergency Services website.

In rural fire protection zones you can get a permit from your local volunteer bushfire brigade or fire warden.

For information about permits in rural areas, contact Bushfires NT using the contact details on the volunteer with Bushfires NT page at the Northern Territory Government website. 

Changes to regular permit conditions

During fire season, further restrictions may apply to permits. 

Fire danger periods

A fire danger period is declared when the fire danger is high, such as late in the Dry Season in the north and in the summer at the centre.

During a fire danger period all landowners must have a permit to burn, even in remote NT areas.

Fire bans

A fire ban may be declared for a 24-hour period when fire conditions are very dangerous. Bans are announced on local radio and by roadside signs in built-up areas. 

All permits to burn are void on a fire ban day. 

If you are using fire immediately before a ban is declared, you must put the fire out. Careful use of cooking fires is allowed. 

If you start a fire on a fire ban day, even if one starts from your cooking fire, you could be charged the maximum penalty or face imprisonment.