Permit Directory

This permit directory, produced by the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, centralizes all of the department’s permit information. It is a guide that covers North Carolina’s most commonly required environmental permits, licenses, certifications, approvals, etc. By using this directory, NCDEQ hopes that you can quickly gain an initial understanding of regulatory requirements for various permitted activities. 

Go to the list of permits

While every effort has been made to make this directory informative and inclusive, it does not replace the need to verify with a regional environmental assistance coordinator or a division staff representative exactly which permits are needed for a specific project. The department’s statewide coordinators can develop a comprehensive permit list, which takes into account your own project and site-specific information. Remember, it is the responsibility of the customer to contact the appropriate NCDEQ staff to ensure all necessary permits are obtained prior to beginning the project. Contact an environmental assistance coordinator.

If you have comments or suggestions to improve the usefulness of this guide, contact: David Lee at or (919) 791-4203, Environmental Assistance Coordinator, with the Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service.

Tab/Accordion Items

“Permit” in this directory refers to any permit, certification, license, registration or approval that requires an action by the state and/or a DEQ customer in order to construct, modify, operate or initiate a project in North Carolina. At the top of each directory sheet you will see the environmental category listed along with the appropriate name of the permit, license, certification, registration or approval. For continuity and ease of use for our customers, a single format is being used throughout the entire directory. Each directory sheet has the same questions and answers for each permit, license, certification, registration or approval type.

In general, most projects require some type of permit from local city or county government. We recommend starting with your local government office to see if any permits will be required for your project because their regulations supercede and may be as stringent or more stringent than the state’s rules and regulations for many permits. In addition, many local governments require special use permits and/or a business license prior to conducting any activity within their jurisdiction.

Another excellent resource for new small business seekers is a free service from the Economic Development Partnership of NC (EDPNC) working in partnership with the N.C. Department of Commerce. The EDPNC Small Business Advisors offer one-on-one client consultations, information and referrals, customized licensing information, etc. You may call toll-free at (800) 228-8443 or contact a small business advisor online, where a consultant will work with you and help you find the appropriate resources to create and grow your business.

Certain city and county governments have been delegated the authority to enforce the state’s rules and regulations for a number of environmental programs. Some of these programs include sedimentation and erosion control, water supply watershed protection, stormwater, air quality, well inspection, septic systems, etc. Information about these locally delegated programs can be obtained directly from the local government or health department, as well as links from state web pages or state staff.

For instance, the N.C. Division of Air Quality has delegated components of its jurisdiction to three counties in North Carolina: Buncombe, Mecklenburg and Forsyth. Contact information for these local air quality programs may be obtained at the following website: local air programs. The N.C. Sedimentation Control Commission has delegated authority to some local governments to carry out the state’s rules and regulations to control erosion and sedimentation damage to property and surface waters. Local programs' staff perform plan reviews and enforce compliance with plans within their jurisdiction. Learn more and find contact information for these local programs.

Local health departments carry out the state’s rules and regulations regarding septic system permitting, food service establishments, tattoo shops, daycare facilities, pools, solid waste, etc. As of July 1, 2008, local health departments have jurisdiction over the permitting of private drinking water wells. See a list of the county environmental health staff in North Carolina.

The express permitting option offers a more timely review of certain environmental permits than the traditional permit review process. It offers quicker decisions on permits and certifications, as well as consultation to identify necessary requirements. A pre-application meeting is required, and a complete application, along with supporting technical information, is necessary for a thorough and swift review. Higher fees are charged to support additional staff for the express review. Multiple permits that may be required for a project can be reviewed concurrently.

Where applicable, the express permitting option will be denoted by the following phrase Express Option* at the top of each page in this directory. Please check with the regional environmental assistance coordinator in your area for express permit options.

Information provided in this directory is subject to change. This resource is intended to familiarize customers with general permitting information and guidance. It is not all-inclusive and some requirements may have been inadvertently left out. Over time, DEQ’s rules and regulations change as new laws are enacted and old laws are modified or updated to address changes in North Carolina. It is the responsibility of the customer to verify permitting and regulatory requirements by contacting the appropriate division staff representative prior to beginning any project.