Photography and Filming Permits

Before you Begin

Permits may be needed for professional photography and filming. PLEASE NOTE: Boston National Historical Park only owns and manages the following areas:

Popular park areas elsewhere in Boston, such as Boston Common and the Public Garden, are City properties with their own permitting requirements through the City of Boston Parks and Recreation Department. Other parks like the Charles River Esplanade and Harbor Islands are properties of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. Reservations and permits for Faneuil Hall are through the City of Boston Property Management Department.

Photo and Film Permits

The National Park Service (NPS) allows filming and photography when it is consistent with the protection and public enjoyment of park resources, and it avoids conflict with the public's normal use and enjoyment of the park. Aesthetic values such as scenic vistas, natural quiet, and dark night skies are resources that we value. We are also sensitive to the environments around our park sites. There are restrictions associated with party size, the use of commercial vehicles, generators, artificial lighting, commercial film equipment, props, sets, and audio devices. Commercial vehicles must be in compliance with all federal and state laws and local ordinances. Inclement weather imposes road restrictions and limited access.

Restrictions

The National Park Service cannot accommodate a project if:

  • damage to natural, cultural, and recreational resources, which cannot be mitigated, is expected;
  • other activities are already planned or expected to occur at the same time and place, and filming or photography would be incompatible;
  • the activity involves access to areas normally closed for reasons of resource protection or safety;
  • the level of activity within the park is already so high that staff would be unavailable to work with the film crew; or,
  • the project includes a portrayal of activities that are not permitted within a national park.

Permit Requirement

A permit may be required when the filming, videotaping, sound recording, or still photography involve the use of talent, professional crews, set dressings, or props; when they involve product or service advertisement; or when the activity could result in damage to park resources or disruption of visitor use. If you are uncertain whether your project requires a permit or not, contact the park for additional information.

Permit Application Procedures

Applicants should read the summary of filming guidelines to facilitate an understanding of the permit process. If site scouting is planned prior to the application period, contact the Special Park Use coordinator for guidance and restrictions on specific locations.

Application

Contact the Special Park Use Office and request the necessary application.

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. Most requests should be processed within 14 days if the application is complete and without alteration. 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. 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.

Please submit applications as far in advance as possible.

*For more information, contact the Special Park Use Office at 617-438-4024 or via email.

IMPORTANT:

Any activities not specified in the permit will not be allowed. No activities on National Park Service property may begin until the permit has been approved by the park and agreed to by the permittee. All permits include the requirement that the site be cleaned and restored at the end of your use. Normal visitor use patterns should not be interrupted for longer than five minutes, and only as specified in the approved permit.

Audio and lighting restrictions apply to prevent disruption of visitor activities and/or disturb visitors. Large reflectors, silks, camera track, jibs, cranes, generators, large props, crowd scenes, foggers, and oversized vehicles are discouraged and are only authorized on a case-by-case basis, dependent on location, time of year, time of day, and other mitigating factors.

Denial of Permit

Filming permits may be denied for any of the following reasons:

  • Resource damage - If it is determined by the superintendent or his/her designee that the filming activity represents a threat to the resource, including wildlife.
  • Supervisory requirements - If supervisory requirements for the proposed filming project will place unreasonable burdens on staff capacity, irrespective of the permittee's willingness to pay supervisory costs.
  • Disruption of visitor activities - If the proposed filming would conflict with the visitors' normal use of the park.
  • Prohibited or restricted activities - Permits will not be issued that would allow filmmakers to enter areas closed to the general visiting public, or that would allow activities not permitted to the visitor except for cooperative activities as an agent of the National Park Service.

Monitoring

For filming activities that are perceived to interfere with visitor use, or further congest highly visited areas, or have the potential to impact park resources without proper supervision and care, at least one employee of the National Park Service will be assigned to the film crew. Degree of monitoring is based on crew size, equipment, props, scope of project, location(s), time of day, and time of year.

  • When a project involves substantial numbers of people and equipment, or if it involves a location that is environmentally sensitive or heavily visited, supervision will be on-site and continual.
  • A ranger or representative may spot-check during the filming to assure compliance when the operations involve only a few people or minimal amounts of equipment, or take place in areas where there is little, if any, possibility of resource impact, inconvenience to visitors, or violation of permit conditions.
  • The superintendent may bring in other employees to assist in those instances when the scope of the project exceeds the park's ability to properly manage the activity.

Before initiating any location set-ups or dispersal of equipment, a National Park Service representative MUST be on site. Failure to comply with this requirement could result in the revocation of the permit.

Revocation

As noted in permit conditions, non-compliance with any of the permit conditions could result in revocation of the permit.

For more information, contact the Special Park Use Office at 617-438-4024 or via email.

Last updated: July 13, 2021

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Boston National Historical Park
21 Second Ave

Charlestown, MA 02129

Phone:

(617) 242-5601

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