Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine

Park Regulations & Safety


Special Use Permits are required for special events such as walkathons, runs, weddings and other ceremonies, meetings and gatherings, distribution of printed material and other public expressions of views, memorializations, and other activities that are otherwise controlled or prohibited. These uses of the park require that a permit be obtained in advance. This listing is not complete. If you have any uncertainty about a planned activity it is best to contact the Special Use Permit office beforehand to inquire about the need for a permit. Some uses also require an application fee, reservations, and other fees.

The mission of the National Park Service is to preserve and protect our resources as stated in the Organic Act… "The Service…shall provide and regulate the use of …National Parks.[its] purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such a manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."(16U.S.C.1)

It is the policy of Fort McHenry National Monument & Historic Shrine to accommodate requests for special use permits when and where possible, while adhering to this mandate. Therefore, our primary concern is to assess potential resource damage and disruption of normal public use prior to authorization of any special use activity.


Application Process and Cost

Use the Special Use Permit Application Form 10-930 to request permits for the following activities:

First Amendment Activities
Special Events (runs, walks, weddings, ceremonies)
Public Assembly
Sale/Distribute Printed Material

For the above intended uses of the park, submit the application along with the non-refundable $50 processing fee (money order or check made payable to DOI/National Park Service) to the Special Use Permit office. We are also able to take the application fee by credit card. Please note: the form submitted is an application only and the fee is an application fee only: the form and/or the fee do not constitute a permit. This fee covers the costs associated with reviewing the application and is charged whether or not the request is approved.

All events will require Park employees to monitor and provide support. Costs above normal Park operating costs will be billed to the permittee following the activity. These could include expenses related to security, parking, crowd control, cleanup, and coordination with outside agencies. The monitoring fees will charged at the rate of $50 per hour per ranger.

In addition, applicants shall reimburse the park for use and occupancy of the National Park Service lands and other resources. Such charges are based on the fair market value for the use of similar resources and facilities in the vicinity. Permits issued for special events shall be charged in accordance with the following range of rates:

Parades, rallies, celebrations, banquets, walks, runs:

51-200 people $200
201-500 people $300
501-750 people $400
750+ people $500

Rates beyond these amounts will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Federal procedures (31 USC7701) require your Social Security Number or Tax Identification Number on the back of all checks accepted for deposit in the amount of $50 or more. You must supply one or the other in order for your check to be accepted and your application to be processed.

Your information provided on the application will be used to determine whether a permit will be issued. You will be notified of the disposition of the application and the necessary steps to secure your final permit. If your request is approved, a permit containing applicable conditions and regulations will be sent to the person you have designated on the application. The permit must be signed and returned to the park prior to the event.

The National Park Service is required to recover all costs associated with special use permits. All administrative costs involving permit application and processing are nonrefundable and will be charged to the permittee. Any additional costs will be estimated on the permit and will be posted as they occur. Since our costs are based on the services we provide, we do not differentiate between profit and nonprofit projects.


Weddings and Ceremonies

Fort McHenry National Monument & Historic Shrine allows weddings to take place on the recreational grounds of the park. No ceremony is allowed to occur in the historic zone of the park. The preferred area is on the west side from the area near the statue of Orpheus to the water boundary near the designated wetlands. On the east side, the area is designated to be north of a line between the statue of George Armistead and the U.S. Coast Guard navigational beacon.

The entire wedding party, including guests, shall not exceed 100 people. Altars, arches, tents, awnings, or canopies may not be erected. A limited number of chairs may be brought in by the permittee. Electric or amplified instruments and/or public address systems may not be used. Decorations, banners, bouquets, etc may not be affixed to any buildings, structures, trees, or shrubs.

An area may not be roped off for the exclusive use of the wedding arty. Visitor access shall not be restricted in any way. All weddings must occur during regular visitor hours. No receptions may be held in the park.

A separate commercial film permit will govern wedding photography. Use the Application for Commercial Filming/Still Photography Permit as outlined below.

A $50 non-refundable application fee is charged for each Special Use Wedding Permit. Applicants shall reimburse the Park for use and occupancy of the NPS lands and other resources. Land use fees for weddings and ceremonies are as follows:

1-25 people $25
26-50 people $50
51-100 people $100


Commercial Filming/Photography

Commercial Film Permits must be obtained when filming is done by other than bona fide newsreel or news television. Commercial photography permits are required if photography is to be done of vehicles or other articles of commerce or models for the purpose of commercial advertising or for resale. It is the policy of the National Park Service to allow filming and photography when it is consistent with the protection and public enjoyment of park resources and when it avoids conflict with the public’s normal use and enjoyment of the park.

A permit is required when the filming, videotaping, sound recording, or still photography involve the use of talent, professional crews, set dressings or props; when they involve product or service advertisement; or when the activity could result in damage to park resources or disruption of visitor use. A permit is also required if the photographer wants to film in areas not open to the public, or before or after normal visitation hours. Generally, permits are not issued for filming on weekends or holidays. Normal visitor use patterns should not be interrupted for longer than five minutes, and only as specified in the approved permit. Visitors will be allowed to watch filming in public areas.


Breaking News
Breaking news is an event that cannot be covered at any other time or at any other location. Filming of breaking news does not involve advertising, sets, props, or models. Coverage of breaking news does not require a permit, but film crews may not disrupt park visitors, damage park resources, or compromise public health and safety regulations.

Other Media
Frequently there are opportunities for news organizations to focus on park programs, or increase public awareness of park-specific issues. Filming related to these stories must be coordinated and planned in advance. A permit will be issued if it is determined that the park would benefit from the increased public awareness.

Still Photography

Photography of scenery or historic structures has traditionally been part of a visit to a national park. Photography does not require a permit if it involves only hand-carried equipment (tripod, interchangeable lenses or flash), and does not involve professional crews, product or service advertisement, or use of models, props, or sets.

