Do I Need a Permit?
Three major distinctions of filming are made in DC: news gathering/journalism, commercial, and non-commercial. DC film permits are not needed for journalists/media professionals, on assignment, or non-commercial projects. This office does not issue any media credentials; those may be obtained from your news/media outlet, or on a per-event basis from the event's organizer.
If you fall into one or more of the following classes, you do NOT need a film permit from this office. (Although National Parks, and Capitol Police may have different rules and procedures.) A permit from us would cover most areas in the District outside of NPS, Captiol Police, or private property.
- Journalists or other members of the media (working on assignment from a verifiable news outlet)
- Filming at any private location (inside or outside - so long as you remain on their property
- Private, personal, non-commercial filming (e.g. tourists)
You do NOT need any additional permit from the DC Film Office to film on any National Parks, Mall, Monuments, Memorials, or U.S. Capitol territory. (See MAP below, or visit: NPS, or U.S. Capitol for more info.
THE MAP – We’re continually updating this jurisdictional map. Check back from time to time as we plan to include additional layers of curated film-friendly locations under city control. All areas in PINK are NPS, BLUE is US Capitol Police. Most everything else is DC jurisdiction (except private property, Metro, embassies, and some other areas.)
PLEASE TAKE A LOOK AT THE MAP (ABOVE) BEFORE CALLING, EMAILING, OR APPLYING TO FILM AT ANY FEDERAL, NATIONAL PARK, UNION STATION, CAPITOL, OR SMITHSONIAN LOCATIONS. (THE NEW SMITHSONIAN MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE IS NOT OUR JURISDICTION. CONTACT THE SMITHSONIAN FOR MORE INFORMATION.)
We only have ONE film permit. No matter if you're shooting a PSA, documentary, still photography, aerials, small scale b-roll, feature film with street closures, fire and police, or a non-profit internal corporate web video - we only have ONE permit.
We will always acknowledge receipt of your film permit application via email within 24-hours or the next business day (if it's a Friday, weekend, or holiday.) Do keep in mind that certain times of each year are very busy for filming in the DC. Our weather is just amazing in the Fall and Spring!
Your acknowledgement will include information on next steps. If your locations and/or parking and dates/times look to be in order, we will just ask you to complete your 'file'. A complete file comprises:
- Application This is our official application. No others will be accepted. Emailing details of a film project does not constitute an application. (providing us with a clear understanding of EVERYTHING you plan to do under our film permit)
- Certificate of Liability Insurance (naming the District of Columbia)
- Invoice and Payment (see below)
- Exit Survey (Everyone should submit a survey just prior to getting a permit.)
Processing times will vary based on our workload, and the complexity of the requests we receive. Do keep in mind that while your shoot may be quite simple, there may be others 'ahead of you' that are more complex. We make every effort to accept and process applications as fast as possible, but unfortunately cannot honor requests received after our cut-off of 3-5 full business days advance (for film only, and film + parking respectively.)
If you don’t hear from us after acknowledging receipt of your application, your permit request is very likely approved. If we notice any issues or conflicts with what you’re requesting – we WILL get in touch with you ASAP. So, no news is good news! Still, we’re only human, so if you still haven’t heard from us two days prior to your shoot or flight departure, do get in touch with us. Email is the BEST way to reach us, and using [email protected] ensures your email will be seen and responded to promptly.
Invoice and Payment
Once fully approved, your application will be entered into a city-wide tracking system and an invoice will be generated. This invoice will have a link to pay online (Visa or MasterCard only.)