Commercial Filming and Photography Permits

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Photographer with a sizable camera lens near cherry blossom trees and water

NPS

National Mall and Memorial Parks feature some of the nation’s most iconic sites attracting amateur and professional photographers and videographers from around the world. Only commercial filming and photography require a permit, the visiting public photographing or recording their visit do not require a permit.

The photography permit is used as a management tool so photography does not interfere with other permitted activities or park visitors. Any payment is cost recovery or goes to projects that keep the park scenic for the benefit of visitors and permittees.
The Division of Permits Management issues filming and photography permits for all National Park Service parkland managed by:

Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park from DC to the Great Falls District
George Washington Memorial Parkway
Manassas National Battlefield Park
National Capital Parks-East
National Mall and Memorial Parks
Presidents Park (White House and Ellipse)
Rock Creek Park
Prince William Forest Park
Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts.
A permit is generally required under the following circumstances:

• Filming, videotaping, or still photography is intended for immediate or eventual sale.
• Filming, videotaping, or still photography involves the use of a model (or any on-camera talent), set, or prop.
• Filming, videotaping, or still photography/filming has potential to result in damage to park resources or significant disruption of normal visitor use.
• The photographer/videographer wants to go into areas not open to the public or before or after normal visitation hours.
• The National Park Service and/or US Park Police incur costs for providing on-site management and oversight to protect agency resources or minimize visitor use conflicts.

When in doubt, contact the Division of Permits Management prior to going to the park to shoot photos or video.
36 CFR 5.5 governs how the National Park Service manages audio recording in parks. Audio recording generally does not require a permit unless any of the following situations apply:

• It takes place at a location where or when members of the public are generally not allowed.
• It uses equipment that requires mechanical transport, such as dollies and cranks.
• It uses equipment that requires an external power source other than a battery pack.
• The National Park Service determines staff is required to monitor the recording activity for safety or to minimize potential impacts to park resources and other park visitors and permittees.

Applying for a Permit

Application Form

Submit a Commercial Filming & Photography Application to the Division of Permits Management in person or via mail or FAX:

National Mall and Memorial Parks
Division of Permits Management
900 Ohio Drive, SW
Washington, DC 20024
FAX 202-475-2216

Applications can be delivered Monday through Friday from 8 am to 4 pm, except federal holidays or other National Mall and Memorial Parks office closures. Commercial Filming and Photography Applications are not accepted via email. Applications are accepted up to one year in advance and a minimum of four days from the activity.

Permit applications for locations in the park are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis and are date and time stamped upon arrival for documentation of order received. For timely delivery of applications, dropping off in person or overnighted mail is highly recommended. Normal postal delivery may take 7-10 days to arrive at this location.

Application Processing Cost

A non-refundable application processing cost of $90 is required with the submission of the Commercial Filming and Photography Application. Follow the instructions on the application form for submitting a payment by credit card, check, or money order.

Location Fees

Location fees directly benefit park visitors and permittees through park beautification, interpretation, and maintenance projects. Commercial Filming & Photography permits are issued for a specific location or locations. Blanket permits for the entire National Mall & Memorial Parks are not issued. Please the list exact locations of the park in your application. (For example: not “on the Mall”, instead "National Mall between 3rd-4th Streets or "Washington Monument Grounds".

A location fee is also required to process a permit application and is usually paid with the application. Use the following charts and examples to assist with determining your location fees, or contact the Division of Permits Management for assistance. Number of people includes cast, production crew, and models.

Motion Pictures/Videos Location Fees

Number of People Cost Per Day
1-2 people $0
3-10 people $150 per day
11-30 people $250 per day
31-49 people $500 per day
50+ people $750 per day

Still Photography Location Fees

Number of People Cost Per Day
1-10 people $50 per day
11-30 people $150 per day
30+ people $250 per day


Please include specific locations for filming and photography. Each area requires a separate location fee but the individual locations within the park are included under one location fee.

Film Company A is filming a commercial with a total of 15 people at the following locations:

Thomas Jefferson Memorial (National Mall and Memorial Parks)
Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool Steps (National Mall and Memorial Parks)
Lower level of Meridian Hill Park (Rock Creek Park)

Application Processing Cost = $90.00
Location Fee = $500.00 ($250 for National Mall and Memorial Parks and $250 for Rock Creek Park)

Next Steps

A permits specialist will contact you if additional meetings, discussions, or documents are required and continue to walk you through the permit process. Commercial Filming & Photography permits must be issued prior to holding the activity in the park.

Things to Know Before Applying

A permits specialist will guide applicants through the permitting process and can also be contacted before applying to answer any questions. Please also review the Permits Resources related to your proposed activity.

Additional Required Documents and Steps

Larger or more complex photography and filming activities may require additional meetings and more in-depth plans prior to approving the permit, such as site layout, setup/cleanup schedule, equipment lists, etc.

Locations and Location-Specific Requirements

Commercial filming and/photography permits are generally permitted in areas and times also open to the general public with some exceptions where activity is restricted due to visitation, safety, resource considerations. Please review the following areas with restrictions and copyright requirements.

Restricted Areas

Filming and photography are NOT permitted within the restricted areas in accordance with 36 Code of Federal Regulations 7.96 (g)(3)(ii)((E) and the Superintendent's Compendium:

  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial unless copyright approval is obtained
  • Korean War Veteran Memorial (TBD)
  • Lincoln Memorial above the white marble steps
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial inner memorial Stone of Hope
  • Thomas Jefferson Memorial within the outer columns
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial Apex
  • Washington Monument within the circle of flags
  • World War II Memorial in front of the field of gold stars

Copyrights Required

While many of the monuments and memorials are in the public domain, therefore free of copyright concerns, several are not in the public domain and the permittee will need approval from the artist or their conservator to use the images for commercial purposes.

