The NPS, the Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management manage commercial filming and still photography activities according to the provisions of regulations founds at 43 CFR Part 5, Subpart A which implements the provisions of Public Law 106-206, enacted by Congress on May 26, 2000.
All commercial filming requires a permit.
Commercial filming means the film, electronic, magnetic, digital, or other recording of a moving image by a person, business, or other entity for a market audience with the intent of generating income. Examples include, but are not limited to, feature film, videography, television broadcast, or documentary, or other similar projects. Commercial filming activities may include the advertisement of a product or service, or the use of actors, models, sets, or props.
Still photography activities require a permit ONLY if it:
For the purposes of NPS guidance, a portrait subject is not considered a model. Examples of portrait subjects include, but are not limited to, wedding parties, high school/college graduates. But, photography involving portrait subjects may require a permit if it also includes the use of props or sets, or is conducted in an area closed to the public, or needs to be managed by the NPS.
- Involves the use of a model, set, or prop; or
- Requires entry into a closed area.
- The agency would incur costs for providing on-site management and oversight to protect agency resources and minimize visitor use conflicts.
Generally, permits are not required for:
A request for a filming or photography permit may be denied if:
- Visitors engaged in filming/photography intended for their personal use and enjoyment.
- Filming of breaking news (an event that cannot be covered at any other time or location) by news crews.
- Filming that is conducted pursuant to a cooperative agreement or contract with the National Park Service.
- There is potential that resource damage or impairment of their value would occur that cannot be mitigated or restored.
- There is potential of unreasonable disruption of/or conflict with the public's use and enjoyment of the site(s) being requested.
- There is likelihood that the activity poses health or safety risks to the public or crew.
- The requested activity will violate any other Federal, State, or local laws or regulations.
- Other activities are already planned or expected to occur at the same location.
- It involves access to areas normally designated closed or limited to administrative use for resource or safety reasons.
- The project includes a portrayal of activities that are not permitted within a national park
- The requirements for supervising the project exceed the staffing capacity of the affected park.
- The production crew is unwilling or unable to provide proof of insurance or reimburse the NPS for costs.
Commercial Photography/Filming Permit Fees:
Permit Application Fees are non-refundable and are based on an annual cost recovery analysis. This $100.00 fee covers the cost of permit processing and administrative costs. If the filming application is approved, additional costs may apply such as:
Monitoring: Filming activities authorized by permit may require continuous, on-site supervision by the NPS to assure full compliance with all conditions of the permit. Monitoring will be charged at the rate of $35 per hour per staff member with a minimum of two hours per staff member, per day. The scope and complexity of the filming activity will determine the level and type of supervision. Fees may include travel time for employees involved between filming location(s) and employee duty station(s).
Interviews: All interviews of park personnel will be assessed at the hourly rate. This will not apply to pre-approved filming or photographing of NPS staff members performing their regularly scheduled work activities.
Scouting: If a permittee requests a scouting trip with or by the Filming Permits Coordinator; staff time will be assessed at a rate of $35 per hour.
Extended Administrative Time: This fee covers additional administrative time needed beyond the initial application process. This rate does not preclude any of the other fees and is applied per hour, per staff member. Any filming activity that is particularly complex is subject to the $35 hourly fee.
Tucson Mountain Park, a Pima County Parks and Recreation area, adjacent to Saguaro National Park may be an alternative to filming in Saguaro. Information can be found here: http://webcms.pima.gov/cms/one.aspx?portalId=169&pageId=30239
The Application Process
Download the Filming SUP Application
- Permit applications must be received a minimum of 6 weeks prior to the start of the project. Complex project may require more time.
- The application packet must include:
- Certificate of General Liability insurance issued by an insurance company operating in the United States
- Detailed production schedule and proposed locations
- Detailed cast & crew list
- Detailed equipment list
Please send completed applications with the non-refundable $100.00 permit application fee to:
Saguaro National Park
ATTN: Special Use Permits
3693 South Old Spanish Trail
Tucson, AZ 85730
After favorable review of your application, a Special Use Permit will be prepared and e-mailed to you for signature. Upon receipt, you will need to review, sign and return the permit to our office for final approval. After the permit is approved we will email you an authorized copy. The approved permit must be in your possession at the time of your event. U.S. Mail is the preferred method of submitting applications. Please call (520) 733-5103 if you need to submit your application using another method.
Requests will be evaluated on the basis of the information in the application. Therefore you are encouraged to 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).
Due to the volume of filming requests received by Saguaro National Park, applications are handled in the order they are received. Priority will not be given to urgent requests nor will the park reply by express mail. Simple requests can be processed in 6 weeks. Requests that involve multiple locations, complex logistics, and coordination with other NPS divisions or visitor activities may require additional time to process.
All costs of evaluating the request will be billed to the applicant, whether a permit is issued or not. 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.