Commercial Use Authorizations

What is a Commercial Use Authorization?

Section 418 of the National Parks Omnibus Management Act of 1998, Public Law 105-391 (Section 418), authorizes the National Park Service, upon request, to issue commercial use authorizations to provide commercial services to park area visitors in limited circumstances. Permits in the form of Commercial Use Authorizations (CUA) for these activities are required.

Prior approval from the park superintendent, in the form of a CUA, is required before any operations can begin in the park. All activities must be in compliance with the general regulations for Gulf Islands National Seashore.

What are the general criteria for the issuance of a CUA?

The authorization is issued to a qualified operator to permit the provision of appropriate commercial services to park area visitors. A qualified operator is an organization that the superintendent determines has the ability to satisfactorily provide visitor services and carry out the terms of the CUA. All requested CUAs must meet the designation of appropriate for the NPS site. Any application that is determined not to meet the appropriate designation will be denied.

Authorized commercial services must:

  • Have minimal impact on park area’s resources and values;
  • Are consistent with the purpose for which the park area was established;
  • Are consistent with all applicable park area management plans, policies, and regulations.
  • Follow COVID-19 pandemic guidance for occupancy standards and multi-day road-based tour guidance.

The holder must agree to comply with all of the general and specific conditions described in the CUA conditions. You should familiarize yourself with these documents before applying for a CUA.

The 1998 Act authorizes the NPS to issue CUAs only for appropriate visitor services (See Section3.4.1) and requires the NPS to:

  • Collect a reasonable fee that recovers the NPS’s costs for the administration and management of the CUA, at a minimum.
  • Take appropriate steps to limit the liability of the United States arising from the provision of visitor services under the CUA.
  • Limit for-profit CUAs for services originating and provided solely within an NPS unit (in-park CUAs) to operations with annual gross receipts of no more than $25,000.
  • Limit CUAs for services originating and terminating outside an NPS unit to incidental use of park resources.
  • Only issue CUAs for commercial services that will have no more than minimal impact on the resources and values of the park.
  • Prohibit CUAs from constructing any structure, fixture, or improvement on NPS-managed lands.
  • Limit the CUA term to a maximum of two years with no renewal rights.
  • Limit the number of CUAs or establish limiting conditions to ensure the preservation and proper management of park resources and values.

What activities are authorized and how to apply?

The application packet includes a list of activities authorized within the national seashore through a Commercial Use Authorization. The packet must be returned in completion to e-mail us for your request to be processed. Incomplete application packets will not be considered.

Return packets to email address e-mail us

For questions contact Gulf Islands National Seashore Commercial Services Program at email e-mail us


Crab Island Operations

Applications are now being accepted for commercial operations at Crab Island.

Learn More

Last updated: March 21, 2024

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