Photography and Drone Permitting

Nahanni National Park Reserve

Nahanni National Park Reserve has incomparable film and photographic possibilities that surround you throughout your visit. All commercial photography and video projects, both profit and not-for-profit and regardless of scale, must be reviewed and permitted.

Photography and video captured for personal, non-commercial use does not require an application or permit. However, Parks Canada reserves the right to determine whether an end product results in personal or commercial gain. If you are unclear about whether you need a permit or not, please reach out for further discussion.

Download Film and Photography Permit Application

    The application process

    Nahanni National Park Reserve is cooperatively managed with the Dehcho First Nations, Nahʔa Dehé Dene Band and Parks Canada under the Nahʔa Dehé Consensus Team. The Nah?a Dehe Consensus Team requires adequate time to review film and photography permit applications. To facilitate community engagement and review, applications will not be reviewed after January 31.st.

    Applications are assessed against Canada's National Parks Act, National Parks General Regulations and the project’s potential contribution to public awareness, appreciation and understanding of Canada’s national parks and Parks Canada.

    In addition, preliminary screenings are required under the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act for all commercial film and photography projects, to assess any project impacts. Film, photography and drone/UAV use applications take a substantial amount of time to process. Making contact with Parks Canada about your film project early is always highly recommended.

    How to apply

    For your reference and to help you prepare your proposal, please consult the Essence of Nahanni statement and the Cultural History of the park.

    Film permitting at Nahanni National Park Reserve generally follows this process:

    1. Complete a Film and Photography Permit Application form.

    2. Your application is reviewed by the Nahʔa Dehé Consensus Team. The applicant may be invited to present their project to the the Consensus Team.

    3. The film proposal may be subject to a preliminary screening as per requirements of the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act. A preliminary screening is a minimum of 45 days turnaround time.

    4. Following the regulatory process and consultation, a decision is made. Declined applications end the process. Approved applications proceed to permitting.

    5. Regardless of project scale, the applicant must obtain proof of comprehensive liability insurance with a minimum coverage of $2 million.

    6. If approved, the permit documentation is delivered for signature by all parties once fees are paid in full.

    7. The Superintendent approves the permit, signs and returns copies to the applicant.

    Please be sure to follow all park regulations while photographing or filming in the Parks Canada places. Consult the guide to film/photo shoots at Parks Canada.

    Insurance

    Proof of comprehensive liability insurance policy must be received by Parks Canada in order for your application to be completed. It is not necessary to submit insurance when you submit your application. However, it is required before a permit will be issued.

    "His Majesty the King, in Right of Canada, as represented by the Minister of Environment for the purpose of the Parks Canada Agency" must be named as one of the additional insured parties in the submitted insurance certificate.

    Please note that a non-refundable application fee may apply. Fees are assessed based on the scope, location and crew size associated with the project. Discounts may apply once the nature of the proposal has been evaluated.

    Further information regarding Insurance and Fees can be found on your Request Form.

    Aerial filming

    It is important to be aware that the use of Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs or drones) in national parks is a restricted activity that requires the permission of the Field Unit Superintendent on top of a film permit and any Transport Canada requirements.

    A Transport Canada Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) and a Transport Canada Pilot Certificate - advanced operations, are required to operate a UAV within 5km of Náįlįcho (Virginia Falls) because it is an aerodrome. Other locations in the park still require a Transport Canada issued Pilot Certificate - basic operations.

    Before flying your drone/UAV in the park:

      1. You need a film permit to use a drone in the park in any capacity. All of the above listed film permit requirements apply.

      2. You need a license issued by Transport Canada and have your drone registered. Exceptions for registration may be made if your drone is under 250g, but a permit is always required.

      3. When planning projects that could involve UAVs, choose methods and equipment with the lowest potential for disturbance. Consider:

        a. ground-based alternatives to UAV use;

        b. the duration of activity - keep UAV use as short as possible;

        c. the size of equipment and the amount of noise it produces - favour low-noise equipment;

        d. all potential effects on soundscape and viewscapes;

        e. local wind conditions and environment that may affect safety, footage quality, and wildlife impact.

    While flying the drone/UAV:

      1. Follow all Transport Canada Drone/UAV rules and regulations.

      2. Give way to manned aircraft at all times and cease aerial operations immediately if there are any indications that manned aircraft are approaching the vicinity.

