Road-based Commercial Tour Requirement

Road-Based Commercial Tour Operators

Beginning October 1, 2019, the National Park Service (NPS) will standardize requirements for Road-Based Commercial Tour Operators (commercial tour operators), and implement an agency-wide commercial tour operator Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) fee. All commercial service providers, including commercial tour operators that do not operate under a NPS concession contract, must have a valid CUA to legally operate on national park area lands. The requirement is found in 36 CFR 5.3. Public Law 105-391 Section 418, passed in 1998, implements the requirement for NPS to collect a reasonable fee for CUA administration and management.

The responsibility for obtaining a road-based commercial tour CUA falls on the company that packaged, priced, and sold the tour. Occasionally, the chartered transportation company may also need a road-based commercial tour CUA if it advertised scheduled tours to parks.

The standard process will require all commercial tour operators to:
  1. Apply for and obtain a CUA for every park in which they plan to provide tours.
    Submit your application beginning October 2019 to operate at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (National Lakeshore) in 2020.
  2. Pay the required CUA fees. (See below)
  3. Submit a mandatory annual CUA report, for each park, after each CUA operating season (but not more frequently than once a year).
    Submit your annual report for the operating year to the National Lakeshore by January 31 of the following year.

The agency-wide commercial tour operator CUA fee requirements include the following:
  1. A $300 non-refundable annual CUA application fee upon submittal of application for each park; and
  2. For parks charging entry fees, the tour operator will pay an entrance fee equal to the appropriate per-person entrance fee for each passenger, aged 16 and over, upon entry to each park. Park passes are not usable.
    The per-person fee at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore will increase to $15 beginning January 2019.

An interactive map tool is available on the NPS CUA webpage.

CUA application for Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

For more information contact Dawn Majewski or call 231-326-4741

Last updated: August 8, 2018

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