Commercial Use Authorizations

Backpacking group along park trail
Guided backpacking in a park.

What is a CUA?

The National Park Service issues CUAs to allows an individual, group, company or other for-profit entity to commercially operate within a park.

Federal law mandates the National Park Service issue CUAs only for commercial activities and visitor services that:

  • are determined to be an appropriate use of the park,
  • will have minimal impact on park resources and values, and
  • are consistent with the park purpose, management plans, policies, and regulations.

Do I need a CUA?

You may not conduct commercial activities in a park unit without a valid CUA!

A CUA is required if you provide any goods, activities, services, agreements, or other function for members, clients, or the public that:

  • take place at least in part on lands managed by the National Park Service,
  • use park resources, and
  • result in compensation, monetary gain, benefit, or profit.

Each individual park allows specific commercial activities. Use the CUA map feature below to locate the park in which you want to commercially operate and click the park link to access information about available CUA opportunities.

How do I apply for a CUA?

CUAs are managed at the park level. Applications and associated information, including any additional documentation requirements, are available through each park's website or CUA office. Early planning helps ensure you have a CUA in hand before you start commercially operating.

What fees do I need to pay?

Application Fee

You are required to pay a nonrefundable application fee each time you submit an application. The application fee amount is currently determined by each park. This fee allows the park to recover costs associated with processing and approving or denying your CUA application.

Management Fee

In addition to the application fee, you must pay a management fee that allows the park to recover costs associated with managing CUAs. This fee varies because each CUA type requires a different degree of management and monitoring. Refer to individual park websites or contact the park CUA office to find out more about required management fees.

Market Price Fee

Since 2015, parks can charge a market price fee in order to recover all costs associated with the administration and management of the CUA program. You still pay the application fee when you submit your application, but this amount is credited back to you when you pay the market price fee at the end of the operating season. In other words, the market price fee covers both the application fee and management fee previously described.

The market price fee is based on a percentage of your revenue earned from in-park or park-based operations. You are required to report this information each year when you submit the mandatory annual report (see below). The market price fee is based on the following:

  • < $250,000 earned from park-based operations - 3% of gross receipts (minus application fee)
  • $250,000 to $500,000 earned from park-based operations - 4% of gross receipts (minus application fee)
  • > $500,000 earned from park-based operations - 5% of gross receipts (minus application fee)

You can find specific information about fee amounts and payments, and due dates by checking individual park websites or contacting the park’s CUA office.

What am I responsible for after I get a CUA?

Failure to submit required reports or misrepresentation of reported statistics or earning will result in denial of your next CUA application.

As a condition of the CUA, you must submit an annual report to each park in which you operate. This report includes visitation statistics, reportable injury data, and a record of annual gross receipts. Additionally, some parks require you to submit a monthly report that includes only visitation statistics and reportable injury data. Reporting forms and associated information are available on each park website or by contacting the park CUA office. Use the map feature above to access individual park CUA websites.