Commercial Filming & Photography

Notice symbolNotice – All film permit applications must be received at least 30 business days in advance. If you are also submitting a fee waiver request, we suggest submitting that an additional 10 business days in advance.

Commercial Filming and Photography:

A permit is required for commercial filming on Bureau of Reclamation lands or facilities. Commercial filming, whether performed by non-profit organizations or private industry, include but are not limited to motion picture filming, videography, virtual reality recording and sound recording. For ground photography, a permit is required if the requested activity will take place at locations where or when members of the public are generally not allowed; involves product or service advertisement; or involves the use of models, sets or props.

Filming and photography are prohibited if there is a likelihood of resource damage; there would be an unreasonable disruption of the public’s use and enjoyment of the site; or the activity poses health or safety risks to the public.

Non-commercial Filming and Photography

In areas accessible by the public, casual-use activities involving still photography and videography do not require a permit (e.g., non-commercial activities occurring on an occasional or irregular basis that result in little or no impact to public lands).

A permit is required for organized, non-commercial filming and photography on Reclamation lands. These activities include student films or hobby projects such as non-commercial short or feature films. A permit also is required to conduct filming and photography in non-public areas.

News Media

News media do not require a permit. However, please provide advance notice and coordinate with the Public Affairs Office at (208) 378-5020.

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Federal Agencies

Activities managed by other Federal agencies or Interior bureaus by agreement or under other authority do not require a permit to shoot video and photos on Reclamation lands. However, please provide advance notice and coordinate with the Public Affairs Office at 208-378-6231.

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Drone Use

Utilizing Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), also known as drones, to capture footage and photography is subject to the same requirements listed above. All UAS operators also must adhere to FAA UAS policy, including No-Fly Zones awareness. Pilots must not operate model aircraft, except as allowed in special use areas established by an authorized official (see 43 CFR 423.41 [g]).

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How to Apply

Step 1: If applicable, submit a Fee Waiver or Reduction Request and email it to

Step 2: Reclamation will respond to your request for a fee waiver or reduction within ten business days.

Step 3: Fill out the Right-of-Use Application, and include detailed information about your project. You also must submit the script (or concept if a script is unavailable), which will be reviewed and approved by the Regional Public Affairs Officer.

Step 4: Send it, along with the $100 application fee (unless the fee has been waived), to the following:

Public Affairs Officer
Bureau of Reclamation
1150 N Curtis Road
Boise, Idaho 83706-1234

Step 5: Once received, your requests will be evaluated. You may be asked for additional information to allow the Public Affairs Office to best evaluate your request.

Step 4: You will receive an initial review letter to notify you whether your application appears to be appropriate for further processing. At this time, Reclamation will notify you of the land use fee and an initial estimate of administrative costs required to continue processing your application.

Step 7: Pay the administrative and land use fees.

Step 8: Reclamation staff will prepare a Special Use Permit, which you will be required to sign before any onsite work begins.

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A permit issued for videography and/or photography will require the permittee to remit all costs involved with issuing the permit and managing the activity as well as a location fee for land or facility use. There are many Federal requirements with which Reclamation must comply, including facility security and safety.

  • Application Fee – There is a $100 application fee for the initial review of the application.
  • Administrative Fee – The permittee also will be required to cover administrative costs for Reclamation personnel time. Examples may include further processing the application, accompanying the film or photography crew, addressing security considerations, or addressing other administrative issues. The administrative fee varies greatly per project. The costs may range from hundreds of dollars to several thousand dollars, depending on the complexity of the project and various considerations of a given location.

Fees may be reduced or waived at the discretion of the authorizing official if a Fee Waiver or Reduction Request is submitted, and the activity is eligible for waiver or reduction under 43 CFR 429.26. Additional fees may be charged by non-Reclamation staff, such as park managers, irrigation district staff, and contractors, and will be billed separately.

Note: Use of any part of a day is charged as one full day. One full day is defined as a continuous 24-hour period. The clock starts at the beginning of activity or with the scheduled arrival of the first vehicle.

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Contact Information

Public Affairs Officer

Columbia–Pacific Northwest Region
Bureau of Reclamation
1150 N Curtis Road
Boise, Idaho 83706-1234

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Frequently Asked Questions:

I'm on a deadline, and I need to film on Reclamation lands next week. What do I need to do to expedite my permit application?

All film permit applications must be received at least 30 business days in advance. If you are also submitting a fee waiver request, we suggest submitting that an additional 10 business days in advance.

Why do I need liability insurance?

It is important to remember that a permit is a legally binding document between the permitted applicant and the United States of America. Because of this, liability insurance is required with all special use permits.

What criteria will Reclamation consider when reviewing applications?

Reclamation will consider the following criteria when reviewing applications:

  1. Compatibility with authorized project purposes, project operations, safety and security;
  2. Environmental compliance;
  3. Compatibility with public interests;
  4. Conflicts with Federal policies and initiatives;
  5. Public health and safety;
  6. Availability of other reasonable alternatives; and
  7. Best interests of the United States.

Is Reclamation required to issue a use authorization (film permit)?

No. The issuance of a use authorization is at Reclamation's discretion. At a minimum, the criteria listed at §429.14 must be considered prior to issuance of any use authorizations. Not all requests will be authorized. If issued, Reclamation will provide only the least estate, right or possessory interest needed to accommodate the approved use. Should your requested use be denied at any time during the review process, Reclamation will notify you in writing of the basis for the denial.


The information is provided for under the authority of the following:

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Public Affairs Office

Bureau of Reclamation
Columbia–Pacific Northwest Regional Office
1150 North Curtis Road
Boise, Idaho 83706

Last Updated: 2/20/24