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.

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.


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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:


  • 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). Beginning January 1, 2021, all 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. Information on the new requirements and application process for Wedding and Portrait Photography will be available on the Commercial Use Authorization page on October 1, 2020.

Still Photography Workshops & Tours

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


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.


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.
Drone use is prohibited in Yellowstone.


  • 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 year-round.
  • 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 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)

Contact Us

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

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

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.

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.


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.


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Photos & Multimedia

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Watch Wildlife

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Permits & Reservations

Review what you need a permit for and avoid surprises.

Last updated: September 14, 2020

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168



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