Monterey County encompasses a vast area including 12 incorporated cities, a large amount of unincorporated county land, state parks and U.S. Forest Service property, and privately-controlled areas. Although each jurisdiction handles its own film permit procedures directly, all require the following:
- certificate of insurance for a minimum of $1 million naming the jurisdiction (and its officers, agents and employees) as additionally insured
- a written locations breakdown or description
- signature of an authorized representative
- payment in advance of the project
Permits are easily obtainable in most areas of Monterey County and most cities comply with the California State Film Commission’s model permit. Most jurisdictions request a five day minimum lead time or longer if the project requires full street closures, pyrotechnics or major special effects. For filming taking place entirely on private property, no additional permit is needed.
On the following pages are the contact names, phone numbers, fee ranges and any special requirements of the most often filmed areas within Monterey County. Please contact the Monterey County Film Commission at 831-646-0910 (cell: 831-594-9410)
or email Film Commissioner Karen Nordstrand
in advance of any filming to register the project, receive filming guidelines and tips, and to be advised of any changes in the following information.
The Monterey County Film Commission does not issue permits, but we are happy to help direct you to the appropriate jurisdictions which you’ll find listed below.
Get road closures and other local information by clicking here.
State of California Permits
Filming on California state property and state roads requires permit registration through the California Film Commission.
Filming with Aerial Drones:
- Contact: David Booth, Caltrans Permit Coordinator, ext.104
California Highway Patrol:
- Contact: Brandy Davis, Permit Coordinator, Northern California State Parks and Bldgs./Facilities
- Phone: ext. 106 or 323-817-4106
- Email: BDavis@film.ca.gov
Lisa Mosher, ext. 123
No location fees. $140 review fee for Caltrans and hourly charges if necessary for rangers. Fees vary based on activity.
All Caltrans permits are issued through the California Film Commission (CFC). Highway One in Big Sur is a state road.
Please note that Caltrans District 5 restricts film activities that include traffic control on Highway One from Carmel Highlands south into San Luis Obispo County during the summer. The moratorium is in effect between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend. Questions on the policy may be directed to Bryan Parker, 805-549-3123
or his email of Bryan.Parker@dot.ca.gov
For California Highway Patrol support, contact the CHP Film Media Relations Officer at the CFC.
Contact the local state parks rangers to get initial approval of film activity. The final permit is issued through the California Film Commission State Parks Coordinator, Eric Klosterman, ext. 105 for Central/Northern California.
Parks including Pt. Lobos State Reserve, Carmel River State Beach and Middle Beach, Monastery Beach, Monterey State Beach, Salinas River State Beach, Moss Landing State Beach, and Ft. Ord Dunes State Beach.
Asilomar State Beach and Monterey Historic Parks:
Big Sur Area:
Parks including Andrew Molera State Park, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Pt. Sur State Park, and Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.
Varied fees depending on activities, including monitors.
For tips on filming in Big Sur: visit Sustainable Moments.
Monterey County Permits
Monterey County permits are required for filming on county roads, county buildings or in the unincorporated areas of Monterey County. Projects taking place within incorporated city limits, military areas or on private property do not require an additional permit through Monterey County.
Monterey County Sheriff’s Dept. contact:
Department of Public Works contacts:
- Phone: 831-647-7702
- Fax: 831-647-7891 or 831-647-7888
- Address: 1200 Aguajito Rd., Monterey, CA 93940
- Contact/Phone: Freda Escobar, 831-755-5689
- Contact/Phone: Julie Filice, 831-755-4932
- Contact/Phone: Chad Alinio, 831-755-4937
- Fax: 831-755-4958
- Address: 312 E. Alisal, Salinas, CA 93901
$100/permit payable to the Monterey County Sheriff’s Dept. plus $300/permit payable to Monterey County Public Works for any project filming on county roads. (Two separate checks need to be written to the above agencies)
$200+ for county-owned buildings. The Public Works Dept. requests permits be submitted with as much lead time as possible.
Clearance for film projects needs to be handled through the County Sheriff’s Office. If the lead time is short (5 days or less
), and the project involves filming on county roads, then the film company should simultaneously contact the Department of Public Works for confirmation.
Monterey County Parks:
Includes Lake San Antonio, Lake Nacimiento, Jacks Peak, Toro Park, San Lorenzo Park, Royal Oaks, and Manzanita.
Vary by park site from $250 to $1,500 per day; damage deposit may be required.
Application form available on Monterey County Parks website.
Individual City Permits
City of Carmel-by-the-Sea
$415 per permit.
