Commercial Filming and Photography


It is the policy of the National Park Service to encourage production to the fullest extent possible consistent with the protection of the park resources and ensuring the enjoyment of those resources by the visiting public. A Photography/Filming Permit is required. There is a $100.00 non-refundable application fee, possible performance bond (depending on the extent of the shoot), location fees based on the size of the production, and reimbursement of all park costs in monitoring and administering the permit during production.

Our basic responsibility is to protect the cultural and natural resources for which we, the National Park Service, are ultimately responsible, and to avoid conflict with the public's normal use and enjoyment.

How to Apply

Permit applications may be submitted through mail, telephone, email, or in person at park headquarters. A completed application and the non-refundable application fee of $100 are required before an application can be processed. We suggest contacting us prior to applying.

Special Park Use Coordinator Telephone
Tel: 651-293-8440 or by email
FAX: 651-293-3903
Mississippi National River and Recreation Area
111 E Kellogg Blvd., Suite 105
St. Paul, MN 55101
FAX: 651-293-3903

The information on the application will be used by NPS staff to evaluate the impact of the proposed activity on park resources and visitors. You must allow sufficient time for the park to process your request. Applications are processed in the order in which they are received.

Applications will be returned to the applicant if submitted incomplete, cannot be approved as submitted, or are received without payment or without a social security or Federal Tax Identification Number. The application fee is non-refundable.

Download the application form.

The National Park Service WILL NOT permit commercial filming/photography if the proposed activity:

  • Impairs park resources

  • Impairs visitor use

  • Is contrary to the purposesfor which the park was established

  • Unreasonably impairs the atmosphere of locations within the park

  • Unreasonably interferes with NPS activities, programs, or events

  • Presents a clear and present danger to public health and safety

  • Results in significant conflict with other existing uses

We do not close parks to the public when filming occurs. We will assign a staff member to assure that there are no conflicts among park uses. Although we allow the public to watch you work, we do NOT advertise when, where, or what filming is occurring in our parks.

Cost Recovery

The National Park Service is required to recover all costs associated with permits for filming and photography. This includes an application fee, administrative fees, monitoring fees, and location fees. If any additional costs are incurred, the permittee will be billed at the conclusion of the permit. A cost estimate will be given based on the information you provide in your application. All charges must be paid before work can begin on NPS property. Any additional costs (resource and/or visitor impacts) are posted as they occur. Additional charges must be paid within 7 days of the invoicing.

Application Fees

Request Type




Location Fee

Commercial Filming




See Loc Fee

Commercial Photo




See Loc Fee

Must be submitted at the time of the initial application. This is a nonrefundable payment.

Administration Fee

Payable when the permit is approved and prior to beginning the event. This is a non-refundable payment. (see chart below)


If the event requires NPS supervision for resource protection or the health or safety of visitors, the cost will be estimated and payable when the permit is approved and prior to beginning the event. The scope and complexity of the permit activity will determine the level and type of supervision. The fee includes employee travel time to and from the event location. (see chart below.)

Supervision Fees

Grade of Employee





















Location Fee

Commercial filming and still photography are subject to a mandatory location fee. This fee is universal throughout the entire National Park System. (See the charts below.)

Commercial Filming Location Fees
Number of People


1-2, Camera tripod only








Over 49


Commercial Photography Location Fees

Number of People






Over 30


Performance Bond

Certain activities may prompt the need for the permittee to post a refundable damage bond. The amount of the bond will be equivalent to the estimated cost to NPS for clean-up, repair or rehabilitation of resources or facilities that could potentially be impacted by the permit activities. At the conclusion of the permit, the bond will be returned to the permittee after costs of clean up, repair or rehabilitation are deducted.


Liability insurance protectsthe government from negligent actions by the permittee. Insurance in an amount sufficient to protect the interests of the United States may be required as a condition of the permit. A high risk activity will always require insurance. Insurance may be waived for a lower risk activity. If insurance is required:

  • The insurance certificate must identify the group, not the applicant.
  • The “United States Government”must be named as additionally insured on the insurance certificate. Certificates naming the U.S. Government as “certificate holder”only are not acceptable.
  • Failure to provide proof of proper insurance is reason for denial of the permit.

Seasonal Restrictions

Permit activities may be restricted based on weather or seasonal conditions.

Termination of Permit

Permits are “revocable” on 24 hours notice or WITHOUT NOTICE if the terms of the permit are violated. Deliberate infractions of the terms of the permit or the deliberate making of false or misleading statements concerning intended actions in order to obtain a permit are causes for immediate termination of the permit and cause for possible prosecution. Permits will be revoked if damage to resources or facilitiesis threatened, or if there is a clear danger to public health or safety.

Standard Permit Conditions

To maintain park natural and cultural resources and quality visitor experiences the following standard permit conditions will be included in the approved permit. Additional conditions may be applied.

  1. The permittee is prohibited from giving false information; to do so will be considered a breach of conditions and be grounds for revocation: [36 CFR 2.32(a)(3)].

  2. The permittee shall exercise this privilege subject to the supervision of the Superintendent or designee, and shall comply with all applicable Federal, State, county and municipal laws, ordinances, regulations, codes, and the terms and conditions of this permit. Failure to do so may result in the immediate suspension of the permitted activity or the termination of the permit.

