Permits & Reservations

National parks conserve and protect areas of untold beauty, grandeur and historical importance for current and future generations. The tradition of capturing images of these special places started with explorers who traveled with paint and canvas or primitive cameras. Sharing these images helped inspire the creations of national parks. Visitors to national parks today continue to memorialize their visits through filming and photography.

Effective October 28, 2022, the National Park Service (NPS) has rescinded interim guidance that was in place during litigation regarding commercial filming and has returned to longstanding laws and regulations governing commercial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.









Guidelines for Special Park Uses

Gateway National Recreation Area's mission is that of the National Park Service (NPS) as written in the Organic Act of 1916, which states in part: “The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the national park system for the enjoyment, education and inspiration of this and future generations.” In Gateway, opportunities for special park uses exist for visitor and organizational uses including personal, family, educational and program cultural uses, as well as filming and photography projects with areas of Gateway as the location. There are many cultural, scientific, and educational institutions that conduct research and programs by special park use permit.

Gateway receives requests from individuals and groups seeking to use the park for various private uses. Each unit manages these requests. “It is the policy of the National Park Service (NPS) to allow special uses that are not in conflict with law or policy; will not result in derogation of the values and purposes for which the park was established; do not present a threat to public safety or property and do not unduly interfere with normal park operations, resource protection, or visitor use.”

Gateway has the authority and responsibility to evaluate applicant requests, permit, manage, and/or deny all special uses within the park. Therefore, before any permit will be granted, consideration will be given to potential park resource impacts, as well as impacts to visitor use, access to park sites, or park administration. There are cost recovery fees associated with the administration and management of special use permits for costs incurred by the park. It states in the special park use guidelines that “it is the policy of the NPS to charge permit fees for special uses. Permit fees should reflect the fair market value of a benefit provided the permittee. The fair market value of a special use is the value of the lands or facilities used and the NPS cost incurred in managing, facilitating, or supporting the use.”

A special park use is defined as an activity that takes place in a park area and that:

  • provides a benefit to an individual, group or organization rather than the public at large;

  • requires written authorization and some degree of management control from the National Park Service in order to protect park resources and the public interest;

  • is not prohibited by law or regulation;

  • is not initiated, sponsored, or conducted by the National Park Service (NPS); and

  • is not managed under a concession contract, a recreation activity for which the NPS charges a fee, or a lease;

  • is a short term activity.

The National Park Service may permit a special park use if the proposed activity will not:

  • cause injury, damage or impairments to park resources;

  • be contrary to the park’s purpose for which the park was established and the mission of the NPS;

  • unreasonably impair the atmosphere of peace and tranquility maintained in wilderness, natural, historic, or commemorative locations within the park; or

  • interfere with visitor use, access, and programs

  • interfere with park management or administration;

  • interfere with concession operations or other public facilities;

  • present a clear and present danger to public health and safety.

Requesting a Special Use Permit For a Special Event

Applications for Special Use Permits should be submitted no less than 90 days prior to the proposed start date of any planned activity to allow sufficient time for review of potential impacts. Applications for Special Use Permits involving complex activities may take longer to review. There is a non-refundable fee for processing your application for a special use permit. Please return the application form to request a permit as soon as possible. All questions should be answered as accurately and completely as possible. This will assist the park in determining the appropriateness of the planned activities and help to estimate NPS costs that may be incurred in managing, facilitating, or supporting the use. Submission of the application form and fee payment does not imply permission for any special use or event. Please see below for information to apply for each unit.


Special Events

Special events are activities, such as organizational special events, religious gatherings, ceremonies, large group activity camps or rendezvous, and encampments.

Regulations authorize the conducting of special events provided:

  • There is a meaningful association between park and the event;

  • The observance contributes to visitor understanding of the significance of the park; and

  • A permit has been issued by the superintendent.

The NPS will not permit the public staging of special events that are conducted primarily for the material or financial benefit of the organizers or participants, or which involve commercialization of in-park advertising or publicity.

A special use permit requires proof of valid general commercial liability insurance. The insurance protects the park from liability, injury, or damages resulting from the action or inaction of the permittee. General liability insurance must be carried by the permittee showing the U. S. Government as additionally insured. Certificates of Insurance must show coverage on "occurrence" basis. If required by the park, the minimum amount of commercial liability insurance is $1,000,000 per occurrence, and $3,000,000 aggregate. Additional amounts may be required for high-risk activities and events. The United States of America, Department of Interior must be listed as "additional-insured" or "certificate holder" on the Certificate of Liability Insurance.

Important Reminders

  • Permitees who enter the park for recreational purposes are subject to the same fees as the general public. At Gateway there are parking fees between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day at Jacob Riis and Sandy Hook.
  • The NPS will recover costs incurred in administering permits and monitoring the activities it authorizes.
  • Allow at least 30 days for the permit process. Each unit may have different requirements.

Cost Recovery

Fees charged for administering a permit may include the following:

  • Personnel (staffing) costs
  • Materials and supplies
  • Official travel
  • Utilities and overhead
  • Compliance requirements
  • Vehicle and equipment use
  • Training


All permit activities must meet both National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Section 106 (National Historic Preservation Act) requirements and go through an environmental screening process. Compliance may add extra time to processing the permit.

Scientific Research Project

Please visit to access the National Park Service Research Permit and Reporting System.

Last updated: March 18, 2024

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