Filming and Photography Permits FAQs

The sunsets creating a display of colors from yellow to orange to pink and purple with mountain silhouettes in the distance.

Photo by NPS/Brittany Burnett

 

Before you call or email us, please review this list of the most common Filming and Photography Permit questions.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Under federal law, all commercial filming that occurs in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks 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.

Commercial filming conducted by individuals or small groups that don't use much equipment still requires a permit. The primary focus of the NPS, however, is on commercial filming that has the potential to impact park resources and visitors beyond what occurs from normal visitor use of park areas.

A permit may be required for non-commercial filming if necessary to manage the activity, to protect park resources, the 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. If you have questions about whether a non-commercial film project requires a permit, please contact the film and photography permit office.

In most cases, a permit is not necessary for visitors filming for personal enjoyment.

In most cases, still photography does not require a permit. A permit is required for still photography only when:

  1. the activity takes place at location(s) where or when members of the public are generally not allowed; or

  1. 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

  1. the National Park Service 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.

The National Park Service cannot permit a project if:

  • Damage to natural, cultural, wilderness, and recreational resources is expected which cannot be mitigated;
  • Other activities are already planned or expected to occur at the same time and place, and filming or photography would be incompatible;
  • The activity involves access to areas normally closed for reasons of resource protection or safety;
  • The project would require more NPS support and monitoring than the park has the capacity to provide;
  • The project includes a portrayal of activities that are not permitted within a national park;
  • The production company is unwilling or unable to obtain necessary insurance as applicable;
  • The production company is unwilling or unable to reimburse the National Park Service for costs as applicable, or comply with National Park Service bond requirements.

Activities having the potential to significantly impact, alter, or damage resources are prohibited. The following are also prohibited:

  • Altering, damaging or removing vegetation or filming in wetlands
  • Vehicle use off established roads and parking areas
  • Use of insecticides, herbicides, and pesticides
  • Loud noises (60 decibels or higher) between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.
  • Use of meadow areas except on trails or already-disturbed areas as determined by the NPS
  • Any artificial lighting or use of power equipment in wilderness (other wilderness restrictions apply)
  • Filming of wild animals in captivity (except when working with NPS wildlife management operations)
  • Smoking in buildings, on boardwalks, or in vegetated areas
  • Harassment of wildlife or introduction of wildlife captured elsewhere
  • Commercial filming in wilderness areas
  • Use of equipment that inhibits public views of popular scenic vistas
  • Digging, scraping, chiseling, or defacing natural features for filming purposes.

Crystal Cave is managed by our non-profit partner The Sequoia Parks Conservancy (SPC). If you're interested in filming or photographing at Crystal Cave, contact them to make arrangements for a private tour in advance of applying for an NPS permit. You can email them or call 559-565-4251Note that Crystal Cave has been closed to the public since the KNP Complex Fire in 2021. The cave will not be available for filming or photography projects until it has been reopened to the public.

The private tour fee is $275.00 to be paid directly to SPC. A maximum of 10 people are allowed in the cave for film or photography purposes.

Federal law requires the National Park Service to recover its administrative costs for commercial filming and still photography activities that require a permit. Cost recovery includes an application fee, a permit processing fee, and any additional charges to cover the costs incurred by the National Park Service in processing your request and monitoring the permitted activities.

Application fee - $150.00
Permit processing fee - $250.00
Monitoring fee - $50.00/hour per monitor
Additional processing time - $50.00/hour

In addition, Federal law also requires the National Park Service 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 National Park Service uses the following fee schedules for filming and photography:

Commercial Filming

  • 1–2 people, camera & tripod only - $0/day

  • 1–10 people - $150/day

  • 11–30 people - $250/day

  • 31–49 people - $500/day

  • Over 50 people - $750/day

Still Photography

  • 1–10 people - $50/day

  • 11–30 people - $150/day

  • Over 30 people - $250/day

Permits issued for non-commercial filming may be subject to cost recovery charges, including an application fee, but a separate location fee will not be charged.

Crystal Cave Location Fees
  • Private tour - $275

Once your application has been received, reviewed, and you've been in contact with our permit specialist, you will receive a link to Pay.gov with a permit number necessary to complete your transaction.

Total processing time varies depending on project complexity. You should submit an application a minimum of 6 weeks in advance of your proposed project start date.

Balch Park through Tulare County Film CommissionSequoia National Forest & Giant Sequoia National MonumentSierra National Forest, and Inyo National Forest are all regional options for filming and photography which may have fewer restrictions. All areas except the Inyo National Forest feature giant sequoias. Though it lacks giant sequoias, the forest features dramatic mountain views on the eastern side of the Sierra.

Reviewing the following links when planning your project in advance of contacting our office can help keep your administrative permitting fees to a minimum.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Main Page
Maps
Park Newspaper (Visitor Guide)
Camping
Lodging
Current Conditions

  • Click here to apply for a commercial filming permit.
  • Click here to apply for a still photography permit.
  • Fill out the application in its entirety.
  • Project Description
    • The application includes an area for detailed project description.
    • The more detailed the description, the better we will understand the project and the more efficiently the application can be processed.
    • Attach additional pages as necessary.
    • Do not submit the project description in the body of an email, but as a Word or PDF document.
    • Include details such as who, what, when, where, how, and why. How will the photographs be used? Who is the target audience? Will it generate income? If so, how?
  • Certificate of Liability Insurance
    • Submit a valid Liability Insurance Certificate with your application package. The policy should be in the amount of $1,000,000 and must be underwritten by a United States company naming the United States of America as additionally insured.
  • A non-refundable application fee of $150 will be charged upon initial review of your application.
  • Submit your application via our secure email server to seki_permits@nps.gov

Please email seki_permits@nps.gov or call 559-565-4257.

Last updated: November 21, 2022

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Mailing Address:

47050 Generals Highway
Three Rivers , CA 93271

Phone:

559 565-3341

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