National Park Service announces interim guidance for filming in parks
Date: February 22, 2021
WASHINGTON – The National Park Service (NPS) today announced interim guidance, in response to Price v. Barr, regarding the management of filming in park areas. Under the guidance, low-impact filming will be exempt from advance notice and permit requirements, while other filming activities may need a permit to address potential impacts to resources and the visitor experience. Until further guidance is issued, the NPS will not require location fees, application fees or additional cost-recovery charges.
Filming activities must not violate applicable laws, such as the Endangered Species Act, the Archeological Resources Protection Act, or the Wilderness Act. All filming must comply with laws protecting the NPS’s intellectual property, such as laws and regulations governing the use of the NPS Arrowhead and images of NPS employees.
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 CRF Part 5 are unconstitutional. The National Park Service is currently determining how this decision will be implemented.
Following the recent court decision, the National Park Service will not be implementing or enforcing the commercial filming portions of 43 CFR Part 5 until further notice, including accepting applications, issuing permits, enforcing the terms and conditions of permits, issuing citations related to permits, or collecting cost recovery and location fees for commercial filming activities.
As regulations regarding commercial filming permits are being reassessed, 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?
Currently, the National Park Service is not issuing commercial filming permits, but is in the process of evaluating how best to regulate filming activities that affect visitors and park resources. All applicable laws and regulations governing activities and public use in parks still apply, including park hours and areas open and closed to the public. Videographers, filmers, producers, directors, and other staff associated with commercial filming are reminded that rules and regulations that apply to all park visitors still apply to filming activities even if no permit is needed for their activity. Check with the park staff for more information on closures, sensitive resources, and other safety tips.
Are filmers still required to pay fees to film in parks?
As of January 22, 2021, the National Park Service is no longer collecting application or location fees, or cost recovery for filming.
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:
How do I apply for a permit?
Permit applications are available through each park's administrative office or website. Contact information for parks can be found on their websites; visit Find a Park to locate the park where you would like to photograph. You should submit a completed application along with the application fee to the park 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:
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.
What about photography workshops?
If you are planning a photography workshop, you may need a commercial use authorization. See the commercial use authorization page for more information.
PermitsUpdate November 16, 2020: Record of Determination for a Public Use Limitation to Prevent Spread of COVID-19
In order to coordinate special park use events it is necessary to require permits for certain activities. The Special Use Permit (SUP) program authorizes activities that provide benefit to an individual, group or organization, rather than the public at large; and that require written authorization and some degree of management control in order to protect park resources and the public interest. These activities include, but are not limited to:
Applying for a Permit
The permit systems helps assure that the large amount of events that may be taking place on any given day will not conflict with each other and with general visitor activities. All application, unless determined to be a First Amendment activity, must be accompanied by a payment for initial processing.
First Amendment, Filming/Photography and Public Events Permits
Permits for first amendment rights demonstrations, public events, and/or commercial filming and photography that take place along the George Washington Memorial Parkway are required by C.F.R., Title 36, Chapter 1, Section 7.96 to be processed through the National Capital Region (NCR) Park Programs Division.
To obtain a Regional Office Permits application and additional information, contact the NCR Park Programs Division office at (202) 245-4715 or visit the Regional Office website. To determine if your event will be processed by the park or region, please contact the Special Park Use Coordinator at (703) 289-2513.
Commercial Use Authorizations (Permits for Commercial Uses)
Commercial Vehicle Use and Parking
All operators of commercial vehicles must have a special use permit to drive on park roads. Commercial vehicles are defined in 36 C.F.R. 5.6 as vehicles "used in transporting movable property for a fee or profit, either as a direct charge to another person, or otherwise, or used as an incident to providing services to another person, or used in connection with any business."
Right of Way
Right of way permits are required for commercial purposes for which people must pass over, under, or through park property. Examples of activities that require a right of way permit include use of the parkway by commercial vehicles, construction over or adjacent to park property, and work on utilities that pass through park property.
Contractors requesting to perform work on lands administered by the George Washington Memorial Parkway to include the Clara Barton Parkway and Spout Run Parkway are required to obtain a permit prior to starting work.
The George Washington Memorial Parkway requires all permittees to obtain a certificate of insurance for general liability. The National Park Service must be listed as an additional insured in the certificate of insurance. Please contact the Permit Office at (703) 289-2513 for amounts of insurance coverage required for your permi
Permit Fees & Cost Recovery
Federal Law authorizes the National Park Service to recover costs associated with special use permits. Cost recovery for permit issuance is done in accordance with 54 USC 103104 and National Park Service policies for special park uses. As directed by Congress, the National Park Service collects a fee to recover the cost of administering permits. Recoverable fees are charged for permits as described in 16 U.S.C. 3a, 31 U.S.C. 9701, and National Park Service Guidelines for Special Park Uses.
Last updated: February 23, 2021