      3. Do not buzz, harass, or deliberately fly in a manner that disturbs visitors or invades privacy.

      4. As required by Transport Canada, operate within the Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) at all times during the flight and use a spotter to watch for wildlife entering the designated flight area.

      5. Maintain a minimum separation of 500 meters vertical and 500 meters horizontal between the aircraft and wildlife. If any species of bird or animal are observed within or approaching the boundaries of the flight area, cease operations. Be aware that although wildlife may not demonstrate obvious signs of disturbance, they may still be under significant stress from the presence of an UAV.

      6. Birds may be the most sensitive species group to UAV operations. If operating in the bird nesting window (April 1 to August 31), maintain the highest altitude possible and avoid sporadic flight movements and other trajectories that could be perceived as threatening. Some birds may exhibit territorial behaviour. If any dive bombing, mobbing, vocal displays or other form of interaction with the UAV occurs, cease operations immediately.

      7. If raptors in flight are observed within 1 km of drone activities, cease operations.

    Your permit may contain additional conditions that you need to follow. If you are using your drone for scientific research purposes, there is a different application process. Please reach out to nahanni.info@pc.gc.ca for more information.

    For filming in the Northwest Territories outside of Nahanni National Park, please follow the guidelines provided by the Government of Northwest Territories Film Commission.

    Useful Links:

    NWT Film Commission

    National Parks of Canada Aircraft Access Regulations

    Aeronautics Act: Governs the use of UAV systems in Canada

    Transport Canada: Flying your drone safely and legally

    FAQ

    What is the timeline for applying for a film/photography/UAV restricted activity permit?

    Please provide as much time as possible for the process. It is recommended that applications come in at least 90 days in advance of intended filming dates. Any incoming applications between April and August may take longer to approve, or may not be considered due to operational constraints. Permit applications should be submitted before January 31st.

    When’s the best time to film/take photos in the Park?

    Summer is the best time for filming. July and August are the busiest visitor months. Filming should not interfere with visitor enjoyment. Our staff will have the best information about visitor use and locations to support your filming objectives. Landing in the park is not easily done in the winter or early spring. Float plane access in the summer is the most common way to access the park.

    How can Parks Canada help?

    Parks Canada can answer questions and develop ideas to help you make the best decisions for your project proposal including logistics, weather, contingencies and local context.

    Where are the best places to film/take photos in the park?

    Places that are already designated landing sites are better filming locations. These places include: Náįlįcho (Virginia Falls), Gahnįhthah Mįe (Rabbitkettle Lake), Bunny Bar, Islands Lakes, Honeymoon Lake, Seaplane Lake, and Glacier Lake. Other areas may be considered on a case by case basis.

    What if I’m filming outside of the park?

    For filming in the Northwest Territories other than in the National Parks of Canada, please follow the guidelines provided by Northwest Territories Tourism and the Northwest Territories Film Commission.

    What are the rules surrounding drones in national parks?

    Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones) are increasingly popular with hobbyists, photographers, and businesses, but their use is strictly controlled in national parks. If you witness someone using a drone/UAV and you would like to report it, please call the Duty Officer at 867-695-6572.

    Are there fees for filming/photography?

    Yes, though the rates change depending on the size/type of project. We are happy to provide this information when you submit your project proposal.

    What kind of insurance do I need?

    The minimum insurance requirement is $2 million in general liability. "His Majesty the King, in Right of Canada, as represented by the Minister of Environment for the purpose of the Parks Canada Agency" must be named as one of the additional insured parties in the submitted insurance certificate.

    It is not necessary to submit insurance when you submit your application. However, it is required before a permit will be issued.

    What are the best practices for filming/photos in Nahanni National Park Reserve?

    What Works Well

    • Small projects involving minimal equipment and crew sizes smaller than 15
    • Minimal impact to the ecosystem and minimal disruption to park users
    • Projects requiring minimal shooting time and assistance
    • Educational projects contributing to park objectives, messages and themes

    What Won’t Work

    • Activities that may damage the ecosystem or disrupt and manipulate wildlife
    • Use of motorized watercraft or off-road vehicles such as quads and snowmobiles
    • Low-level flying or landing of aircraft without a permit
    • Portraying activities that are illegal or incompatible with Parks Canada and the Consensus Team’s message

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