A Film Permit Guide for the biggest cities in the U.S.

You have your actors booked, you have your crew locked in, you set a shoot date and your pre-production work is on point! You arrive on location EARLY, only to find out from an officer on patrol that you need a permit and now your shoot is shut down before it even started. We would never even wish this scenario on our worst enemy! So here’s a quick breakdown of city videography permit laws in the U.S.


When you DON’T need a permit:

  • Using a hand-held camera
  • Using a tripod
  • Handheld props or equipment
  • Using city sidewalks and bridge walkways are okay, as long as you are using a handheld camera.

When you DO need a permit:

  • Using prop weapons
  • Using actors in police uniform
  • Requesting parking privileges for productions vehicles


SHOOTING IN AN NYC PARK: You will need to submit a request form 48 hours prior to shooting. This is free.

ADDITIONAL NOTE: In order for you or your organization to be eligible for a filming permit, Liability Insurance is required. A CERTIFICATE OF INSURANCE must be provided to the Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting 48 hours in advance of  your online permit application submission.


When you DON’T need a permit:

  • They say, “Generally speaking if it’s not for commercial use, you don’t need permit, otherwise you do.” It’s a little vague. Your best bet is to give them a call just to make sure.
  • CONTACT:  # (213) 977-8600 info@filmla.com

When you DO need a permit:

  • Select Location – Certain neighborhoods require different requirements
  • Secure Insurance– View list of insurance providers here
  • Submit Application
  • Conduct Outreach – The city suggests that you make production notices on company letterhead that describes what kind of shooting you will be doing.
  • Arrange Payment: They accept cash, money order, cashier’s check or company check but take note, some permit have some payment restrictions based on what permit you are asking for.


When you DON’T need a permit:

  • When shooting on private property

When you DO need a permit:

  • No matter the crew size or impact, if you are filming on public property in the City of Austin (like a street or park), a permit is required. This city has a different agency for every location! Below are some of the city’s main locations and their corresponding permitting agents.


All permits also require insurance in Austin.


When you DON’T need a permit:

A Film Permit is not required for individuals filming or video taping for their own personal or private use, for employees of print or electronic news media when filming on-going news events.

When you DO need a permit:

Film Permits are generally required throughout Miami-Dade County for commercial film, video or still photo shoots that are conducted on public property.  Public property is described as: on roads and streets, sidewalks, or in parks, beaches or public buildings. To be sure that you do or don’t need one CONTACT: the Miami-Dade Office of Film and Entertainment at #305-375-3288.

Permit cost: $100.00 / 24 hour notice prior to shooting

REQUESTING A PERMIT: They have a one stop shop link for all their permits! Easy!


When you DON’T need a permit:

  • Filming for personal use and non-invasive shooting

When you DO need a permit:

  • Pedestrian activity will be interrupted during filming
  • Vehicle traffic will be interrupted on City streets during filming
  • Public parking will be reserved or impacted
  • A dolly, jib arm, light stand, generator, and/or other equipment will be used on a sidewalk, alley, or street
  • Wires or cables will be run across streets, sidewalks, or pathways
  • You are filming in a city park
  • Your footage/photos are for commercial use


NOTES: Must apply for a permit at least 3 days prior to shooting, and if your film is higher impact shooting, you should register at least 5 days in advance.


1. Fill out a PERMIT FORM

2. Fill out a LOCATION FORM for each location you will be filming at

3. Must create a map of your filming locations like this: SAMPLE

4. When you are ready to apply, submit all forms as e-mail attachments to: filmoffice@seattle.gov.

CONTACT: Seattle Office of Film and Music #206-684-8993


When you DON’T need a permit:

The City of New Orleans has a very hands on approach with their permitting and welcoming filming into their city. They offer a  one-on-one consulting session with City of New Orleans Agencies to troubleshoot any logistical issues before you start planning your shoot. They ask that you please contact the office as soon as possible to start planning your shoot.


1. Applicants are required to complete a Filming Application.

2. Projects filming in Orleans Parish will be required to submit a Certificate of Insurance.

3. A signed copy of the Guide to Film Production in New Orleans

4. Confirmed location list and shooting schedule. All materials must be received no later than 3 business days prior to filming.


When you DO AND DON’T need a permit:

The film office says few permits are necessary for filming, but are required for federal, state-owned and tribal properties and lands. Permits are also often required for city properties, especially historical sites, public streets, as well as use of any county roads and state highways.

They also state that there may be additional environmental/conservation permits needed to film in New Mexico.

CONTACT: Sounds like your best bet is to call and talk it out with the New Mexico Film Office: #505-476-5600.


When you DON’T need a permit:

  • B-ROLL GUIDELINES: News crews, handheld interviews, documentaries, B-roll, and other low impact productions don’t require a permit, as long as it does not interfere with vehicular or pedestrian traffic.

When you DO need a permit:

  • Any filming in a public way such as a street, alley or sidewalk.

COST: $15/day

NOTE: Must apply no later than 3 days before the shoot.


1. Complete an application and payment

2. Send the City Service Request form, Certificate of Insurance and Community Relations Notification (see below) to filmoffice@citychicago.com

*To create a Community Relations notification include this information:

  • Filming Notice to be listed the heading (see sample)
  • Production Company/Project Title
  • Dates/Times
  • Locations where no parking signs will be posted
  • Traffic Restrictions – list any street closures
  • Notification of Special Effects or Weapons on Set (if any)
  • Production Company Contact Name, Cell Phone Number and Email Address

CONTACT: City Hall at  #312-744-5000


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