Commercial Use Authorizations

Changes are being implemented to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Commercial Use Authorization Program, and all current and prospective holders of these permits are encouraged to acquaint themselves with the updated program.

CUA Application

The Commercial Use Authorization Application form was revised in 2017. Applications should be submitted with all required documentation and the non-refundable $200.00 application fee. Incomplete applications will not be processed. The open period for submitting CUA applications is from January 1 to February 28. Applications submitted outside this timeframe will not be processed. All CUA’s are issued for a 1-year period and will not automatically be renewed. A new application should be submitted each year.

Fee Requirements

A new CUA permit fee structure will be implemented beginning in January 2018 and 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.

2017 authorized NPS business partners (CUAs)

A business or an individual must obtain a Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) prior to conducting any commercial activity in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The National Park Service (NPS) requires permits for business activities to protect the park visitor, the business operator, and the federal government from liability and to ensure that commercial activities in the parks are appropriate. 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.

A 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. In addition, a nonrefundable application fee of $50.00 is required to recover our costs to review and consider the application.

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 in the amount of one million dollars. The insurance certificate must show the U.S. Government at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore as an additional insured. An additional fee of $200.00 will be required if a Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) is issued. A CUA does not allow a permittee exclusive rights to use an area or facility. The commercial activity must not interfere with the use of the park by other visitors.

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 these organizations should carry a copy of their CUA when entering the park.

If interested, arrangements can be made for your business to sell Park Entrance Passes as a service to your customers. Please indicate on the application form if you desire to offer this service. 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.

Last updated: July 27, 2017

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Empire, MI 49630


(231) 326-4700

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