Cape Hatteras National Seashore has three basic categories of permits. They are
Learn the simple steps you can take to improve your safety.
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:
Things to know about beach fires:
Obtaining an ORV permit is an easy process that takes only minutes from start to finish. ORV Permits are available online only. Please visit Recreation.gov. to obtain your permit 24 hours a day. In-person sales are currently NOT available.
The online permit process is as simple as
Two types of permits are available for purchase. They are
Remember to keep the permit in the permitted vehicle and the proof-of-permit sticker clearly visible on your windshield.
A Special Use Permit is required for activities that:
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 our wedding permits page for more information.
Sporting Events, Special Events:
Surfing and kite boarding tournaments, races, fishing tournaments. Military ceremonies require a permit but the application fee is waived.
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 CFR Part 5.5 are unconstitutional. In response to the decision, the National Park Service issued interim guidance on February 22, 2021, to manage filming activities. Under the interim guidance, filming activities may require a permit if they would impact park resources or the visitor experience. The National Park Service intends to update regulations addressing filming activities that are consistent with the outcome of Price v. Barr. Once effective, those regulations will replace and supersede the interim guidance.
Those interested in commercial filming activities are encouraged to contact our Permits Coordinator at e-mail us 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’ is defined as outdoor filming activities in areas open to the public, except areas managed as wilderness, 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.
Filming activities that do not meet the description of low-impact filming require at least ten days advance notice to the National Park Service by contacting the park directly in writing. The park’s superintendent will determine whether the filming activities will require a special use permit for filming. Based on the information provided, a permit may be required to:
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 rests with the park superintendent based on potential impacts to park resources or the visitor experience.
Contact the park directly if unsure whether or not a filming activity is considered low-impact or may require a permit.
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 still photography fee schedule:
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.
What about photography workshops?
If you are planning a photography workshop, you may need a commercial use authorization. Please visit our Commercial Use Authorizations Page for more information.
First Amendment Examples of First Amendment Activities:
A permit is required for First Amendment activities that meet any of the following criteria:
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 and Buxton Beach Access; 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 accommodated as feasible.
Oregon Inlet, Cape Point, Frisco, and Ocracoke Campground sites must be reserved and paid for through the Recreation.gov system.
Last updated: March 1, 2021