Permits & Reservations

Sand art version of a beach fire
Sand art version of a beach fire

National Park Service

 
Permits
Cape Hatteras National Seashore has three basic categories of permits. They are
 
Beach Fire Permits
Fires on the beach are a memorable experience. Want to enjoy the crackle of wood burning and the dancing of the firelight? Follow these simple steps:
  1. Download and print the FREE Beach Fire Permit.
  2. Read the entire permit.
  3. Sign and date the permit.
  4. Keep the permit with you.
If you have trouble downloading or printing the Beach Fire Permit you can get a permit in person by visiting any park visitor center, ORV permit office, or campground.
Things to know about beach fires:
  • Beach fires are allowed all throughout the park from November 16 to April 30.
  • From May 1 to November 15, to protect nesting sea turtles, beach fires are allowed only on the ocean beaches at Coquina Beach, Ocracoke Day Use area, and the villages of Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco and Hatteras.
  • Fires are allowed from 6 am to 10 pm.
  • Fires no greater than 3 feet in diameter may be ignited and maintained seaward of the ocean dune, below the high tide mark, and at least 50 feet from any vegetation.
  • The Beach Fire Permit is valid only when a responsible adult (18 years of age or older) is present.
  • Fires cannot be left unattended and must be completely extinguished (cold to the touch) before leaving the area.
  • Follow the Leave No Trace ethic and clean the area of all trash before leaving the beach.
 
Off-road Vehicle Use Permits

Obtaining an ORV permit is an easy process that takes only minutes from start to finish. You can choose to visit a visitor center at Cape Hatteras National Seashore in person or you can visit the Cape Hatteras ORV Permit page at Recreation.gov.

The online permit process is as simple as

  1. Watching the ORV Safety Video to learn best practices for safe and enjoyable beach driving.
  2. Going to the Cape Hatteras ORV Permit page on Recreation.gov,
  3. Filling out the online application, and
  4. Print the permit and proof-of-permit and place them in your vehicle (Annual proof-of-permit stickers will be mailed, but the printed proof-of-permit is good for 30 days).

The in-person permit process has six easy steps.

  1. Go to one of the three visitor centers.
  2. Show the required documentation to the National Park Service staff members selling permits.
  3. Fill out the ORV permit.
  4. Watch the 3.5 minute video (you can skip this step if you bring last year's permit).
  5. Pay for your permit.
  6. Place the permit in your vehicle's glove box and affix the proof-of-permit to your vehicle's windshield.

That's all there is to it. You'll be off enjoying the beaches of Cape Hatteras National Seashore before you know it. In preparation for getting your permit, be sure you have

  • your driver's license,
  • your vehicle registration,
  • form of payment (charge card or cash),
  • and last year's permit (if available, for the in-person process).

Two types of permits are available for purchase. They are

  • a 10-day Permit ($50, valid for 10 consecutive days),
  • or an Annual Permit ($120, valid for one year from date of purchase).

Remember to keep the permit in the glove box of your permitted vehicle and the proof-of-permit sticker clearly visible on your windshield.

 
 

Off-road Vehicle Permit Update
February 29, 2016
On March 16, 2016 a new Print-at-Home process will be implemented for Off-road Vehicle permits purchased on Recreation.gov. Here are some answers to possible questions regarding this new system.

What are my options for obtaining an ORV Permit?
If you have access to a printer, you may obtain a permit at any time via the web by visiting Recreation.gov. Permits will be available immediately. You can also call 1-877-444-6777 to be connected to a Recreation.gov representative.

To obtain a permit in person, visit one of the park's three visitor centers. Here are the locations and operating hours of each visitor center.

What is a print-at-home permit?
A print-at-home permit is an off-road vehicle permit that you can obtain through Recreation.gov. After you purchase the permit online, you will receive a digital copy of your permit registration, the rules and regulations, and a proof of permit windshield tag.

10-day permittees will print their permit and proof of permit directly from Recreation.gov. The permit will be kept in the vehicle and the proof of permit will be affixes, using tape, to the inside of the driver's side windshield. The proof of permit will be displayed at all times that the permittee wishes to access the beach with an off-road vehicle.

Do I have to print the permit, or can I keep it digitally on my smart phone?
You must print all three pages of the permit.

Page one of the printed permit is the registration form. It should be secured in the glove box of the permitted vehicle while driving on Seashore beaches. The signature block on the permit form must be signed in order for the permit to be valid.

Page two of the printed permit contains all the beach driving rules and regulations.

Page three of the printed permit is the visible proof of permit that must be affixed (taped) to the bottom of the driver’s side windshield. The visible proof of permit must be affixed and displayed properly, in order for the permit to be valid.

If I buy a print-at-home permit, do I still need to come into the permit office for anything?
No. Your requirements for obtaining a permit will be complete. At the end of the transaction you will be able to print your permit. Annual permit holders will be mailed their permanent decal within 7-10 business days. Annual permit holders can use the printed temporary proof of permit for up to 30 days as they wait for their decal to arrive.

I purchased an annual permit; will I get an annual decal?
Yes. Annual permit holders can start using their permits immediately with the print-at-home permit. The printed temporary proof of permit can be used for up to 30 days as you wait for your decal to arrive. A permanent annual decal will be mailed to the address listed in Recreation.gov. The decal must then be affixed to the vehicle within 30 days of the date of purchase. If you need assistance regarding the shipping of the annual decal, please contact us directly at 252-475-9054.

