Do I need a Film Permit?
A film permit is required in the District of Columbia for all non-personal filming activity (except reporters/journalists/crew covering live breaking news events). Tourists or others filming strictly for personal use do not require a permit. If you're producing something OTHER than your family vacation video, you need a film permit.
What about filming with a camera mounted to my vehicle? Will I need a film permit, and police assistance?
Yes, and yes maybe. Here's an overview which should cover most commercial filming in the District of Columbia. For Federal controlled space Federal buildings, National Parks, and especially U.S. Capitol areas may be subject to different, usually more strict conditions. Contact them directly. (Contact info at top of application.) For DC City-controlled space only You are allowed to rig cameras to vehicles (inside or out) and don't necessarily need police assistance - unless your rigging is of such unusual nature or configuration, or of such length extending beyond the plane of the vehicle to which it's attached, that the rigging/camera assembly could reasonable be considered a distraction and/or a safety hazard to other motorists or pedestrians. No matter what, you are now REQUIRED to obtain a film permit for cameras mounted on vehicles; and this is the correct application. Upload an image of what you propose to use (see other attachments at the very bottom). You may send a prototype, model, or similarly-styled rigging/camera assembly from a different production -- provided whatever you send us is similar to what you plan to use. At no time shall rigging extend beyond the plane of the vehicle to which it's attached (ultimate arms, process trailers, inserts, etc. - require police support) Finally, your production team member most familiar or his or her designee is strongly encouraged and most welcome to be a part of this approval process. Tourists or others filming strictly for personal use do not require a permit. If you're producing something OTHER than your family vacation video, you need a film permit.
How do I get firearms approved for my shoot?
Firearms (real or mock) must be inspected by the Metropolitan Police Department's Firearms Registration Unit. They can be reached at (202) 727-4275 or https://mpdc.dc.gov/firearms. Tell them what you're planning, about the firearms, and they will decide and instruct you on next steps. The film office cannot intercede in this process as it at MPD's sole discretion being a public safety matter.
How long will it take to get a permit (small crew, b-roll)?
It depends, but less than one (1) week, generally. If we get your completed application and it details everything we need to know [your name+contact info, company name+contact info, location(s), and your date(s)], and your insurance certificate is attached-it usually takes just a few days. Submitting "TBD"s, leaving locations box blank, or putting N/A in your equipment box will delay processing of your shoot. Likewise if there is any other missing or inconsistent information. If you have special requests, parking, police, traffic control etc. 1 week will likely NOT be enough lead time. It's your production. General timelines for application submission, review, and processing: Applications submitted Sunday-Thursday will likely be reviewed on the next business day, Monday - Friday (if one of those days is not a holiday) Applications submitted Friday will likely not be reviewed until the next business day, Monday (if Monday is not a holiday)
Will I need a National Park Service permit too?
Maybe. If you are filming on BOTH DC and NPS territories, then yes. If you're ONLY on one NPS or ONLY on DC property/territory, then no, you only need one permit. The closed street portion of Pennsylvania Ave NW from 15th to 17th St is under DC jurisdiction but security is ran by the US Secret Service Uniformed Division. Most small (fewer than 9) crew are able to shoot b-roll etc with just a permit from our offfce. Larger productions must get approval from us, NPS and the Service.
Do I have to get multiple permits or can one permit be for multiple locations?
This office isssues as many permits as you need for your production, but will only charge you one (1) permit fee. For example, you choose to film on: Day 1 Locations: Constitution Avenue, NW 18th Street, NW in Adams Morgan Pennsylvania Avenue, NW in front of White House Day 2 Locations: 5th Street, NW from D to E 800 block of 16th Street, NW Eastern Market, SE According to our fee structure, you would be charged 1 application fee for the project, a first day fee, and one (1) additional day fee. Total $230.
Could you describe your Permit Process?
Sure, it's pretty simple really. If you tell us a little information about your shoot, locations, dates and times, we'll check to ensure those locations are #1 within our jurisdiction and not NPS etc., and #2 aren't 'taken' by something else. By 'something else' we mean things like a construction site, parade, other film production, sewer, or other road work by DDOT or public utility companies. If we determine the areas you requested are clear to film, we'll put your info in the citywide system and issue your film permit. Of course this means we MUST have your locations, or we cannot perform the city's required checks. We're working on better ways for filmmakers to quickly ID locations, but until then, just use this notation: Main Street, NW from 4th to 8th Street or 400-799 blocks of Main Street, NW (preferred)
Where can I find maps that show the National Park Service and US Capitol jurisdictions?
Our jurisdictional map is here. The map shows areas belonging to the NPS or Capital Grounds. This office does not permit any of those locations. NPS also maintains an online map describing their property.
Where is your fee structure? How much are permits?
Our fees chart is here. That includes our application fee, film permit fees for all sizes of cast/crew, as well as information on student fees and requirements.
DRONES: How do I get approval to operate an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), or “drone” over District of Columbia airspace?
APPLICATIONS TO OPERATE DRONES OVER DC
The airspace above Washington, DC (the “National Capital Region”) is more restricted than in any other part of the country. Approval to use an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), also known as “drones” over District of Columbia airspace is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Transportation Security Administration (FAA). Applications for aerial waivers to operate UAS (“drones”) over the District of Columbia must be submitted directly to those agencies. You can find more information on that application process here.
OCTFME AERIAL SUPPORT LETTER (ASL)
Though OCTFME does not issue waivers to operate UAS (“drones”) over the District of Columbia, OCTFME does issue “aerial support letters” (ASL). This letter must be submitted as part of the FAA/TSA application process referenced above. The ASL verifies OCTFME support for the applicant to operate an UAS (or drone) over District of Columbia airspace if the FAA/TSA finds the other elements of the application to be sufficient after their review. To be considered for an OCTFME ASL please submit an application to OCTFME here.
For more information on the FAA/TSA drone policy click here. If you have any questions about the OCTFME aerial support letter process please contact our permit administration team at [email protected].
Will police assistance be provided?
Police assistance information is provided here
Will parking be provided?
Parking information is provided here.
What's required in the District of Columbia if I want to include a child/minor (under 18 years old) in my film production? Do I need to fill in some form or get permission in addition to your film permit?
All inquiries for work permits allowing minors under the age of 18 to participate or perform in stage, TV, film or sports productions in the District of Columbia should be directed to the District of Columbia Public Schools Office of Student Affairs. Complete the forms linked below and forward them to: [email protected]. You should also forward questions about the application review procedures and the application processing times to this office.
NOTE: While the application below only lists minors ages 14 & 15 and 16 & 17, it applies to all minors under 18 (even younger than 14). Also, allowable work hours for minors with theatrical work permits are from 7 am-11:30 pm.