Commercial Use Authorizations

Attention road-based commercial tour operators: Notice of commercial use authorization requirement.

A business or an individual must obtain a Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) prior to conducting any commercial activity in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (National Lakeshore). Permits are required for business activities to ensure that commercial activities in the parks are appropriate, and to protect the park visitor, the business operator, and the federal government from liability. CUA's are issued only to those commercial activities that support or complement the park's mission and goals. Title 36 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Section 5.3 prohibits business activity in National Park Service areas without a permit.

Commercial Use Authorization form is used to consider whether the National Park Service should issue an organization a CUA to conduct business within Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Applications must be submitted with all required documentation and the non-refundable $200.00 application fee; incomplete applications will not be processed. For current CUA holders, applications to renew your permit should be submitted before your current CUA expires. Allow two to three months for processing. For those applicants submitting a CUA application for the first time, it is recommended to submit your application three to four months in advance of your proposed operating season. For example, applications should be submitted by February if you wish to operate in the Lakeshore beginning in May. All CUA’s are issued for a 1-year period and will not automatically be renewed. A new application must be submitted each year.

Visitor Acknowledgement of Risk Form
CUA Survey

Once received, the park evaluates each application and determines if the proposed business service supports or complements the Lakeshore's mission and goals. If it does, we will request further information from the organization including proof of liability insurance coverage appropriate for the requested activity. The insurance certificate must show the U.S. Government at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore as additionally insured.

Once issued, the employees of an organization who enter the National Lakeshore to conduct business under a CUA are exempt from the Lakeshore entrance fee. However, clients are required to pay the entrance fee, if applicable. For a current list of fees, visit Fees & Reservations. Employees of CUA holders should carry a copy of their CUA when entering the park. A CUA does not allow a permittee exclusive rights to use an area or facility and the commercial activity must not interfere with the use of the park by other visitors.

If interested, arrangements can be made for your business to sell park entrance passes as a service to your customers. If you have any questions about the Park Entrance Pass Program, please contact Fee Manager Paul Purifoy at 231-326-4730.

Thank you for your interest in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. We look forward to working with you to provide high quality experiences for our park visitors and your customers. If you have any questions, please contact the Chief Ranger at (231) 326-4740.

Fee Requirements

Changes to the CUA permit fee structure began in January 2018 and will take place over the next several years. In January 2019, a fee of 1% of gross receipts earned from park-based operations (in 2018) will be due to the park. If the amount due is greater than the $200 application fee, the CUA holder should deduct the application fee from the percent of gross receipts before remitting at the end of the season, so as not to exceed the market price. In January 2020, a fee of 2% will be collected from all 2019 CUA holders providing primarily recreation services and beginning in January 2021, the following market price fees will apply.

Market Price Fee (% of gross receipts earned from park-based operations)

  • less than $250,000.00: 3% of gross receipts
  • $250,00.00 to $500,000.00: 4% of gross receipts
  • more than $500,000.00: 5% of gross receipts

All revenue from commercial use authorization fees remain in the park and are used in the management of the program.

For more information call (231) 326-4741 or email Dawn Majewski or Phil Akers.

Last updated: August 8, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

9922 Front Street
Empire, MI 49630


(231) 326-4700

Contact Us