National Marine Sanctuary Permits

photo of Ocean, cliffs, rocks and sky

A permit is required when an individual wishes to conduct an activity within a sanctuary that is otherwise prohibited.  Refer to our Frequently Asked Questions to help determine if a permit is required for your proposed activity. Guidance on how to apply for a sanctuary permit can be found on this page. 

How to Apply

For most proposed activities, an ONMS permit application must be completed.  Instructions, application forms, and related information can be found here:

Where to Apply

Submit completed applications to the office for the sanctuary in which you plan to conduct the activity. Contact information for all sites is provided here:

Special Situations

Applications for certain activities require specific information, an expanded or streamlined application, and/or have additional guidance that applies.  Refer to the guidance below prior to applying for a permit for any of the following activities:

National Marine Sanctuary Activity
Channel Islands
Monterey Bay
Greater Farallones
Olympic Coast
Overflight of aircraft in NOAA Regulated Overflight Zones
Florida KeysBaitfishing
Florida KeysActivities involving historical resources, including cultural, maritime heritage, and archeological resources

Special Use Permits

The following activities may be eligible for special use permits:

  1. The placement and recovery of objects associated with public or private events on non-living substrate of the submerged lands of any national marine sanctuary.
  2. The placement and recovery of objects related to commercial filming.
  3. The continued presence of commercial submarine cables on or within the submerged lands of any national marine sanctuary.
  4. The disposal of cremated human remains within or into any national marine sanctuary.
  5. Recreational diving near the USS Monitor.
  6. Fireworks displays.
  7. The operation of aircraft below the minimum altitude in restricted zones of national marine sanctuaries.
  8. The continued presence of a pipeline transporting seawater to or from a desalination facility (applies only to Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary).

Special use permits have requirements that differ significantly from general permits. Read more about special use permits here.

Sanctuary Prohibitions

Activities prohibited in sanctuaries can be found in program regulations at 15 CFR Part 922. If your proposed activity includes any prohibited action, a permit is likely required.


Privacy Act Statement

Authority:  The collection of this information is authorized under the he Marine Mammal Protection Act, 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.; the Fur Seal Act, 16 U.S.C. 1151 et seq.; and the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.

 Purpose: In order to manage National Marine Sanctuaries resources,  the National Ocean Service (NOS) requires the use of permits by participants in the United States. Information on NOS permit application  includes vessel owner contact information and vessel descriptive information.  

Routine Uses:  The Department will use this information to determine permit eligibility.Disclosure of this information is permitted under the Privacy Act of 1974 (5 U.S.C. Section 552a), to be shared within the Office of the National Marine Sanctuaries, in order to coordinate monitoring and management of National Marine Sanctuaries.  Disclosure of this information is also subject to all of the published routine uses as identified in the Privacy Act System of Records Notice COMMERCE/NOAA-12, Marine Mammals, Endangered and Threatened Species, Permits and Authorizations Applicants.

 Disclosure:  Furnishing this information is voluntary; however, failure to provide complete and accurate information will prevent the determination of eligibility for a permit.