A still photography permit is required when:

Product or service advertisement is involved
Talent/models, props, crews, or sets are involved
The project has the potential to disrupt other park activities or visitors
More than just hand-carried equipment is used
Project requires access to an area normally closed or restricted to general public use
Access into an area outside of normal public use hours is required
Project carries with it a potential risk to park resources
Activity raises safety concerns that can be mitigated through issuance of a permit with restrictions or conditions

Filming/Photography Permit Application Procedures

Use the Application for Commercial Filming/Still Photography Permit 10-931 or Application for Commercial Filming/Still Photography Permit 10-932 to request permits for the following activities. Completed applications must be returned to the park with the $50 application fee. Your request will be evaluated on the basis of the information in your application. If substantial staff resources are expended in the evaluation of the request, the applicant will be billed for the additional costs. Therefore, you are encouraged to attach maps, diagrams, script pages, storyboards, vehicle and equipment lists, crew lists, call sheet, itineraries, shot lists, etc. with your application to assist park staff in evaluating your request. In compliance with the requirement of the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996, applicants must submit their social security number or Federal Tax ID number when filling out the application. Park managers will not sign location releases supplied by applicants.

Insurance Requirement

Proof of insurance is required and documentation must carry a commercial liability (minimum of $1 million) issued by a U.S. company. Insurance certificate must identify the production company by name and business address. The United States Government will be named as "additional insured" on the insurance certificate. If further specificity is needed, the U.S. Department of the Interior, Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, 2400 East Fort Ave, Baltimore, MD 21230" should be used.

High-risk activities or activities which may have the potential for resource impact require higher liability amounts. Small, low-risk projects or still photography may be eligible for a reduction to $500,000. Contact our office for details. A request for a permit may be denied if there is no proof of adequate insurance. Personal or homeowners liability is not accepted. Certificate should be generated by the insurance company.


A refundable damage bond, drawn as a separate payment, may be required for those projects that have a high potential for resource damage or potential for site restoration. The bond amount is determined by estimating the cost of monitoring and site restoration, should you fail to adequately care for complete cleanup of the site. This amount will be specified in the permit. The permittee is responsible for removal of equipment, props, trash, and restoration of the site to original condition, or in a condition satisfactory to the National Park Service. If this is not done, all or part of the damage bond will be retained to offset cleanup/recovery expenses. If it is not needed, the bond is released when the on-site NPS representative affirms that site restoration is complete and all site use charges have been paid. If a surplus remains after the costs have been reimbursed, the surplus is returned to the permittee. If the bond does not cover all the cost, you will be billed for the difference.

Audio and lighting restrictions apply to prevent disruption of visitor activities and/or disturb visitors. Large reflectors, silks, camera track, jibs, cranes, generators, large props, crowd scenes, foggers, oversized vehicles are discouraged and are authorized on a case-by-case basis, dependent on the location, time of year, time of day, and other mitigating factors.


The film permittee is responsible for all National Park Service costs up to the time of cancellation. If the cancellation is weather related, we will attempt to make accommodations. Administrative charges are mandatory and non-refundable. Cost of overtime and site cleanup are additional and will be billed as they occur.


As noted in permit conditions, non-compliance with any of the permit conditions could result in revocation of the permit. In addition, the permit contains other conditions or factors relating to revocation:

Visitation levels
Non-permitted stunts, use of vehicles, special effects or equipment use
Unauthorized access of park facilities, structures, and resources
False information (deliberately making false and/or misleading statements in order to obtain a permit


For filming activities which are perceived to interfere with visitor use, further congest highly visited areas, or have the potential to impact park resources without proper supervision and care, at least one employee of the National Park Service will be assigned to the film crew. Degree of monitoring is based on crew size, equipment, props, scope of project, location, time of day, and time of year.

Supervision may be on-site and continual, a representative may spot check the filming to assure compliance, or the Superintendent may bring in other employees to assist in those instances when the scope of the project exceeds the park’s ability to properly manage the activity.


The National Park Service is required to recover all costs associated with permits for filming and photography. All administrative costs involving permit application and processing are nonrefundable and will be charged to permittee. The park may require that charges be paid before work can begin on NPS property. Any additional costs will be posted as they occur.

Permit Application Fee - $50 payable by check, money order, or credit card
Hourly Monitoring Fee - $50 per monitor for one-hour minimum

Location Fee – Congress has authorized the National Park Service to charge location fees for the use of park lands and facilities for filming and photography purposes. Site use charges will be estimated based on the information you provide on your application.

Motion Pictures and Videos

1-2 people with camera/tripod only No charge
1-10 people $150 day
11-30 people $250 day
31-49 people $500 day
Over 50 people $750 day

Still Photography

1-10 people $50 day
11-30 $150 day
Over 30 people $250 day

Since our costs are based on the services we provide, we do not differentiate between profit and nonprofit documentary projects. By law, the National Park Service may not waive recovery of costs for projects that are produced to promote an industry, influence Congressional initiatives, or influence the outcomes of elections.

Student Projects

Film or video projects that are being produced as a requirement for an accredited course can be issued a student filming or video permit. The student must provide:

Name of educational organization and Tax exempt Number
Course name and number
Instructor’s name

Because many park sites have scheduled other activities on weekends, the student should plan in advance and have alternate dates in mind when applying for a student film permit. NPS has designed the student permit to minimize the costs by eliminating many of the activities that generate the need for intense monitoring.

Student projects may not involve:

Access to interiors of structures not available to the public
Night filming
Set construction
Oversized vehicles or equipment
Pyrotechnics, firearms, or weapons (real or fake), or stunts
Generators/artificial lighting
Playback or sound exceeding 70 decibels