Commercial Use Authorization frequently asked questions

Commercial Use Authorization or CUA

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Commercial Use Authorization (CUA)?

A Commercial Use Authorization is a business permit with the National Park Service which authorizes an individual, group, company or other for profit entity to provide specific visitor services and operate within a National Park area.

What does the Federal law (PL 105-391, Section 418) require?

The law requires that CUAs:

  • Are accomplished in a manner consistent to the highest practicable degree with the preservation and conservation of park resources and values.

  • Are consistent with the purpose for which the Park was established.

  • Ensure compliance with all applicable management plans, park policies and regulations.

  • Establish conditions for the protection (safety) of visitors and appropriate visitor services.

  • Limit the liability of the United States Government.

  • Require payment of a reasonable fee for issuance of an authorization and recover associated management and administrative costs.

Do you expect the CUA process to change in the future?

Yes. The National Park Service is in the process of drafting final regulations, at the national level, that cover appropriate operations under the CUA process.

Do I or my company, group or organization need a CUA permit?

A permit is required if you as an individual, organization or corporation provide any goods, activities, services, agreements, or other function for members, clients or the public which takes place at least in part of the National Park, uses Park resources and results in compensation, monetary gain, benefit or profit.

What constitutes a commercial tour or service?

A commercial tour or service consists of one or more persons traveling on an itinerary that has been packaged, priced, or sold for leisure/recreational purposes by an organization that realizes financial gain through the provision of the service.

Are there limits on the number of CUA permits that can be issued?

Yes. In response to Public Law 105-391, section 418, the superintendent cannot issue more CUA permits than are consistent with the preservation and proper management of park resources and values. The Dry Tortugas National Park General Management Plan limits the number of CUAs to thirty (30).

Is there a cost for the permit?

Yes. The CUA fee is a tiered system based on the number of components (i.e., number of vessels/vehicles and captains/guides) covered by the permit. The base level remains at $250 and includes up to four components. The next level includes two additional components for a total of six for $350. The third level fee is $450 and is reserved for businesses with seven or more components. New and/or additional fees may be required in future years when the final NPS regulations go into effect.

How do I apply for a CUA?

Application instructions and packets may be downloaded from the Park website at:

Please read the application instructions and all attachments before applying for a CUA. Completed application packets may be mailed or faxed. Emailed applications will no longer be accepted. All items listed on the Application Packet Checklist must be included in order to qualify for a CUA.

Last updated: October 9, 2015

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