Commercial Filming and Photography

Commercial Filming

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 are unconstitutional. The National Park Service is currently determining how this decision will be implemented.

Following the recent court decision, the National Park Service will not be implementing or enforcing the commercial filming portions of 43 CFR Part 5 until further notice, including accepting applications, issuing permits, enforcing the terms and conditions of permits, issuing citations related to permits, or collecting cost recovery and location fees for commercial filming activities.

As regulations regarding commercial filming permits are being reassessed, those interested in commercial filming activities on land managed by the National Park Service are encouraged to contact the park directly for 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?

Currently, the National Park Service is not issuing commercial filming permits, but is in the process of evaluating how best to regulate filming activities that affect visitors and park resources. All applicable laws and regulations governing activities and public use in parks still apply, including park hours and areas open and closed to the public. Videographers, filmers, producers, directors, and other staff associated with commercial filming are reminded that rules and regulations that apply to all park visitors still apply to filming activities even if no permit is needed for their activity. Check with the park staff for more information on closures, sensitive resources, and other safety tips.

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

As of January 22, 2021, the National Park Service is no longer collecting application or location fees, or cost recovery for filming.

Still Photography Permits

Permits are issued for photography to ensure protection of resources and to prevent significant disruption of normal visitor uses.

Permits are required when

  1. the activity takes place at location(s) where or when members of the public are generally not allowed; or
  2. the activity uses model(s), sets(s), or prop(s) that are not a part of the location's natural or cultural resources or administrative facilities; or
  3. a park would incur additional administrative costs to monitor the activity.

Permit Application Process

To apply for a still photography permit

  1. Download the still photography application and email it to the SUP Coordinator at You must submit the application 10 days in advance or 20 business days in advance (if requesting to photograph in Wilderness and complete the Wilderness Minimum Requirements Analysis form) before the proposed activity.
  2. Include a $50.00 non-refundable processing fee via cashier’s check or money order. Contact the SUP Coordinator for additional payment options.
  3. Include the appropriate location fee, detailed in the Location Fee Schedule below. The processing and location fees may be combined and paid for in a single cashier’s check or money order.
  4. Attach maps, diagrams, script pages, or storyboards to assist the park staff in evaluating your request. (Since the National Park Service cannot censor content, submission of script and storyboards is voluntary.)
  5. Be thorough in listing equipment, props, and locations. Once your permit is completed nothing can be added or changed. It is better to request something you do not need than to need something that is not in your permit.
  6. Provide a current copy of general liability insurance in the amount of $1,000,000.00 USD. The policy must be underwritten by a United States company, naming the United States as additionally insured.

If there is no contact from an applicant for 30 days after the application is submitted, the file will be closed. Any future contact with that applicant will require initiating the process from the beginning.

Application processing takes a minimum of 20 business days - please plan accordingly. Applications are handled in the order they are received.

In compliance with the requirements of the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996, the applicant must submit their social security number or Federal tax ID number when filling out the application for permit. Applications will not be processed if submitted incomplete or are received without payment.

Permits are not required for:

  • Commercial filming
  • Visitors using cameras and/or recording devices for their own personal use.
  • Breaking news or a developing story - information about an event that just happened or just begun.
  • Sound technicians and film or video crews at breaking news events. In these cases, the Superintendent is required to protect park resources and the rights and safety of park visitors. News media wishing access for entertainment or scheduled purposes may be required to apply for a permit.
  • NPS filming or photography, Department of the Interior Audiovisual Center filming or filming/photography done pursuant to a cooperative agreement or contract.

Request for a Photography Permit may be Denied if:

  • In the opinion of the Superintendent or his/her designee, the activity requested represents a potential for harm or impact on the park’s natural, cultural, wilderness or recreational resources, may create health or safety risks, or disrupt visitor use and enjoyment.
  • It is determined that supervisory requirements for the proposed project will place unreasonable burdens on park staff, regardless of the applicant’s willingness to pay supervisory costs
  • The permittee fails to obtain insurance/bonding, or does not agree to pay assessed cost recovery
  • The proposed photography would conflict with the visitor’s normal use of the park
  • The request includes entry into areas closed to the general visiting public, or which would allow activities not permitted to the average visitor.

Conference/Site Scouting

It is highly recommended that any potential permittee schedule a pre-shoot scouting trip to the park. Scouting assistance may be requested of the SUP Coordinator, subject to availability, however, additional charges may apply to scouting assistance (see costs listed below).

Cost Recovery

The National Park Service is required to recover all costs associated with permits for photography. All administrative costs involving permit application and processing are nonrefundable and will be charged to permittee, even if the application is denied. We may require that charges be paid before work can begin on National Park Service property. Any additional costs will be posted as they occur. Charges must be paid within 14 days of the invoicing. [16 USC § 3a; 16 USC §§ 460l-6d] First Amendment activities are excluded from cost recovery.The National Park Service can recover resource injury costs for damages resulting from SUP activities to include costs for direct damages, time to assess and report, mitigation and restoration, etc. allowing the park to seek all associated recoveries in a civil action [SURPA 54 USC 100721-100725].


Commercial Still Photography

1-10 People_____________________$50 per day
11-30 People____________________$150 per day
Over 30 People__________________$250 per day

Last updated: February 8, 2021

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