Step by step

Get a permit to film in San Francisco

You need a film permit to shoot a production for commercial or non-commercial use.

Applying for a permit is free. You pay per day that you are filming or parking. See permit use fees.

You need a permit when shooting:

  • Commercial productions, including digital media, advertisements, corporate videos, and PSAs
  • Entertainment, including feature films, independent films, TV episodes, short films, and web content
  • Student film productions
  • Still photography

You do not need a permit when:

  • Filming a breaking news story, if you have official press credentials
  • Taking photos of video for private use (family or personal travel)
  • Filming entirely on and within private property (no shots or production parking outside)
1

Choose locations

Check if the locations you want to film are within SF City boundaries. We cannot issue blanket permits to film the entire city.

Other agencies separately issue permits to film. You can look at photos of popular filming locations to help you scout locations and see the agencies that issue the permits for them. Contact Film SF to find out more info about which permits you will need.

We also have a list of B-roll locations with permit application location pages pre-filled. You can shoot on city sidewalks at such locations.

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and

See extra processes for highly involved shoots

You need to follow additional steps if your film shoot has certain circumstances.

If you plan to:

If you are shooting a student film, see tips for film students shooting in SF.

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2

Send proof of insurance

Send a certificate of insurance to film@sfgov.org.

See insurance requirements to film in SF.

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3

Reserve parking

Request parking with your application if you need it for production vehicles, picture vehicles, or to clear for picture.

We do not accept requests for personal vehicle parking for crew or cast.

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4

Plan outreach of the neighborhood if required

Time:

Approved notices must be distributed 72 hours before your shoot.

You must notify the neighbors if you want to do certain activities including:

  • Use 4 or more parking spots for 4 or more hours
  • Close lanes or streets
  • Film simulated violence or explosions
  • Film between 10 pm and 7 am
  • Drones
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5

Fill out and send in the permit application

Time:

At least 7 business days before your shoot.

Download the fillable film permit application. See instructions about how to fill it out.

If you have more than 3 locations, add them on Additional Location Pages.

If needed, include:

  • Parking requests
  • Pre-selected B-roll location pages
  • Filming notices 
  • Drone use request

Email the entire permit application to film@sfgov.org.

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Last updated November 1, 2022

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