Can I switch my permit from one vehicle to the next?
No. Permits are non-transferable to another vehicle.

I need assistance with a problem I have with an online permit order. Who do I contact?
If you need assistance with ordering an ORV Permit, please contact Recreation.gov directly. You may contact the customer service department by phone, email, and chat. Here is the information that you will need:

What if I don’t have access to a printer?
Just come into any one of our three permit offices with your confirmation number and we can print it for you.

If I misplace my permit, or lose it, can I print another copy?
Yes. Here are the instructions:

  1. Login to your Recreation.gov account.
  2. Click on your name in the upper right corner.
  3. Click on the "My Reservations" from the list.
  4. Find the correct permit and click "Reservation Details."
  5. Click on "Print Permit."
 
Special Use Permits

A Special Use Permit is required for activities that provide a benefit to an individual, group or organization, rather than the public at large, and that requires some degree of management from the National Park Service to protect park resources and the public interest. The following activities at Cape Hatteras National Seashore may require a Special Use Permit:

Weddings and Vow Renewals
All weddings and vow renewals at Cape Hatteras National Seashore require a Special Use Permit. Please visit the following website for information on permits for weddings and vow renewals:
https://www.nps.gov/caha/planyourvisit/wedding-permits.htm.

Sporting Events, Special Events such as surfing and kite boarding tournaments, races, fishing tournaments and military ceremonies. Complete the Sporting Events/Special Events application and send it to the mailing address on the application, along with the required $200 application fee via check or money order made payable to: "National Park Service", no later than 45 days prior to the event.

The $200 application fee covers the cost of administering the permit request and is non-refundable. Additional fees for costs incurred by the National Park Service, such as event monitoring, may apply.

You will receive a response regarding your application within two weeks of receipt.

Commerical Film/Still Photography
Filming permits are not required for our regular visitors to the park, even if you intend to use the photos in some commercial fashion. Filming permits are not required for "breaking" news. Filming permits are required for any public or commercial photographer, regardless of whether the filming is for charitable, educational or philanthropic purposes, if one or more of the following apply:

  • Filming will include use of models and/or props;

  • You are requesting access to areas normally closed to the public;

  • You are requesting support from the National Park Service, such as an interview with a ranger; and/or

  • The National Park Service determines that monitoring and oversight of the filming is required in order to protect park resources and/or provide for visitor use and safety during the filming.

If your proposed filming meets the criteria above, complete the Commercial Filming/Still Photography application and send it to the mailing address on the application, along with the required $250 application fee via check or money order made payable to: "National Park Service", no later than 45 days prior to the requested filming dates.

The $250 application fee covers the cost of administering the permit request and is non-refundable. Additional fees for costs incurred by the National Park Service, such as event monitoring, will apply. The following location fees will also apply:

COMMERCIAL FILMING/VIDEOS

STILL PHOTOGRAPHY

1-10 People

$150/Day

1-10 People

$50/Day

11-30 People

$250/Day

11-30 People

$150/Day

31-49 People

$500/Day

Over 30 People

$250/Day

Over 50 People

$750/Day


You will receive a response regarding your application within two weeks of receipt.

First Amendment Examples of First Amendment activities:

  • Religious services
  • Political speeches
  • Press conferences
  • Voter registration
  • Public demonstration, picketing, assembly or rally expressing opinions and views

A permit is required for First Amendment activities that meet any of the following criteria:

  • Groups larger than 25 participants
  • Utilizes significant equipment including generators, platforms, tents, etc.
  • Would like a guarantee of priority use of a specific location
  • Is requesting an area not otherwise open to the public

A group of 25 people or fewer is not required to obtain a First Amendment Permit if you do not meet the criteria above, but you may choose to obtain a permit to prevent another group from reserving your requested area.

The National Park Service has designated six First Amendment Assembly Areas within Cape Hatteras National Seashore: in front of the visitor center at Bodie Island Lighthouse; near the entrance to off-road vehicle (ORV) ramp 2 at Coquina Beach; near the parking lot at Cape Hatteras Lighthouse; at the entrance to Cape Point Campground; near the visitor center in Ocracoke; and near the entrance to Ocracoke Campground. Maps of these areas can be found in the Superintendent’s Compendium, https://www.nps.gov/caha/learn/management/lawsandpolicies.htm. Alternative locations may be requested and will be accomodated as feasible.

If your activity meets the criteria above or you wish to obtain a permit for your First Amendment activity, complete the First Amendment
application and email it to caha_special_use_permits@nps.gov. We request that applications are submitted no later than 15 days prior to the activity to allow time for processing. No application fee is required for First Amendment activities.

Questions and Additional Information
For questions or information about permits for other types of uses, or if you have any questions about the process or your permit, please contact our Special Park Uses Coordinator at 252-473-2111 or email
caha_special_use_permits@nps.gov.

 

Reservations

Oregon Inlet, Frisco, and Ocracoke Campground sites can be reserved through the Recreation.gov system.

Last updated: November 7, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Cape Hatteras National Seashore
1401 National Park Drive

Manteo, NC 27954

Phone:

(252) 473-2111

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