FAQ: Septic System Permits

How do I find a copy of my septic system permit?

In North Carolina, each county has an Environmental Health Department that keeps a record of all documents associated with the permitting of septic systems. Some counties allow access to septic system permits through an online database or as a link through the GIS. Many counties still keep paper records and will require you to submit a request for information. Most of the counties in North Carolina will accept an e-mail request for information. We recommend requesting the following documents for your records:

  • Original Application

  • Improvement Permit

  • Construction Authorization

  • Operation Permit

Fill out our simple online request form at www.septicpermit.com and our office is happy to assist you in requesting a copy of any documents associated with your septic system! The turnaround time will vary by county but most of the time you will receive a copy within 24-48 hours.

Click here to find contact information for your local health department.

What are the different types of septic system permits?

The county Environmental Health Department keeps a record of each stage in the septic system permitting process in the form of the following documents:

  1. Application - The application is the initial document that is sent to the county to request an evaluation for a new system or repair of an existing septic system.

  2. Improvement Permit (IP) - The county will perform an evaluation of the soil to determine if your property is suitable for a septic system. The improvement permit will provide information about the location and type of system you have been approved for.

  3. Construction Authorization (CA) - Typically after you have submitted a final site plan, the county will issue you an authorization to construct. This document allows you to move forward with your installation or repair and may be issued at the same time as the improvement permit. Some counties will use the same document for both IP and CA.

  4. Operation Permit (OP) - Once the system has been installed, the county will perform a final inspection and create an as-built drawing to depict where each component of your system is located. After the inspection, the county will issue an Operation Permit which allows the system to be placed into use and serves as documentation that the system was installed following all applicable laws, rules and permit conditions. The operation permit should indicate the location of an area evaluated for future repair called a “repair area.”

The county may have more than one construction authorization and operation permit on file. Each time the system is modified or repaired, a construction authorization should be issued to indicate the work that is being performed, and an operation permit will follow to confirm that the repair was performed in accordance with all applicable laws, rules and permit conditions. Typically, a new Improvement Permit is only issued when there is a change in the daily design flow or location of the leach field.

When do I need to have a permit?

Every property with a septic system in North Carolina should have a permit indicating that the soil on the property has been evaluated by the Environmental Health Department and found to be suitable for a septic system. Whenever a major component of the system is being replaced or relocated the county will require a permit which serves as a record of the change. Here are a few examples of when you will need to get a permit for repair:

  • Septic Tank Replacement

  • Leach Field Relocation, Expansion or Replacement

  • Pump Tank Replacement

A permit is not required for routine maintenance of the system. Routine maintenance includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Cleaning the effluent filter

  • Pumping the septic tank

  • Replacing a sewage or effluent pump

  • Replacing a float switch

  • Replacing an access lid

  • Other minor repairs including jetting and root removal

  • A distribution box, when replaced by an NC certified onsite wastewater contractor does not require a construction authorization permit for repair.

Have additional questions?

We are here for you! Click the following link to schedule a quick phone call with a septic system expert and a member of our team will reach out to you.