Film and photography

Sable Island National Park Reserve

Sable Island National Park Reserve is an extremely isolated location and due to weather and geography, access can be challenging. Opportunities to film at Sable Island National Park Reserve are extremely limited and only a small number of projects are approved each year.

Film, Video, and Photography Guidelines – Commercial and Documentary

A complete application must be submitted a minimum of 90 days prior to the first proposed day of filming in order to provide sufficient time for review and approval. All parts of this application must be completed. Parks Canada reserves the right to deny applications that do not support Parks Canada’s mandate, values and principles, as well as incomplete applications and requests that conflict with day-to-day operations. Incomplete applications will not be processed.

Please refer to the full list of fees associated with travel and filming at Sable Island National Park Reserve.

Application and permit process

Parks Canada can assist you with:
  • Detailed on-site regulations, conditions and requirements. All video/photography activities must comply with Parks Canada regulations, policies and conditions;
  • Consultation and advice on film/video/photography opportunities and locations. Locations must be determined prior to a permit being issued; and
  • Assistance with interviews with site staff and specialists. Interviews may be available depending on scope of the project and availability of staff.
Step 1  Setting the stage: Is your film/photography activity appropriate at a Parks Canada site?

What works well?

  • Simplicity: Small productions involving minimal equipment and crew size.
  • Little impact on the environment and the visitors.
  • Productions requiring minimal shooting time and assistance.
  • Educational productions contributing to park objectives, messages and themes.
  • Productions requesting off-season and/or weekday shooting dates. Weekend shoots at highly visited areas will be discouraged.

What won't work...

  • Using equipment, chemicals, or engaging in any activity that may damage the environment and structures of the site.
  • Filming, video, or photography of visitors, staff or models without their consent.
  • Portraying activities that are illegal, damaging to Parks Canada's image or conflict with Parks Canada's messages.
Step 2  Getting ready to roll: Will your application meet the following conditions and requirements?


  • Acceptance of an indemnification clause and full responsibility for any incidents, and/or cost of clean-up or site rehabilitation, or replacement of object artifacts in the condition and location they were found.
  • Respectful and professional contact with the visiting public.
  • Provide additional insurance naming, "Her Majesty the Queen in right of Canada as represented by Parks Canada Agency."


  • Cooperation with the Parks Canada on-site supervisor.
  • Ensure that resources of the park are protected and follow the Superintendent’s direction in matters related to resource protection.
  • Respect the exclusion distance of 20 metres from the horses and respect the exclusion distance from all other wildlife (onsite Operations Coordinator will brief crew on the distances to maintain with wildlife). If this limit is not respected, filming permits will not be granted in the future.
  • Follow the daily itinerary arranged with Parks Canada staff (except as modifications may be required due to the weather).
  • Include on-screen credit and the following acknowledgment in the materials and all reproductions: Filmed on location at Sable Island National Park Reserve and with the permission of the Parks Canada Agency.
  • Not manipulate or modify the photographic or filmed images in any way that misrepresents the park.
  • Supply the park with a complimentary copy of the completed project for internal educational purposes.
  • Provide Parks Canada with the opportunity to complete a factual review of the final product when the site has participated in the project.
  • Obtain the written consent of the Superintendent prior to making any modifications or changes of any nature to the location site.
  • Repair, return to the original condition, or replace, to the satisfaction of the Superintendent, any damage, change, or removals from the location site within the park.
  • Comply with the provisions of all applicable statutes and regulations, as they may be amended, revised, consolidated, or substituted from time to time, including without limitation, all laws concerned with environmental assessment and protection.
  • Observe fire and safety precautions and comply fully with the instructions of the Superintendent.
  • Use the materials only for the purposes and in the work (and any versions thereof) specified in the agreement.
  • Focus filming on the history, wildlife, landscape, and visitor experience at Sable Island.
  • Follow the advice of public health authorities to limit the spread of COVID-19.
  • Inform Parks Canada of the publication date prior to publication of the work.
Step 3  Juggling the paper work: The application process
  • An application must be submitted to Parks Canada a minimum of 90 days prior to intended film/video/photography activities.
  • The application will be assessed against the following: potential impact on the parks/sites resources; contribution to park/site objectives, themes and messages; required level of assistance; and consistency with Regulations and level of disturbance to other park/site users.
  • If the application is approved, a Film/Photography Permit will be issued which must be carried while conducting activities in the national park reserve.
  • The permit becomes valid once signed by the producer and Parks Canada, fees are paid in full, and requirements and conditions are agreed to.
  • Parks Canada reserves the right to refuse any application that is not in the best interest of the Agency or revoke permission without notice if terms and conditions of the permit are violated.
Step 4 – Time to shoot: Applying fees and payment
  • Fees are applied to productions according to the Parks Canada fee structure.
  • Additional supervision requirements and/or overtime costs will be charged to the production and are in excess of the fees indicated below.
  • GST is included in the fees below.
  • Payments can be made by quoting a Visa, MasterCard or American Express number or by a cheque or money order payable to Receiver General of Canada.
  • Payments must be received prior to film/photography activities commencing in the National Parks or National Historic Sites.

