ATTENTION: Our turnaround times are only SOMEWHAT flexible at this time. 3 FULL BUSINESS DAYS IN ADVANCE of your first shooting date is REQUESTED (for film-only projects which wouldn't include any parking). If parking is needed, the turnaround time is 5 FULL BUSINESS DAYS. For anyone who is unsure, here are a few examples:
If you submit your film-only application 10:45 pm on TUESDAY night, your applicaiton will be reviewed sometime on Wednesday. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday count as 3 business days, and a permit may be issued for that SATURDAY
If you submit your film-only application 10:00 am on Thursday during the day, your applicaiton will be reviewed sometime on Friday. Friday, Monday and Tuesday count as 3 business days, and a permit may be issued for the following WEDNESDAY.
- If you submit your film + parking application 10:00 am on Thursday during the day, your applicaiton will be reviewed sometime on Friday. Friday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday count as 5 business days, and a permit may be issued for the following FRIDAY.
Do I Need a Permit?
A film permit is NOT needed for any journalists or members of the media working on assignment from their news/ media outlet. A film permit is also NOT required for for most private, personal filming activity (so long as it doesn't involve large numbers of people gathered together.)
The following information applies ONLY to commercial filming in the District of Columbia, and regards DC Government permits. U.S. Capitol and National Parks may also require permits, but have completely separate application procedures.
|Permit Required*||Permit Not Required**|
|Outside in public space (sidewalks, streets, alleys)||Outside, but on private property|
|Inside DC Government owned or managed buildings||Interiors|
*filming outside in DC may require additional permits from other DC or federal agencies.
**permission (may be via written or verbal agreement) from the property owner or manager is required.
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 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. There is space on the application to explain your shoot and locations, dates, and times. ALL shoot information MUST be on the application - NOT in an email. If you must provide additional information, please explain as much as possible on the application, and once we review it, we will contact you if we need to clarify anything or get additional information from you.
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, this is a very busy time of the year for filming in the DC. Our weather is just amazing and the fall foliage is beginning to touch down!
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 (providing us with a clear understanding of what you are requesting)
- Certificate of Liability Insurance (naming the District of Columbia)
- Location Expenditure Form (the PDF application already incorporates this on pp. 2-3); the web application does not. Form is at bottom of this page)
- Invoice and Payment (see below)
- Exit Survey (Everyone must 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 flags, issues with what you’re requesting, conflicts, or anything – 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 days prior to your flight departure, do get in touch with us. Email is the BEST way to reach us, and using firstname.lastname@example.org 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.)
White House Filming Requests (exteriors only)
Filming outside the White House (closed portion of Pennsylvania Avenue NW between 15th and 17th Street) is under DC jurisdiction. Please list "White House" on your application. HOWEVER, we do work closely with NPS, and White House Secret Service officials to approve requests. Please limit your time frame to 4-hours, minimal cast/crew size, and minimal equipment. This is a secure area and all requests, cast/crew numbers and equipment details will be cleared days in advance as well as random sweeps of equipment, and likely inspection of your permit document on-site.
Under certain circumstances, the Film Office may—at its discretion—issue a 'blanket' permit for all streets in the city (under DC control), or for specific neighborhoods or geographic areas such as NoMa, Burleith, Congress Heights, or Trinidad. These blanket permits will be vetted on a case by case basis. They are primarily for projects that have a demonstrated need to cover large areas of the city due to the nature of the project. Blanket permits will not be issued because a production has not decided on its location(s).
A blanket permit WOULD NOT COVER ANY NATIONAL PARKS, GEORGETOWN WATERFRONT PARK, MEMORIAL BRIDGE, THE REFLECTING POOL, TIDAL BASIN, ROOSEVELT MEMORIAL, THE MALL, U.S. CAPITOL, OR ANY OTHER NATIONAL MONUMENTS, OR MEMORIALS.