What is a CUA?
A commercial use authorization (CUA) allows an individual, group, company, or other for-profit entity to conduct commercial activities and provide specific visitor services within a national park unit. The National Park Service (NPS) issues CUAs to manage a wide-range of commercial visitor services in addition to road-based commercial tours. Depending on the park, this can include guided mountaineering and backpacking, bike tours, kayak trips, photography workshops, scuba diving classes, fishing trips, and much more.
Federal law mandates the NPS issue CUAs only for commercial activities and visitor services that:
- are determined to be an appropriate use of the park,
- will have minimal impact on park resources and values, and
- are consistent with the park purpose, management plans, policies, and regulations.
Why does NPS require CUAs?
The requirement is in 36 CFR 5.3 - It is illegal to conduct business in a park area without a permit, contract, or other written agreement. Additionally, Public Law 105-391 Section 418, passed in 1998, provides NPS the authority to issue CUAs to allow business operations and requires NPS to collect a reasonable fee for CUA administration and management.
Do I need a CUA?
You may not conduct commercial activities in a park unit without a valid CUA!
A CUA is required if you provide any goods, activities, services, agreements, or other function for members, clients, or the public that:
- take place at least in part on lands managed by the National Park Service,
- use park resources, and
- result in compensation, monetary gain, benefit, or profit.
At Colonial National Historical Park and Fort Monroe National Monument, this commonly covers:
- Transportation providers such as bus, limousine, ride-hailing service, taxi or van;
- Tour operators
- Guide services including: biking, hiking, horse carriage and nature tours
- Photography or painting workshops; photography or painting tours.
- Any other service a business entity which wishes to perform the service in the park (this requires prior park approval).
Apply For A CUA (Under Construction)
If you need additional help or have any questions, please e-mail us.
When to apply?
- Businesses must apply for a new CUA each year. Applications are accepted as of January 1st and must be received on or before May 1st.
- Businesses must submit applications sixty days in advance.
- CUAs are issued for two calendar years and expire on December 31st of the second year.
What to Submit
- CUA Application
- Proof of Insurance
- A Certificate of General Commercial Liability Insurance .
- A Certificate of Automobile Liability coverage when applicable.
- Your insurance must name United States of America, Colonial National Historical Park PO Box 210, as an additional insurer.
- $150 payment for CUA application fee (see below).
- Acknowledgement of Risk Form
How to Submit Your Application
- Submit your application package via pay.gov public form and e-mail us.
How to Pay
Submit your CUA application online and we will send an electronic invoice via pay.gov.
Operating Under A CUA
Entrance Fees Are Required
- Business operators receiving a Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) for activities such as biking, photography, yoga, hiking, summer camps, rock climbing, kayaking, or other activities are required to pay the per person rate of $15.00 for each client, regardless of the size of the vehicle. Clients may use their annual or federal recreational lands passes according to the parameters of the pass. Only clients 16 years old and over are required to pay this fee. The vehicle and driver/guide have free entry into the park, but may not use their own passes to cover the clients’ fee. This fee can be purchased upon arrival to Colonial National Historical Park at the Yorktown and Jamestown Visitor Centers.
- Starting in June 2022, Road Based Commercial Tour operators will pay the per person fee for every passenger, however they will not be required to pay the $150 dollar application fee. All Road Based Commercial Tour operators must follow special park requirements outlined in the compendium. This information can be found at the following link.
Carry CUA With You At All Times
- Businesses and any of their representatives must have in their possession a complete copy of the CUA at all times when conducting business in the park; random monitoring of CUA holders is conducted.
Follow Special Park Conditions at All Times· Businesses and any of their representatives must have in their possession a complete copy of the CUA at all times when conducting business in the park; random monitoring of CUA holders is conducted.Carry CUA With You At All Times
Submit Annual Report
- As a condition of the CUA, all CUA holders in the NPS are required to complete the annual CUA report (NPS Form 10-660). The form includes questions about visitor use statistics, reportable injury data, and gross receipts earned from operations in the NPS. The information requested and collected by the annual CUA report is Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approved. The annual CUA report is due early in the calendar year for the preceding operating year (e.g., report for 2022 will be due in early 2023).
- Annual reports must be submitted by January 15th of each year in the respective CUA. Failure to return by the due date will result in non-renewal or termination the existing CUA.
- Application Fee
- As mentioned above, a nonrefundable application fee of $150 is required for each application. This fee allows the park to recover costs associated with processing and approving or denying your CUA application. In some instances, the fee could be higher depending on the complexity of the application and the depth of review that is required.
- Management Fee
- Colonial uses charging a percentage of gross sales, yearly and upon submission of the annual CUA report, for recreational CUAs. RBCT (Road Based Commercial Tours) do not pay a management fee, but are required to pay an entrance fee for every passenger. For recreation services the fee is based on the following:
- < $250,000 earned from park-based operations - 3% of gross receipts (minus application fee)
- $250,000 to $500,000 earned from park-based operations - 4% of gross receipts (minus application fee)
- > $500,000 earned from park-based operations - 5% of gross receipts (minus application fee)
For hospitality services, (lodging, food & beverage, retail, souvenirs & merchandise, rentals, RV parks & campsites, marina, transportation, auto gas & services) the minimum is 5% for gross receipts less than $250,000. Colonial National Historical Park may also establish market price by analyzing what local or regional municipalities charge for similar permits (for example food truck licenses)