Film & Photo Permit

Are permits required for motion picture and still photography filming on public property?
Permitting: A completed Film Permit application packet is required for all educational, non-profit and commercial still photography and/or motion picture filming for commercial purposes. Commercial filming and photography on City streets, parks, and neighborhoods is coordinated through the City of Mountain View City Manager’s Office. The City Manager’s Office will make referrals to departments and other jurisdictions in order to arrange orderly motion picture and still photography filming in compliance with the law. Permits will be issued by the City of Mountain View City Manager’s Office and/or prior designee. Additional applications, permits, and/or fees may be required depending on the determined logistical demands required for filming.
Is drone photography and video permitted in Mountain View for business or commercial purposes?

Drones for Business/Commercial purposes - photography / filming

  • Covers Unmanned Aircraft Systems under 55 pounds.
  • Requires approval from FAA.
  • Requires $5 million insurance coverage.
  • Requires sAUS Pilot Certificate.

An experimental airworthiness certificate or a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) may be obtained from the FAA. If we should allow drone activity once we have seen the FAA approval, we will require $5 million insurance coverage. Proof of BOTH of these requirements is necessary before being considered for City permitting to fly any Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) under 55 pounds.

All Pilots in Command (PIC) must hold a Commercial small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) Pilot Certificate.

If you are a media company, you may use a drone (UAS,) but must adhere to the requirements of the FAA’s Section 333 grant of exemption or the Small UAS Rule (Part 107). Organizations may request a waiver under Part 107 to fly over people, and will need to provide sufficient mitigations to ensure public safety. Operators certified via FAA Part 107 need to research the Section 333 regulations, which will assist them in clearing the way for their needs all of which is outlined on

Mountain View also has guidance on FAA regulations that state that you cannot fly a drone within a five-mile radius of an airport, which includes areas such as Moffett Field, without first contacting/notifying any and all nearby control towers.

When must the completed Film Permit application be received by the City Manager’s Office?
Completed applications for all filming permits must be received ten (10) business days before production commences. Applications received less than ten (10) business days before production commences may be denied.
What constitutes a completed application packet? What items are included in the packet?

Completed packets include:

  1. Film Permitting Application
  2. Hold Harmless Voluntary Assumption of Risk, Release of Liability and Indemnification Agreement
  3. General Liability Insurance ($1,000,000 minimum),
  4. Automobile Liability Insurance ($1,000,000 minimum)
  5. Additional Insured Endorsement
  6. Worker Compensation Insurance (As applicable)
  7. Talent Photograph Release Form

Other forms and/or fees as required

What are the Use Agreement Fees?
As of July 1, 2014, the City of Mountain requires a Use Agreement Fee for each day of photography and filming in the City. Educational groups, non-profits, and low-impact photographic uses are exempt from the fee. The fees help cover the associated impacts on City property and the Public Right of Way from photography and film crews, projects, and productions.
What is the difference between high-impact photography, which requires a Use Agreement fee be paid, and low-impact photography, which is exempt from the fee?
High-impact Photography:

High-impact photography is generally associated with professional shoots that significantly impact City-owned property or the Public Right-of-Way, either by utilizing a large area of City-property, negatively impacting the property, or requiring additional permits or fees (such as: traffic control, parking requests, facilities rentals, or street closures) prior to use. Typically, these shoots include a crew with a photographer(s), assistants and talent.

Weddings, and wedding parties, are considered high-impact photography and, under most circumstances, require a Use Agreement fee be paid. Please contact the City Manager’s Office to learn more about whether a particular shoot is subject to the fee.

Low-impact Photography:

Low-impact photography is generally associated with smaller shoots that do not significantly impact City-owned property or the Public Right-of-Way. Examples of low-impact photography include: photography that does not require additional permits, small group shoots with limited subjects and crew (ex: one photographer, 1-5 subjects) like an engagement or immediate family photography session, and shoots with little to no impact on property.

Please note that low-impact photography requires a Photography and Film Permit be completed and submitted to the City Manager’s Office following all required criteria and forms as requested.

What liability or other insurance is required?
Insurance: The City of Mountain View requires a minimum of One Million Dollars of General Liability, Auto Liability, and Workers Compensation coverage while filming. Both the original certificate of insurance and additional insured endorsements naming as additionally insured “The City of Mountain View, its officers, agents and employees”, 500 Castro Street, Mountain View, Ca. 94041, must be received by the City Manager’s Office before a Filming Permit can be issued. Limits of liability shall be established by the Risk Manager, depending upon the nature of the filming.
What other applications, permits or fees might be needed?
Restrictions: Filming that requires access to the Public Right of Way (PROW), sidewalk and/or street and/or sidewalk/street closure must be approved. A Traffic Control Plan, Community Service applications, Facility/Rentals Fees, and Temporary Use Permit may be required (see example provided), as well as additional permitting and/or fees.
Are there other restrictions for motion picture and still photography filming?
General Restrictions: The production company shall not interfere with the normal activities of a neighborhood. Filming crews and equipment should not interfere with street sweeping or refuse collection. Do not block public right of ways, driveways, homes and/or storefronts not involved with the shoot.

Special Events Requiring Police Department Assistance:

  1. Residential areas can be used for filming only between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. Night shooting between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. is restricted without the prior joint written approval of the City Manager’s Office and the Mountain View Police Department, pending receipt of film permit application.
  2. Familiarize the production crew with the neighborhood and surrounding areas. Be mindful of community buildings, schools, senior centers, churches, and funeral homes.
Natural Habitat Restrictions:

Access to sensitive habitat, particularly areas in and around Shoreline Regional Park, is restricted. Please be sure to stay on designated paths and trails when photographing in and around sensitive wildlife and habitat.

Use of City logos and markers are not allowed.

City Logos: No City insignia, uniform, vehicle, equipment, personnel identified or identifiable as such may be used or filmed without the written consent of the City. The issuance of a film permit does not constitute such consent.

Is film content required?
Film Content: Companies may be requested to provide the City with copies of shooting scripts and location schedules, so that potential traffic and parking problems can be anticipated and avoided.

Indecent Exposure or Obscene Content: Please note that when photographing or filming on City-owned property or the Public Right-of-Way, content should be deemed as viewable in a favorable manner and appropriate for all ages.
I would like to have my shoot catered. What requirements must I follow?

Food Service: Catering truck parking and food service shall occur on private property. Craft service tables may not be set up in the public right-of-way or sidewalks. If food is prepared on site, all temporary food facilities must comply with applicable requirements of the California Uniform Retail Food Facilities Law. If food is catered, the provider must have a valid health permit and measures taken to ensure that the food served is pure, free from contamination, adulteration and spoilage.

What are the garbage disposal requirements?

Littering & Refuse: No littering is permitted and all garbage must be cleaned up completely when leaving the location.

What are the electrical requirements?

Electrical/Generator Restrictions:

  1. Companies must provide all electrical power as needed.
  2. No gas generators are allowed.
Other Restrictions

Other restrictions and provisions may apply, including additional applicable County of Santa Clara permits and approvals.