Permits & Reservations


Permits are required for special events and non-traditional uses of the park. Want to stage a photo-shoot, exercise your first amendment rights, or hold a special event at the park? Because these are not typical uses of our park and can have a significant impact on park visitors and resources, staff will review permit applications to determine whether your proposal would have a detrimental effect on the park or impact our regular visitors and will evaluate your permit request.

A special park use is defined as a short-term activity that takes place in a park area, and that:

  1. provides a benefit to an individual, group, or organization rather than the public at large;

  2. requires written authorization and some degree of management control from the National Park Service (NPS) in order to protect park resources and the public interest;

  3. is not prohibited by law or regulation;

  4. is not initiated, sponsored, or conducted by the NPS; and is not managed under a concession contract, a recreation activity for which the NPS charges a fee, or a lease.

Please note that while a special park use may meet the above criteria, not all activities are approved based on park specific resources, visitation, and potential impact. There are many regulations for the use of National Parks for private events. These guide us to appropriately approve permitting requests. The laws guiding our permit process include, but are not limited to, 36 CFR § 2.50, §1.5(d), and 43 CFR Subpart A. These laws and regulations allow us to appropriately approve permitting requests. To learn more about these laws, review the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations.


Activities that Require a Permit

The following include, but are not limited to, activities that require a permit:
Guidance for permitting special events is found in 36 CFR § 2.50 - Special events. This regulation stipulates the following conditions for approving and denying special event requests:

(a) …There is a meaningful association between the park area and the events, and the observance contributes to visitor understanding of the significance of the park area, and a permit therefor has been issued by the superintendent. A permit shall be denied if such activities would:
(1) Cause injury or damage to park resources; or
(2) Be contrary to the purposes for which the natural, historic, development and special use zones were established; or unreasonably impair the atmosphere of peace and tranquility maintained in wilderness, natural, historic, or commemorative zones.
When filming, photography, and sound recording activities occur in national parks, they must be consistent with the protection of park resources and avoid conflict with public use, the educational nature of the park, and the enjoyment of the park by all visitors.

Who Needs a Permit?
Any professional photography (including portraiture) requires a permit in sensitive commemorative areas to include:

Chatham Manor and grounds
Sunken Road
National Cemetery
Old Salem Church and grounds
Ellwood and grounds
Jackson Death Site and grounds

The park seeks to provide visitors with the opportunity to envision the historic scene in an atmosphere of quiet contemplation. Professional photography in sensitive commemorative areas has become so popular that permits have become necessary to manage this activity.

A commercial film permit is required for any individual, business, or organization (including nonprofit groups and educational institutions) filming for a market audience or receiving compensation associated with footage or recordings made in the park.

The following lists outline specific situations that require permits:


  • Commercial advertisements, feature films, entertainment broadcasts, documentaries, promotional or educational films (including non-profit and student projects)
  • Filming for stock footage (regardless of equipment)
  • Time-lapse photography if the final sequence will be used in a motion picture format for commercial purposes
  • Sound recording projects that use more than handheld equipment or require oversight by park staff
  • Use of large or unusual equipment, even for non-commercial purposes if activities warrant oversight by park staff

Still Photography

  • Commercial still photography using models, props, sets, lighting, or other specialized equipment
  • Use of large or unusual equipment, even for non-commercial purposes if activities warrant oversight by park staff
  • Special requests or use of large or unusual equipment may require permitting even if it is for personal use
Leave the drone at home. The launching, landing, or operation of unmanned aircraft is prohibited in Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania NMP.

The National Park Service will authorize the use of park land for public assemblies, meetings, demonstrations, religious activities, and other public expressions of views protected under the First Amendment of the U. S. Constitution, in accordance with 36 CFR 2.51 or 36 CFR 7.96.

A permit for demonstrations in First Amendment designated areas is required if there are more than 25 people in a group.

First Amendment areas are first come, first serve, so applying for a permit regardless of group size is recommended.

Designated First Amendment areas are located within the following places (links to image displaying permit area):

A Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) is a permit that authorizes suitable commercial services for park visitors within Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. The term of the CUA may not exceed 2 years and no preferential right of renewal or similar provisions for renewal may be provided.

The requirement for a CUA 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.

Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania NMP can authorize a variety of commercial services, including guided tours. For more information and to request the application, please contact the Chief Ranger’s office at 540-693-3200 x3010.

Weddings and Similar Commitment Ceremonies

Weddings are not approved special events. While we are happy that you would consider Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park for an occasion as special as your wedding, special events held at the park must "have a meaningful association between the park area and the events, and the observance contributes to visitor understanding of the significance of the park area."

Apply for a Permit

To file a permit application, download and submit the appropriate permit form:

Email completed permit applications to

Special Use Permits are valid for the dates issued on the permit only.

Photography-based permits are valid for 6 months from the date they are signed. Once the permit expires, a new application will need to be submitted with the application fee. Please contact the park after you are permitted when you plan to conduct a photoshoot via email at

Apart from First Amendment permits, Special Use Permits may take one week or more (depending on project type and volume of requests) to process. Processing will not begin until payment is received (if required).

Application Fees

The standard application fee for a Special Use Permit is $100. The application fee includes administrative time; including phone calls, correspondence, application review, and project consultation, scheduling park staff, permit issuance, follow-up and billing. Fees can increase based on the administrative need, scale or impact of the event, as decided by the Superintendent and Chief Ranger.

The processing fee should be submitted to once a completed permit has been returned to you with an assigned permit number. is the best way to pay the fee. This allows expedited processing and in the event a refund is necessary, the fastest way to receive your refund.

If you are unable to pay via, a check can be mailed to:

Attn: Permit Coordinator
120 Chatham Ln
Fredericksburg, VA 22405



Please contact the Chief Rangers Office for additional permit information at 540-693-3200 x3010 or e-mail us.

Last updated: January 11, 2021

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

120 Chatham Ln
Fredericksburg, VA 22405


(540) 693-3200

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