Commercial Film Permits
Photos: Left: Filming 1954’s River of No Return. Right: Filming 2013’s The Right Kind of Wrong (courtesy of Magnolia Pictures)
With the exception of news media, any person, organization or company wishing to access public areas in the Town of Banff for the purposes of commercial photography, video, film and television—including documentaries—must obtain a film permit from the Town of Banff.
Film Permit Applications for shooting within the Banff townsite must be submitted at least seven days prior to the shoot or the permit will not be issued. Larger productions require 30 days advance application ahead of the shoot.
Film permits may NOT be issued by the Town of Banff on weekends in summer months (until September long weekend), nor for any other long weekend in the year, for productions involving vehicle, parking or pedestrian traffic disruptions.
A film permit application starts the process to review your proposal. Town of Banff staff will provide useful information about availability of locations, construction activity, special events or other activity that may prevent successful filming at certain locations.
You are encouraged to submit an application or contact our team well in advance of the shooting date to allow you to address all the requirements of shooting in Canada's first national park.
If the application is not complete - with all requirements - at seven days in advance of the shoot, a permit will not be provided.
Wedding Photography within the town site doesn’t require a commercial film permit, but wedding photographers do require a Town of Banff Business License in order to operate.
How do I know if I am filming within the Townsite?
Please refer to this map to see if you are filming within the townsite. Popular locations that are OUTSIDE the Town of Banff include the Sulphur Mountain Gondola, the Cascade Gardens, Tunnel Mountain, the Norquay Lookout and the Golf Course. These are located on Parks Canada managed areas outside the town site.
You will need a separate permit from Parks Canada for commercial filming in Banff National Park, outside the town boundary but inside Banff National Park.
How do I know if I intend to film on Public or Private land within the townsite?
Public land include streets, roads, sidewalks, parks, playgrounds, recreational areas, environmental reserves, parking lots and pathways within the town’s boundaries. Examples are Banff Avenue, Central Park, Surprise Corner, Bear Street, and the BANFF sign on Norquay Road. The exception is the Cascade of Time Gardens. This location is permitted by Parks Canada.
Private land would be inside a privately owned business (such as a shop on Banff Avenue) or land leased by a business (such as the Fairmont Banff Spring Hotel). Though you do not need a permit to film on private land, the town does require written permission from the business to be provided and adequate insurance.
What does the Permit require?
To be processed, every film permit requires the following:
a) Completed Application Form:
Permits cannot be processed if a COMPLETED application form is not submitted at least 7 days before shooting, for small projects, and 15 days for larger productions.
b) A detailed Film Itinerary (between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.)
We need to know where and when you intend to film. You need to be specific to allow Town staff to assess availability or conflicts with other activity. Good examples would be:
- September 13, filming at Surprise Corner, from 2 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. (one parking spot requires reservation)
- October 10, filming at the Muskrat Street Pedestrian Bridge, in the centre, couple walking, shooting north, at 11 - 11:30 a.m.
- January 25, filming on Bear Street, outside Three Bears restaurant, 5 -5:30 p.m. (zone in front closed to traffic with flaggers during shooting)
Submissions lacking specificity or with vague locations (such as Banff Avenue, or ’the bridge’) or with large blocks of time (10 a.m. to 10 p.m.) will not be processed or permitted.
Why does the location and time need to be so specific?
When we receive applications, we review all events planned on the same day, construction and maintenance planned by the Town, and street use permits approved for work that may interfere with your production and great shots of Banff.
Commercial filming requires an application fee and a permit fee for every day of shooting, or for any portion of a day. Fees are based on size of cast and crew and impact. The rates are set by Banff Town Council in Schedule N of the Fees & Charges Bylaw.
Payment is made in person at Banff Town Hall or by phone, after application has been submitted and applicant has been contact with required information and payment details.
Some Banff charitable organizations and small travel media are exempt from fees, as are owners and operators of public utilities. Film permit fees will be waived if rental fees have been paid for the public place being used for the shoot. A permit with valid insurance is still required.
The minimum insurance requirement is for $2 million in general liability. "The Town of Banff" and "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 additional insured parties in the submitted insurance certificate.
e) Additional information or permits may be required
Depending on the nature of shoot, some projects will require further information such as site maps, communication plans for notifying businesses/residents, signage to alert passers by about filming, and street use permits. Street use permits are required if a road or sidewalk or park are closed to public access for any length of time. A street use permit is also used to reserve parking spaces.
- Film Permit Application Form
- Applications for small-scale shoots must be submitted at least seven days prior to the shoot or the permit will not be issued.
- Applications for shoots that require road closures, traffic detours or parking removal, or that will involve more than 10 people, should be submitted eight weeks prior to the proposed date.
Airspace within the boundaries of the Town of Banff is restricted due to local heliports. Use of drones is a restricted activity in Banff National Park. Therefore, it is not permitted to fly drones inside the Town of Banff. You can see the no fly zone on this interactive map. Special arrangements with Transport Canada and Parks Canada may be made to fly drones within the national park. Contact these organization directly:
- Drones in Banff National Park
- Transport Canada
- Banff National Park Commercial Film and Photography Guidelines for the Mountain National Parks
Town of Banff film permits apply within the town boundaries only, find out if you are within the town boundaries. For filming outside the town but still inside the national park, you will need to obtain a permit from Parks Canada, email Banff Film for more information.
Depending on the nature of your shoot, you may need to be aware of some of the town’s bylaws. The most common bylaws related to filming activities are Street and Public Use.