Film, Photography & Sound Recording Permits

When, filming, photography, and sound recording activities occur in national parks, they must be consistent with the protection of park resources and avoid conflict with public use and enjoyment of the park.

Who Needs a Permit?

A commercial film permit is required for any individual, business, or organization (including nonprofit groups and educational institutions) filming for a market audience or receiving compensation associated with footage or recordings made in the park. The following lists outline specific situations that require permits:

Filming

  • Commercial advertisements, feature films, entertainment broadcasts, documentaries, promotional or educational films (including non-profit and student projects)
  • Filming for stock footage (regardless of equipment)
  • Time-lapse photography if the final sequence will be used in a motion picture format for commercial purposes
  • Sound recording projects that use more than handheld equipment or require oversight by park staff
  • Use of large or unusual equipment, even for non-commercial purposes if activities warrant oversight by park staff

Still Photography

  • Commercial still photography using models, props, sets, lighting, or other specialized equipment
  • Use of large or unusual equipment, even for non-commercial purposes if activities warrant oversight by park staff
  • Some wedding portrait photography (all other portrait photography requires a Commercial Use Authorization)

Still Photography Workshops & Tours

  • A commercial use authorization is required for photography workshops, tours, or portrait photographers not affiliated with a permitted wedding.

Exemptions

The following cases do not require a commercial film permit:

  • Visitors filming or taking pictures intended for their personal use and enjoyment. Special requests or use of large or unusual equipment may require permitting even if it is for personal use. Novice filmmakers should inquire with Film Office for more information (numbers listed below).
  • Credentialed news organizations documenting an event that cannot be covered at any other time or location. Please contact our Public Affairs Office for more information.

Definitions

Commercial filming: digital or film recording of a visual image by a person, business, or other entity for a market audience, such as for a documentary, television or feature film, advertisement, or similar project. Under P.L. 106-206, all commercial filming requires a permit and is subject to a location fee and cost recovery charges.

Model: a person or object that serves as the subject for commercial filming or still photography for the purposes of promoting sales 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.

 
A graphic showing that drone use is prohibited.

Restrictions

  • Drone use is prohibited.
  • From June 1 to September 15, filming is prohibited in thermal areas between the hours of 9:00 am and 7:00 pm in an effort to reduce congestion.
  • Filming is prohibited at the Boiling River and from the social trails above Grand Prismatic Spring.

How to Apply

Filming, photography, and sound recording permits are considered in the order they are received. All applications must be completed in detail and returned with the permit application and non-refundable application fee. A minimum of 2 to 4 weeks (depending on project type and volume of requests) is required to process an application and issue a permit.

Permit Application (134k PDF)
Payment Form for Special Park Uses (653k PDF)

For more information, contact:

Rachel Cudmore
Commercial Film Permits Coordinator
307-344-2722

Tammy Wert
Fee & Film program Manager
307-344-2115

Application Fees

The application fee includes three hours of administrative time; including phone calls, correspondence, application review, and project consultation, scheduling park staff, permit issuance, follow-up and billing. Additional administrative time will be billed at a rate of $65/hour.

Production film/still photography: $300
Projects with greater oversight and coordination (more complexity; often called a production permit). Commercial videographers, photographers, or cinematographers with crews of three or more, involving one or more of the following: crew larger than 2 people, interviews, NPS staff research or monitoring requests, compliance, sensitive locations, thermal area filming, commercial vehicles, props and additional equipment (i.e. monitors, lights, etc). May be valid for the duration of the project not to exceed 1 year.

Stock film footage: $250
Projects with minimal oversight and coordination (annual/ b-roll permit). Commercial videographers, photographers, or cinematographers with crews of up to two people, with no talent and minimal equipment,(i.e. camera and tripod), working in non-thermal, non-wilderness areas, that are open to the public.

Student film/still photography: $200
Valid for a single production or annual stock permit for students with proof of current enrollment in an accredited school.

Sound Recording: $250

Location Fees

Location fees do not apply to crews with 1-2 people using minimal equipment. All other equipment and additional crew members will be subject to location fees.

Group Size Motion Pictures/Videos Commercial Still Photography
1-10 people $150/day $50/day
11-30 people $250/day $150/day
31-49 people $500/day $250/day
Over 50 people $750/day

Addendums

An addendum may be issued for the following types of filming: underwater, thermal area filming without monitor, overnight, inside buildings, interviewing staff or increase in crew size. Please contact the Film Permit Office about these types of filming, or any other special activities/requests that are not listed here.

NPS Monitors

Yellowstone National Park staff will be required to monitor certain filming, photography and sound recording activities. Crews are responsible for paying daily location fees and for monitors as well as any staff costs associated with the project (at $65/hour). This fee must be paid before the permit is issued.

Activities that require a monitor include (but are not limited to): filming or photography in thermal areas, and filming "talent" along roadways or in developed areas. Monitors are also required for large crews, projects with extensive equipment, and when there is potential for resource damage or impacts to visitor use.

 
 

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Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168

Phone:

(307) 344-7381

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