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Scientific licence

A scientific licence lets you use radiocommunications equipment to research or test radio

What a scientific licence is for

A scientific licence lets you perform these activities for radiocommunications:

  • research
  • teach
  • demonstrate
  • trial, for example a new technology or product
  • repair and maintenance.

Common users of this licence include:

  • teaching institutions
  • research bodies
  • radio manufacturers
  • people or businesses that design or repair radios
  • people or businesses that sell radios.

You cannot get a scientific licence to use a non-standard transmitter, unless you have a permit.

The Radiocommunications (Interpretation) Determination 2015 defines scientific licences.

Please note that we intend to repeal provisions for scientific non-assigned stations when the instrument is reviewed in the sunsetting process. The instrument is due to sunset on 1 April 2025.

Trial a new technology

We support trials of new technology, including for broadcasting.

If we give you a scientific apparatus licence for a trial, you cannot:

  • use it for any other purpose or length of time other than the trial
  • expect the technology to be automatically introduced in Australia
  • assume the trial will continue in the future.

People who participate in the trial must know it's temporary. 

We may decide that it's in the public's best interest to know the results of your trial. Your licence will say if you need to show us your results.

Options for scientific licences

There are 2 options for scientific licences:

  • apparatus licence
  • class licence

You should only apply for an apparatus licence if you need an assigned frequency.

From 31 August 2023, you can operate a station for general scientific activities under the Radiocommunications (Science and Research) Class Licence 2023.

This means you can no longer apply for a non-assigned licence. If you still hold a non-assigned scientific licence and wish to surrender it, you may be eligible for a refund. 

A licensee that surrenders their non-assigned licence can still operate under the Radiocommunications (Science and Research) Class Licence 2023. This is because the class licence allows people to perform the same activities as previously under non-assigned scientific licences. 

You can find out further details on our website.

Licence conditions

When you have a scientific apparatus licence, you must follow the conditions of your licence.

These include:

These conditions help you communicate safely and without interference.

You can find information about scientific apparatus licences and the process for applying below. 

Call signs

Call signs are a unique series of letters and numbers. They make it easy to identify a station.

You may not need to use a call sign for a scientific licence if:

  • you do not communicate by voice
  • the way you transmit makes it technically unrealistic to use a call sign.

It will say on your licence if you need to use a call sign.

If you do, you should use your call sign:

  • every time you start to transmit
  • before you transmit in a series
  • when you test.


Call sign template for scientific licences

AXmaaa Scientific call sign template (example of a typical call sign: AX2VAB)
AX first 2 alpha characters of the allocated call sign series for scientific stations
aaa first alpha character represents the State or Territory where the station operates, for example V is Victoria and S is South Australia. The second and third characters are any alpha


We charge fees for apparatus licences.

In some circumstances, you can apply for a licence fee exemption or concession.

Device standards

Device standards

Devices operated under scientific licences must comply with the Radiocommunications Equipment (General) Rules 2021 (the General Equipment Rules). 

Where a device does not comply with an applicable standard, a person must apply for a permit (and be issued a permit) to supply or operate and possess the device. 

The application and issue of a permit for a device that does not meet an applicable standard is separate to the licensing process. The issue of a licence does not guarantee issue of a permit under the General Equipment Rules. Our website has more information about the permit scheme and applicable fees under the General Equipment Rules.

Apply for a scientific apparatus licence

To apply for a scientific apparatus licence, you should contact an accredited person.

They can:

  • assign you a frequency
  • give you a frequency assignment certificate
  • apply for your licence for you.

Transfer a scientific apparatus licence

You can apply to transfer your scientific apparatus licence to someone else. 

Let someone else use your licence 

There are rules you must follow to let someone else use a device under your scientific apparatus licence.

Get technical details

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