The park is a special place where glittering waters meet emerald shorelines. Its rich history is revealed in legends, shipwrecks, and the stories of people who helped to shape this unique area. We are home to four distinct yet interconnected ecosystems. These resources, combined with the closeness of Miami, make the park an ideal location for a variety of special activity requests. Each event, activity, research project and commercial operation in the park requires a permit. Permits are issued and approved after National Park Service employees follow required steps for environmental compliance. This includes reviews to determine that activities will not impair park values, resources or visitor enjoyment. Permits are required for:
SPECIAL PARK USES
The special use permit authorizes activities that benefit individuals, groups or organizations, rather than the public at large. Examples include: weddings, memorial services, special assemblies, First Amendment activities and athletic events. The National Park Service may permit a special park use providing the activity will not cause derogation of park resources or values, visitor experiences, or the purpose for which the park was established. Primary consideration will be given to potential resource damage, anticipated disruption of normal public use, and previously approved permitted activities. Review the Superintendent's Compendium for guidance on your proposed activity prior to submitting a special use permit application.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: A minimum of 15 business days is required to review special park use permit requests. This review period begins the day the completed permit application and the $100 non-refundable permit fee are received. Applications will not be considered until payment of the $100 non-refundable application fee is received. Large or complex projects may take additional time. In addition to the application fee, other fees may be charged. National Park Service staff may be assigned as on-site monitors for the project. The permittee will be billed for all costs incurred.
FIRST AMENDMENT ACTIVITIES
A special use permit is required for public assembly or the sale or distribution of printed matter in National Park Service areas when group size is greater than 25. All First Amendment activities must take place at the designated area at Convoy Point. A map of this location is available in the Superintendent's Compendium. All activities are limited to daylight hours. All park regulations must be followed and no resource damage is allowed. The application must contain a statement of the goal of the organization and the proposed activity.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: Permits for First Amendment activities may take up to ten days to approve or deny. Customary permit fees requirements are not applied to First Amendment activities.
The six stilt houses located in the northern part of the park are closed to the public without a permit. Special visitation permission can be obtained by contacting the Stiltsville Trust, which maintains the properties through a cooperative agreement with the National Park Service. Depending on the nature of your visitation request, it is likely you will require a special park use permit from the NPS in addition to permission from the Stiltsville Trust. For more information visit the Stiltsville Trust.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: A minimum of 15 business days is required to review Stiltsville permit requests. This review period begins the day the completed permit application and $100 non-refundable permit fee are received. Applications will not be considered until payment of the $100 non-refundable application fee is received. Large or complex projects may take additional time. In addition to the application fee, other fees may be charged. National Park Service staff may be assigned as on-site monitors for the project. The permittee will be billed for all costs incurred.
SCATTERING of ASHES
The park is a beautiful, unique place that has touched many hearts. To request to memorialize a loved one by scattering their ashes in the park, a special use permit for scattering ashes is required. Please note that scattering of ashes must take place at least three nautical miles off shore and other federal guidelines apply. There are no areas in the park where scattering of ashes is authorized to take place.
Changes to Commercial Filming Permits on Park Land
Effective October 28, 2022, the National Park Service (NPS) has rescinded interim guidance that was in place during litigation regarding commercial filming and has returned to longstanding laws and regulations governing commercial filming in parks.
Do I need a permit to film?
Under federal law, all commercial filming that occurs within a unit of the National Park System requires a permit no matter the size of the crew or the type of equipment.
“Commercial filming" means the film, electronic, magnetic, digital, or other recording of a moving image by a person, business, or other entity for a market audience with the intent of generating income. Examples include, but are not limited to, feature film, videography, and documentaries. Commercial filming may include the advertisement of a product or service, or the use of actors, models, sets, or props.
Non-commercial filming may require a permit if a permit is necessary to manage the activity to protect park resources and values, minimize conflict between user groups, or to ensure public safety. Examples of non-commercial filming include, but are not limited to, filming for tourism bureaus, convention and visitor bureaus, student filming, and filming for personal use and enjoyment. In most cases, a permit is not necessary for visitors engaging in casual filming for personal enjoyment.
