Film, Photography, and 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.

 
 

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Who Needs a Permit?

A special use 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. Some examples insclude:

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 or crew size)
  • Time-lapse photography if the final sequence will be used in a motion picture format for commercial purposes
  • Use of large or unusual equipment, even for non-commercial purposes if activities warrant oversight by park staff

Still Photography

  • 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
  • Compensated photographers hired to photograph weddings or other ceremonies/events, or portraits (weddings, family, senior, pets, engagement, etc) in the park are required to obtain 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

Sound Recording

  • It takes place at location(s) where or when members of the public are generally not allowed
  • It uses equipment that requires mechanical transport
  • It uses equipment that requires an external power source other than a battery pack
  • The agency would incur additional administrative costs to provide management and oversight of the permitted activity to:
    • Avoid unacceptable impacts and impairment to resources or values
    • Minimize health or safety risks to the visiting public

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); the National Park Service does not issue retroactive permits.
  • 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.

Sets and props: items constructed or placed on agency lands to facilitate commercial filming or still photography including, but not limited to, backdrops, generators, microphones, stages, lighting banks, camera tracks, vehicles specifically designed to accommodate camera or recording equipment, rope and pulley systems, and rigging for climbers and structures. Sets and props also include trained animals and inanimate objects, such as camping equipment, campfires, wagons, and so forth, when used to stage a specific scene. The use of a camera on a tripod, without the use of any other equipment, is not considered a prop.

 
Black silhouette of a drone over a red circle with a red slash
Drone use is prohibited in Yellowstone.

Restrictions

  • From June 1 to September 15, filming with more than two people and a tripod and camera is prohibited in thermal areas between the hours of 9:00 am and 7:00 pm to reduce congestion.
  • Drone use is prohibited year-round.

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 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.

Contact Us

Open Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm (MT)
Closed federal holidays
(307) 344-2722
yell_film_permits@nps.gov

 

Fees

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 $75/hour.

Single Production film/still photography/sound recording: $350
Projects with greater oversight and coordination (often called a production permit). Valid for the duration of the project depending on complexity not to exceed one year.

Annual stock footage permit: $300
Projects with minimal oversight and coordination. This is a good option for crews of up to two people with equipment that can be carried at all times (with the exception of a small tripod used to hold a camera), working in non-wilderness areas, that are open to the public, not to exceed one year.

Permit expediting charge: $75

Monitoring hourly fee: $65

Location Fees

Film Still Photography/Sound Recording
1-2 people with camera
and tripod only
$0 1-10 people $50/day
1-10 people $150/day 11-30 People $150/day
11-30 People $250/day 11-30 People $250/day
31-49 People $250/day
Over 50 People $750/day
 

Interviews and Filming with Employees

Interviews with National Park Service employees may be available based on project content and staff availability. Please request interviews with park staff through the Film Office. Do not reach out to staff directly. One-hour interviews at the employee's duty station will be scheduled through the Film Office; additional time, if approved,may require additional cost recovery fees for staff time. Please note that while staff may demonstrate aspects of their job, they will not "act" or spend time on multiple "takes".

Filming of employees will be scheduled in advance and take place in a controlled environment. Film crews are not permitted to shadow NPS employees on the job and placing body cameras on staff is prohibited. NPS employees will not participate in reality-style productions.

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): some filming or photography in thermal areas, filming "talent" along roadways or in developed areas, projects with large crews or extensive equipment, or when there is potential for resource damage or impacts to visitor use.

Marketing

When marketing your project, please consider the public’s perception of how you obtained your footage. Promotion of tactics that were prohibited by your special use permit (such as the use of drones or remote cameras) may be misleading to visitors. The NPS is available to review your promotional materials prior to release, if requested.

 

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Special Use Permits

The National Park Service may require a special use permit (SUP) for certain activities to occur in Yellowstone. Learn more about SUPs.

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Photos & Multimedia

Virtually tour the park through photographs, sounds, videos, and interactive maps.

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Watch Wildlife

Bring binoculars or a spotting scope and enjoy watching animals from a safe distance.

Last updated: November 21, 2022

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park , WY 82190-0168

Phone:

307-344-7381

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