SPECIAL USE PERMITS
Certain activities within all National Park Service areas require a special use permit. This enables the National Park Service to ensure safety and also monitor and regulate the use of parks while it simultaneously conserves the scenery, natural and historic objects, and wildlife within park boundaries.
You generally do NOT need a permit for your personal, noncommercial filming and photography activities within normal visitation areas and hours. However, filming outside normal visitation hours and all commercial filming requires a permit.
Note: Please submit your special use permit application at least one month before the date of your desired activity. Do NOT submit an application before emailing the Permit Coordinator to discuss your desired activity. It's possible that we might not be able to honor your request, and/or your desired date/time/location is already taken.
Those interested in commercial filming activities on land managed by the National Park Service are encouraged to contact the park directly for more information about filming in the park and to discuss how to minimize potential impacts to visitors and sensitive park resources.
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.
Please click here for FAQ's on NPS film permits.
Contact the park directly if unsure whether or not a filming activity is considered low-impact or may require a permit.
When is a permit needed?
Still photographers require a permit only when:
- the activity takes place at location(s) where or when members of the public are generally not allowed; or
- 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
- a park would incur additional administrative costs to monitor the activity.
How do I apply for a permit?
You should reach out to the permit coordinator here at Thomas Edison National Historical Park, with as much information as is feasible about where you want to film or photograph, as far in advance of your planned date as possible. In addition, you should request a meeting with park staff if your proposed activity is unusual or complex. Early consultation with park staff will help them process the submitted application in a timely manner.
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
Are there other permit requirements?
You may be required to obtain liability insurance naming the United States as additionally insured in an amount commensurate with the risk posed to park resources by your proposed activity. You may also be asked to post a bond to ensure the payment of all charges and fees and the restoration of the area if necessary.
- Flash photography and tripods are not permitted.
- Personal photography for private, non-commercial use is permitted at the Laboratory Complex. This includes cell phones, handheld cameras and video cameras that are set to take non-flash photos.
- No photography is permitted inside the Glenmont mansion.
- All photography, professional or amateur, which utilizes equipment (including tripods, monopods, lights, detachable flash, umbrella, multiple lenses, props, selfie sticks, microphones) or models requires a permit.
First Amendment Rights
Groups of less than 25 participants may exercise their First Amendment Rights without a permit. These small groups may assemble peacefully, however, they must be in a designated First Amendment area. These areas are designated to protect the safety of the participants, as well as park visitors and park resources. For a list of these locations, please see the Superintendent's Compendium. Groups larger than 25 participants may still exercise their rights, however a permit with conditions will be required. There are no fees or cost recovery associated with permits issued for First Amendment assemblies. Conditions are required to protect the participants as well as park visitors and park resources. In no way will conditions be imposed to restrict the rights of the permit holder. The National Park Service is content neutral in regards to any First Amendment Activity.
A special park use is a short-term activity that takes place in a park area and:
- Provides 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 or regulation;
- Is not initiated, sponsored, or conducted by the NPS.
National Park Service (NPS) regulations authorize the conducting of special events provided:
- There is a meaningful association between the park area and the event;
- The observance contributes to visitor understanding of the significance of the park, and
- A permit has been issued by the superintendent.
Please consult the link below for more information on Special Park Use events:
Please do NOT submit an application before emailing the permit coordinator to discuss your desired activity. It's possible that we might not be able to honor your request, and/or your desired date/time/location is already taken.
National Park Service guided tours of the Edison Laboratory Complex may be scheduled alone or with a meeting or event. The tour is about 90 minutes in length but can be longer or shorter depending on your schedule. Please discuss any special needs, themes or topics of interest with the Permit Coordinator. The recommended tour size is 25-30 people. Larger groups can be divided with a staggered tour schedule. Larger groups may also consider an open house style visit with National Park Service staff stationed throughout the historic buildings for a self-paced tour. Tours of the Glenmont estate may be available as part of your permit but there are no indoor spaces that can be used for meetings or events. Maximum tour size in the Glenmont mansion is 20. Under certain circumstances small events may be permitted on the grounds. Tents and all furnishings would be the responsibility of the permittee.
Commercial Use Authorizations (CUAs)
Section 418 of the National Parks Omnibus Management Act of 1998, Public Law 105-391, authorizes (but does not require) NPS, upon request, to issue commercial use authorizations to persons (referring to individuals, corporations, and other entities) to provide commercial services to park visitors in limited circumstances. CUAs, although used to authorize commercial services to park visitors, are NOT Concession Contracts. They are intended to provide a simple means to authorize suitable commercial services to visitors in the park in the limited circumstances in the legislation. Note that it is extremely uncommon for Thomas Edison National Historical Park to issue a CUA. Contact the permit coordinator with questions you have regarding CUAs.
General National Park Service Information on Permits
It is highly reccomended that you please make an appointment to see the space before submitting your permit application. Email the Permit Coordinator, to schedule a visit.
Once you are certain you would like to use the space, you will need to submit an Application for Special Use Permit, which you can find below. Please do not send any fees until we confirm your event. Facility guidelines for caterers and event planners can also be found below.
Application for Still Photography
Application for Special Park Use or Filming Activities
Thomas Edison National Historical Park
211 Main Street
West Orange, New Jersey 07052
973-736-0550 extension 16