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 still photography requires a permit, the visiting public photographing or recording their visit do not require a permit.

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 CFR Part 5.5 are unconstitutional. In response to the decision, the National Park Service issued interim guidance on February 22, 2021, to manage filming activities. Under the interim guidance, filming activities may require a permit if they would impact park resources or the visitor experience. The National Park Service intends to update regulations addressing filming activities that are consistent with the outcome of Price v. Barr. Once effective, those regulations will replace and supersede the interim guidance.

Those interested in commercial filming activities on land managed by the National Park Service are encouraged to contact the park directly at e-mail us or at 202-245-4715 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?

Under the interim guidance, the National Park Service is not distinguishing between types of filming, such as commercial, non-commercial, or news gathering. Low-impact filming activities will not require a special use permit, but non-low-impact filming activities may require a permit to address their potential impacts on park resources and visitor activities. If it determined by the Park Superintendent that your activity, you will need to submit a Special Use Application via fax at 202-475-2216.

Low-Impact Filming

“Low-impact filming’ is defined as outdoor filming activities in areas open to the public, except areas managed as wilderness, involving five people or less and equipment that will be carried at all times, except for small tripods used to hold cameras. Those participating in low-impact filming activities do not need a permit and are not required to contact the park in advance. If low-impact filmers have questions about areas where they want to film, they should contact the park directly.

Videographers, filmers, producers, directors, news and other staff associated with filming are reminded that rules and regulations that apply to all park visitors, including park hours and closed areas, still apply to filming activities even if a permit is not required. Check with the park staff for more information on closures, sensitive resources, and other safety tips.

Non-Low-Impact Filming

Filming activities that do not meet the description of low-impact filming require at least ten days advance notice to the National Park Service by contacting the park directly e-mail us in writing. The park’s superintendent will determine whether the filming activities will require a special use permit for filming. Based on the information provided, a permit may be required to:
• maintain public health and safety;
• protect environmental or scenic values;
• protect natural or cultural resources;
• allow for equitable allocation or use of facilities; or
• avoid conflict among visitor use activities.

Examples of requests that may require a permit include, but are not limited to: entering a sensitive resource area, filming in areas that require tickets to enter, or filming in visitor centers, campgrounds, other visitor areas or additional support areas. The decision to require a permit rests with the park superintendent based on potential impacts to park resources or the visitor experience.

Contact the park directly at e-mail us or 202-245-4715, if unsure whether or not a filming activity is considered low-impact or may require a permit.

Are filmers still required to pay fees to film in parks?

Under the interim guidance issued on January 22, 2021, the National Park Service is not collecting application or location fees, or cost recovery for filming activities.

The still 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 still 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:

• Still photography is intended for immediate or eventual sale.
• Still photography involves the use of a model (or any on-camera talent), set, or prop.
• Still photography/filming has potential to result in damage to park resources or significant disruption of normal visitor use.
• The photographer 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 Still 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. Still 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 Still Photography Application. Follow the instructions on the application form for submitting a payment by credit card, check, or money order.
Under the interim guidance issued on January 22, 2021, the National Park Service low and non impact filming activities are not subject to application or location fees, or cost recovery. Credit Card Form (not accepted via email).

Location Fees

Location fees directly benefit park visitors and permittees through park beautification, interpretation, and maintenance projects. Commercial 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.


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.

Photography 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 = $300.00 ($150 for National Mall and Memorial Parks and $150 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. Still 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

Still 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 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.
No, filming documentaries is not considered news gathering
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 photography must directly relate to the theme or subject of the park.
 

Last updated: April 7, 2021

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900 Ohio Drive SW
Washington, DC 20024

Phone:

(202) 426-6841

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