Permits for Filming and Photography

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Who needs a permit?

Most filming and still photography activities require a permit. The exceptions are for news coverage and the average park visitor recording their trip — these activities do not require a permit. As of January 22, 2021, the National Park Service is no longer charging fees for commercial filming. Learn more below.

Things to know

  • Special use requests for still photography are used to manage congestion in iconic areas and reduce conflicts with park operations in historic zones.

  • All special use requests will be placed on a calendar with one group in a location at a time. On the permit application you will need to designate the specific park areas you are requesting to use. This reduces unreasonable interference with park visitors and conflicts between special park use groups.

  • Permits issued for commercial filming and photography (advertising) may not imply or state endorsement by the National Park Service. Identifiable NPS equipment, uniforms, signs, buildings or insignia may not be portrayed in any way that would imply NPS endorsement.

When will filming not be permitted?

  • Damage to natural, cultural, and/or recreational resources, which cannot be mitigated, is expected.

  • Other activities are planned or expected to occur at the same time and place.

  • The request involves access to areas normally closed for reasons of resource protection or visitor safety.

  • The level of activity within the park is already so high that staff would be unavailable to work with or monitor the film crew.

  • The project includes a portrayal of activities that are not permitted within a National Park.

How to apply for a permit?

Depending on the complexity of your photo shoot or filming plan, you will need to choose between two forms, the Short Filming/Photography Form and the Long Filming/Photography Form.

The Short Filming/Photography Form is acceptable for most uses.

The Long Filming/Photography Form should be used in cases where a large infrastructure is required (major motion picture filming, etc.)

What does it cost to get a permit?

As of January 22, 2021, the National Park Service is no longer collecting application or location fees, or cost recovery for commercial filming. Still photography permit applications require a $75 application fee paid by check or money order made out to the National Park Service.


Commercial Filming

Changes to Commercial Filming Permits on Park Land

On January 22, 2021, the US District Court for the District of Columbia issued a decision in Price v. Barr determining the permit and fee requirements applying to commercial filming under 54 USC 100905, 43 CFR Part 5, and 36 CFR Part 5 are unconstitutional. The National Park Service is currently determining how this decision will be implemented.

Following the recent court decision, the National Park Service will not be implementing or enforcing the commercial filming portions of 43 CFR Part 5 until further notice, including accepting applications, issuing permits, enforcing the terms and conditions of permits, issuing citations related to permits, or collecting cost recovery and location fees for commercial filming activities.

As regulations regarding commercial filming permits are being reassessed, those interested in commercial filming activities on land managed by the National Park Service are encouraged to contact the park directly for more information about filming in the park and to discuss how to minimize potential impacts to visitors and sensitive park resources.

Do I need a permit to film?

Currently, the National Park Service is not issuing commercial filming permits, but is in the process of evaluating how best to regulate filming activities that affect visitors and park resources. All applicable laws and regulations governing activities and public use in parks still apply, including park hours and areas open and closed to the public. Videographers, filmers, producers, directors, and other staff associated with commercial filming are reminded that rules and regulations that apply to all park visitors still apply to filming activities even if no permit is needed for their activity. Check with the park staff for more information on closures, sensitive resources, and other safety tips.

Are filmers still required to pay fees to film in parks?

As of January 22, 2021, the National Park Service is no longer collecting application or location fees, or cost recovery for filming.

Last updated: May 4, 2022

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