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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Cultural, ecological, and public impacts to a location may require a determination per the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA).
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
Although comparatively few permits are necessary for filming in New Mexico, permits are required for production on federal, state, and tribal lands. In other words, if the land is not privately owned, find out what permits are needed! Permits will most likely be required for production on city properties, sensitive areas such as historical sites, and on public streets including county roads and state highways. An environmental consultant and/or archaeologist may be required for parks. For more complete information regarding permitting, please contact the land-owner. Feel free to also contact the the New Mexico Film Office for additional direction, 505-476-5600.
The standard insurance requirement for shooting in New Mexico is a $1,050,000 comprehensive general liability insurance policy, (which is the limit of the New Mexico Tort Claims Act). It is required by all public permitting agencies. It must be issued in the form of an original certificate, covering the entire period of the shoot, naming the permit issuing agency and its employees as additionally insured. Additional coverage may be required for hazardous work such as highway stunts.
Temporary Food Service Permits
Any food service operation not licensed by the State of New Mexico must apply for a Temporary Food Service Permit from the New Mexico Environment Department. For more information call the Field Operations Division, 505-827-1840.
American Humane Association
If you are using animals in your project, contact the American Humane Association.
Film and Television Unit
11530 Ventura Blvd. Studio City, CA 91604
818-501-0123, Fax: 818-501-8725
Fire & Explosives Regulations/Contacts
LP Gas Chief Inspector
Special Effects Manager
(505) 286-4616 office
(505) 795-1632 cell
LP Gas Bureau
5200 Oakland Ave. NE
Albuquerque, NM 87113-2389
(505) 222-9808 office
Bernalillo County Fire Department
Permit & Special Event Application and Guidelines
Lt. Chris Gober, Film Liaison/Deputy Fire Marshal
(505) 314-0130; (505) 263-4635 Cell; email@example.com
General Office: (505) 761-4225
Santa Fe County Marshall
Buster Patty (505) 992-3075
State Fire Marshall
Don Shainin (505) 476-0173 or (505) 470-1227
Any out-of-state production vehicle more than 12,000 pounds gross vehicle weight requires a prepaid permit from the Motor Vehicle Division. The permit covers the highway use tax. Vehicles over 26,000 pounds will also be subject to a fuel tax calculated by the mile. Permits and fees can be paid in advance to the Motor Vehicle Division, Vehicle Services Bureau at 505-827-1005. Permits may also be obtained at the Ports of Entry, though this method may cause some delays. The Ports of Entry locations and numbers are listed below.
Ports of Entry
Nara Visa 575-633-2929
San Juan 575-576-2461
State Highway Permits
The New Mexico Highway & Transportation Department allows filming, with permission, on its State highways and, in some cases, the Interstate system. Before any filming begins on or next to the highway, the appropriate right-of-way district highway office must be contacted in advance for the required permit. There is no fee for shooting on a State highway. Liability insurance is required in the amount of at least $1 million. Additional coverage may be required for hazardous work such as highway stunts. Depending on the complexity of the shoot, intermittent traffic control may be required for the safety of the public and crew. The Highway Department permit requires either State Police officers or the appropriate County Sheriff officers for traffic control. For more information, contact the Department of Transportation.
State Highway Districts Map
District 1, Deming: 575-544-6621
District 2, Roswell: 575-637-7201
District 3, Albuquerque: 505-841-2700
District 4, Las Vegas: 505-454-3600
District 5, Santa Fe: 505-827-9500
District 6, Milan: 505-285-3200
The following is needed to approve a request:– Complete the required form.– Obtain liability insurance covering the event in the policy amount of at least $1,000,000 per occurrence with the New Mexico State Highway and Transportation Department named as additional insured.
– The Notice of Intent to conduct a special event requires you to develop and submit a traffic control plan. For very small groups, the typical traffic control is a warning vehicle with flashing yellow lights and a warning sign driven on the shoulder (not in the driving lane) to follow the group and alert motorists of the special event before they encounter it. For a very large group (over 10 and especially for groups of more than 50), contact the Highway Dept. to arrange for the proper traffic control.
- Number of persons in your group?
- What type of traffic control is proposed for the event?
- What is the exact proposed route? If city streets are to be used, you will need to work with the respective city for approval. You may need different types of traffic control for urban areas vs. rural areas.
- It will be your responsibility to notify the local law enforcement entity in the respective area(s).
The Department wants to work with you to minimize delays to the motoring public and to establish a safe event for both participants and motorists. Once you have determined how many participants you will be proposing for this event and have touched base with an insurance company to discuss your plans and associated costs for liability insurance, please contact our office to further discuss the details of this event.
City and County Roads
Shooting is normally allowed on city and county roads. Permission must be requested in advance from the appropriate municipal or county government. For referral to the city and county officials, contact the applicable local government for permits and permissions.
