Commercial Filming Permits

Film crew along the Rio Grande

Filming "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada" at Santa Elena Canyon; November, 2004.

NPS/Eric Leonard


The National Park Service (NPS) is mandated to “conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such a manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” (16 U.S.C. 1) For this purpose the Department of the Interior developed RM-53, which governs filming, photography and sound recordings in National Parks. Under these guidelines NPS units have the authority and responsibility to manage, permit and/or deny filming, photography and sound recordings in ways consistent with park management and mission.

It is the policy of the NPS to allow commercial photography, still photography, filming and sound recordings to the fullest extent possible while providing for the protection of park resources and ensuring the enjoyment of those resources by park visitors. Permits are required for any project that generates an electronic media, film, still photography or video production for television, the motion picture industry, public interest or private multi-media which consists of production crews and vehicles, broadcast equipment, props/sets, talent/actors, construction, trailers, housing, animals, or aircraft. Projects may involve feature films, documentaries, game shows, soaps operas, shopping networks, religious telecasts, talk shows, docu-dramas, travelogues, commercials, infomercials, public TV presentations, or DVD’s, CDs, CDRoms or videos for training, sales, education, promotions, entertainment, etc.

Private individuals engaged in photography for their own personal use and enjoyment generally do not need a film permit. Commercial still photography does require a permit.

For More Information
Complete Commercial Filming and Photography Permit Guidelines [56k PDF File]
Commercial Filming and Photography Permit Application [64k PDF File]

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