Regulatory Permits

The Regulatory Program is committed to protecting the Nation's aquatic resources, while allowing reasonable development through fair, flexible and balanced permit decisions. The Corps evaluates permit applications for essentially all construction activities that occur in the Nation's waters, including wetlands. Corps permits are also necessary for any work, including construction and dredging, in the Nation's navigable waters. The Corps balances the reasonably foreseeable benefits and detriments of proposed projects, and makes permit decisions that recognize the essential values of the Nation's aquatic ecosystems to the general public, as well as the property rights of private citizens who want to use their land. During the permit process, the Corps considers the views of other Federal, state and local agencies, interest groups, and the general public. The results of this careful public interest review are fair and equitable decisions that allow reasonable use of private property, infrastructure development, and growth of the economy, while offsetting the authorized impacts to the waters of the US. The adverse impacts to the aquatic environment are offset by mitigation requirements, which may include restoring, enhancing, creating and preserving aquatic functions and values. The Corps strives to make its permit decisions in a timely manner that minimizes impacts to the regulated public.

There are three basic types of permits: 

  • Standard Permits are a type of individual permit issued for projects that are likely to have more than a minimal individual or cumulative impact on aquatic resources and require a 30-day Public Notice period and review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). 

  • General permits are a type of permit issued on a Regional or Nationwide basis for a category or categories of activities when: (1) those activities are substantially similar in nature and cause only minimal individual and cumulative environmental impacts; or (2) the general permit would result in avoiding unnecessary duplication of the regulatory control exercised by another Federal, state, or local agency provided it has been determined that the environmental consequences of the action are individually and cumulatively minor. 

  • Letters of Permission are a type of individual permit issued through an abbreviated processing procedure which includes coordination with Federal and state fish and wildlife agencies, and a public interest evaluation, but without the publishing of an individual public notice.

How to Apply for a Permit

Collapse All Expand All
 Application Information Needed

An applicant must provide several types of information to enable the Corps to evaluate the proposed project. This includes a completed application form, legible drawings, and clear illustrations. For your convenience, you can download and complete the application form on-line, sign it, and e-mail it to To help you, we have compiled an application instruction sheet and a permit application checklist that identify and explain the type of information needed for processing an application. Here is a sample of a completed application form Sample Streambank application

Please save the application form to your desktop, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to open the form.


Three types of illustrations are needed to properly depict the work to be undertaken. These illustrations or drawings are identified as a Vicinity Map, a Plan View or a Typical Cross-Section Map. See our recently published Map and Drawing Standards for the South Pacific Division Regulatory Program for details.

For projects that may fit under our Nationwide Permit Program, we have a Nationwide Pre-Construction Notification form

For more information about nationwide permits, click here.

If you have questions regarding the preparation of an application after reading this material, please contact our general information line at (415) 503-6795 or e-mail

 Endangered Species Information

Your proposed activity might affect Federally-listed threatened or endangered species. Please check with our staff or a biological consulting firm to determine whether there might be an effect on listed species when you submit your application. The Corps must consult with the appropriate Federal agencies if your activity might affect listed species. In order for the Corps to initiate consultation, we request the following information to help expedite the consultation process.  Click here for more guidance on determining when a proposed Nationwide Permit (NWP) activity is required to submit a pre-construction notification in order to comply with NWP General Condition 18.

 Heritage Resources Information

Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended (NHPA), requires Federal agencies to take into account the effects of their undertakings on Historic Properties and afford the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation a reasonable opportunity to comment on such undertakings. Therefore, prior to the issuance or authorization of any permit under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act, or Section 103 of the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) must consider the effect the permit may have on Historic Properties. Historic Properties may include prehistoric or historic districts, sites, buildings, structures, objects, sacred sites, and traditional cultural places that are included in, or eligible for inclusion in, the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).

For projects that may result in impacts to cultural resources listed on, or eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), we must consult with the SHPO or THPO, as appropriate. As a part of the cultural resources investigation, we may also need to consult with Federally recognized Indian Tribes, in accordance with Executive Order 13175.

In order to assist us in ensuring compliance with Section 106 of the NHPA, the Corps requires information regarding the presence or absense of cultural resources within a proposed project area of impact to be submitted with all permit requests. Failure to do so may result in delays in the Section 106 Consultation process. When you submit the information to us, please provide an extra copy to be forwarded to the SHPO or THPO. If available, please provide an electronic version of the information on a compact disc. Reports not meeting the minimum guidelines will be returned to the applicant or consultant for revision.

An archaeological report or literature and records search may be obtained from the California Historical Resources Information System.

 Mitigation Information

Mitigation measures may be required for direct and indirect impacts to the aquatic environment caused by projects in waters of the U.S.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a Compensatory Mitigation Rule on April 10, 2008, to clarify how to provide compensatory mitigation for unavoidable impacts to the nation's wetlands and streams.

There are three mechanisms for providing compensatory mitigation: permittee-responsible compensatory mitigation, mitigation banks and in-lieu fee mitigation. Permittee-responsible mitigation can be located at or adjacent to the impact site (i.e., on-site compensatory mitigation) or at another location generally within the same watershed as the impact site (i.e., offsite compensatory mitigation). Mitigation banks and in-lieu fee mitigation both involve off-site compensation activities generally conducted by a third party, a mitigation bank sponsor or in-lieu fee program sponsor. When a permittee’s compensatory mitigation requirements are satisfied by a mitigation bank or inlieu fee program, responsibility for ensuring that required compensation is completed and successful shifts from the permittee to the bank or in-lieu fee sponsor.

Compensation projects provided by all three compensation mechanisms (i.e., permittee-responsible compensatory mitigation, mitigation banks, and in-lieu fee mitigation) must have a mitigation plan which includes 12 fundamental components: objectives; site selection criteria; site protection instruments (e.g., conservation easements); baseline information (for impact and compensation sites); credit determination methodology; a mitigation work plan; a maintenance plan; ecological performance standards; monitoring requirements; a long-term management plan; an adaptive management plan; and financial assurances.

 Joint Application for Nine Bay Area Counties (JARPA)

If your project site is  located in one of the nine San Francisco Bay Area counties (San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, Solano, Napa, Sonoma or Marin Counties) you may also use the JARPA form (fillable word version). JARPA stands for Joint Aquatic Resources Permit Application. This application will be accepted by the Corps and other Bay Area regulatory agencies (such as, BCDC and the Regional Water Quality Control Board) instead of their regular application forms. It has been designed to include the application requirements of each of the the regulatory agencies.

 Joint Application for Navigation Dredging

If your project is navigation dredging in San Francisco Bay; such as, dredging navigation channels, marinas, boat slips and boat basins, the Bay Area regulatory agencies will also accept a joint application specific for dredging projects. For more information about completing this application form, you can visit the DMMO web site.

Regulatory Links