Most visitors do not need a permit. Permits are needed for activities beyond a typical visit to the park by a family or individual. At the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island, permits are required for organizing and performing activities or assemblies that provide a benefit to an individual, group, or organization, rather than the public at large. Special use permits are also needed for activities that require National Park Service staff to protect park resources, the public interest, or both. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:
Filing a permit application alone does not grant you the right to your activity. Permit applications may be approved or rejected by the park. The $75 fee is nonrefundable, whether your application is approved or denied.
Commercial Filming & Still Photography
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.
Federal law requires a permit for all commercial filming, no matter the size of the crew or the type of equipment. 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. Examples of this type of filming are productions that use substantial equipment such as sets and lighting, productions with crews and personnel that exceed 5 people, and filming in closed areas, wilderness areas, or in locations that would create conflicts with other visitors or harm sensitive resources.
All filmers, no matter the size of the crew, must comply with all rules that apply in park areas, just like other visitors.
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.
In most cases, still photography does not require a permit. A permit is required for still photography only when:
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.
Those interested in filming activities on land managed by the National Park Service have to fill out a Filming Permit Application. You are encouraged to contact the park’s Permit Office at (646) 356-2107 or email for more information about filming in the park and to discuss how to minimize potential impacts to visitors and sensitive park resources.
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 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 still photography that 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.
You may be required to obtain liability insurance naming the United States as additionally insured in an amount commensurate with the risk posed to park resources by your proposed activity. You may also be asked to post a bond to ensure the payment of all charges and fees and the restoration of the area if necessary.
Last updated: September 21, 2023