The National Park Service (NPS) is mandated to "conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such a manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations" (16 U.S.C. 1). For this purpose the Department of the Interior developed RM-53, which governs filming, photography, and sound recordings in National Parks. Under these guidelines NPS units have the authority and responsibility to manage, permit, and/or deny filming, photography, and sound recordings in ways consistent with park management and mission.
It is the policy of the NPS to allow commercial photography, still photography, filming, and sound recordings to the fullest extent possible while providing for the protection of park resources and ensuring the enjoyment of those resources by park visitors.
Permit Application Procedure
Requests for a permit application may be made in person at the Harkers Island Visitor Center, via telephone, email, or letter. The application form may be downloaded from the Special Use Permits webpage. A completed application and the non-refundable application fee are required before an application can be processed. Park contact information is:
The information on the application will be used by NPS staff to evaluate the impact of the proposed activity on park resources and visitors. Allow at least two weeks (10 business days) for processing. Requests which involve multiple locations, complex logistics or coordination with other visitor activities will require a minimum of 15 working days to process. Projects which require environmental or cultural resource evaluation must be submitted not less than 30 days before the start of proposed activities. Applications are processed in the order in which they are received.
Special Use Permits Phone: 252-728-2250 ext. 3018 Cape Lookout National Seashore FAX: 252-728-2160 131 Charles Street Website: www.nps.gov/calo Harkers Island, NC 28531 Email: CALO_Special_Use_Permit@nps.gov
Applications will be returned to the applicant if submitted incomplete, cannot be approved as submitted, or are received without payment or without a social security or Federal Tax Identification Number. This greatly extends the time required to process your permit.
A permit is required for any filming or photography when the activity:
- Involves the use of a model(s), actor(s), set(s), or prop(s) that are not part of the location's natural or cultural resources or administrative facilities
- Takes place at location(s) where or when members of the public are generally not allowed
- Requires access to the park after normal working hours
- Incurs additional administrative costs to the park to monitor the activity
- Indicates potential for resource damage, including wildlife, or undue disruption of visitor activities
For purposes of definition, "filming" or "film-making" is commercial still photography, motion picture photography, videotaping, or sound recording. Documentaries, travelogues, feature stories, and similar types of filming require a permit if they meet one or more of the above criteria.Commercial videographers, cinematographers, or sound recording crews of up to two people with only minimal equipment (i.e. a camera and a tripod) working in areas open to the public are required to obtain a commercial filming permit and are subject to appropriate permit terms and conditions and cost recovery charges but are not subject to location fees.
News channels are considered a commercial venture and require a permit. News media crews--when not covering a breaking news event, but shooting human interest, staged events, or other topics--are required to obtain a permit. A "breaking news event" is defined as an event that cannot be covered at any other time or location.
A permit is not required for:
- Visitors using a camera and/or a recording device for his/her own personal use
- Still photography when taking place at location(s) where and when the general public is allowed
- Sound technicians and film or video news crews at breaking news events. A "breaking news event" is defined as an event that cannot be covered at any other time or location.
- NPS filming or photography, Department of the Interior Audio Visual Center filming, or filming/photography done pursuant to a cooperative agreement or contract