How to apply for a Long-distance Permit #
Research where and when you want to go. Make sure that your trip is feasible. The PCT is covered in snow for much of the year and if you’re aiming to hike, rather than ski or mountaineer, you’ll want to wait for the snow to melt.
Permit requests are reviewed and issued on a first-come, first-served basis. Use the buttons below to register. When registering, you’ll be prompted to confirm your phone number and email address, then enter your remaining contact information and date of birth. Registration is done only once per permit-year. Each year’s long-distance permit process is entirely separate. Even if you have registered in the past, you must register again if you would like to apply for a new permit.
Once you’ve registered, log into your management portal and apply for a permit for your trip. You’ll need to know your start and end locations and dates. If there is a limit on the number of permits available per day at your start location, you’ll see a calendar showing the number of permits already taken for each day. You’ll only be able to select a day that has space available.
If the trip you’re planning starts at a trailhead with a quota, there are usually more people who want those permits than there are permits available. You should plan to apply when they are first released.
Registering multiple times in one permit season is strictly not allowed and will result in the cancellation of all your requests.
Permit Release Days for 2024 #
To apply on a Permit Release Day, you’ll need to register ahead of time.
Northbound trips starting in the spring, including northbound thru-hikes:
A limited number of permits are available for this kind of trip. Permits for trips starting south of Sonora Pass between March 1 and May 31 are released in two phases:
- On November 14 at 10:30 AM Pacific Time, 35 permits per day will become available.
- On January 10, 2024, at 10:30 AM Pacific Time, the remaining 15 permits per day will become available.
All other trips, including southbound thru-hikes:
A limited number of permits are available for some of these trips, such as those starting at or near the Canadian border.
- On January 10, 2024, at 10:30 AM Pacific Time, all of these permits will become available.
How Permit Release Days work #
If you’re hoping to go through the queue and apply for a permit on the day of the first release, November 14, you need to register any time between October 24 at 10:30 AM Pacific Time and November 3 at 5:00 PM Pacific Time, using the buttons above. You won’t be able to apply on November 14 unless you register ahead of time.
Likewise, if you’re hoping to apply on the day of the second release, January 10, you’ll need to register before December 21 at 5:00 PM Pacific Time.
The afternoon before the permit release each person will be assigned their own personal, randomized, time to apply. You can log in and apply at the time that is assigned to you. We will email your application time to you, and you’ll also see it displayed in your Permit Management Portal. People will be distributed time slots between 10:30 AM and 3:00 PM Pacific Time. If you see that you got a late time slot, be prepared for the possibility that there won’t be any permits left by the time it’s your turn.
Assigned times are firm – we will not change your time even if you ask very nicely. If you’re not planning to apply on Permit Release Day, feel free to ignore your scheduled time.
How to link with a partner to apply together #
If you’re planning on applying on Permit Release Day, you can link yourself with a partner in your management portal so that one person submits applications for both of you at the same time. This will ensure that you get the same itinerary. The partner linking feature is not relevant or necessary if you’re applying at other times.
- Both people should register and then log in. Decide who will be responsible for applying for both of you. That person should tell their travel partner the code shown in the portal. The partner will enter that code to create the connection.
- You need to do this at least 24 hours before the permit release. It will not be possible to link your permit on that day.
- Once you are linked, you will be able to see your partner’s name in your management portal.
- The day before permit release, only the person responsible for applying will receive an appointment time. Once it’s their time, they will only be able to pick dates that have at least 2 spaces available. When they select an itinerary and submit an application, permit applications will be created for both people for that same itinerary.
- Once you’ve applied, your permit applications are separate. Making changes to one does not affect the other. Linking together only affects the application process, not later changes or cancellations.
Linking with someone after applying does not add them to your existing application. Linking only affects submitting a new application.
If you’ve already applied and someone wants to join you, they’ll need to get a permit on their own.
Starting a trip at the Northern Terminus #
Because of U.S. Customs and Border Protection regulations, no permits will be issued originating in Manning Provincial Park, BC, Canada. If you wish to start at the Northern Terminus, you will be issued a permit for the US/Canada border. You’ll need to start in the United States and hike north to the Northern Terminus, which is on the US/Canada border.
Most people who start a trip at the Northern Terminus begin at Hart’s Pass and go north to the Canadian border before turning around and heading south. If that’s your plan, you should select “Canadian border” as your start location but your start date should be the date that you start your travel north from Hart’s Pass.
Applying after Permit Release Days #
If the trip you’re planning starts at a trailhead without a quota, historically we won’t run out of those on the first day they’re available. You can apply any time after they are released. There’s no need for you to deal with the appointment time system that’s in place on Permit Release Days, and if you’re hiking with a partner there’s no need to link together. Just register and then select your itinerary and submit your application.
Information for people under 18 #
Will you be under 18 at the start of your trip? If you’re going to be hiking with your parents, they can add you to their permit. You won’t need your own permit if you stay with them.
If you’re not traveling with your parents, you’ll need your own permit and you’ll need to send us a written and signed letter of consent from a parent or legal guardian. The letter must state the dates and location of your trip, so you’ll send it after applying for your permit. You must carry this letter at all times while you’re on the PCT. Permit applications for unaccompanied minors under 16 years old will be reviewed by the Forest Service.
Individuals under the age of 13 must have their parents or guardian fill out their application. If you’re under 13, do not provide personal information to us through our website.
Applying for a “flip-flop” permit with multiple parts #
We can issue flip-flop permits as long as each part of the trip is something that qualifies for a long-distance permit: over 500 miles and starting at a valid trailhead. Only the first part can start somewhere with a per-day limit. Flip-flop permits that overlap the John Muir Trail count against the limit of 1,400 section permits we can issue for that area. We have more information about flip-flops here.
To apply for this kind of trip, submit an application for one part of your trip and then contact us so we can add on the other part or parts.
Once a permit has been issued three weeks before the start date, it cannot be changed to a flip-flop. If you’d like to plan a flip-flop, reach out soon after applying.