What is a Commercial Use Authorization?
A commercial use authorization (CUA) allows an individual, group, company, or other for-profit entity to conduct commercial activities and provide specific visitor services within a national park unit. The National Park Service (NPS) issues CUAs to manage a wide-range of commercial visitor services in addition to road-based commercial tours. Depending on the park, this can include guided mountaineering and backpacking, bike tours, kayak trips, photography workshops, scuba diving classes, fishing trips, and much more.
Federal law mandates the NPS issue CUAs only for commercial activities and visitor services that:
- are determined to be an appropriate use of the park,
- will have minimal impact on park resources and values, and
- are consistent with the park purpose, management plans, policies, and regulations.
Do You Need a CUA?
You may not conduct commercial activities in a park unit without a valid CUA!
A CUA is required if you provide any goods, activities, services, agreements, or other function for members, clients, or the public that:
- take place at least in part on lands managed by the National Park Service,
- use park resources, and
- result in compensation, monetary gain, benefit, or profit.
A Commercial Use Authorization is required for engaging in any business in the park. Commercial business activity is prohibited within the park unless a CUA has been granted by the park (36 CFR Sec 5.3) CUAs are currently issued for one year. Permittee must reapply for a new CUA for succeeding periods upon expiration of the current CUA. There is no right or guarantee of renewal.
CUAs are issued for a yearly fee of $150. This fee covers the costs associated with the administrative process of preparing and issuing the CUA including National Environmental Policy Act and cultural compliance approval if applicable. The authority for the National Park Service (NPS) to impose user charges to recover and retain costs associated with managing special park uses is found in 31 U.S.C.9701 and 16 U.S.C. 3a. Fees are non-refundable. Monitoring fees may also apply. The monitoring fee is determined by tracking how much it actually costs the park to monitor and/or perform needed functions to properly manage the commercial use.
The NPS required all permittees to carry liability insurance.
The Annual Survey Report is due within one month of the expiration of an authorization. Not returning this form by the due date is grounds for revocation or non-renewal of your CUA.
To inquire about the CUA or to apply for one fill out CUA application form and e-mail.
For more information about the National Park Service and Commercial Use Authorizations, please visit this website.
For additional information regarding federal laws and regulations, please consult the Superintendent's Compendium.