Filming & Photography

Effective October 28, 2022, the National Park Service rescinded interim guidance that was in place during litigation regarding commercial filming and has returned to longstanding laws and regulations governing commercial filming in parks. Please see the guidance below to determine whether you need to apply for a permit.

If you are uncertain whether your project requires a permit, please contact the Permits Office (304-535-6232) or email harpersferry_permits@nps.gov for additional information.

If you already know that your project does not require a permit, you can call the office to check the park schedule and avoid conflicts with other activities.


To apply for a permit, download and complete the Word document application:
Application for Commercial Filming / Still Photography Special Use Permit
Application for Commercial Filming / Still Photography Special Use Permit Short Form

Mail to the address on the application, along with a non-refundable processing fee of $50 (check, cashier's check, or money order). You can also email the completed permit application to harpersferry_permits@nps.gov. Please submit a completed application to the park a minimum of one month in advance of your planned filming date.

If you have questions, please contact the Permits Office at 304-535-6232 or harpersferry_permits@nps.gov.

 

Commercial Filming

Under federal law, all commercial filming that occurs within Harpers Ferry National Historical Park requires a permit. 

If you believe that your filming activity may require a permit, you should submit a completed application to the park at least 30 days in advance of your planned date.

"Commercial filming" means the film, electronic, magnetic, digital, or other recording of a moving image by a person, business, or other entity for a market audience with the intent of generating income. Examples include, but are not limited to, feature film, videography, and documentaries. Commercial filming may include the advertisement of a product or service, or the use of actors, models, sets, or props. 

Federal law requires a permit for all commercial filming, no matter the size of the crew or the type of equipment. This includes individuals or small groups that don’t use much equipment, but generate revenue by posting footage on websites, such as YouTube and TikTok. The primary focus of the NPS, however, is on commercial filming that has the potential to impact park resources and visitors beyond what occurs from normal visitor use of park areas. Examples of this type of filming are productions that use substantial equipment such as sets and lighting, productions with crews that exceed 5 people, and filming in closed areas, wilderness areas, or in locations that would create conflicts with other visitors or harm sensitive resources.    

All filmers, no matter the size, must comply with all rules that apply in park areas, just like other visitors. 

Download and complete the permit application:
Application for Commercial Filming / Still Photography Special Use Permit
Application for Commercial Filming / Still Photography Special Use Permit Short Form

Mail to the address on the application, along with a non-refundable processing fee of $50 (check, cashier's check, or money order). You can also email the completed permit application to harpersferry_permits@nps.gov. Please submit a completed application to the park a minimum of one month in advance of your planned filming date.

If you have questions, please contact the Permits Office at 304-535-6232 or harpersferry_permits@nps.gov. 
 

Federal law requires the park to recover its administrative costs for commercial filming. Cost recovery includes an application fee of $50, as well as a location fee that provides a fair return to the United States for the use of park lands for commercial filming. The National Park Service uses the following fee schedules for commercial filming:

  • 1–2 people, camera & tripod only - $0/day 

  • 1–10 people - $150/day 

  • 11–30 people - $250/day 

  • 31–49 people - $500/day 

  • Over 50 people - $750/day 

 

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. Please contact the Permits Office to determine other permit requirements: 304-535-6232 or harpersferry_permits@nps.gov.
 

Non-Commercial Filming

Examples of non-commercial filming include, but are not limited to, filming for tourism bureaus, convention and visitor bureaus, student filming, and filming for personal use and enjoyment. In most cases, a permit is not necessary for visitors filming for personal enjoyment. 

If you have questions about whether a non-commercial film project requires a permit, please contact the Permits Office at 304-535-6232 or harpersferry_permits@nps.gov. 

A permit is generally not required for non-commercial filming unless the Permits Office finds it is necessary to manage the activity to protect park resources and values, to minimize conflict between user groups, or to ensure public safety. In most cases, a permit is not necessary for visitors filming for personal enjoyment. 

If you have questions about whether a non-commercial film project requires a permit, please contact the Permits Office at 304-535-6232 or harpersferry_permits@nps.gov. 
 

Still Photography

In most cases, still photography does not require a permit. A permit is required for still photography only when: 

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

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

  1. the parkwould incur additional administrative costs to monitor the activity. 

A “model” means a person or object that serves as the subject for still photography for the purpose of promoting the sale or use of a product or service. Models include, but are not limited to, individuals, animals, or inanimate objects, such as vehicles, boats, articles of clothing, and food and beverage products. Portrait subjects, such as wedding parties and high school graduates, are not considered models. 

Download and complete the permit application:
Application for Commercial Filming / Still Photography Special Use Permit
Application for Commercial Filming / Still Photography Special Use Permit Short Form

Mail to the address on the application, along with a non-refundable processing fee of $50 (check, cashier's check, or money order). You can also email the completed permit application to harpersferry_permits@nps.gov. Please submit a completed application to the park a minimum of one month in advance of your planned filming date.

If you have questions, please contact the Permits Office at 304-535-6232 or harpersferry_permits@nps.gov. 

Federal law requires the park to recover its administrative costs for commercial filming. Cost recovery includes an application fee of $50, as well as a location fee that provides a fair return to the United States for the use of park lands for still photography that requires a permit. The National Park Service uses the following fee schedules for still photography:

 
  • 1–10 people - $50/day 

  • 11–30 people - $150/day 

  • Over 30 people - $250/day 

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. Please contact the Permits Office to determine other permit requirements: 304-535-6232 or harpersferry_permits@nps.gov.
 

More on Permits and Reservations

Last updated: December 13, 2022

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
National Park Service
PO Box 65

Harpers Ferry , WV 25425

Phone:

304 535-6029

Contact Us

Stay Connected