401 & Buffer Permitting Branch

Wetland and 401 Certification Application Form Updates

To address recent legislative directives, the Pre-Construction Notification Form has been modified. To ensure that the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality Division of Water Resources is provided with the information necessary to ensure compliance with current legislation, DWR will no longer be able to accept previous versions of the PCN form for applications for 401 certifications.

Starting on Feb. 12, applications for 401 certifications that are not submitted on the latest version 4.3 – 12/4/23 of the PCN form, electronic or hardcopy, will not be accepted. Current application forms can be found here DWR 401 & Buffer Permitting Branch website. 

Wetland and 401 Certification Update

On Nov. 27, 2023, a revised federal rule on 401 Certifications became effective. In response to the revised rule, effective immediately, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Water Resources is no longer requiring pre-filing meetings prior to submittal of every 401 Certification application. However, for projects associated with a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Standard Permit (individual permit) that will require a 401 certification, DWR strongly recommends that applicants continue to conduct pre-application meetings with DWR staff. For these projects, pre-application meetings provide a valuable opportunity for DWR to provide essential information that will improve application review and final agency decisions.

Wetlands rules changes

Read a recent memo on wetland and 401 certification updates here.

The 401 & Buffer Permitting Branch is responsible for implementing the state's waters, (such as lakes, ponds, streams and wetlands) and riparian buffer regulatory programs and assisting with compliance and enforcement procedures.


Frequently Asked Questions

Learn about our state's water resources including streams, wetlands, waters, and riparian buffers; explore the 401 certification, isolated streams permitting, buffer authorization, and buffer variance processes; and browse helpful links.

Helpful Documents & Links

Read our guides and manuals, fact sheets, and sample documents that have been developed for streams, lakes, reservoirs and wetlands. 

Public Notices

View current and archived public notices of individual certification applications and important general information postings related to our programs.

Application Forms & Documents

Find application forms and help documents for 401 certifications, isolated waters permits, stream determinations, shoreline stabilization and lake area residence work, and buffer authorizations and variances. 

401 & Isolated Streams & 401 Stormwater Program

Learn about how to apply for a water quality certification or isolated streams permit and associated stormwater management planning.

General Certifications

Browse 401 Certifications/ non-404 permits, nationwide permits, regional general permits, expired general certifications, and more.

Riparian Buffer Protection Program

Learn about the various riparian buffer protection programs that are implemented throughout the state.  Also find maps, clarification memos, and helpful documents.

Stream & Wetland Mitigation Program

Learn about the stream and wetland compensatory mitigation program implemented throughout the state. Also find templates, guidance documents, and mitigation bank information.

Nutrient Offset & Buffer Mitigation Program

Learn about the nutrient offset and buffer compensatory mitigation program and find templates, guidance documents, and mitigation bank information.

Compliance Assistance Program

Learn about technical assistance provided on environmental compliance and enforcement issues across the state, how to access case files, and marina information. 

Surface Water Identification Training and Certification (SWITC)

Learn about the SWITC course, discover when future classes are being offered, and find links to register for upcoming classes or waitlists.


DWR’s Document Management System lets you view and print files for projects that include buffer impacts, stream determinations, mitigation, 401 certifications, and 401 stormwater management plans. (See the Laserfiche Weblink User's Guide for help navigating the system.)

Application Tracker Map

Check the status of pending permit applications or plan approvals via our clickable map. You may search by location, permit type, facility name, or permit number to track progress from the date of receipt of an application until a final decision is made.

401 & Buffer Permit Tracker Map

Find information on issued and completed projects with a 401 water quality certification, buffer authorization, and/or buffer variance for both Department of Transportation (DOT) and non-DOT projects on this clickable map.

Rules & Statutes

Read the rules and statutes that govern our streams and wetlands.