Permits & Reservations

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 5.5 are unconstitutional. The National Park Service has issued interim guidance as of February 22, 2021, to manage filming activities. Under the interim guidance, filming activities may require a permit if they pose a threat to park resources or the visitor experience. The National Park Service intends to update regulations addressing filming activities that are consistent with the outcome of Price v. Barr. Once effective, those regulations will replace and supersede the interim guidance.

As regulations regarding commercial filming permits are being reassessed, those interested in commercial filming activities within Walnut Canyon, Sunset Crater Volcano or Wupatki are encouraged to contact the park directly for more information about filming and to discuss how to minimize potential impacts to visitors and sensitive park resources.

Do I need a permit to film?

Under the interim guidance, the National Park Service is not distinguishing between types of filming, such as commercial, non-commercial, or news gathering. Low-impact filming activities will not require a special use permit, but non-low-impact filming may require a permit to consider its potential impacts on park resources and visitor activities.

Low-Impact Filming

“Low-impact filming’ is defined as outdoor filming activities in areas open to the public, except areas managed as wilderness, involving five people or less and equipment that will be carried at all times, except for small tripods used to hold cameras. Those participating in low-impact filming activities do not need a permit and are not required to contact the park in advance. If low-impact filmers have questions about areas where they want to film, they should contact the park directly.

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, news and other staff associated with 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.

Non-Low-Impact Filming

Filming activities that do not meet the description of low-impact filming requires at least ten days advance notice to the National Park Service by contacting the park directly in writing. The park’s superintendent will determine whether the filming activity will require a special use permit for filming Based on the information provided, a permit may be required to:

  • maintain public health and safety;

  • protect environmental or scenic values;

  • protect natural or cultural resources;

  • allow for equitable allocation or use of facilities; or

  • avoid conflict among visitor use activities.

Some requests that may require permits: entering a sensitive resource area, filming in areas that require tickets to enter, or filming in visitor centers, campgrounds, or other visitor areas. The decision to require a permit rests with the park superintendent based on the threat to park resources, values or the visitor experience.

Contact the park directly if unsure whether or not a filming activity is considered low-impact or will require a permit.

Filming in Wilderness Areas

The National Park Service manages and protects more than 44 million acres of Congressionally-designated wilderness areas under the Wilderness Act of 1964. These areas have additional laws and policies to preserve their wilderness character for future generations. Filming activities in wilderness areas must follow all applicable laws and regulations that govern wilderness areas in the park, including prohibitions on structures, installations, motor vehicles, mechanical transport, motorized equipment, motorboats, or landing aircrafts.

Special use Permits for filming are required for all filming activities in wilderness areas, except casual filming by visitors, no matter the group size or equipment used.

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

As of January 22, 2021, and under the interim guidance the National Park Service is not collecting application or location fees, or cost recovery for filming activities.

Still Photography

When is a permit needed?

Price v. Barr had no impact on how the National Park Service regulates still photography, so there are no changes in how the National Park Service regulates that activity. Still photographers require a permit only when:

  1. the activity takes place at location(s) where or when members of the public are generally not allowed; or
  2. the activity uses model(s), sets(s), or prop(s) that are not a part of the location's natural or cultural resources or administrative facilities; or
  3. a park would incur additional administrative costs to monitor the activity.

Permits are NOT generally required for:

  • Visitors engaged in filming/photography intended for their personal use and enjoyment.
  • Visitors engaged in filming/photography in an area open to the public.
  • The filming of breaking news (an event that cannot be covered at any other time or location) by news crews.
  • Filming that is conducted pursuant to a cooperative agreement or contract with the National Park Service.


A request for a permit may be denied if:

  • There is potential that resource damage or impairment of their value would occur that cannot be mitigated or restored.
  • There is potential of unreasonable disruption of/or conflict with the public's use and enjoyment of the site.
  • There is likelihood that the activity poses health or safety risks to the public or crew.
  • The requested activity will violate any other Federal, State, or local laws or regulations.
  • It involves access to areas normally closed or limited to administrative use for resource or safety reasons.
  • The project includes a portrayal of activities that are not permitted within a national park.
  • Monitoring and preparation requirements place an unreasonable burden on park staff.

Fees
The National Park Service is required by law to recover all costs for special use permits. All costs incurred by the NPS in conjunction with the permitted filming activity will be reimbursed by the permittee. A cost estimate can be calculated and provided once the Special Use Coordinator has received all applicable information.

Non-refundable Application Fee – $100.00
This non-refundable fee must accompany any SUP or photography application. This fee is based on an average time it takes to provide initial contact and consultation with permittee and initial review an application.

Administrative Fee – $80.00
If an application request is approved, this fee covers the costs associated with issuing a permit, including the average time it takes for permit preparation, consultations with the permittee, managerial consultations and billing.

Hourly Monitoring Fee
A $50 per hour, per ranger rate applies to all permitted activities for monitoring. All activities authorized by permit require continuous, on-site supervision by the National Park Service to assure full compliance with the conditions of the permit. The scope and complexity of the activity will determine the level and type of supervision. A minimum of 2 hours monitoring ($100) is applied to every permit upon issuance.

Interviews
All interviews of park personnel will be assessed at the hourly rate. This will not apply to pre-approved filming or photographing of NPS staff members performing their regularly scheduled work activities.

Location Fees

The National Park Service will collect a cost recovery charge and a location fee for still photography permits. Cost recovery includes an application fee and any additional charges to cover the costs incurred by the National Park Service in processing your request and monitoring your permit. This amount will vary depending on the park and the size and complexity of your permit. The application fee must be submitted with your application.

In addition, the National Park Service has been directed by Congress to collect a fee to provide a fair return to the United States for the use of park lands. The National Park Service uses the following still photography fee schedule:

  • 1–10 people - $50/day
  • 11–30 people - $150/day
  • Over 30 people - $250/day


Insurance
General liability insurance must be carried by the permittee naming the United States Government as an additional insured. Short-term policies must show coverage on an "occurrence" basis. Required commercial general liability for video or film productions is generally one million dollars ($1,000,000), but will vary according to project scope, risk to park resources and other relevant circumstances. All insurance certificates must be issued by an insurance company operation in the United States. Must receive the original insurance certificate no later than one week before the scheduled activity.

Performance Bonds
Permitted filming activities may require the permittee to post a performance bond. The purpose of the bond is to insure that the resource is left in as good condition as it was prior to the filming, and to cover restoration costs (if needed). The amount of the bond will be determined according to the scope and potential for damage by the activity. At the conclusion of the permit, the bond will be returned to the permittee after final billing costs and costs of necessary clean up;repair or rehabilitation is deducted. The performance bond can be in the form of a money order or cashiers check.

Sharing the Park
A SUP or photography permit does not give exclusive rights to the permittee or allow the permittee to restrict visitors from any location. Normal visitor use patterns will not be interrupted for longer than five minutes, and only as specified in the approved permit. Visitors will be able to observe filming activity.

How to Apply
Download and fill out the SUP and Photography Permit application, then mail it (along with a check or money order made out to National Park Service) to the address below. Credit card payments may be arranged by e-mailing nicholas_a_poulos@nps.govATTN: Special Use Permits CoordinatorFlagstaff Area National Monuments6400 N. U.S. Highway 89Flagstaff, AZ 86004Applications require a minimum of 14 days to fully process.

 

Research

Researchers may apply online through the National Park Service Research Permit and Reporting System.

First Amendment Activities

Last updated: March 15, 2021

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

6400 U.S. 89
Flagstaff, AZ 86004

Phone:

9286792365 or 9288561705

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