Graffiti Laws

This page provides a guide to graffiti laws in NSW.

The law says that:

  • A person must not intentionally damage or deface any premises, vehicle or other property (including trees) by means of any graffiti implement.
  • A person must not have any graffiti implement in the person’s possession with the intention that it be used to damage or deface premises or other property.
  • A graffiti implement is; spray paint, a marker pen or any implement designed or modified to produce a mark that is not readily removable by wiping or by use of water or detergent.
  • Also affixing a placard or paper on any premises, or intentionally marking, by means of chalk, paint or other material, any premises with out permission.

The penalties for this are fines and up to 5 years imprisonment for malicious damage involving graffiti.

If you are under 18

Can I buy spray paint?

If you are under 18, it is against the law for anyone to sell or supply a spray paint can to you. They may be fined up to $1100. This means that a shop assistant can ask you for identification to prove you are over 18 if you want to buy spray paint. If you cannot produce identification, the shop assistant may refuse to sell you spray paint.

Can I carry a graffiti tool?

If you are under 18 it is against the law to have a spray paint can in your possession in a public place, and you can be fined up to $1100 or jailed for up to six months. However, if you can show that you have a proper (and legal) reason to carry the spray paint can, for example, if it’s for your job or education or training, then it is not against the law.

It is also against the law for you to carry any tool for permanent graffiti (like a marker pen or a tool to make scratches) if you intend to mark someone’s property without their permission.

Can I be stopped and searched for graffiti tools?

Yes, but only in certain circumstances. The police can stop and search you if they think that you are carrying something that has been used or will be used for illegal activity, like illegal graffiti. For more information about police searches see our page on Police.

For more information read the Graffiti Control Act 2008 No 100.