The permittee shall own all rights of every kind in and to all (photographs/film/recording) made in the park and shall have the right to use such material in any manner it may desire without limitation or restriction of any kind. Permit does not grant any rights regarding the filming, photography or recording of individuals on National Park Service property. In addition, right owned by other individuals or institutions are not impacted or changed by this permit.

Persons granted filming/photography/recording permits retain all rights to the photographs/film/recordings made in the park to use in any manner they may desire without limitation or restriction. These rights do not extend to the photography or recording of individuals, or of NPS property. Furthermore, the rights owned by other individuals or institutions are not impacted or changed by this.

Please note this is not a complete listing and may not reflect the most current information.

Memorial

Section

Copyright Holder

Contact Information

Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial

The Appalachian Farm Couple (Room 2)
The Depression Breadline (Room 2)
The Fireside Chat (Room 2)

George Segal (copyright currently held by the
George and Helen Segal Foundation, Inc.)

136 Davidson's Mill Road
North Brunswick, NJ 08902
732-821-5877

Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial

Eagle Alcove and the Presidential Seal

Tom Hardy (deceased)

224 NW 10th Avenue
Portland, OR 97209
503-228-2473

Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial

Eleanor Roosevelt statue (Room 4), Franklin D. Roosevelt with Fala statues (Room 3), First Inaugural statue (Room 1), Social Programs statue (Room 2)

Neil Estern

432 Cream Hill Road
West Cornwall, CT 06796
860-824-5208

Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial

Franklin D. Roosevelt in Wheelchair statue and Prologue (Prelude Room)

Robert Graham Studio

5856 Adams Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232
(310) 399-5374
rgstudio@earthlink.net

Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial

Funeral Cortege (Room 4)

Leonard Baskin (copyright currently held by Lisa Baskin)

Box 314
Leeds, MA 01053
413-586-4127

Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial

Stone Carver (inscriptions throughout the memorial)

John Benson

7 Cross Street
Newport, RI 02840
401-846-0564

George Washington Memorial Parkway

U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial

Korean War Veterans Memorial

Korean War Veterans Memorial Foundation, Inc.

10301 McKinstry Mill Road
New Windsor, Maryland 21766
1-888-567-2927
kwvmf@koreanwarvetsmemorial.org

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

Dr. King’s image and words used in the memorial

King family

Intellectual Properties Management inc.
Eric Tidwell, Managing Director
licensing@i-p-m.com
404-526-8968

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Three Soldiers statue

Associated Press

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Vietnam Women's Memorial statue

Eastern National

Stacy Madalena
Director of Retail South
44 Canal Center Plaza, Suite 5, Level G1
Alexandria VA 22314
703-837-0746
stacym@easternnational.org

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund

1012 14th Street, Suite 201
Washington, DC 20005
202-393-0090

 

Additional Associated Costs

A refundable cost recovery deposit may be required to pay for costs incurred by the National Park Service resulting from the activity, such as administrative cost (permit monitoring, utilities, management of activity), restoration and/or rehabilitation, or cleanup of parkland. Cost recovery is based on the size and scope of the event and can range from $500 to $500,000 or more.

Once a permit application is reviewed by staff and a security need is determined, US Park Police will provide a recommended staffing plan with a fee schedule, rate per officer, per hour (for a minimum of 5 hours) to the applicant. Payment for USPP services must be made upon receipt of cost recovery notification. Rates are subject to change and additional rates may apply.

Additional Planning Resources

A permits specialist will guide applicants through the permitting process and assist with event-specific details. Please also consult Permits Resources.

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Yes. The Division of Permits Management issues Commercial Filming and Photography Permits for the following National Park Service parks in the DC area:

Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park from DC to the Great Falls District
George Washington Memorial Parkway
Manassas National Battlefield Park
National Capital Parks-East
National Mall and Memorial Parks
Presidents Park (White House and Ellipse)
Rock Creek Park
Prince William Forest Park
Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts
Park visitors documenting a visit to the park are not required to obtain a permit for a tripod; however, tripods are not permitted in restricted areas of the memorials. (See Restricted Areas information on this page for a listing)
As a rule, student filming is not producing a product that is intended to generate income, so it does not fit the definition of commercial filming. However, the National Park Service can issue a permit for student filming in order to manage the activity to minimize damage to park resources and potential conflict with other park users. In order to confirm that the project is for a class requirement, parks may require a confirmation letter from the school as part of the permitting process.
News-gathering activities involving filming, videography, or still photography do not require a permit unless:

(1) The National Park Service determines a permit is necessary to protect natural and cultural resources, to avoid visitor use conflicts, to ensure public safety, or to authorize entrance into a closed area; and
(2) Obtaining a permit will not interfere with the ability to gather news.
(b) Terms and conditions. All permits issued under this section will include only terms and conditions necessary to maintain order, ensure the safety of the public and the media, and protect natural and cultural resources.
(c) Exemptions. A permit issued for news-gathering activities is not subject to location fees or cost recovery charges.
(d) If a setup is more than a tripod and sound mic, such as a studio setup, and more than a total of five people.
There are no cost recovery charges or location fees for permits issued for news gathering activities.

For specific questions concerning the media please contact the National Mall and Memorial Parks Public Affairs Office.
No, filming documentaries is not considered news gathering and requires a permit.
Application costs may be waived by the superintendent, however location fees cannot be waived.
Yes, if approved by the superintendent and the subject of the film/photography must directly relate to the theme or subject of the park.
 

Last updated: March 6, 2020

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Mailing Address:

900 Ohio Drive SW
Washington, DC 20024

Phone:

(202) 426-6841

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