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When a Permit is Required

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The Film Office issues permits to productions filming on location in New York City and provides free police assistance, free parking privileges and access to most exterior locations free of charge. Sections 9-01 and 9-02 of the film permit rules explain when a permit is necessary. We've summarized the basics below.  


No Permit:

Generally, permits are not required for casual photographers, tourists or credentialed members of the media.

You do not need a film permit if you are (1) using a hand-held camera, a camera on tripod, hand-held props and/or hand-held equipment, (2) not asserting exclusive use of City property, (3) not using prop weapons, prop vehicles, stunts, actors in police uniform and (4) not requesting parking privileges for production vehicles.

Standing on a City sidewalk, walkway of a City bridge or within a City park while using a hand-held camera and not otherwise asserting exclusive use of City property is NOT an activity that requires a permit.

Optional Letter in Lieu of Permit: You have the option to request a "Letter in Lieu of Permit" if you are working on a film or photography project on exterior public property owned by the City government that both (1) does not require a film permit and (2) is not covered by someone else's film permit. You can check to see if you qualify for a Letter in Lieu of Permit and download it here.


Permit Required:

Productions with equipment* packages, production vehicles requesting parking privileges (excluding personal cars, mini-vans, SUVs and pick-up trucks), asserting exclusive use of City property, prop weapons, prop vehicles, actors in police uniform or stunts on set, or that require NYPD or FDNY assistance, must apply for a film permit. Insurance is required.

*"Equipment" is defined as anything more than hand-held camera, camera on tripod or hand-held items (such as bounce-boards, boom mics, etc.)

Project Applications:

You must submit a "New Project Account application" for:

  • a new project which has never before submitted an application,
  • for a project that needs time beyond the project end date in the original project application (for example, a feature film that desires to re-commence photography after the original project end date)

Fees

The fee for film permits is based on the start and end date of your project's permit requests. For each consecutive 14-day period (or portion), the non-refundable fee is $500. Here is an example of how the fee is calculated, using sample projects:

Sample Project Title Sample Range of shoot dates Sample # of 14-day periods Sample # of 14-day periods X $500
Untitled Commercial Apr. 2-5 1 $500
Untitled Feature Film May 1-June 15 3.3 (counts as 4) $2,000
Untitled Episodic TV Show Sept. 1-Dec. 20 7.9 (counts as 8) $4,000


If the fee poses an unreasonable hardship, contact the Film Office before you file the application.


Requesting a Fee Waiver for Your Project

The Film Office evaluates fee waiver requests on a case-by-case basis. A permit fee waiver may be granted to a filmmaker who can demonstrate that they cannot pay the required amount due to unreasonable hardship. If the fee poses an unreasonable hardship, please provide the following documents to assist in evaluating your request:

  • Letter of Intent that includes:
    • Type of Project (short film, and/or student film, music video, etc.)
    • Your Role (Producer, Director, etc.)
    • Logline, synopsis and/or description of your project
    • Proposed dates and times of shoot
    • Answers the following questions:  
      • why the permit fee poses an unreasonable hardship?
      • why obtaining a permit will help you achieve your production goals?  
      • anything else you think we should know about your project?  
  • Project Budget
    • include any in-kind costs and commercial general liability (CGL) insurance

Please plan accordingly as it will take up to 3 business days for the Film Office to review and make a decision on your fee waiver request.

Email your request and supplemental documents to: Thavary Krouch, Deputy Director of Film: permits@media.nyc.gov


Insurance

For information about insurance requirements, please visit The Film Office's insurance webpage.

Additional Permissions and Other Permits

If you are filming in an interior within a City-government building, a NYC park, a bridge, subway or tunnel, you may need a permit from another government agency. Please continue reading and contact our office if you need help.

  • Filming in a NYC or State Courthouse, the Municipal Building, a Borough Hall or other Department of Citywide Administrative Services Property

    The NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) oversees various City buildings, for example, the Manhattan and Brooklyn Municipal Buildings, all Borough Halls, and City and State Courts. Some buildings are available to productions as filming locations. If you want to film inside a building that DCAS oversees, you may be required to obtain a permit from DCAS. The administrative fee is $3,200 (and there may be additional costs for staff services). You can get an application form, read DCAS's rules, and find answers to frequently asked questions on the DCAS webpage.

    If you need to get a DCAS permit, please follow these instructions:

    • Obtain permission from DCAS before you apply for a permit from the NYC Film Office. You can ask for permission by contacting DCAS Special Events at specialevents@dcas.nyc.gov. of visit the DCAS website.
    • After you have DCAS's permission, apply for a permit from the NYC Film Office. In the application, in the question about "Permit Type", select "DCAS Permit" from the dropdown menu (do not select "Filming Permit".)
    • Pay the DCAS fee of $3,200 by certified bank check, payable to the New York City Department of Finance. You should give the check to the NYC Film Office. (This fee is in addition to the NYC Film Office's permit application fees, which are paid separately.)

  • Filming in a NYC Park

    Please visit this webpage for information about filming in a park located in New York City. You will need to obtain the Parks Department's permission before submitting your film permit application to the NYC Film Office.

  • Filming with a Drone in NYC

    The NYPD, in consultation with the Department of Transportation, reviews permit applications for the take-off and landing of drones and either approves or disapproves them.

    If you have questions about or wish to apply for a Permit for Take-Off and Landing of Unmanned Aircraft (drone), please visit http://www.nyc.gov/dronepermits.

  • Filming in a Federal Park in NYC**

    For commercial filming in a federal park located in New York City, please visit the National Park Services website to learn more about commercial film and photo permits.

  • Filming in a State Park in NYC**

    Permits may be required to film or photograph in state parks in the five boroughs of New York City. For more information, please visit the New York State Parks Film Shoot Request webpage.

  • Filming in a Subway, Bus, Train or other MTA Property (including certain bridges and other locations)**

    The MTA (short for Metropolitan Transit Authority) issues permits to film on subways, buses, and trains, historic bridges, and other locations. For information about MTA filming permits, please visit the MTA's website.

  • Filming in a Port Authority Tunnel, Bridge, Airport, or other Port Authority Property**

    The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey oversees locations like local airports, some bridges and tunnels, the PATH system, and more. For details about locations and how to apply for a permit, please visit the Port Authority's Special Events, Film and Photo Shoots, and UAS/Drone Flight Requests webpage.

  • Filming at a Historic Federal Government Building in NYC**

    For commercial filming inside a historic federal building in New York City, please visit the U.S. General Services Administration website for instructions.

    ** When filming on these properties, a permit from the NYC Film Office is not necessary until you are also interacting with City property (with production vehicle parking or equipment staging) or need FDNY and/or NYPD assistance.