Requiring two weeks ahead notice for film permits. Also projects involving some ITC and full street closures require a lengthy lead time (up to 30 days). Parking of production vehicles in downtown Carmel may need to be limited near production site due to parking constraints. “Off-season” (non-summer months and non-holiday weekends) is best time for filming in Carmel.
City of Marina
Depends upon use of city resources.
A written description of project details, dates times, story board, etc. Request is at least three (3) weeks in advance. Processing time is contingent upon film project. Road closures, pyrotechnics, special effects or temporary closure of facilities may require longer processing lead-time.
City of Monterey
$350 to $1,000 per day, depending on type and scope of project. Other fees may apply. Special fee arrangements can be made for multiple day filming.
Permit processing time contingent upon film project requirements. Road closures, pyrotechnics, special effects and other elements may require longer processing times.
Harbor Area Filming:
Monterey Harbormaster, John Haynes, 831-646-3950
City of Pacific Grove
Depends on city resources and location.
City of Salinas
Depends upon use of city resources.
Processing time is contingent upon film project. Road closures, pyrotechnics, special effects or temporary closure of facilities may require longer processing lead time.
The following cities have generally adopted the California Film Commission’s model permit process. Contact the City Manager’s Office at the following numbers:
Other Local Permits
California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB):
Elkhorn Slough Reserve
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Monterey Regional Airport
Various permit or licensing rates.
Moss Landing Harbor
$3,000 – $50,000 depending on property (i.e., hotel, golf course, 17-Mile Drive, etc.)
A written description of project details, dates, times, storyboard, etc. is requested at least three weeks in advance. Filming requests for weekends and summer months are difficult to grant due to high tourist season. Permit fees waived for most promotional/tourism projects. Some product categories restricted due to sponsorship fulfillments.
WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca
$6,000+ daily for exclusive track; $900+ daily for paddock area only. Weekend rates higher. Other fees apply.
Special rental permit form; $5-million minimum insurance; damage deposit; specific safety requirements.
Coastal Aerial Filming
The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) prohibit aerial flights under 1,000 feet from the mouth of the Carmel River south to Cambria, which encompasses the Big Sur coastline.
Aerial overflights are also prohibited over the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve and in the waters offshore of Moss Landing, due to the sensitivity of the marine and bird life in the area.
Special use permits may be obtained in some cases, however, by applying for permits allowing 30 days or more for both MBNMS & CDFW review and processing
. More permit information can be found on the MBNMS website.
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS)
Specific Flight Information:
California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW)
U.S. Bureau of Land Management (former Fort Ord)
California Coastal National Monument (CCNM)
Fort Ord National Monument (FONM)
U.S. Forest Service
For permits on U.S. Forest Service properties (i.e. Pfeiffer Beach, Sand Dollar Beach, Brazil Ranch, etc.
), follow the U.S. Forest Service website: www.fs.usda.gov/main/lpnf/passes-permits
. Then go the Event/Commercial Permits button; then to Southern California National Forests Film Request and proceed to the listing for Los Padres.
The Monterey Ranger District allows use of Pfeiffer Beach for films/photos between September 15 and March 15 during weekdays that are not holidays (filming not allowed between March 15 and September 15). Be aware that motorhomes are not allowed on the road accessing Pfeiffer Beach.
Due to the increased popularity of this site and the limited parking at the day use area, the Monterey Ranger District of the Los Padres National Forest and Concessionaire Parks Management will not issue commercial film permits nor wedding permits for Pfeiffer Beach between these dates.
To apply for a film permit, complete the film request document, a certificate of insurance, and endorsement well ahead as it could take 4 weeks to issue a film permit. Be as specific as possible (what, where, when, people and equipment, vehicles, parking, etc.)
in your request and include a good map to shorten the time it takes to evaluate and process the proposal.
Pinnacles National Park (U.S. National Park Service)
- Contact: Bea Lujan, West Visitors Center
- Phone: 831-389-4427, ext. 4485
Monterey County has several properties that are under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Military. These include the Presidio of Monterey, parts of Ft. Ord, Ft. Hunter Liggett, the Naval Postgraduate School and U.S. Coast Guard.
Any project depicting the military that takes place on location at one of Monterey County’s sites must be first cleared through the appropriate film liaison office in Los Angeles. The contacts are:
Projects not depicting the military, but using the site only as a location, may be handled through local contacts including:
Presidio of Monterey:
Ft. Hunter Liggett:
- U.S. Coast Guard: Operations Officer, 831-647-7312
- U.S. Army: All projects must first be cleared through the U.S. Army film liaison office for approval to shoot. On site contacts include:
- Contact: Amy Phillips, Public Affairs
- Phone: 831-386-2690
- Fax: 831-386-2606
- Contact: Public Affairs Office
- Phone: 805-238-8308
- Fax: 805-238-8306