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.
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 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.
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’ 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.
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.
Are filmers still required to pay fees to film in parks?
Under the interim guidance issued on January 22, 2021, the National Park Service is not collecting application or location fees, or cost recovery for filming activities.
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:
- 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.
Private Business Meetings and Events
Thomas Edison NHP can accommodate a variety of private meetings, tours, and events for organizations, businesses, and corporations through a Special Use Permit. Permits are issued for any time on Mondays or Tuesdays, or in the evening after 5:00 p.m., when the site is not open to visitors, based on availability. Permittee is responsible for any food arrangements. There are no cooking facilities available. Caterer will provide all personnel, tables, chairs, tableware, linens, coat racks and tents as needed. Facility guidelines for caterers and event planners can be found below. The following areas at the Edison Laboratory Complex are available for meetings and events:
This multipurpose room can accommodate a maximum of 40 people in rows of chairs (auditorium style). It can be set up in different ways for smaller groups. Tables and chairs may be available with advance arrangements. There is a podium and wall-mounted screen available for power point or video presentations with public wifi in the room. Permittee is responsible for any other presentation materials such as flipcharts. There is a small room with a sink and countertop adjacent to the main room that can be used for light refreshments.
Building 1 – Visitor Center
This room can accommodate approximately 60 people in rows of chairs (auditorium style). Chairs are provided. There is a podium and wall-mounted screen available for power point or video presentations but there is no internet connection available. Permittee is responsible for any other presentation materials. The Museum Store is adjacent to the main room. Restrooms are located in this building.
From April through October (weather permitting), there is a 30’ x 60’ tent on the grounds of the Laboratory Complex. Over 100 people can be seated in rows of chairs (auditorium style) or with round tables and chairs. The permittee would be responsible for all furnishings and audiovisual equipment inside the tent. There is no wifi in this area. There are two 20 amp electric receptacles available. The tent is not heated or cooled.
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.
Application for Still Photography
Application for Special Park Use or Filming Activities
General National Park Service Information on Permits
Please review the PERMIT INFORMATION SHEET below and 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.
Information Special Events
SPECIAL EVENTS - PERMIT INFORMATION SHEET
FACILITY GUIDELINES - GLENMONT ESTATE
FACILITY GUIDELINES - LABORATORY COMPLEX
SPECIAL EVENTS-LOCATION PHOTOS
Thomas Edison National Historical Park
211 Main Street
West Orange, New Jersey 07052
973-736-0550 extension 16