  3. If any provision of this permit shall be found to be invalid or unenforceable, the remainder of this permit shall not be affected and the other provisions of this permit shall be valid and be enforced to the fullest extent permitted by law.

  4. The permittee is responsible for making all necessary contacts and arrangements with other Federal, State, and local agencies to secure required inspections, permits, licenses, etc.

  5. Failure to comply with any of the terms and conditions of this permit may result in the suspension or revocation of the permit. Permittee will reimburse NPS for cleanup or repair of damages required to be made by NPS staff or contractor in conjunction with a terminated permit.

  6. This permit may be revoked at the discretion of the Superintendent upon 24 hours notice, or without notice if damage to resources or facilities occurs or is threatened, notwithstanding any other term or condition of the permit to the contrary.

  7. This permit is made upon the express condition that the United States, its agents and employees shall be free from all liabilities and claims for damages and/or suits for or by reason of any injury, injuries, or death to any person or persons or property of any kind whatsoever, whether to the person or property of the Permittee, its agents or employees, or third parties, from any cause or causes whatsoever while in or upon said premises or any part thereof during the term of this permit or occasioned by any occupancy or use of said premises or any activity carried on by the Permittee in connection herewith, and the Permittee hereby covenants and agrees to indemnify, defend, save and hold harmless the United States, its agents, and employees from all liabilities, charges, expenses and costs on account of or by reason of any such injuries, deaths, liabilities, claims, suits or losses however occurring or damages growing out of the same.

  8. Permittee agrees to carry general liability insurance against claims occasioned by the action or omissions of the permittee, its 4 agents and employees in carrying out the activities and operations authorized by this permit. The policy shall be in the amount of $___________and underwritten by a United States company naming the United States of America as additionally insured. The permittee agrees to provide the Superintendent with a Certificate of Insurance with the proper endorsements prior to the effective date of the permit.

  9. Permittee agrees to deposit with the park a bond in the amount of $____________ from an authorized bonding company or in the form of cash or cash equivalent, to guarantee that all financial obligations to the park will be met, including the restoration and rehabilitation of the permitted area.

  10. Costs incurred by the park as a result of accepting and processing the application and managing and monitoring the permitted activity will be reimbursed by the permittee. Administrative costs and estimated costs for activities on site must be paid when the permit is approved. If any additional costs are incurred by the park, the permittee will be billed at the conclusion of the permit. Should the estimated costs paid exceed the actual costs incurred; the difference will be returned to the permittee.

  11. The person named on the permit as in charge of the permitted activity on-site must have full authority to make any decisions about the activity and must remain on-site at all times. He/she shall be responsible for all individuals, groups, vendors, etc. involved with the permit

  12. The permittee represents and it is a condition of acceptance of this permit that, pursuant to 41 U.S. C. 22, “No Member of Congress shall be admitted to any share or part of any contract or agreement made, entered into, or accepted by or on behalf of the United States, or to any benefit to arise thereupon.”

  13. Nothing herein contained shall be construed as binding the Service to expend in any one fiscal year any sum in excess of appropriations made by Congress or administratively allocated for the purpose of this permit for the fiscal year, or to involve the Service in any contract or other obligation for the further expenditure of money in excess of such appropriations or allocations.

  14. This permit may not be transferred or assigned without the prior written consent of the Superintendent.

  15. All commercial filming requires a permit. Commercial filming is defined as digital or film recording of a visual image or sound recording by a person, business, or other entity for a market audience.

  16. Still photography activity requires a permit when: The activity takes place at location(s) where or when members of the public are generally not allowed; or, the activity uses models, sets or props that are not part of the location’s natural landscape, or when the park incurs additional administrative costs to monitor the activity. The decision to require a permit for still photography is based on the activity itself as opposed to the eventual use of the image.

  17. Filming in historic building interiors will only be granted when the activity has a meaningful and accurate association with and contributes to the public understanding and appreciation of the historic resource. Generally, permits will be scheduled during times the buildings are closed to the public.

  18. Use of the NPS Arrowhead in titles, credits or other deliberate disclosures requires the permission of the NPS Director.

  19. A credit line is specifically prohibited in instances involving product or commercial advertisement, in films promoting an industry and in films designed to influence Congressional initiatives.

  20. Government property (including the uniform) will not be used, loaned or rented to a film company or diverted from its normal use for filming purposes except when the filming activity is done to facilitate or supplement an official NPS function and is approved by the Superintendent.

  21. On-camera appearance by National Park Service employees are allowed under the following conditions:

  • The employee is selected and/or approved by park management, and is depicted performing his or her normal duties, or serving as a subject matter expert.

  • The employees' appearance supports NPS goals and has a beneficial effect for the Service.

  • The role is not scripted.

  • The park pays the employee as part of his or her regular working hours

Last updated: November 14, 2017

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

111 E. Kellogg Blvd., Suite 105
Saint Paul, MN 55101


(651) 293-0200
This is the general phone line at the Mississippi River Visitor Center. Please leave a voicemail if we miss your call and expect a return call within 1 day, often sooner.

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