• Colonial Boston Map, Faneuil Hall and the Charlestown Navy Yard skyline

    Boston

    National Historical Park Massachusetts

Photography and Filming Permits

The National Park Service (NPS) allows filming and photography when it is consistent with the protection and public enjoyment of park resources, and it avoids conflict with the public's normal use and enjoyment of the park. Aesthetic values such as scenic vistas, natural quiet, and dark night skies are resources that we value. We are also sensitive to the environments around our park sites. There are restrictions associated with party size, the use of commercial vehicles, generators, artificial lighting, commercial film equipment, props, sets, and audio devices. Commercial vehicles must be in compliance with all federal and state laws and local ordinances. Inclement weather imposes road restrictions and limited access.

To obtain information about the restrictions, call 617-242-5629 in advance.



Restrictions
The National Park Service cannot accommodate a project if:

  • damage to natural, cultural, and recreational resources, which cannot be mitigated, is expected;
  • other activities are already planned or expected to occur at the same time and place, and filming or photography would be incompatible;
  • the activity involves access to areas normally closed for reasons of resource protection or safety;
  • the level of activity within the park is already so high that staff would be unavailable to work with the film crew;
  • the project includes a portrayal of activities that are not permitted within a national park;
  • the production company is unwilling or unable to obtain necessary insurance; or
  • the production company is unwilling or unable to reimburse the National Park Service for costs or comply with National Park Service bond requirements.

Permit Requirement
A permit is required when the filming, videotaping, sound recording, or still photography involve the use of talent, professional crews, set dressings, or props; when they involve product or service advertisement; or when the activity could result in damage to park resources or disruption of visitor use. If you are uncertain whether your project requires a permit or not, contact the park for additional information.


Permit Application Procedures
Applicants should read the summary of filming guidelines to facilitate an understanding of the permit process. If site scouting is planned prior to the application period, contact the Special Park Use coordinator for guidance and restrictions on specific locations.

Application
Contact the Special Park Use Office and request the necessary application. The short form is for small projects that are not that involved, like one day or one hour of so. The long form is for large productions. Completed applications must be returned to the park with payment. There is a $50 non-refundable application review fee. We cannot accept credit cards at this time. Money orders, cash, or checks payable to the National Park Service are accepted.

Your request will be evaluated on the basis of the information in your application. If substantial staff resources are expended in the evaluation of the request, the applicant will be billed for the additional costs. Therefore you are encouraged to attach maps, diagrams, script pages, storyboards, vehicle and equipment lists, crew lists, call sheet, itineraries, shot lists, etc., with your application to assist park staff in evaluating your request. Most requests should be processed within 14 days if the application is complete and without alteration. Requests involving multiple locations, complex logistics, or coordination with other visitor activities will require a minimum of 21 days to process. Projects that require environmental or cultural resource evaluation must be submitted no less than 30 days before the start of proposed activities and may require additional time dependent upon project complexity. In compliance with the requirements of the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996, applicants must submit their social security number or Federal Tax ID number when filling out the application for permit. Park managers will not sign location releases supplied by applicants.

Please submit applications as far in advance as possible.

Mail To:
Boston National Historical Park
Charlestown Navy Yard
Boston, MA 02129 Attn: Special Park Use Office

Documents can be faxed to 617-241-0884. For more information, contact the Special Park Use Office at 617-242-5629 or via e-mail.

Insurance Requirement
Proof of insurance issued by a U.S. company must accompany the application. The insurance certificate must identify the production company by name and business address; if the permittee uses a different name than listed on insurance policy, the relationship between insured company and permittee's company must be identified. The United States Government will be named as an additional insured on the insurance certificate. If further specificity is needed, the U.S. Department of Interior, Boston National Historical Park, Charlestown Navy Yard, Boston, MA, 02129, should be used.

Generally the minimum acceptable amount of liability insurance is $1 million for each occurrence. High-risk activities or activities that may have the potential for resource impact require higher liability amounts. Smaller, low-risk projects or still photography may be eligible for a reduction to $500,000. Contact the park for details. A request for a permit may be denied if there is no proof of adequate insurance. Personal or homeowners liability is not acceptable. The certificate should be generated by the insurance company. Hand-written certificate holder information is unacceptable. We will accept a faxed copy of the certificate until your insurance company can mail us the original.

