The National Park Service (NPS) policies allow filming and photography when it is consistent with the protection and public enjoyment of park resources, and when the activities assist in the NPS fulfilling its mission. Filming and still photography activities may not harm natural, cultural, wilderness, or recreational resources and cannot conflict with the public's normal use and enjoyment of the park.
Changes to Commercial Filming Permits on Park Land
On January 22, 2021, the US District Court for the District of Columbia issued a decision in Price v. Barr determining the permit and fee requirements applying to commercial filming under 54 USC 100905, 43 CFR Part 5, and 36 CFR Part 5.5 are unconstitutional. The National Park Service has issued interim guidance as of February 22, 2021, to manage filming activities. Under the interim guidance, filming activities may require a permit if they pose a threat to park resources or the visitor experience. The National Park Service intends to update regulations addressing filming activities that are consistent with the outcome of Price v. Barr. Once effective, those regulations will replace and supersede the interim guidance. As regulations regarding commercial filming permits are being reassessed, those interested in commercial filming activities on land managed by the National Park Service are encouraged to contact the park Permit Coordinator directly for more information about filming in the park and to discuss how to minimize potential impacts to visitors and sensitive park resources.
Do I Need a Permit to Film?
Under the interim guidance, the National Park Service is not distinguishing between types of filming, such as commercial, non-commercial, or news gathering. Low-impact filming activities will not require a special use permit, but non-low-impact filming may require a permit to consider its potential impacts on park resources and visitor activities.
“Low-impact filming’ is defined as outdoor filming activities in areas open to the public, except areas managed as wilderness, involving five people or less and equipment that will be carried at all times, except for small tripods used to hold cameras. Those participating in low-impact filming activities do not need a permit and are not required to contact the park in advance. If low-impact filmers have questions about areas where they want to film, they should contact the park directly.
Filming activities that do not meet the description of low-impact filming requires at least ten days advance notice to the National Park Service by contacting the park directly in writing. The park’s superintendent will determine whether the filming activity will require a special use permit for filming. Based on the information provided, a permit may be required to:
Contact the park directly if you are unsure whether or not a filming activity is considered low-impact or will require a permit. Please include “filming” in the subject line.
Filming in Wilderness AreasThe National Park Service manages and protects more than 44 million acres of Congressionally-designated wilderness areas under the Wilderness Act of 1964. Denali National Park and Preserve includes two million acres that are designated wilderness and almost four million acres added by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) are eligible wilderness. According to National Park Service Wilderness Management Policies, eligible wilderness is managed as designated until it is either officially designated, or removed from consideration, both of which require an Act of Congress. 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.
Special use permits for filming are required for all filming activities in wilderness areas, except casual filming by visitors, no matter the group size or equipment used.
Before issuing a special use permit to film in wilderness, the park will work with the permittee to identify substitute filming locations outside of wilderness and may not issue a permit if there are suitable filming locations outside of wilderness.
Are Filmers Still Required to Pay Fees to Film in Parks?
As of January 22, 2021, and under the interim guidance the National Park Service is not collecting application or location fees, or cost recovery for filming activities.
When is a Permit Needed?
Price v. Barr had no impact on how the NPS regulates still photography, so there are no changes in how the NPS regulates that activity. Still photographers require a permit only when:
How Do I Apply For a Permit and When?
Please allow up to four weeks in advance of your activity for the application, review, and permit process. Email the Permit Coordinator (with “photography” in the subject line) for more information.
Are There Other Permit Requirements?
You may be required to obtain liability insurance naming the United States as additionally insured in an amount commensurate with the risk posed to park resources by your proposed activity. You may also be asked to post a bond to ensure the payment of all charges and fees and the restoration of the area if necessary.What are other potential costs for the permit?Cost recovery includes 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.
What Are Other Potential Costs for the Permit?
Cost recovery includes 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.
What is the Process After I Submit My Application?
The Permit Coordinator will provide instructions on how to pay the $200 application fee needed for the park to proceed with the review and permitting process.
Last updated: April 21, 2021