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.
Due to COVID19, permits may be issued for film crews of five people or less to film scenery and wildlife in non-thermal areas. Filming or still photography requests that would require a National Park Service employee to monitor activities (to film talent, products, or interviews; the use of large equipment or large crew sizes) or in thermal areas are not being approved at this time.
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:
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.
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.
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 $65/hour.
Production film/still photography: $300
Stock film footage: $250
Student film/still photography: $200
Sound Recording: $250
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.
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, will be billed to the permittee at an hourly rate. 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.
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.
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.
When it comes time to market your products, please give consideration to the public’s perception of how you obtained your footage. Don’t promote tactics that were prohibited by your filming permit (such as the use of drones or remote cameras). If you used these tactics on private lands outside the park, don’t lead the public to believe that you captured that footage inside Yellowstone National Park. The park will refute these claims publicly (or confirm that you violated your permit) when asked on social media and in news media interviews. We are happy to review your promotional materials prior to release, if requested.
Last updated: September 14, 2020