Film and photography project application form

The information you provide here will be used to determine whether a project proposal will be approved to proceed. All projects must be approved before a film and photography permit will be issued.

Please note that visitors must be prepared for delays and cancellations, both when attempting to travel to the island and when attempting to depart. Normal delays might last a day or two, although significantly longer delays are not uncommon. You should ensure you have adequate supplies to account for unplanned delays.

If you are requesting an overnight stay to support your project, note that accommodations are extremely limited and subject to availability.

Please submit your completed application form to

Details of the film and photography project application form

The following information must be provided in any application to film/photograph in the National Parks or National Historic Sites.

Section one – Information 

Project Name:

Production Company (if applicable):

Mailing Address:

Production Manager / Producer:

Website (if applicable):

Email Address:

Phone Numbers:

  • Cell:
  • Office:

Company Representative / Location Manager (on-site during filming):

Phone Numbers:

  • Cell:
  • Office:


Note: You will be required to provide proof of comprehensive liability insurance policy indicating a minimum of $2,000,000 per incident, naming Her Majesty the Queen in right of Canada as represented by the Parks Canada Agency as additional insured, to be carried for the duration of the production in the park.

Section two – Project information

Type of business:

  • Commercial
  • Government
  • Student Project
  • Non-profit (Please provide your non-profit charitable organization registration number) 
  • Other (Please specify)

Primary use of footage:

  • Promotional
  • Educational / documentary
  • Entertainment
  • Other (Please specify)

Project description:

Please describe this project (who, what, where, when and why, maximum 200 words).

Audience and demographics:

  • Canadians (Please specify demographic details, if any)
  • International (Please specify demographic details, if any)

Estimated viewers (circulation / reach):

Final product(s)

** A copy of the final product must be submitted as part of the film permit conditions. **

  • Documentary
  • TV show
  • Magazine
  • Website
  • Social media (YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, etc.)
  • Music video
  • Book
  • Other (please specify) 

Publishing deadline /air date:

Previous projects worked on:

Please submit links to any previous projects you or the production company has worked on.

Crew size:

**The crew size includes all individuals required to travel to Sable Island NPR for the project. **

Date(s) of proposed filming at Sable Island NPR:

Are you considering submitting a request for an interview with a Parks Canada representative?

  • Yes
  • No

If yes, please provide details.

Will you be submitting a request to fly a drone at Sable Island NPR? (Refer to Section three for more information)

  • Yes
  • No

While on the Island, the only mode of transportation (apart from walking) requires a Parks Canada vehicle and driver. Please refer to Appendix C for information regarding on-Island transportation fees.

  • We will require a Parks Canada driver
  • We will walk

Section three – Aerial filming 

Activities involving aircraft, including Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs, or “drones”), are restricted under the Canada National Parks Act and National Parks of Canada Aircraft Access Regulations.

Field Unit Superintendents may authorize limited use of drones for:

  • natural and cultural resource management
  • public safety
  • law enforcement
  • park/site management purposes (including filming and photography for outreach, education, and promotional purposes)

If you are permitted to use a drone for your project, you will need:

The risks and impacts of drone flight vary depending on time/season and location; therefore, each application is evaluated separately.

Section four – Declaration / Signature

I hereby state that the above information given is complete and correct, and that no false or misleading information or false statements have been given. I have the full authority to represent the application / production company and the project described above.



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