Nationwide Permits

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 What is a Nationwide Permit?

Nationwide permits (NWPs) are a type of general permit issued by the Corps of Engineers (Corps) on a nationwide basis for activities having minimal impacts. NWPs are designed to provide timely Department of the Army authorization for certain activities in waters of the United States while also protecting the Nation's aquatic resources. Activities authorized by NWPs must be similar in nature, cause only minimal adverse environmental effects when performed separately, and cause only minimal cumulative adverse effect on the aquatic environment. NWPs can authorize activities pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899. The NWPs are proposed, issued, modified, reissued (extended), and revoked from time to time, after the opportunity for public notice and comment. Last issued on March 19, 2012, there are currently 50 Nationwide Permits. The latest 2021 version of the Nationwide Permits expire on March 14, 2026.

An activity may be authorized under a NWP only if that activity and the applicant satisfy all of the NWPs terms and conditions. Your project must meet both the national and regional conditions of the NWPs, including compliance with the Endangered Species Act, and any special conditions added to your permit for your project to be authorized under a NWP. If the Corps finds that the proposed activity would have more than minimal individual or cumulative net adverse impacts on the environment, or may be contrary to the public interest, the applicant shall modify their proposal to reduce or eliminate those adverse effects, or they shall apply for a standard individual permit.

In most cases, the applicant must notify the Corps with a Pre-Construction Notification (PCN) as early as possible. A PCN is typically submitted in the form of a completed Joint Aquatic Resource Permits Application (JARPA). In order for a NWP to be valid, an individual 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC) and/or Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Consistency Response may also need to be obtained from the Washington State Department of Ecology. On Tribal lands, the WQC may need to be obtained from the Environmental Protection Agency or an authorized tribe. The WQC and/or CZM need to be obtained prior to project construction.




 Nationwide Permit Review Process
  1. A prospective permittee submits a Joint Aquatic Resources Permit Application or letter and project drawings, to the following address:

    Seattle District,
    Corps of Engineers Regulatory Branch, CENWS-OD-RG
    Post Office Box 3755
    Seattle, WA 98124-3755
  2. The Corps determines if the application is complete. If it is not, the Corps works with the applicant to obtain the necessary information to make the PCN and/or application complete.
  3. The Corps determines whether the activity meets the Federal criteria and any applicable regional conditions for authorization under a NWP within 45 days of a complete application. The applicant shall not proceed to construction until one of the following occur:

    1. Until notified in writing by the Corps that the activity may proceed under the NWP with any special conditions imposed by the Corps; or
    2. Unless 45 days have passed from the Corps receipt of a complete application and the applicant has not received notice from the Corps. However, if the permitte was required to notify the Corps pursuant to General Condition 18 for Endangered Species or General Condition 20 for Historic Properties, you cannot begin the activity until you receive written notification from the Corps that consultation on these issues have been completed.
  4. The Corps retains the discretionary authority to suspend, modify, or revoke authorizations under a NWP.
  5. When the Corps has completed the review process, they will issue what is called a verification letter. You may need to coordinate with the Washington State Department of Ecology to see if you need to obtain a 401 Water Quality Certification and/or certification of compliance with Coastal Zone Management. For Tribal lands, you will need to coordinate with the Environmental Protection Agency or designated tribe.
  6. After you have obtained the appropriate approvals, you may then proceed to construction.
  7. Every permittee who receives a NWP verification from the Corps receives a "Certification of Compliance". This certification states that the work and any required mitigation has been completed in accordance with the Nationwide Permit. The applicant is required to sign this certification and return it to the Corps.
 2021 Nationwide Permits - Final 41
 2021 Nationwide Permits - Final 16
  • 7 April 2022 - Special Public Notice Announcing the 2021 Nationwide Permits - Final 16 - Modified Ecology Water Quality Certification
  • 12 January 2022 - Washington Department of Ecology Coastal Zone Management Consistency Decisions for the Final 16
  • 11 January 2022 - Washington Department of Ecology Water Quality Certification for the Final 16
  • 11 December 2020 - Environmental Protection Agency Water Quality Certification for the Final 16 (note this includes WQC for Final 41 but those conditions were modified)

Supplemental Documents