Variance Primer

United States Laser Licensing (Variance) Primer:

There is tons of stuff for you to read though about variances, like on our site in our FAQ, and many other sites as well, but we thought we would cut to the chase and give you answers in very quick bullets. In general, think of a variance like a driver’s license. Most things that are true for driver’s licenses are also true for variances. For example, just like your driver’s license, a variance does not entitle you to use just any laser; all laser projectors have to be “street legal.” We emphasize that some these answers have exceptions, but in an effort not to bore you to death, these are the most common answers:

Yes: You need a variance if you want to make a laser light show with a laser more powerful than 5mW in the United States.

Yes: You still need one if you are just doing it “for friends” or “in your barn” or whatever.

Yes: You can use more than one laser on a single variance as long as those lasers are all FDA certified. The variance attaches to YOU like a driver’s license, not to your “car”.

No: It is not a pain to get if you use our EZ Variance Kit. Other ways of filing can take a LONG time for approval. In the past a three year wait time has not been unusual.

Yes: You can apply for it on your own if you want. However we feel that you should know that in our experience almost no one does it right the first time and due to FDA confidentiality rules X-Laser cannot consult on the application once filed independently.

Yes: Variances are actually enforced, and not having one or using illegal equipment carries heavy penalties up to $330,000.00. There literally is a “laser police.”

No: You can not use someone else’s variance or loan it to a friend. Anyone who is your employee though IS covered under your variance, as long as they are appropriately trained to use the laser safely.

No: Though the EZ Variance Kit itself has a nominal cost to support the cost of the online system, there is no additional cost to file the application, and once approved, it is good for two years. There is no cost to renew.

For more detailed information check out our EZ Variance Kit page or our FAQ’s.


American Disc Jockey AssociationCanadian Disc Jockey AssociationU.S. Food and Drug AdministrationInternational Association of Amusement Parks and AttractionsInternational Laser Display AssociationNAMMSPIE