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Commercial Filming

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has jurisdiction over the trunkline routes in Michigan, including permitting the temporary use of State highway Right-of-Way for the purpose of commercial filming. State Highway Right-of-Way includes roads designated as Interstate (I), United States (US), Michigan (M) Business routes (BR) and business loops (BL) as indicated on the state transportation map at:

Please contact the primary commercial filming contact, Scott Greene, at MDOT at 517-373-7682 with questions regarding obtaining a permit for commercial filming in the Right-of-Way. For MDOT to consider the permissibility of the filming location and coordinate as necessary, please contact our office as far in advance of beginning the permit application process as possible.

Principle Concerns of MDOT with Regard to Commercial Films

For the purposes of this activity, MDOT is responsible for ensuring the following concerns are adequately addressed: 

  • Safety for the traveling public
  • Safety for the permit holders and all activity participants
  • Free flowing traffic operations
  • Limited route detours
  • Protection of the roadway, all facilities, and appurtenances
  • Precautions, staging, timing, and signage

There are certain situations which, with respect to MDOT’s interests, shall require a permit for the utilization of the trunkline and other situations which, by their scope, only require consideration of the Michigan Vehicle Code rather than the permit process. The evaluation of a particular request to utilize State highway Right-of-Way shall be predicated upon the type of operation proposed. 

Examples of Permit Requests

Permits for commercial filming in the Right-of-Way may be issued in, but are not limited to, the following situations: 

  • A side-of-road operation that is located entirely off the road and road shoulder
  • A moving operation that moves in the same direction as the traffic flow
  • A complete lane(s) closure operation
  • A complete route closure operation
  • An MDOT owned facility operation rest area, weigh station, bridge, pump house, etc. 

Unusual Circumstances

Under unusual circumstances, where a potential exists for damage to the State highway facility, a bond (see Surety) shall be required to assure restoration of the highway facility as a consequence of the film maker's actions.

Within these parameters, the following requirements shall be necessary: 

  • Contact MDOT’s Region/TSC office, where the filming operation may take place well in advance of any anticipated operations to determine specific permit requirements and other recommendations which may affect trunkline operations.
  • When a permit is required, the appropriate fee shall be paid and all conditions met prior to its issuance.

Lane and Route Closures 

When required: 

  • Only the local governmental agency may request a route closure permit from MDOT through MDOT Permit Gateway (MPG) and the Construction Permit System.
  • The filming company is responsible for coordinating with the appropriate local governmental agency where the route closure is proposed.
  • No permit fee is required for a route closure permit occurring entirely within a local governmental agency’s jurisdictional boundary.
  • A permit fee of $90 is required whenever the proposed route closure extends outside a local governmental agency’s jurisdictional boundary.


Surety is required whenever the risk of damage to a State highway roadway or facility is identified. A performance bond is the surety instrument normally required to assure restoration of the highway roadway or facility. The amount of the performance bond is based on the estimated amount of money required to restore the State highway Right-of-Way to a condition acceptable to MDOT.   

Permit Process

In order to obtain an individual permit prior to the time of the proposed activity, the permit application should be submitted to MDOT six (6) weeks prior to the activity and should include the following required documentation, as applicable: 

  • MDOT route designation
  • Starting and ending street names
  • Description of the activity
  • Time and date of the activity
  • Aerial photograph showing the entire filming location
  • Plans
  • Route closure rationale
  • Proposed detour route
  • Traffic control details
  • Proposed safety measures
  • Protection measures for the roadway, MDOT-owned facilities and appurtenances
  • Precautions, staging, timing
  • Special effects
  • Crowd control measures
  • Traffic enforcement measures
  • Primary Contact

Note:  MDOT does not provide crowd control or traffic enforcement. These functions are to be coordinated through the applicable local governmental agency.

For additional information on accessing and obtaining a construction permit, please see the MDOT Permit Gateway.

Advance Notice

In addition to receiving a permit, advance notice of activity shall be submitted to MDOT five (5) to twenty-one (21) days prior to the permitted activity in the Construction Permit System through MDOT Permit Gateway. 

Permit Applications

For more information or questions regarding obtaining permits for commercial filming in the Right-of-Way, please contact the applicable TSC in your area found.

For additional information on filming in Michigan, please visit the Michigan Film and Digital Media Office.