Thousands of activities occur each year on the open green spaces and at the iconic monuments and memorials of the National Mall, the heart of the nation’s capital. The National Park Service requires permits for many of these activities to ensure they occur safely and do not cause damage that would limit the ability of the millions of visitors to also use and enjoy these special places.
Permits are written authorization to conduct an activity on land administered by the National Park Service with conditions for using the park that take into consideration safety, resource protection, and normal park visitation.
More than 4,000 permitted activities take place at National Mall and Memorial Parks each year ranging in size and setup for one to one million participants. The permit system provides a way to ensure events occur safely, multiple events can be held concurrently, and the millions of visitors that come each year can still enjoy the parks. Permitting also allows the National Park Service to accommodate the high level of interest in these events while ensuring the grounds, memorials and monuments are maintained in a condition that reflects their importance to the nation and does not present future users with a degraded experience. Permitted use of an area is given on a strict first come, first serve basis to ensure a fair application process.
Permits are generally required by regulation for activities that are organized, not considered part of the regular visitation or intended use of a site, or need to be regulated for any number of reasons. View the list below of the most common types of activities on the National Mall and Memorial Parks that typically require a permit and which type of permit is required. Commercial businesses should also review Commercial Use Authorization information.
Contact the Division of Permits Management if you do not see your activity listed or are unsure if your activity requires a permit.
Application costs and any other money collected for special park uses reimburses the National Park Service and/or US Park Police for processing the application, staff time, or repairs to an area so the cost of an event is not shouldered by taxpayers.
Location fees for Commercial Filming and Photography permits are used to maintain the iconic character of the National Mall and Memorial Parks.
Liability insurance protects the permittee and National Park Service from claims resulting from accidents or negligence by the permittee.
The National Park Service does not require First Amendment Demonstrations to obtain liability insurance because the activity is a constitutional right.
Special events and other types of special use activities may be required to obtain liability insurance depending on the size, scope, nature and risk of the activity. The superintendent may waive the insurance requirement for small lower risk activities such as small wreath laying ceremonies and weddings. The liability insurance may be a condition of the permit and the applicant must furnish proof of liability insurance prior to the issuance of a permit. The policy should at a minimum name the United States of America as additional insured as part of the policy. If the insurer needs more specific names for the policy, the National Park Service and/or National Mall and Memorial Parks should be used.
GENERAL PERMITS RESOURCES
COMMON TYPES OF PERMIT ACTIVITIES
APPROVAL FOR OTHER ACTIVITIES
Last updated: July 17, 2023