Commercial Filming and Photography

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Changes to Commercial Filming Permits on Park Land

Effective October 28, 2022, the National Park Service (NPS) has rescinded interim guidance that was in place during litigation regarding commercial filming and has returned to longstanding laws and regulations governing commercial filming in parks.

What is commercial filming?

"Commercial filming" means the film, electronic, magnetic, digital, or other recording of a moving image by a person, business, or other entity for a market audience with the intent of generating income. Examples include, but are not limited to, feature film, videography, and documentaries. Commercial filming may include the advertisement of a product or service, or the use of actors, models, sets, or props.
Under Public Law 106-206 all commercial filming requires a permit and is subject to a location fee and cost recovery. In Public Law 106-206, Congress expressed the importance of resource protection and provided that the permit request should be denied if:·

  • There is the likelihood that resource damage would occur that cannot be mitigated or restored under the terms and conditions of a permit;

  • There is the likelihood of unreasonable disruption of or conflict with the public’s use/enjoyment of the site;

  • There is the likelihood that the activity poses health or safety risks to the public;

  • There is the likelihood that the activity would result in the impairment of park resources or values;

  • The requested activity will violate any other applicable Federal, State, or local law or regulation.

Still Photography

When is a permit needed?

In most cases, still photography does not require a permit. A permit is required for still photography only when:

  1. the activity takes place at location(s) where or when members of the public are generally not allowed; or
  2. the activity uses model(s), sets(s), or prop(s) that are not a part of the location's natural or cultural resources or administrative facilities; or
  3. park would incur additional administrative costs to monitor the activity.

A “model” means a person or object that serves as the subject for still photography for the purpose of promoting the sale or use of a product or service. Models include, but are not limited to, individuals, animals, or inanimate objects, such as vehicles, boats, articles of clothing, and food and beverage products. Portrait subjects, such as wedding parties and high school graduates, are not considered models.

If I’m a social media influencer, do I need a permit?

Federal law requires a permit for all commercial filming, no matter the size of the crew or the type of equipment. This includes individuals or small groups that don’t use much equipment, but generate revenue by posting footage on websites, such as YouTube and TikTok.

How much does a filming permit cost?

Federal law requires the NPS to recover its administrative costs for commercial filming and still photography activities that require a permit. Cost recovery includes an application fee and any additional charges to cover the costs incurred by the NPS in processing your request and monitoring the permitted activities. This amount will vary depending on the park and the size and complexity of the permitted activities. The application fee must be submitted with your application.

In addition, Federal law also requires the NPS to collect a location fee that provides a fair return to the United States for the use of park lands for commercial filming and for still photography requires a permit. The NPS uses the following fee schedules for filming and photography:

Commercial Filming

  • 1–2 people, camera & tripod only - $0/day
  • 1–10 people - $150/day
  • 11–30 people - $250/day
  • 31–49 people - $500/day
  • Over 50 people - $750/day


Still Photography

  • 1–10 people - $50/day
  • 11–30 people - $150/day
  • Over 30 people - $250/day

Permits issued for non-commercial filming may be subject to cost recovery charges, including an application fee, but a separate location fee will not be charged.

Are there other permit requirements?

You may be required to obtain liability insurance naming the United States as additionally insured in an amount commensurate with the risk posed to park resources by your proposed activity. You may also be asked to post a bond to ensure the payment of all charges and fees and the restoration of the area if necessary.

What about photography workshops?

If you are planning a photography workshop, you may need a commercial use authorization. See the commercial use authorization page for more information.

Application

Completed applications must be returned to the park with payment. There is a $100 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. 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.

Application Processing

Most requests should be processed within 14 days if the application is complete and without alteration, with the exception of:

  • 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.

Mail To:

Acadia National Park
ATTN: Special Use Permit Coordinator
P.O. Box 177
Bar Harbor, ME 04609

Or Overnight Mail To:

Acadia National Park
ATTN: Special Use Permit Coordinator
20 McFarland Hill Dr
Bar Harbor, ME 04609


Documents can be faxed to 207-288-8792 but permits will not be processed until payment has been received.

Last updated: November 8, 2022

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 177
Bar Harbor , ME 04609

Phone:

207 288-3338

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