Commercial Filming and Still Photography

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Permits are issued for photography, filming, and associated sound recording to ensure protection of resources, to prevent significant disruption of normal visitor uses, or when they involve props, models, professional crews and casts, or set dressings.

Commercial Filming

All commercial film production requires a permit. Commercial filming is defined as the use of motion picture, videotaping, sound recording, or other visual image or audio recording equipment by a person, business, or other entity for a market audience such as for a documentary, television feature or special, advertisement, or similar project.

Commercial Still Photography

Commercial still photography activities require a permit when one or more of the following applies:

  1. Use of model(s), set(s), or prop(s) that are not a part of the location's natural or cultural resources or administrative facilities.

  2. The activity takes place at location(s) where or when members of the public are generally not allowed.

  3. The park would incur additional administrative costs to monitor the activity.

  4. The park needs to provide management and oversight to:

    • avoid impairment or incompatible use of the resources and values of the park

    • limit resource damage; and

    • minimize health or safety risks to the visiting public.

Generally, permits are not required for:

  • Visitors using cameras and/or recording devices for their own personal use as well as professional or amateur photographers who are shooting in areas open to the public and who require no special services from park personnel.

  • Coverage of breaking news by bona-fide newscrews. News coverage is subject to restrictions and conditions necessary to protect park resources, public health and safety, and to prevent impairment or derogation of park resources, values, or purposes.

Costs and Fees

The National Park Service is required by law to recover all costs for special use permits, such as filming permits. All costs incurred by the NPS in conjunction with the permitted filming activity will be reimbursed by the permittee. A cost estimate will be calculated and provided once the Filming Coordinator has received all applicable information.

The filming program fee schedule is as follows:

  • $100 non-refundable application/permit fee must accompany each filming application. This fee is based on an average of two hours to provide initial review of an application and process a permit to finalization. Since some project requests require more than two hours to process and others take less, the $100 application fee is an average cost for the time involved in completing a permit from start to finish.The fee includes time spent answering initial inquiries, initial review of the application, basic technical consultation, and the processing of the finalized permit.

Hourly Management Fee—A $50 per hour rate applies primarily under the following conditions:

  1. Monitoring-Filming activities authorized by permit may require continuous, on-site supervision by the NPS to assure full compliance with all conditions of the permit. The scope and complexity of the filming activity will determine the level and type of supervision. Fees may include travel time for employees involved between filming location(s) and employee duty station(s).

  2. All interviews of park personnel will be assessed at the hourly rate. This will not apply to pre-approved filming or photographing of NPS staff members performing their regularly scheduled work activities.

  3. If a permittee requests a scouting trip with or by the Filming Permits Coordinator.

  4. Extended administrative time beyond the maximum two hours covered by the $100 Application/Permit Fee. This rate does not preclude any of the other fees andis applied per hour, per staff member. Any filming activity that is particularly complex is subject to the $50 hourly fee.

Location Fees:

Under Public Law 106-206, codified at 16 U.S.C. 4601-6d, the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture are required to "establish a reasonable fee for commercial filming activities or similar projects on Federal lands…" On April 13, 2006 the NPS published a final rule in the Federal Register removing the prohibition against the NPS charging a fee "for the making of motion pictures, television productions or sound tracks…" This action requires the NPS to charge a location fee for all commercial filming and still photography permits. The location fee is in addition to cost recovery charges that are currently being collected.

Location Fee Schedule
National Park Service

Motion Pictures/Videos Still Photography
1-2 people, camera and tripod only $0/day
1-10 people $150/day 1-10 people $50/day
11-30 people $250/day 11-30 people $150/day
31-49 people $500/day Over 30 people $250/day
Over 50 people $750/day

For additional information or questions, email us.

Commercial Filming and Still Photography Documents:


Last updated: March 26, 2024

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