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?
Currently, the National Park Service is not issuing commercial filming permits, but is in the process of evaluating how best to regulate filming activities that affect visitors and park resources. All applicable laws and regulations governing activities and public use in parks still apply, including park hours and areas open and closed to the public. Videographers, filmers, producers, directors, and other staff associated with commercial filming are reminded that rules and regulations that apply to all park visitors still apply to filming activities even if no permit is needed for their activity. Check with the park staff for more information on closures, sensitive resources, and other safety tips.
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.
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:
What fees will I have to pay?
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 fee schedule:
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 Do Business With Us page for more information.
Other Things to Know
Sharing the Park
A 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 photography activity.
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.
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.
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 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 about photography in the park, please contact our office at (435) 719-2123 or email us.
Last updated: February 3, 2021