Due to the potential for extensive telework associated with the COVID-19 situation, please email all permit applications and questions electronically to PhiladelphiaDistrictRegulatory@usace.army.mil



Decision Status Information On Demand

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Regulatory program, regulates work and structures that are located in, under or over navigable waters of the United States under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, and the transportation of dredged material for the purpose of disposal in the ocean (regulated by the Corps under Section 103 of the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act). "Waters of the United States" are navigable waters, tributaries to navigable waters, wetlands adjacent to those waters, and/or isolated wetlands that have a demonstrated interstate commerce connection.

Individual Permits are two types of Regulatory permits that the USACE can issue under program authorities. Individual permits include Standard Permits, which are generally more complex in nature and involve notification of the public and commenting agencies, and Letters of Permission, a type of permit issued through an abbreviated processing procedure which includes coordination with Federal and State fish and wildlife agencies, as required by the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, and a public interest evaluation, but without the publishing of an individual public notice. In compliance with our regulations at 33 CFR 325.2(a)(8), we are posting a list of issued and denied individual permits. Pending individual permit applications, which have been determined to be "federally complete", are also posted to increase Regulatory Program transparency.

Through the Civil Works program, the USACE serves the public by providing the Nation with quality and responsive management of the Nation’s water resources. As a result, USACE, in partnership with stakeholders, has constructed many Civil Works projects across the Nation’s landscape. Given the widespread locations of these projects, many embedded within communities, over time there may be a need for others outside of USACE to alter or occupy these projects and their associated lands. Reasons for alterations could include improvements to the projects; relocation of part of the project; or installing utilities or other non-project features. In order to ensure that these projects continue to provide their intended benefits to the public, Congress mandated that any use or alteration of a Civil Works project by another party is subject to the approval of USACE. This requirement was established in Section 14 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, which has since been amended several times and is codified at 33 USC 408 (Section 408). Section 408 provides that USACE may grant permission for another party to alter a Civil Works project upon a determination that the alteration proposed will not be injurious to the public interest and will not impair the usefulness of the Civil Works project.

The following link will take you to the interface (look for the button at the bottom left), updated weekly, where status information about a decision is available anytime:


Common Questions

Who is required to obtain a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers?

Any individual, company, corporation or government body planning construction or fill activities in waters of the United States, including wetlands, must obtain a permit from the Corps of Engineers. In general, the Corps of Engineers has jurisdiction over all construction activities in tidal and/or navigable waters, including adjacent wetlands, shoreward to the mean high water line. In other areas such as non-tidal waterways, adjacent wetlands, isolated wetlands, forested wetlands, and lakes, the Corps has regulatory authority over the discharge of dredged or fill material.

Delineation or identification of Federally regulated wetlands is not always obvious to the untrained, inexperienced individual. Thus it is important that, prior to initiating any construction in coastal areas and/or in proximity to any stream or suspected wetland area, the Corps of Engineers be contacted in order to determine the nature and extent of Federal jurisdiction over the proposed activity. In addition, state and local governments should be contacted to obtain any required authorizations. The Corps' jurisdiction often exceeds that of state and local governments. Persons planning any work in waters of the United States, including wetlands, must obtain Corps of Engineers approval prior to commencing work.

Apply for all required permits as early as possible and obtain the necessary approvals before you commence work.

What activities require Corps permits?

Those dealing with all structures such as bulkheads, piers, catwalks, boathouses and pilings.

  • Excavation, dredging, filling and depositing dredged material in waters and wetlands such as marshes, swamps, bogs, forested wetlands, isolated wetlands, and in lakes and waterways.
  • Overhead and underwater transmission lines, cables and pipes.
  • Construction of breakwaters, jetties, groins and stone revetments.

When should I apply for a permit?

As early as possible in the project planning stages. The Corps' application review process usually requires site visits, federal, state and local government inter-agency coordination and data analysis, before a proper determination can be made. Therefore, we urge contacting the Corps of Engineers as a first step in planning any project.

If local or state permits have been issued, is a Corps of Engineers permit still necessary?

Yes. The Corps' jurisdiction is separate from that of local and state governments. Again, by contacting us early, the applicant can determine whether or not a Corps permit is required for the proposed work. We also recommend early contacts with appropriate local and state agencies to determine their permit requirements.

Is a permit required if the applicant owns the land?

Yes. Private ownership of any land adjoining or under the water, including wetlands, has no effect on the requirement to obtain a permit or authorization.

What are the consequences of not obtaining Corps permits?

Parties responsible for willful and direct violation of Section 10 of the River and Harbor Act of 1899, or Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, are subject to fines ranging up to $25,000 per day of violation and imprisonment for up to one year, or both, along with removal of structures and restoration of the area. 


Why should I waste my time and yours by applying for a permit, when you probably will not let me do the work anyway?

Nationwide, only three percent of all requests for permits are denied. Those applicants denied permits usually have refused to change the design, timing or location of the proposed activity.

To avoid unnecessary delays, pre-application conferences, particularly for applications on major activities, are recommended. The Corps endeavors to give you helpful information, including factors which will be considered during the public interest review, and alternatives for your consideration that may prove useful in designing your project.

How can I design my project to eliminate the need for a Corps permit?

If your activity is located in an area of tidal waters, the best way to avoid the need for a permit is to select a site above the high tide line and avoid wetlands or other water bodies. In the vicinity of fresh water, stay above ordinary high water and avoid wetlands adjacent to any stream or lake.

Also, your activity may be exempt and may not require a Corps permit, or it may be authorized by a Nationwide Permit or Regional General Permit. So, before you build, dredge or fill, contact the Philadelphia District's Regulatory Branch for specific information on exemptions and categories of activities that have been previously authorized by the Corps of Engineers by Nationwide and Regional General Permits.