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Permits FAQ

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.

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.

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.

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)

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 U.S. 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.

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 Ave NW
  • 18th St NW in Adams Morgan
  • Pennsylvania Ave NW in front of White House

Day 2 Locations

  • 5th St NW from D to E
  • 800 block of 16th St 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.

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 St  or
400 - 799 blocks of Main St NW (preferred)

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.

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 & requirements.

Drones are not permitted. Information is provided here.

Police assistance information provided here.

Parking information is provided here.

All inquiries regarding work permits or procedures to clear minors under the age of 18 to participate or perform in stage, TV, film or sports productions in the District of Columbia should be handled as follows:

  • Complete the attached application for a "Theatrical Work Permit for Minors". This may be done by the minor, parent, or an agent/representative. Note that the application contains specific instructions by age range and depending on the child’s age may require additional documents or signature
  • Completed applications must be submitted via email to [email protected]
  • Completed applications (including any supporting documents or signatures) are normally turned around in less than a week
  • If approved, your permit will be emailed back to the same email address – unless clearly specified to send back to a different email address
  • The District of Columbia Public School's Office of Student Affairs is in charge of processing and issuing these special work permits. At this writing, the point of contact is Ms. Jocelyn Bryant and her office contact information is below.
Josalyn Bryant
Program Coordinator
DC Public Schools Office of Student Affairs
202) 442-5885 (main office)
[email protected]


NOTES:

  1. While the application below only list minors ages 14 & 15 and 16 & 17, it applies to all minors under 18.
  2. Allowable work hours for minors with theatrical work permits is from 7:00am-11:30pm. The school system is firm on this.