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.
Leave the drone at home. The launching, landing, or operation of unmanned aircraft is prohibited in Yellowstone. Read more about this policy.
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 include:
Still Photography Workshops & Tours
The following cases do not require a commercial film permit:
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.
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.
Open Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm (MT)
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
Annual stock footage permit: $300
Permit expediting charge: $75
Monitoring hourly fee: $65
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.
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.
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.
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.
Last updated: October 9, 2023