Guidelines For Commercial Filming & Still Photography Permits
"…to set apart and preserve for the benefit and enjoyment of the American people the ruins of prehistoric Indian pueblos and associated seventeenth century Franciscan Spanish mission ruins…"
Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument enabling legislation "Public Law 96-550; Title VI; Sec. 601"
Changes to Commercial Filming Permits on Park Land
On August 23, 2022, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued a decision reversing the order of the District Court. Price v. Garland 45 f.4th 1059 (D.C. Cir 2022). This decision became effective October 28, 2022, with the issuance of the Court of Appeals Mandate.
As a result, the statute and regulations that governed commercial filming before the Price decision are again in effect.
Do I need a permit to film?
Under federal law, all commercial filming that occurs within a unit of the National Park System 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, and documentaries. Commercial filming may include the advertisement of a product or service, or the use of actors, models, sets, or props.
“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 you fall under the category of “low-impact filming” and you have questions about areas where you’d like to film, please contact our Special Use Permit Coordinator at 505-847-2585 x221.
Non-commercial filming may require a permit if a permit is necessary to manage the activity to protect park resources and values, minimize conflict between user groups, or to ensure public safety. Examples of non-commercial filming include, but are not limited to, filming for tourism bureaus, convention and visitor bureaus, student filming, and filming for personal use and enjoyment. In most cases, a permit is not necessary for visitors engaging in casual filming for personal enjoyment. 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. Please contact our Special Use Coordinator at 505-847-2585 x221 prior to your filming date for more information on closures, sensitive resources and other safety tips.
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.
Federal law requires the NPS to recover its administrative costs for commercial filming and still photography activities that require a permit. Cost recovery includes an application fee and any additional charges to cover the costs incurred by the NPS in processing your request and monitoring your permit. This amount will vary depending on the park and the size and complexity of the permitted activities. The application fee must be submitted with your application.
In addition, Federal law also requires the NPS to collect a location fee that provides a fair return to the United States for the use of park lands for commercial filming and for still photography requires a permit. The NPS uses the following fee schedules for filming and photography:
Permits issued for non-commercial filming may be subject to cost recovery charges, and you may be required to obtain insurance naming the United States as additionally insured.
When is a permit needed?
In most cases, still photography does not require a permit. A permit is required for still photography only when:
the activity takes place at location(s) where or when members of the public are generally not allowed; or
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
park would incur additional administrative costs to monitor the activity.
A “model” means a person or object that serves as the subject for still photography for the purpose of promoting the sale or use of a product or service. Models include, but are not limited to, individuals, animals, or inanimate objects, such as vehicles, boats, articles of clothing, and food and beverage products. Portrait subjects, such as wedding parties and high school graduates, are not considered models.
How do I apply for a permit?
Download an application
for a Special Use Permit.