Permits & Reservations

Sand art version of a beach fire
Sand Sculpture of a Beach Fire


Cape Hatteras National Seashore has different categories of permits. They are:
No matter what your visit to Cape Hatteras entails, Learn the simple steps you can take to improve your safety.
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.
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.
ORVs at South Beach
With an Off-Road Vehicle Permit, you can access some great sections of beach


Off-road Vehicle (ORV) Use Permits

Obtaining an ORV permit is an easy process that takes only minutes from start to finish. ORV Permits are available online only. Please visit to obtain your permit 24 hours a day.

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,
  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). If you cannot print the proof-of-permit, you can pick up a self-certification card from outside our visitor centers or at many local tackle shops. On the self-certification card, simply write in the information from your permit, sign the card, and place on your dashboard.

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 permitted vehicle and the proof-of-permit sticker clearly visible on your windshield.

View ORV frequently asked questions and current beach access information. For specific questions about Cape Hatteras ORV Permits that aren't addressed on the frequently asked questions page, please contact the ORV Office at 252-475-9054. Please leave a message if no one answers.

To sign up for beach access text alerts, text CAHAORV to 333111.


Off-road Vehicle Permit Frequently Asked Questions

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

What is a print-at-home permit?
A print-at-home permit is an off-road vehicle permit that you can obtain through 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 decal.

10-day permittees will print their permit and proof of permit directly from The permit will be kept in the vehicle and the proof of permit must be displayed in the lower driver's side of the 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. Digital proof of payment, including screenshots, are not acceptable. If you do not have access to a printer, you may visit any NPS campground or visitor center to obtain a self-certification card.

  • Page one of the printed permit is the registration form. It should kept in 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 you cannot print the proof-of-permit, you can pick up a self-certification card from outside our visitor centers or at many local tackle shops. On the self-certification card, simply write in the information from your permit, sign the card, and place on your dashboard.

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 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 directly. You may contact the customer service department by phone, email, and chat. Here is the information that you will need:

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

  1. Login to your 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:
  • Requires written authorization and some degree of management control from the NPS in order to protect park resources and the public interest;
  • Is not prohibited by law and regulation;
  • Is not initiated, sponsored, or conducted by the Service; and
  • Is not managed under a concession contract, a recreation activity for which the NPS charges a fee, or a lease.

The following activities at Cape Hatteras National Seashore may require a Special Use Permit:

Weddings and Vow Renewals: At Least 45 Days prior to requested wedding/ceremony date

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: At Least 45 Days prior to requested event date

Surfing and kite boarding tournaments, races, fishing tournaments. Military ceremonies require a permit but the application fee is waived.

Permit Application Steps:

  • Complete the Sporting Events/Special Events application.
  • Pay a non-refundable $200 application fee using You can pay using debit, or charge card. Do not send cash or checks.
  • E mail signed application and receipt of required payment to e-mail us

The non-refundable $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.


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

“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.

Non-Low-Impact Filming

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:

  • maintain public health and safety;

  • protect environmental or scenic values;

  • protect natural or cultural resources;

  • allow for equitable allocation or use of facilities; or

  • avoid conflict among visitor use activities.

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.
Long Form Permit Application Fees Waived
Short Form Permit Application Fees Waived

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.

Still Photography

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:

  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. a park would incur additional administrative costs to monitor the activity

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:

  • 1–10 people - $50/day
  • 11–30 people - $150/day
  • Over 30 people - $250/day

Permit Application Steps: At Least 45 Days prior to 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.
You will receive a response regarding your application within two weeks of receipt.

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:

  • 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
  • Complete the Permit Application if you answer YES to any of the above 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, Alternative locations may be requested and will be accommodated 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 e-mail it to e-mail us. 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 Special Use Permits and types of uses, or if you have any questions about the process or your permit, please contact our Special Park Uses Coordinator at 252-475-9034 or
e-mail us.

For specific questions about Cape Hatteras ORV Permits please contact the ORV Office at 252-475-9054. Please leave a message if no one answers.



Oregon Inlet, Cape Point, Frisco, and Ocracoke Campground sites must be reserved and paid for through the system.

Last updated: September 7, 2022

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Cape Hatteras National Seashore
1401 National Park Drive

Manteo , NC 27954


252 473-2111

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