The National Park Service manages and protects more than 44 million acres of park lands and waters as wilderness areas. These areas have additional laws and policies to preserve their wilderness character for future generations. Filming activities in wilderness areas must follow all applicable laws and regulations that govern wilderness areas in the park, including prohibitions on structures, installations, motor vehicles, mechanical transport, motorized equipment, motorboats, or landing aircrafts.
When is a permit needed?
How do I apply for a permit?Permit applications are available through each park's administrative office or website. Contact information for parks can be found on their websites; visit Find a Park to locate the park where you would like to photograph. You should submit a completed application along with the application fee to the park where you want to film or photograph as far in advance of your planned date as possible. In addition, you should request a meeting with park staff if your proposed activity is unusual or complex. Early consultation with park staff will help them process the submitted application in a timely manner.
What fees will I have to pay?The National Park Service will collect a cost recovery charge and a location fee for still photography permits. Cost recovery includes an application fee and any additional charges to cover the costs incurred by the National Park Service in processing your request and monitoring your permit. This amount will vary depending on the park and the size and complexity of your permit. The application fee must be submitted with your application.
In addition, the National Park Service has been directed by Congress to collect a fee to provide a fair return to the United States for the use of park lands. The National Park Service uses the following still photography fee schedule:
Are there other permit requirements?
What about photography workshops?
COMMERCIAL USE AUTHORIZATIONS
An organization is considered a business if you provide goods, services, activities, or other things to the public using National Park Service lands. If you receive any form of compensation for the things you provide, you are conducting a business or commercial activity.
The Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) program authorizes the provision of non-exclusive, suitable commercial services to park area visitors, as long as certain conditions are met: the services must be appropriate to the mission of the park, compliment resource protection, visitor protection and interpretation goals, and not pose any potential for derogation of values or purposes for which the park was established. They must be consistent with the park's future plans as well as present operations. They should be compatible with the planning documents for the park, and consistent with all applicable park area management plans, policies and regulations.
The superintendent may grant CUAs to businesses when there are no fixed commercial facilities within a national park area; the commercial activity originates and terminates outside the park; no money changes hands on park lands; and no commercial solicitation occurs on park lands. At this time, CUA permits are available for the following activities: sightseeing, snorkeling, SCUBA diving, salvage/tow and vessel transportation, and charter and guide fishing. Contact the commecial service permits coordinator at 786-335-3639 or e-mail us for more information.
The Commercial Services Program has received feedback from road-based tour operators that they need clarification on what road-based tour conditions are being required from park-to-park. This includes parks with road-based tour CUA programs and parks without such an authorization process. Providing the latest road-based tour guidance is intended to assist road-based operators understand the requirements and provide a safer environment for visitors. The new guidance can be found at Multi-day-Road-based-Tour-COVID-19-Guidance.
RESEARCH and COLLECTING
It is the policy of the National Park Service to support and encourage natural science and social science studies, provided that these studies enhance understanding of park natural, cultural and social resources, processes and values, or serve to assess how the use of the park impacts an ecosystem.
Permits are required by those seeking to conduct scientific and social studies in the park. Although studies conducted by outside investigators are not required to focus on specific NPS issues, all studies must be consistent with NPS statutes, policies, and environmental laws that govern research on NPS lands.
Research permit applications and proposals go through a review process in order to ensure that all proposed research studies for the park comply with NPS statutes and policies, that park resources and values are not impaired, and that park visitors are not unduly impacted by proposed activities.
Researchers working under park permits are expected to follow the SFNRC research data reporting requirements and be cognizant of their obligation to submit their final deliverables.
How to apply: the National Park Service developed the Integrated Resource Management Applications (IRMA) portal to facilitate application for scientific research permits. Investigators interested in conducting research in the park are required to submit both an application and a research proposal via this system. Proposals may be uploaded during the online application. Investigators are encouraged to review the NPS guidelines for research proposals prior to submitting an application and research proposal.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: Permit applications will not be reviewed unless a study proposal is submitted. Review and processing of research applications and proposals can take 90 days or more.
Last updated: October 27, 2023