Commercial Filming & Photography

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“The service…shall promote and regulate the use of…national parks…[its] purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” (16 U.S.C. 1)

It is the policy of the National Park Service to allow filming and photography consistent with protection and public enjoyment of park resources. Therefore, our primary consideration when we evaluate permit requests in the Southeast Utah Group is the potential for resource damage and the disruption of normal public use and values. Aesthetic values such as scenic vistas, natural quiet and dark night skies are resources that we and the public value.

The use of model aircraft (unmanned, under 55 lbs, flown for hobby or recreational purposes within the line of sight of the operator) is prohibited for the protection of the park's environmental and scenic values and for avoiding conflict among visitor use activities.


Commercial filming is defined as digital or film recording of a visual image or sound recording by a person, business, or other entity for a market audience, such as for a documentary, television or feature film, advertisement, or similar project. Under P.L. 106-206 all commercial filming requires a permit and is subject to a location fee and cost recovery charges.

Permits are NOT generally required for:

  • Visitors engaged in filming/photography intended for their personal use and enjoyment.
  • The filming of breaking news (an event that cannot be covered at any other time or location) by news crews.

We may deny a request for a permit if:

  • There is potential that resource damage or impairment of their value would occur that cannot be mitigated or restored.
  • There is potential of unreasonable disruption of, or conflict with, the public’s use and enjoyment of the site(s) being requested.
  • There is likelihood that the activity poses health or safety risks to the public or crew.
  • The requested activity will violate any other Federal, State, or local laws or regulations.
  • Other activities are already planned or expected to occur at the same location.
  • It involves access to areas normally designated closed or limited to administrative use for resource or safety reasons.
  • The project includes a portrayal of activities that are not permitted within a national park
  • The requirements for supervising the project exceed the staffing capacity of the affected park.
  • The production crew is unwilling or unable to provide proof of insurance or reimburse the NPS for costs.

Non-commercial filming may require a permit if a permit is necessary to manage the activity to protect park resources and values while minimizing conflict between user groups or to ensure public safety. Examples of non-commercial filming include, but are not limited to, filming for tourism bureaus, convention and visitor bureaus, and student filming. In most cases, a permit is not necessary for visitors engaging in casual, non-commercial filming.

Still photographers require a permit 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. The park would incur additional administrative costs to monitor the activity.

How to Apply

  1. Complete Form 10-931 (830k Word document).
  2. Attach:
    • $100 payment receipt from (instructions below)
    • Proof of General Liability Insurance naming the United States of America as additionally insured (instructions below)
  3. Please submit the above documents to the email address listed in the application.

We handle all applications in the order we receive them. We need a minimum of 25 business days to process applications. Requests that involve multiple locations, complex logistics, and coordination with other NPS divisions or visitor activities will likely require a minimum of two months to process, but may take longer depending on workload. We also require a minimum of three months to process permits for projects that need additional environmental compliance.

In compliance with the requirements of the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996, the applicant must submit their social security number or Federal tax ID number when filling out the application for a permit. Applications will not be processed if submitted incomplete or are received without payment.


Permit Fees (pre-shoot)

Total fee for a permit is $280. Although a permit costs $280 in total, it is advised to pay only the $100 application fee when the application is initially submitted. See the Additional Costs section below to calculate post-shoot charges.

The National Park Service is required by law to recover all costs for special use permits. The permittee must reimburse all costs incurred by the NPS in conjunction with the permitted filming activity. We can provide a cost estimate once we receive all applicable information.

Non-refundable Application Fee: $100
This fee is based on an average time it takes to provide initial contact and consultation with permittees and initial review of a standard application or project.

Administrative Fee: $80
Once a request is approved, this fee covers the costs associated with issuing a standard permit. This fee includes, but is not limited to, the average time it takes for processing fees, permit development, consultations with the permittee, managerial consultations, and billing.

Hourly Management Fee: $100
All activities authorized by permit require continuous, on-site supervision by the National Park Service to assure full compliance with all conditions of the permit. A minimum of 2 hours of monitoring is applied to the cost of every permit upon issuance. The scope and complexity of the activity will determine the level and type of supervision. Fees include travel time for employees involved between activity location(s) and employee duty station(s).

Payment Steps:
To make a payment through, follow these instructions:

  • Visit the website.
  • Enter "SEUG" in the search window.
  • Payment will be made at: Southeast Utah Group – National Parks Commercial Filming Permit Fees – click on “continue to the form." (Note: there is a separate link for Location Fees which is used only after the shoot is complete).
  • Do not enter a special use permit number (not applicable at this point).
  • Enter a total dollar amount for your permit. Although a permit costs $280 in total, it is advised to pay only the $100 application fee when the application is initially submitted.
    • Application Fee: $100
    • Administrative Fee: $80
    • Monitoring Fee: $100
  • Save your payment confirmation; you will submit this with your application.

Additional Costs (post-shoot)

1) Extended Administrative Time:

(a.) Compliance – Any requests that involve multiple locations, complex logistics, coordination with other NPS divisions or additional environmental compliance, or any permit that requires additional staff time beyond the averages in the initial costs will be charged an additional $50 per hour per employee that is needed in order to complete the permit.
(b.) Monitoring – All activities authorized by permit require continuous, on-site supervision by the National Park Service to assure full compliance with all conditions of the permit. A minimum of 2 hours monitoring ($100) is applied to the cost of every permit upon issuance. The scope and complexity of the activity will determine the level and type of supervision. Fees include travel time for employees involved between activity location(s) and employee duty station(s).

