Apply to film and take photographs in national parks

We recognise the important role played by film in attracting visitors to parks, as well as the important economic contribution that the film industry makes to New South Wales.

New South Wales has over 800 national parks and reserves, offering a diverse range of natural wonders from World Heritage-listed sites to beautiful beaches, subtropical rainforests to Australia's highest mountain in the alps. These protected areas play a critical role in conserving biodiversity, as well as natural and cultural heritage. The diversity of these natural and cultural environments provide endless opportunity for filmmakers and photographers to New South Wales.

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) encourages visitors to NSW national parks and reserves to photograph or film their experience. If you intend to take photographs or film for commercial purposes, you are required to get permission from NPWS before the photography or filming activity.

Filming or photography activity is taking any photographs, video/digital footage, or motion film for the purposes of sale, hire or profit.

When considering applications to film, we consider:

  • environmental impacts the filming may have
  • the benefits the filming may bring to parks, the public and New South Wales in general
  • the park values, visitor amenity and cultural values..

We keep a public register of filming approvals.

Types of filming and photography approval applications

NPWS offers 3 types of filming and photography approval applications for commercial filming and photography:

  • Small-scale filming and photography by a professional photographer or videographer for –
  • weddings or family portraits
  • commercial use and resale to photographic libraries
  • location scouting.
  • Commercial filming and photography for  –
  • production films, television network or streaming service productions, documentaries, educational films and government-sponsored filming
  • advertising
  • private events by a professional photographer or videographer
  • magazines, postcards, commercial websites, promotional material, books and advertisements.
  • Travel and lifestyle filming and photography for –
  • travel programs
  • tourism promotion.

If you would like to use a national park or reserve for filming or photography, you must read the following before you proceed with your application:

Public liability insurance

All filming or photography applications require a valid public liability cover/certificate of currency which must be uploaded with your online application. The public liability insurance must include the following:

  • a minimum of AUD$10 million
  • name the Department as interested parties as per the following text: The Minister for Environment and Heritage, the Secretary of the Department of Planning and Environment and the Crown in right of New South Wales.

Note: Your application will not be accepted unless a valid and current public liability insurance certificate is provided, which must match the applicant organisation listed on this application.

Small-scale filming is filming or photography that:

  • involves a maximum of one camera operator and one assistant
  • requires only low-level equipment use (i.e. backpackable equipment; single tripod)
  • does not use structures, film sets or professional talent
  • does not include the use of drones (remotely piloted aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicle)
  • does not exclude an area from use by other users
  • has negligible potential to impact on a park environment.

Wedding photography and speculative work generally falls into the small-scale filming category.

There is no fee for the small scale filming and photography permits and they are valid for a period of one year from the date of commencement.

Filming and photographic activities other than small-scale activities require approval as per the Filming and photography policy, and are not covered by a small-scale filming and photography permit.

If your filming or photography meets all of the criteria to be classified as small-scale, you can complete the online application form.

Apply online

If your filming or photography does not meet the criteria for the small-scale category, you will need to complete a commercial filming and photography application. This application is required for commercial filming or photography for:

  • production films, television network or streaming service productions, documentaries, educational films, government-sponsored filming
  • commercial advertising
  • images for magazines, postcards, commercial websites, promotional material, books and advertisements.

Applications must be submitted at least 7 full working days before the first shoot date. Incomplete applications, incorrect documents or applications received outside of the minimum lead time may be declined.

The local NPWS office will process your application. You will be notified whether or not your application is approved. A security deposit, daily/weekly/hourly fees and any applicable supervision fees are payable upon approval of the application.

Once all fees have been received, the NPWS will issue an agreement which authorises your activities and includes all conditions relating to the filming or photography.

Apply (PDF 1.4MB)

If your filming or photography is specifically for travel or lifestyle promotion, has a low environmental impact and provides significant benefit to National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) through the promotion of parks and its values, then your application will be considered under the travel and lifestyle filming and photography application type. Travel and lifestyle filming applications may not incur an application fee if the application is deemed eligible by NPWS.

To be eligible under the travel and lifestyle filming and photography application process you will be required to undertake filming or photography specifically for travel or lifestyle purposes that directly promote NSW national parks. Additionally, you must include at least three of the below criteria in your filming or photography project/program, including:

  • NPWS logo in credit
  • the national park(s) name in supers or voiceover
  • location within the park(s) in supers or voiceover
  • image of national park signage with park name or attraction (e.g. lookout)
  • national park URL link - nationalparks.nsw.gov.au
  • NPWS Ranger in uniform (where suitable and approved)
  • promotion of the NSW National Parks app
  • credit NPWS by @NSWNationalParks (Facebook) and/or @nswnationalparks & #NSWParks (Instagram).

Applications must be submitted at least 7 full working days before the first shoot date. Incomplete applications, incorrect documents or applications received outside of the minimum lead time may be declined.

Your application will be reviewed and processed, and we will notify you of the result of your application. An agreement will be issued to you which authorises your activities and includes all conditions relating to the filming or photography.

You may still be required to pay a security deposit or any applicable supervision fees upon approval of the application.

If your filming or photography meets the criteria to be considered under travel and lifestyle, please complete our online application form (PDF 1.4MB) and select travel and lifestyle under the ‘type of filming application’.