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Navigating the Permits and Regulations: Filming in NYC for Video, Film, and TV

Filming in New York City (NYC) can be an exciting experience, but navigating the permits and regulations can quickly turn things sour. With so many rules and restrictions, it’s essential to have a plan before shooting in the city. The good news is that with proper preparation and knowledge, the process can be a breeze. In this blog post, we’ll go over the essential information you need to know when filming in NYC for video, film, or TV.

  1. Permits and Locations

Before filming in NYC, you need to obtain permits from various agencies, including the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, and the NYC Department of Transportation. We will give you a detailed breakdown of obtaining permits and the best locations for video, film, and TV.

1) The first step in securing a filming location is to determine the type of permit you will need. In most cases, you will need a commercial film permit, which gives you the rights to film in public locations. Do your research on the filming laws in the state or country you wish to shoot in, as laws will vary from one place to another. In the United States, for example, you may require a separate permit to film in national parks or government buildings.

2) Once you have determined the type of permit you need, it’s time to apply for it. Keep in mind that you will require a lead time of a few weeks to obtain your permit and to rectify any delays that may come up during the approval process. Some states and countries have an online application process, while some may require a physical application submission.

3) You cannot film at any location without obtaining permission from the property owner or authority. Reach out to the respective individuals or institutions to obtain permission to film on their property and negotiate a location fee if required. Ensure that you have written permission to film in the location before you go ahead with the filming process.

Depending on your filming location, you may require additional permits. For instance, filming inside a building or on private property may require written permission from the property owner.

  1. Restrictions

While filming in NYC, you must adhere to various restrictions. These include noise restrictions, parking restrictions, and building access restrictions.

Timing restrictions: In addition to requiring a permit, certain locations in NYC have time restrictions that you must follow. For example, you may be prohibited from filming during rush hour or on weekends to reduce gridlock and keep the streets safe. You need to be aware of the timing restrictions in the areas you plan to shoot in and plan accordingly.

Street closures: If you plan on filming on a public street, you will need to apply to have the street closed off during your shoot. Street closures come with additional fees and may require additional permits, so it’s important to plan for these costs and lead times in your production budget.

Noise restrictions: NYC has strict noise restrictions in place, particularly if you’re filming in residential areas. You need to make sure that any noise generated during your shoot does not exceed the legal decibel limit. If your shoot will involve loud noises such as explosions or gunfire, you’ll need to obtain permission from the city and give notice to the residents around the filming site.

In some cases, you may only be allowed to film during certain hours or on specific days. For instance, you may not be able to film during rush hour or in areas with heavy pedestrian traffic.

  1. Insurance

When filming in NYC, you must have insurance coverage for general liability and property damage. Let’s take a deep dive into the importance of insurance coverage when filming in NYC, what you need to know about it, and why it shouldn’t be overlooked.

General Liability Insurance: One of the most important types of insurance coverage is general liability insurance. This coverage protects you from accidental bodily injury or property damage claims that may arise during the course of filming. For example, if a passerby gets hurt during filming, you could be held responsible for their medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you have general liability insurance, it will cover these costs and any legal fees if a lawsuit is filed against you.

Property Damage Insurance: Another crucial coverage option when filming in NYC is property damage insurance. With so many different locations throughout NYC used for filming, it is essential to have coverage for any damage that may occur to the property during filming. For instance, if you accidentally damage a storefront window, a park bench, or any other property while filming, the property damage insurance policy will cover the costs of repairs or replacement.

Worker’s Compensation Insurance: Another type of insurance coverage to consider when filming in NYC is worker’s compensation insurance. This coverage is crucial if you have crew members and staff working on your production. It provides coverage for medical expenses and lost wages if a crew member is injured or gets ill during filming.

Obtaining proper insurance coverage is essential because you could be held liable for any accidents or incidents that occur during filming.

  1. Safety

Safety is of utmost importance when filming in NYC. You must ensure that your cast and crew are safe at all times.

One of the most significant safety concerns when filming in NYC is the busy, crowded streets. With pedestrians, cyclists, and cars constantly streaming through the city, it’s important to set up proper traffic and pedestrian control to keep everyone safe. Be sure to obtain proper permits and create a clear plan for traffic flow, blocking off streets to ensure the safety of your cast and crew.

Another common safety issue in NYC is crime. While the city has made great strides in reducing crime rates over the years, it’s still important to take precautions to protect your gear and your crew. Be sure to secure your equipment when not in use, and hire security personnel as needed to ensure the safety of your cast and crew.

Filming in tall buildings and on rooftops can also pose safety risks in NYC. Be sure to secure any equipment and ensure that all cast and crew members are properly trained and equipped with necessary safety gear, such as harnesses and helmets. Additionally, it’s important to work with reputable contractors who are experienced in rooftop filming, and obtain appropriate permits from the city.

Additionally, you must ensure that any equipment used does not pose a risk to the public. For instance, if you’re using drones, you must ensure that they’re operated by a licensed drone pilot and that they comply with FAA regulations.

  1. Resources

Luckily, the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment is there to help you navigate the complicated world of filming in NYC. They offer various resources to filmmakers, including a comprehensive filmmaking guide, online seminars, and a New York City Film Locations Database.

Marketing Incubator Program: The recipient of this program receives mentoring in marketing, advertising, digital technology, public relations, with even more outreach assistance and advertising for their series’ pilot. The standard selected independently by MOME has the capability to receive secondary funds of up to $50,000 for production or project expenses.

Post-Production Incentives: MOME provides fantastic incentives for businesses and individuals who are committed to doing their post-production in the City. The Post-Master Film and TV Incentive Program will give you a 30% tax credit for any net eligible post-production expense incurred in NYC. Additionally, the Post-Production Credit Program is available to contractors and subcontractors: 35% credit on qualified labor expenses for taxable years beginning from 2019 through 2024

Thankfully, Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment has various options in place to help individuals in the creative industry successfully navigate filming in the city that never sleeps. From their Production Assistants Program to the Post-Master Film and TV Incentive Program, MOME is committed to helping individuals achieve their goals and making it a smoother process for everyone in the industry. Using these resources can help ensure a smooth filming experience in the city.


Filming in NYC can be a rewarding experience, but it requires careful planning and knowledge of the regulations. Obtaining proper permits, following restrictions, and ensuring safety and insurance coverage are essential when filming in the city. By utilizing the resources provided by the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, you can make the process a seamless one. With the right preparation, filming in the city can be a fantastic adventure for all involved.

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