Bond
A refundable damage bond, drawn as a separate payment, may be required for those projects that have a high potential for resource damage or potential for site restoration. The bond amount is determined by estimating the cost of monitoring and site restoration should you fail to adequately care for or complete clean-up of the site. This amount will be specified in the permit. The permittee is responsible for removal of equipment, props, and trash, and restoration of the site to original condition or in a condition satisfactory to the National Park Service. If this is not done, all or part of the damage bond will be retained to offset clean-up/recovery expenses. If it is not needed, the bond will be released when the on-site National Park Service representative signs off that site restoration is complete and all site-use charges have been paid. If a surplus remains after the costs have been reimbursed, the surplus is returned to the permittee. If the bond does not cover all the costs, the permittee will be billed for the difference.

Pre-Film Conference
The permitting process provides the park and the applicant an opportunity to discuss the proposed project and to establish reasonable conditions to protect National Park Service and Boston National Historical Park interests.

After the approval of an application, and before the activity begins, the permittee should meet with the Special Park Use coordinator to accomplish the following:

  • review the final terms/conditions, scheduling, and any special instructions pertaining to the respective project
  • complete an on-site visit, if necessary
  • provide an original certificate of insurance, and if required, a bond
  • pay estimated costs, if required
  • sign and obtain a copy of the special use permit

By the end of the meeting, the permit coordinator should have enough information to finalize the permit and request approval from the superintendent or his/her designee.

If you need assistance with site scouting, a ranger can be made available to assist.

IMPORTANT: Any activities not specified in the permit will not be allowed. No activities on National Park Service property may begin until the permit has been approved by the park and agreed to by the permittee. All permits include the requirement that the site be cleaned and restored at the end of your use. Normal visitor use patterns should not be interrupted for longer than five minutes, and only as specified in the approved permit.

Audio and lighting restrictions apply to prevent disruption of visitor activities and/or disturb visitors. Large reflectors, silks, camera track, jibs, cranes, generators, large props, crowd scenes, foggers, and oversized vehicles are discouraged and are only authorized on a case-by-case basis, dependent on location, time of year, time of day, and other mitigating factors.

Denial of Permit
Filming permits may be denied for any of the following reasons:

  • Resource damage - If it is determined by the superintendent or his/her designee that the filming activity represents a threat to the resource, including wildlife.
  • Supervisory requirements - If supervisory requirements for the proposed filming project will place unreasonable burdens on staff capacity, irrespective of the permittee's willingness to pay supervisory costs.
  • Disruption of visitor activities - If the proposed filming would conflict with the visitors' normal use of the park.
  • Prohibited or restricted activities - Permits will not be issued that would allow filmmakers to enter areas closed to the general visiting public, or that would allow activities not permitted to the visitor except for cooperative activities as an agent of the National Park Service.

Monitoring
For filming activities that are perceived to interfere with visitor use, or further congest highly visited areas, or have the potential to impact park resources without proper supervision and care, at least one employee of the National Park Service will be assigned to the film crew. Degree of monitoring is based on crew size, equipment, props, scope of project, location(s), time of day, and time of year.

  • When a project involves substantial numbers of people and equipment, or if it involves a location that is environmentally sensitive or heavily visited, supervision will be on-site and continual.
  • A ranger or representative may spot-check during the filming to assure compliance when the operations involve only a few people or minimal amounts of equipment, or take place in areas where there is little, if any, possibility of resource impact, inconvenience to visitors, or violation of permit conditions.
  • The superintendent may bring in other employees to assist in those instances when the scope of the project exceeds the park's ability to properly manage the activity. The resulting staff costs will be recovered from the permittee.

Before initiating any location set-ups or dispersal of equipment, a National Park Service representative MUST be on site. Failure to comply with this requirement could result in the revocation of the permit.

Revocation
As noted in permit conditions, non-compliance with any of the permit conditions could result in revocation of the permit.


Costs
The National Park Service is required to recover all costs associated with permits for filming and photography. All administrative costs involving permit application and processing are nonrefundable and will be charged to the permittee. The park may require that charges be paid before work can begin on National Park Service property. Any additional costs will be posted as they occur. Charges must be paid within 14 days of the invoicing.

Note: Because costs are based on the services provided, the National Park Service does not differentiate between profit and nonprofit documentary projects. By law the National Park Service may not waive recovery of costs for projects that are produced to promote an industry, influence Congressional initiatives, or influence the outcomes of elections.

Permittee will be billed for monitoring, scouting, conferencing, and any other personnel services provided for filming activities according to a cost recovery schedule. For details, contact the Special Park Use Coordinator at 617-242-5629.

Permit applications:

Filming

Filming Addendum

Special Use Permit

Did You Know?

Revere's Boston Massacre print

When the Boston Massacre monument was erected on Boston Common in the 1880s, the president of The Massachusetts Historical Society protested, "The crown of the martyr should not be placed on the brow of the ruffian." Come to think of it, John Adams didn't speak too highly of the victims either.