Permits & Procedures

Permits: Processes and Requirements

Although comparatively, few permits are necessary for filming in New Mexico, permits are required for production on federal, state-owned and tribal properties and lands. Permits are also often required for production on city properties, especially historical sites and public streets, as well as for special use of county roads and state highways.

What to do when you find the location:

  1. Establish the ownership of the location of interest and be sure to confirm this directly with the owner/division.  Ask if there is more than one entity involved in the ownership and if there is a managing entity – this could mean more than one permit is needed. Who to initially call varies, but for land and buildings consider starting with the County Assessor’s Office, the City Film Office or Film Liaison closest to the property and the State Film Office to find out who owns (or doesn’t own) the location.
  2. The earlier you contact the owner the better.  For instances, Federal Government agencies* may tell you it could take up to 45 to 60 days to process an application.
  3. Don’t assume that the person you contact understands the film process regardless if they seem in agreement. For instance, be sure to explain whether you are inquiring or are requesting to actually use the location and that multiple tech scouts may need to occur before the decisions are made whether the location is needed and to what extent.
  4. Anticipate and establish all the possibilities of use for that location to include in the inquiry and potentially the permit application.  Consider including more details in the application than you will probably need.  For instance, if you believe the production is not sure if 5 or 50 horses will in the scene, be prepared to request that the permit approval includes 50 horses and any additional conditions to allow that.
  5. Cultural, ecological, and public impacts to a location may require a determination per the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA).
  6. Depending upon the request, a determination must be made on of the type of permit(s)/licensure(s) and a (reasonable) price must be negotiated.
  7. Ultimately, do you know the time frame for receiving the permits and do you know what would be required if the permit needs an amendment?
  8. Make sure to establish a location release and process with the owner ahead of time.

*Companies considering shooting on federal property must connect with the proper federal contact immediately.  Be aware that security clearances for all cast and crew entering the property must be processed with Homeland Security, and expect a lead time of three to four weeks for final approval.