(c.) Interviews – All interviews of park personnel will be assessed at the hourly rate. This will not apply to pre-approved filming or photographing of NPS staff members performing their regularly scheduled work activities.

(d.) Scouting – If a permittee requests a scouting trip with or by the Filming Permits Coordinator; staff time will be assessed at a rate of $40 per hour if on regular duty time, $50 per hour if it’s overtime.

2) Location Fees
Beginning May 15, 2006, the NPS began charging location fees for filming. Public Law 106-206, codified at 16 U.S.C. 460l-6d, instructs the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture to “establish a reasonable fee for commercial filming activities or similar projects on Federal Lands…”

The location fee is in addition to cost recovery charges that are currently being collected.

Number of People Motion Picture and Video Commercial Still Photography
1 to 2 (camera & tripod only) $0 $0
3 to 10 $150/day $50/day
11 to 30 $250/day $150/day
31 to 49 $500/day $250/day
Over 50 $750/day $250/day

Permit Conditions

The applicant or permittee is required to notify the NPS of any delays or schedule changes at least 36 hours in advance, or as agreed to by the superintendent or his/her representative. Should the applicant or permittee fail to provide such advance notification, the applicant or permittee is responsible for paying all costs incurred by the NPS any time during the application, permitting, or operational process, including those due to cancellation, moving or rescheduling of the project. Such payment will include but is not limited to a non-refundable charge for each staff person scheduled for the affected activity.

Such charge will, at a minimum, be the equivalent of two hours overtime for each employee assigned. These costs may be recovered through the posting of a bond at the time of application, or through a bill of collection presented at any point after initial contact.

General liability insurance must be carried by the permittee naming the United States of America as an additional insured. Short-term policies must show coverage on an “occurrence” basis. Required commercial general liability for video or film productions is generally one million dollars ($1,000,000), but will vary according to project scope, risk to park resources and other relevant circumstances. All insurance certificates must be issued by an insurance company operation in the United States. The Certificate of Insurance is required to list the United States of America, National Park Service, 2282 SW Resources Blvd, Moab UT 84532 as additionally insured. The Filming Coordinator must receive the original insurance certificate no later than one week before the scheduled activity.

Performance Bonds
Some permitted filming activities will require the permittee to post a performance bond. The purpose of the bond is to insure that the resource is left in as good condition as it was prior to the filming, and to cover restoration costs (if needed). The amount of the bond will be determined according to the scope and potential for damage by the activity. At the conclusion of the permit, the bond will be returned to the permittee after final billing costs and costs of necessary clean up; repair or rehabilitation is deducted. The performance bond can be in the form of a money order or cashier's check.

Sharing the Park
A filming or photography permit does not give exclusive rights to the permittee or allow the permittee to restrict visitors from any location; therefore sites which attract a large number of visitors should be avoided. Normal visitor use patterns will not be interrupted for longer than five minutes, and only as specified in the approved permit. Visitors will be able to observe filming activity.

Restrictions and Conditions
All restrictions and conditions will be enumerated in the permit. The following activities are restricted and must be approved on a case by case basis; (1) use of children or animals, (2) discharge of blank ammunition and all black powder weapons, (3) mechanical or pyrotechnic special effects, (4) stunts, (5) amplified sound or music, (6) placing of large set dressings, (7) filming photography inside interiors of government administrative work areas, (8) film equipment or activities on roadways, (9) access to closed areas or access to areas during non-visitor use hours.

The permit will specify the number of people and the types of equipment allowed. The NPS monitor on duty will not allow activities not specified in the permit.

Please note that the permit does not include authority to film or photograph park visitors unless agreed to by the visitor and a signed written release is obtained by the permittee.

We may restrict permit activities based on weather, seasonal conditions or conflicts with visitor use (fire danger, wildlife concerns, busy weekends, etc.). Check the superintendent's compendium for additional closures, use limits, and restricted activities.

Prohibited Activities
Activities having the potential to damage or significantly impact or alter park resources are prohibited. The following is a partial list of prohibited activities: (1) altering, damaging or removing vegetation, (2) vehicle use off established roads and parking areas, (3) use of insecticides, herbicides and pesticides, (4) loud noises that exceed 60 decibels or have the potential to negatively impact park resources or visitors experience, (5) smoking in building or vegetated areas, (6) use fragile vegetation areas, except on trails or already disturbed areas (as determined by the NPS), (7) flying aircraft below FAA recommended minimum altitude (usually 2,000 feet) above noise sensitive areas (National Parks), (8) commercial filming in wilderness areas, (9) writing on or discoloring any natural feature or structure.

Use of aircraft and helicopters is highly restricted. Sensitive wildlife habitat, expectation of solitude in wilderness areas, and safety are our primary consideration with regard to over flight activities. Therefore, aerial filming is rarely allowed. Use of drones is not permitted.

Be aware that over 95 percent of Arches National Park (Delicate Arch and Fiery Furnace included) and 86 percent of Canyonlands National Park are Recommended Wilderness and are managed as federally designated Wilderness. Only educational filming is permitted within Wilderness areas.

Termination of Permit
All filming or photography permits issued by the National Park Service are “revocable” on 24 hours notice or WITHOUT NOTICE if the terms of the permit are violated. Deliberate infractions of the terms of the filming permit or the deliberate making of false or misleading statements concerning intended actions in order to obtain a permit are causes for immediate termination of the permit and cause for possible prosecution. Permits will be revoked if damage to resources or facilities is threatened, or if there is a clear danger to public health or safety.



For questions or additional information, please contact the filming coordinator at (435) 719-2123 or email us.

Last updated: November 25, 2019

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 907
Moab, UT 84532


(435) 719-2299

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