Event/Commercial Permits

The Forest Service recognizes that the public and/or natural resources may benefit from commercial filming on National Forest System lands, provided that land and resource values are protected. As with other uses of NFS land, commercial filming and still photography require prior authorization by the Forest Service. Generally, authorization is granted in the form of a Special Use Permit issued by the Forest Service.

Before applying for a permit, take a look at the public domain B-Roll video clips we have from various locales in the forest. You can review, download, and use them in your project at no cost.

When Do I Need a Film Permit?

Still Photography

A permit for still photography is required for activities on National Forest System lands, in situations that:

  • Promote or advertise a product or service using actors, models, sets, or props that are not part of the site’s natural or cultural resources or administrative facilities, or create an image for commercial sale by using sets or props.

 A permit may be required for still photography activities not involving actors, models, sets, or props when:

  • They take place in areas where the general public is not allowed, or in situations in which the Forest Service would incur additional administrative costs to either permit or monitor the activity.

Filming: Motion Pictures, Television Locations, Commercial Videos

A special use permit is required for all Motion Pictures, Feature Films, Television Locations, and Commercial Videos and Documentaries that use actors, models, sets or props and etc. Please provide a 60-day advance notice to allow for completion of federal requirements. More complex permit requests may take longer than this, especially if a public comment period is required.

Permits are not required for filming activities, such as:

  • News, and gathering of news related stories, and other types of documentaries not requiring the use of actors, models, sets, or props when filmed outside of Wilderness Areas.  

A filming project or commercial still photography proposal or application can be denied when:

  • There is a likelihood of unacceptable resource damage; there would be unreasonable disruption of the public use and enjoyment of the area impacted; or when the activity poses health or safety risks to the public

In these situations the Forest Service will help to identify alternative locations or ways to modify the proposed activities in order to mitigate the reason(s) for denying the application.

Review our special use permit application and step by step guide. See also: Tips for success (NIFC).

For more information about filming on National Forest lands, visit http://www.fs.fed.us/specialuses/special_film.shtml OR
contact one of our local offices.


Commercial Filming Drone UseUAS

The FAA and the U.S. Forest Service consider all UAS, regardless of size or weight, to be aircraft. All UAS flown on National Forest System lands must comply with FAA and U.S. Forest Service laws, regulations and policies.

If you would like to use a drone during commercial filming, there are several criteria that must be met in order for drone use to be considered by the Forest Service. Meeting the following criteria will not necessarily guarantee commercial drone use permissions, however, having these items submitted at the time of the film permit application submittal can greatly increase the chances of be approved by the Forest Service.

  1. Small UAS Certificate of Registration (Federal Aviation Administration) of drone to be used during filming.
  2. Remote Pilot license (Dept. of Transportation/FAA).

See also:

Situations where a Drone is absolutely NOT Authorized.

  1. Use in Congressionally Designated Wilderness.
  2. Use in association with any hunting activities or near wildlife.
  3. Use within an active wildland fire area.