Doing Business With The Park

 

Most businesses - including non-profit organizations - operating in the park are covered under two types of legal instruments - a commercial use authorization or a concessions contract. The information below is an introductory guide.

  • Commercial Use Authorizations are short-term agreements that allow most businesses - including non-profits - incidental use of the park. Find out how to get a Commercial Use Authorization (CUA).
  • Concession contracts are longer-term contracts offering visitor services that, with a few exceptions, take place solely within the park. Learn more about current and upcoming Concessions Contract.

Please email or call the Concessions Management Specialist at 207.288.8735 at any time if you have any questions or require more information.

 
 

Commercial Use Authorization

What is a CUA?

A Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) allows an individual, group, company, or other non-profit entity to conduct business activities and provide specific visitor services within a national park unit. The National Park Service (NPS) issues CUAs to manage a wide-range of visitor services in addition to road-based commercial tours. For Acadia National Park, this includes transportation providers, tour operators, guided hiking, bike tours, kayak trips, summer camps, art and photography workshops, and much more.

Federal law mandates the NPS issue CUAs only for business 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.

Why does NPS require CUAs?

The requirement is in 36 CFR 5.3 - It is illegal to conduct business in a park area without a permit, contract, or other written agreement. Additionally, Public Law 105-391 Section 418, passed in 1998, provides NPS the authority to issue CUAs to allow business operations and requires NPS to collect a reasonable fee for CUA administration and management.

Do I need a 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.


In Acadia National Park, this commonly covers:

  • Transportation providers such as such as bus, limousine, ride-hailing service, taxi or van;
  • Tour operators
  • Guide services including: biking, hiking, climbing, nature tours
  • Water-based activities including kayaking, paddleboarding, boating
  • Photography or painting workshops; photography or painting tours.
  • Any other service a business entity which wishes to perform the service in the park (this requires prior park approval).
 

Information and documentation:

CUA Application, Acadia 2019
Annual Report
Bus & Motor Coach Rules

Fees are Required to Enter the Park:

Entrance fees are determined by the type of service provided:

  1. Business operators receiving a Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) for activities such as biking, photography, yoga, hiking, summer camps, rock climbing, kayaking, or other activities are required to pay the per person rate of $15.00 for each client, regardless of the size of the vehicle. Clients may use their annual or federal recreational lands passes according to the parameters of the pass. Only clients 16 years old and over are required to pay this fee. The vehicle and driver/guide have free entry into the park, but may not use their own passes to cover the clients’ fee. This fee can be purchased upon arrive to Acadia National Park at Hulls Cove Visitor Center, Bar Harbor Village Green Contact Station, and Sand Beach Entrance station.
  2. Business operators receiving a Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) for road-based tours and transportation are required to pay the Commercial Tour Fee Schedule rate which is based on the capacity of the vehicle:
Sedan 1-6 Capacity $25
Van 7-12 Capacity $50
Mini Bus 16-25 Capacity $60
Bus/Motorcoach 25+ Capacity $150
 

Update # 1: CUA Process Standardized for Operators of Road-Based Commercial Tours


The National Park Service (NPS) is standardizing road-based commercial tour commercial use authorization (CUA) requirements and fees agency-wide. Currently, road-based commercial tour operators must navigate permitting processes and associated fees that can vary from park to park.

Beginning October 1, 2019, road-based commercial tour transportation providers and tour operators in Acadia National Park will be subject to a new fee schedule which includes:

1) CUA Application Fee -The CUA Application Fee is required for all entities applying for a Commercial Use Authorization including transportation providers. The annual application fee will be $300 and is non-refundable.

  • One hundred percent of collected CUA application fees stay within the collecting park and are used to recover the administrative costs of receiving, reviewing, and processing CUA applications and required reports.
  • The NPS will adjust this application fee periodically to account for increased costs including inflation.

2) A Per Person Entrance Fee-The Entrance Fee for Road-Based Tours will be a Per-Person Fee of $15.00, Park Specific or Interagency Passes will not apply.

  • The Entrance Fee will be paid upon arrival to Acadia National Park at Hulls Cove Visitor Center, Bar Harbor Village Green Contact Station, and Sand Beach Entrance station. At the time of entrance, a tour operator will be required to provide the fee collector with the total number of passengers on-board. A pink hang-tag indicating the total number of passengers will be provided for display at all times while in the park. Law Enforcement will be performing random spot checks throughout the park.

3) CUA Management Fee-The CUA Management Fee will be $5.00 that will be subtracted from the $15.00 per person fee and used to recover costs associated with road-based commercial tour management and monitoring.

Learn more about the National Park Service CUA Program

 

Submitting CUA Documents

Submit completed documents to:

Acadia National Park
CUA Program Manager
PO Box 177
20 McFarland Hill Drive
Bar Harbor, ME 04609

If you need additional help or have any questions, please contact our Concessions Management Specialist by email or call (207) 288-8735.

Important Things To Know:

  • Businesses must apply for a new CUA each year. Applications must be received on or before April 1st. If you are interested in a CUA and it is after April 1st, please contact the Concessions Management Specialist.
  • Twenty-one (21) days of advance notice are required for processing CUA applications.
  • CUAs are issued for one calendar year; CUAs expire on December 31st of each year.

  • Checks are written to the "National Park Service" and mailed to CUA Program Coordinator at address above.

  • Annual reporting requirements must be submitted by December 31st of each year. Failure to return this form by the due date will result in non-renewal of the CUA. To view or download a form visit: Annual Report.

  • A Certificate of Commercial Liability Insurance is required. See Insurance Requirements information in the CUA application.

  • Businesses and any of their representatives must have in their possession a complete copy of the CUA at all times when conducting business in the park; random monitoring of CUA holders is conducted.
  • The acceptable forms of payment for the CUA application fee is by credit card through www.pay.gov or through check or money order made payable to "The National Park Service"
 

Concession Contracts

Concession contracts are one method of authorizing commercial visitor services. They have the following characteristics:

  • The term of concession contracts is generally 10 years or less.

  • Some concession contracts have a "preference in renewal."

  • Contracts are awarded under competition and are limited in number.

  • The concessioner pays a franchise fee to the government determined by the probable value to the concessioner for the privileges provided by the contract.

Acadia National Park currently works with these concessioners:

If you need additional help or have any questions, please contact our Concessions Management Specialist by email or call (207) 288-8735.

 

Requests for Ranger-led Program

Acadia National Park welcomes Requests for Proposals from any organization or business wishing to add Park Ranger-conducted nature programs about Acadia National Park to talks, walks, hikes, youth programs, bicycle tours, bus tours, or boat programs serving Mount Desert Island and Schoodic. A standard fee for park ranger-narrated activities will apply. Accepted proposals will be valid for up to five years and ranger-led services will be marketed to park visitors in park facilities, program publications, and on the park website. To learn more, please email park staff.

Last updated: August 14, 2019

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 177
Bar Harbor, ME 04609

Phone:

(207) 288-3338

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