Traffic Control & Public Safety
Intermittent traffic control (I.T.C.) must be coordinated with the relevant police or sheriff’s office having jurisdiction. A written proposal outlining traffic control needs and a two-week lead time are requested. New Mexico State Police share jurisdiction with the respective county sheriffs. If a production company is planning to use interstate or State highways, a State highway permit is also required for traffic control.If you plan to use New Mexico State Police officers, a memorandum of agreement is required, and a two-week lead time is requested to schedule officers. For more information, contact the State Police at ,,,,,,or the State Police Legal Department, 505-827-9036.
New Mexico Department of Public Safety
For traffic or crowd control purposes, New Mexico State Police officers may be utilized. A memo of agreement is required. A two-week lead time is requested in order to schedule officers. The New Mexico Film Office will help direct you to the appropriate officials, 505-476-5600.
New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division
Any production vehicle over 12,000 pounds gross vehicle weight requires a temporary permit from the Motor Vehicle Division. Vehicles will be subject to a highway use tax. To avoid unwanted delays at the port of entry stations, it is recommended that the Division be contacted by phone as soon as possible.Norman Purdy
New Mexico Commercial Vehicle Division
2544 Camino Edward Ortiz
Santa Fe, NM 87505
(505) 476-1552; 476-1570 Fax or 476-1571
New Mexico Child Labor Guidelines
Children in New Mexico may be employed by production companies under special guidelines. It is the responsibility of the employer to obtain a child performer pre-authorization certificate before employment begins. The employer must be able to provide a copy at the work site when requested to do so.
For questions please contact Linda M. Coronado-Arvizo: Direct: 505-841-4406; Cell: 505-589-8242 or Linda.Coronado-Arvi@state.nm.us at the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions.
Income Tax Withholding
Every resident and non-resident employer doing business for more than 15 days in New Mexico is required to withhold New Mexico income tax from wages paid to an employee for services rendered in the state. This tax is withheld as the wages are paid. For more information, contact the Taxation & Revenue Department, 505-827-0700.
Employers liable under the Federal Unemployment Tax Act are also liable for New Mexico Unemployment Tax when hiring New Mexico employees. Out-of-state employers bringing workers to New Mexico for a temporary job are subject to the reporting requirements of their base state. For more information go to www.dol.state.nm.us.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance is required in New Mexico. All employers, with limited exceptions, are required to cover all of their employees, including full-time, part-time, seasonal or occasional employees. For more information contact the Workers’ Compensation Administration, 505-841-6074.
Film Union and Guilds
New Mexico is an “employment at will” state. NM law respects a valid written agreement requiring membership in a labor organization as a condition of employment. Generally in the United States “union shop” provisions requiring membership in a union after 30 days’ employment are common. These provisions are authorized under the National Labor Relations Act so long as a company operates in a state that does not have a right-to-work law. New Mexico does not have a right-to-work law. Cooperative relationships between labor and management have preserved New Mexico’s reputation both as a labor-peace state as well as a “right to negotiate” state. Visit our Professional Organizations web page for contact information.
Land Use Permits
U.S. Forest Service
The U.S. Forest Service manages 9 million acres of forest lands on seven national forests in New Mexico. The forest Service philosophy is to make location sites on national forests available for commercial photography, motion picture and television locations where such uses do not seriously impact forest resources or other uses or unreasonably interfere with national forest management. Permits are granted by the local Forest Ranger District Office. The permit process includes an application, the standard liability insurance coverage and a summary of the shoot. A two-week review period is requested. Permit fees are determined by a sliding scale depending on the number of people involved in the shoot and range from $50.00 to $600.00 per day. Forest fire restrictions may apply.
For more information about permits click here.
National Parks & Monuments
The National Park administers three national historical parks and ten national monuments in New Mexico. It is the policy of the National Park Service to encourage production to the fullest extent possible consistent with the protection of the park resources and ensuring the enjoyment of those resources by the visiting public. National Park Service Commercial Filming permits are issued by each individual Park Superintendent. A two-week application reviewing period is requested. The application process entails a $100.00 non-refundable application fee, a possible performance bond (depending on the extent of the shoot), and a minimum $100.00 per day location fee. Other costs may include the payment of Park Rangers to monitor production.
* 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.
For more information you may call the New Mexico Film Office or contact the Park Superintendent at the following locations:
Nation Parks and Monuments Office’s
Aztec Ruins National Monument
(Aztec): (505) 334-6174
Bandelier National Monument
(Los Alamos): (505) 672-3861
Capulin Volcano National Monument
(Capulin): (575) 278-2201
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
(Carlsbad): (575) 785-2232
Chaco Culture National Historical Park
(Nageezi): (505) 786-7014
El Malpais National Monument
(Grants): (505) 285-5406
El Morro National Monument
(Ramah): (505) 783-4226Fort Union National Monument
(Watrous): (505) 425-8025
Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument
(Silver City): (575) 536-9461
Pecos National Historical Park
(Pecos): (505) 757-6414
Petroglyph National Monument
(Albuquerque): (505) 899-0205
Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument
(Mountainair): (505) 847-2585
White Sands National Monument
(Alamogordo): (575) 479-6124 ext. 231
general permit questions
For general permit questions, contact Contracted Locations Coordinator, Don Gray or call 505-476-5603.