Do I need a film permit?

Laws regarding film permit requirements are established by the jurisdictions that FilmL.A. serves. Please contact FilmL.A. if you have questions about whether a permit is required for your specific project. Generally speaking, non-commercial filming (personal use) does not require a film permit.

Film Permit Process

Below are the following 5 steps for completing the film permit process.

So, you’ve scouted several potential locations, picked out your favorites, and made sure they’re in FilmL.A.’s service area. Before you write the property owner a check or make any commitments, please give us a call to discuss the location and your intended filming plans.

Our Production Planning Team will save you time and money by guiding you through permit requirements, as well as the unique needs of area communities. Count on us for help with:

  • Counseling on past productions’ experience in a given area
  • Budgeting questions
  • Working in areas with special conditions
  • Reservations for city owned properties
  • Coordination of Angeles National Forest permits
  • Please see Area Requirements for application submission deadlines

You will be required to furnish proof of liability insurance before FilmL.A. can coordinate and release your permit. Insurance requirements will vary depending on the areas you intend to film, and the activities you plan to conduct on location.

Before you submit your permit application, start your search for insurance with a review of our partial list of licensed local insurance carriers.

Our staff will supply further guidance on insurance requirements once we receive your film permit application.

Once you’ve researched your locations and secured insurance, you’re ready to submit your permit application. Submitting your application is easy using our custom-built Online Permit System (OPS).

Once your application is accepted and a confirmation notice is sent to you, your project will be assigned to one of our knowledgeable Production Coordinators.

Your Coordinator will be your point person for the remainder of the process. His or her primary responsibility is to create a permit that addresses community concerns while securing the permissions you need from appropriate local authorities.

Because all film permit situations are unique, your coordinator may ask you to fulfill other requirements as a condition of permit release. These requirements could include, but are not limited to:

  • Performing a filming survey
  • Meeting with concerned community members
  • Applying for additional permits (for example animal use, etc.)
  • Organizing walk-throughs for public safety personnel
  • Paying activity-based use, personnel and inspection fees
  • Utilizing a FilmL.A. Monitor in sensitive areas
  • Please see Area Requirements for application submission deadlines
The best way to ensure a warm welcome for your production is to show respect for the communities you are filming in.

When you work with FilmL.A., we will help you by distributing official “Notices of Filming” to all residences and businesses located in the area near your location. These Notices contain details you’ve provided about when you will be filming, the activities to be filmed and whom community members can call to share their concerns. The Notices are typically distributed two business days ahead of your first day of production.

Along with that, we encourage you to distribute your own letters on production company letterhead describing the filming activities and providing your contact information.

Whether you choose to distribute a letter or introduce yourself to community members face-to-face, bear in mind that other filmmakers will have to follow in your footsteps.  Being a good neighbor will help the crew that films there after you.

You will not be allowed to begin filming until you collect your finalized film permit. There are several ways to pay for and take delivery of your permit once it is readied for release.

Our consolidated payment option allows you to pay for most of your permit-related fees in a single transaction. Your finalized permit will include a cover invoice with a detailed breakdown of fees.

Customers who apply using our Online Permit System (OPS) and participate in our optional “Permits on Account” credit program can request immediate email delivery of permits.

Other delivery options include free in-office pickup or low-cost delivery. Payment is generally accepted in the form of cash, money order, cashier’s check or company check, though some restrictions apply based on permit type.

Payments and Refunds

Permits are paid for in advance either through:
Cash, cashier’s check, money order or business check 

If you are an individual, new company, student or do not qualify for our Permit On Account program (credit), FilmL.A. accepts payments by cash, cashier’s check, money order or business check at our office at 6255 W. Sunset Blvd., Suite 1200, Hollywood CA 90028. The office is open Monday – Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., except for holidays. If all other permit requirements have been met, you will receive your permit at the time you make your payment.

Permits on Account

Established businesses are encouraged to apply for credit with FilmL.A. Credit is granted based on a review of your completed credit application and is not guaranteed. Once you establish credit with FilmL.A., you will be able to download completed permits directly from the Online Permitting System (“OPS”). The download will include an invoice for estimated charges, which is due in 15 days. Applying for credit is simple. Just complete and return the Business Credit Application and Authorization to Verify Credit (please see links below). You will receive an email confirming receipt. Once your application has been received, the FilmL.A. Accounting Department will follow up to request any additional information that may be needed. You will receive final notification from the FilmL.A. Accounting Department of the acceptance or rejection of your application by both email and mail within 30 days of your request.

Business Credit Application (.PDF)
Authorization to Verify Credit (.PDF)

If your permit or license required a security deposit and you are entitled to a refund of the deposit, FilmL.A. will return the deposit to you within 30 days of the time we have received all of the final charges from the government agency. There is no need for any additional action on your part.

FilmL.A. is unable to make any commitments concerning refunds of fees in the event of a cancellation. If a permitted activity is canceled and adequate notice is given, FilmL.A. will work with you and affected government agencies to retrieve fees that have been paid on your behalf. Please contact your permit coordinator for assistance. Please note that the final decision about the refund of fees for a permit that was cancelled will be made by the respective government agency.
A portion of the fees FilmL.A. collects at the time of permit release are based on various government agencies’ estimates of their fees, based on the information you provide on your film permit application. Once filming is complete, each government agency sends FilmL.A. their final charges for facility use, personnel, and other charges, based on the actual work the agency performed at your request. If the final charges are less than the estimated charges, you may be entitled to a refund of the difference. If you believe you might be entitled to a refund, provide FilmL.A. with a completed Refund Request Form within 90 days of the completion of the permitted filming activities. Requests received after 90 days will not be considered.

Refund Request Form (PDF)

FilmL.A. will process the refund request once we have received the final charges from all of the agencies listed on the original permit and associated riders.

Please note that this can take some time; receipt of final charges from government agencies can take up to 60-90 days. Please note that permit application, permit rider and other processing fees assessed by FilmL.A. are non-refundable.