Commercial Filming and Photography

On This Page Navigation

 

Changes to Commercial Filming Permits on Park Land

On January 22, 2021, the US District Court for the District of Columbia issued a decision in Price v. Barr determining the permit and fee requirements applying to commercial filming under 54 USC 100905, 43 CFR Part 5, and 36 CRF Part 5 are unconstitutional. The National Park Service is currently determining how this decision will be implemented.

Following the recent court decision, the National Park Service will not be implementing or enforcing the commercial filming portions of 43 CFR Part 5 until further notice, including accepting applications, issuing permits, enforcing the terms and conditions of permits, issuing citations related to permits, or collecting cost recovery and location fees for commercial filming activities.

As regulations regarding commercial filming permits are being reassessed, those interested in commercial filming activities on land managed by the National Park Service are encouraged to contact the park directly for more information about filming in the park and to discuss how to minimize potential impacts to visitors and sensitive park resources.

Do I need a permit to film?

Under the interim guidance, the National Park Service is not distinguishing between types of filming, such as commercial, non-commercial, or news gathering. Low-impact filming activities will not require a special use permit, but non-low-impact filming activities may require a permit to address their potential impacts on park resources and visitor activities.

Low-Impact Filming
“Low-impact filming’ is defined as outdoor filming activities in areas open to the public involving five people or less and equipment that will be carried at all times, except for small tripods used to hold cameras. Those participating in low-impact filming activities do not need a permit and are not required to contact the park in advance. If low-impact filmers have questions about areas where they want to film, they should contact the park directly.

Videographers, filmers, producers, directors, news and other staff associated with filming are reminded that rules and regulations that apply to all park visitors, including park hours and closed areas, still apply to filming activities even if a permit is not required. Check with the park staff for more information on closures, sensitive resources, and other safety tips.

Non-Low-Impact Filming
Filming activities that do not meet the description of low-impact filming require at least 10 days advance notice to the National Park Service by contacting the park directly in writing to determine whether the filming activities will require a special use permit for filming. Based on the information provided, a permit may be required to:

  • maintain public health and safety;
  • protect environmental or scenic values;
  • protect natural or cultural resources;
  • allow for equitable allocation or use of facilities; or
  • avoid conflict among visitor use activities.

Examples of requests that may require a permit include, but are not limited to: entering a sensitive resource area, filming in areas that require tickets to enter, or filming in visitor centers, campgrounds, or other visitor areas. The decision to require a permit is based on potential impacts to park resources or the visitor experience.

To submit written notice a minimum of 10 days in advance, or to check whether or not a filming activity is considered low-impact and may require a permit, please Email Us.

Are filmers still required to pay fees to film in parks?

As of January 22, 2021, the National Park Service is no longer collecting application or location fees, or cost recovery for filming.

Still Photography

When is a permit needed?

Price v. Barr had no impact on how the National Park Service regulates still photography, so there are no changes in how the National Park Service regulates that activity. Still photographers require a permit 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. a park would incur additional administrative costs to monitor the activity.

The National Park Service will collect a cost recovery charge and a location fee for still photography permits. Cost recovery includes an application fee and any additional charges to cover the costs incurred by the National Park Service in processing your request and monitoring your permit. This amount will vary depending on the park and the size and complexity of your permit. The application fee must be submitted with your application.

What fees will I have to pay for Still Photography?

The National Park Service will collect a cost recovery charge and a location fee for still photography permits. Cost recovery includes an application fee and any additional charges to cover the costs incurred by the National Park Service in processing your request and monitoring your permit. This amount will vary depending on the park and the size and complexity of your permit. The application fee must be submitted with your application.

In addition, the National Park Service has been directed by Congress to collect a fee to provide a fair return to the United States for the use of park lands. The National Park Service uses the following still photography fee schedule:

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

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 $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. 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: March 10, 2021

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 177
Bar Harbor, ME 04609

Phone:

(207) 288-3338

Contact Us