CUA Application & Reporting Requirements

How to Apply for a Commercial Use Authorization (CUA)

For the 2024 season and beyond, Great Smoky Mountain CUAs, EXCEPT for the Road Based Commercial Tour CUAs, will be issued through the National CUA database. We began accepting applications for the 2024 season on December 15, 2023.

  • To learn more about how to apply for a CUA utilizing the new National CUA Application & Reporting Portal please watch this new applicant video. When you are ready to submit your application, go to the National CUA Application & Reporting Portal.

  • To apply for a Road Based Commercial Tour CUA please fill out a Road Based Commercial Tour CUA Application (NPS Form 10-550) (.pdf, 717 KB) and email it to Once received, a link will be sent to you regarding payment of the required application fee and other documentation requirements.

  • Processing time for CUAs can take four or more weeks depending on the time of year so please plan accordingly. All applications will be processed in the order in which they are received.

  • If you are a CUA holder who provides multiple services in the park—for example, your company provides both overnight backpacking and transportation (non-tour) services—you will be required to get two CUAs to cover both services. Please email us with any questions.


CUA Fees, Insurance, and Required Reporting

CUA Application Fee

CUA applicants are required to pay a nonrefundable CUA application fee each time you apply to allow the park to recover costs associated with processing your CUA application. The set application fee for each CUA type is $350. This fee is paid at the time of application and paid through the National CUA Database.

CUA Management Fee

In addition to the application fee, CUA holders must pay a management fee that allows the park to recover costs associated with managing and monitoring CUAs. Great Smoky Mountains National Park charges a market price fee as their management fee structure. Market price fees are based on a percentage of the gross receipts earned for authorized commercial activities conducted in the park during the operating year. Market price fee structure is used with all Great Smoky Mountains National Park CUAs.

Management fees are calculated using the number of gross receipts reported via the mandatory CUA Annual Report (NPS Form 10-660). Gross receipts are the total amount of all revenues received from services CUA holder is permitted to offer within Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Market Price Management Fee calculations are determined as follows:

  • Businesses with annual gross receipts of $250,000 or less will pay 3% of their gross receipts minus the application fee.
  • Businesses will pay 4% of gross receipts for amounts between $250,000 and $500,000, this is in addition to the 3% for gross receipts under $250,000 listed above.
  • Businesses will pay 5% of gross receipts for the amount of gross receipts over $500,000, this is in addition to the amounts listed above.
  • The application fee is credited back to you when you pay the management fee at the end of the season.

The market price fee structure is a tiered fee best explained by example. Suppose a CUA holder earns $750,000 in gross revenue as a result of doing business authorized by the CUA. The NPS will charge 3% of gross receipts for the first $250,000 earned, 4% for the next $250,000, and 5% for the remaining $250,000, for a total CUA management fee of $30,000, minus the application fee.

Upon receipt of the annual report, market price management fees will be calculated. Notifications will be emailed to those CUA holders who owe a fee. All email notifications and bill payments will be completed through the National CUA Application & Reporting Portal.

Commercial General Liability Insurance

CUA holders must carry appropriate liability insurance and provide the NPS with proof of that insurance. General commercial liability in the amount of $500,000 per occurrence is required.  Liability insurance policies must name the United States of America as additionally insured. If you will be transporting clients in personally owned, rented

Commercial Auto Liability Insurance

Commercial Auto Liability Insurance is required if a CUA holder transports passengers or uses in the performance of the service in the park owned/leased/rented vehicles. If a CUA holder charters the vehicle and those chartered vehicles are owned and operated by another company, the CUA holder is not required to have Commercial Automobile Liability insurance. The minimum Commercial Auto Liability Insurance for interstate passenger transport is: 

Commercial Vehicle Insurance – Passenger Transport 
(bodily injury and property damage)
Minimum per Occurrence
Liability Limits
15 or fewer passengers $1,500,000
16 or more passengers $5,000,000

The NPS has not established standard commercial automobile liability minimums for intrastate auto use by CUA holders because each state has unique rules and regulations. Intrastate CUA holders must meet individual state requirements for Commercial Automobile Liability Insurance or the interstate requirements above, whichever are greatest.

If the CUA applicant or holder will use rented or leased vehicles in performance of the authorized service, the applicant or holder must secure appropriate insurance for that rented or leased vehicle in the amount required by the CUA application. Proof of insurance secured directly from the rental or lease company may not be available upon application submission, but applicants are required to provide proof of insurance coverage after application submission upon NPS request.

CUA holders authorized to transport passengers aboard or use in the park an owned/rented/leased vessel are required to have P&I Vessel Insurance. The minimum P&I Vessel Insurance is $1,500,000.

Waiver of Liability Statement

You cannot require visitors to sign a waiver of liability statement, insurance disclaimer, or indemnification agreement. If you provide high-risk services, you may advise visitors of risks associated with the activity through the use of a visitor acknowledgement of risk form (VAR) (.pdf, 132 KB). If you wish to modify the VAR you may not include "waiver of liability" language and must have park approval before using the modified form.

Annual Reporting

CUA holders are required to complete the CUA Annual Report (NPS Form 10-660) as outlined in the CUA conditions. The annual report includes questions about visitor use statistics, reportable injury data, and gross receipts earned from operations in the NPS. The CUA report is due January 31 each year you hold a CUA with the park. The annual report form collects information on number of clients, trips, and revenue earned from the CUA holder’s operations in the park from the preceding operating year. A separate annual report is required for each CUA held.  Also, annual reports are required even if no revenue was earned during the operating year.

Monthly Reporting

In addition to the annual report, all Transport (Non-Tour) CUA providers are also required to submit monthly visitor use statistic reports (NPS Form 10-660A). Currently no other CUA service providers are required to submit monthly reports.

Failure to submit required reports or misrepresentation of reported statistics or earnings will result in denial of your next CUA application.

All reporting requirements will be completed through the National CUA Application & Reporting Portal.

Last updated: February 1, 2024

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