Permits, Licenses and Reports

Man with pen writing

All applications and fees are processed electronically. We do not accept cash payments.

Application Fee: $150

  • Step 1: Read and fully complete the Onsite Wastewater System Application and submit it to your local Environmental Affairs Office. You will also need to submit a copy of the property’s plat or deed. If you do not have a copy of the plat or deed, click here for more information on how to obtain a copy. Once your application has been received, office personnel will contact you to confirm receipt of your application and to discuss electronic payment options. We do not accept cash payments. For a reference guide on how to complete the application, please refer to this example, Onsite Wastewater System Application.
  • Step 2: Your application will be reviewed to be sure that all necessary paperwork is included. If everything is in order, your application fee will be accepted.
  • Step 3: If a site visit is required, the inspector will evaluate the site’s suitability for a septic system. If the inspector approves your site for a traditional septic system, they will issue you a Permit to Construct. If the inspector does not approve the permit, they will discuss possible alternatives with you.
  • Step 4: Once you have been issued a Permit to Construct, you may contact a licensed onsite wastewater system installer to install your septic system.
  • Step 5: Before completing the installation of the septic system, the installer must contact DHEC to schedule a time for the inspection of the septic system before it is covered. If a DHEC inspector does not arrive within 30 minutes of the scheduled time, a licensed installer has the option to proceed with a self-inspection of the installation. Documentation must be provided by the installer to the Department on the DHEC approved form D-3978, Contractor Approval to Operate.

Permit Expiration and Modifications: Permits to Construct are good for five years. To renew your permit after five years or to make changes to it once approved, you will need to complete a new application and pay the fee again. The fee and permit are authorized by Regulation 61-56, Onsite Wastewater Systems.

Regulation 61-56 defines a subdivision as:

All divisions of a tract or parcel of land into two (2) or more lots, building sites, or other divisions, for the purpose, whether immediate or future, of sale or building development, and includes all division of land involving a new street or a change in existing streets, and includes resubdivision. This definition shall apply whether the lots are to be sold, rented, or leased. This definition shall not apply when the division or partition of the land or the conveyance of property is pursuant to a will, an intestacy statute, or an order by a probate judge.

  • The Department does not perform soil evaluations or prepare system layouts for any subdivision or portion of a subdivision.
  • Soil evaluations must be conducted by a Professional Soil Classifier or another licensed person qualified to practice professional soil classifying. The licensed professional is responsible for documenting qualifications.
  • Proposed system layouts must be prepared by a Registered Professional Engineer or the same Professional Soil Classifier (or licensed person qualified to practice professional soil classifying) that conducted the soil evaluation.
  • The soil report and proposed system layout must be submitted with an onsite wastewater system application.

Because incorrectly installed septic systems can harm water quality and make people sick, South Carolina law requires site approvals and permits for all septic systems for new construction.

If you are planning to build a home or place a manufactured home on property not served by a public or community sewer system, you must first get DHEC's approval and a permit to install a septic system. Without this permit, your county will not be able to issue you a building permit.

Please be aware of how the weather affects our schedules. If the soil is too wet, we may not be able to do a proper evaluation. Soil evaluations may have to be delayed until the soil has had time to dry out which adds to the time it takes to issue your permit. This is similar to farmers having to delay planting or harvesting their crops. If there has been too much rain, they can't get into the field with their equipment to conduct their work.

To file a septic system application, download and complete an onsite wastewater application and submit it to your local Environmental Affairs Office. Once your application has been received, office personnel will contact you to confirm receipt of your application and to discuss payment options. If you have any questions, please call your local Environmental Affairs Office for assistance.

To determine if your site is located above the Fall Line, click here to view a map of state. The South Carolina Fall Line as defined by the South Carolina Geological Survey is represented on this map as a black line which separates the Piedmont area from the Coastal Plain. To find where you are located, you can type in your address on the “Find a Septic Contractor” map. Once your site address has been entered, a black dot will appear on the map identifying your site. To determine if your site is above or below the Fall Line, zoom out until you see the black line running across the state. If your site is located above the black line, backhoe pits will be required to conduct a soil evaluation prior to issuing a permit. If your site is located below the black line, backhoe pits are not required but can be utilized to expedite your permitting process. If you have questions, please contact the Onsite Wastewater Program at (803) 896-0640 for clarification. Once an application has been submitted and it is determined that your site is above the Fall Line, an onsite wastewater inspector will contact you to schedule a site and soil evaluation. You, the applicant, are responsible for contacting an operator to dig pits on the proposed site. Backhoe pits can be dug utilizing any piece of machinery as long as the pits are dug as outlined in Guidelines for Onsite Wastewater System Soil Evaluation.

  • Tier 1 Installer
    • Can install all gravity-fed and fill cap residential systems.
    • Must obtain 8-hours of continuing education units every 2 years.*
    • May self-inspect systems they have installed when directed by the Department.
  • Tier 2 Installer
    • Can install all Tier 1 systems in addition to systems that require pumps, grease traps, curtain drains, elevated infiltration systems, mounded systems, and all commercial systems.
    • Must obtain 12-hours of continuing education units every 2 years.*
    • May self-inspect systems they have installed when directed by the Department.
  • Tier 3 Installer
    • Can install all Tier 1 and 2 systems in addition to Standard 610, Specialized Onsite Wastewater Systems.
    • Must obtain 18-hours of continuing education units every 2 years.*
    • May self-inspect systems they have installed.
    • Must be bonded and insured.
    • Must be actively installing in South Carolina for 3 years with no pending or prior disciplinary or enforcement action involving onsite wastewater systems OR actively installing out of state for 5 years with no pending or prior disciplinary or enforcement action involving onsite wastewater systems.

*Delayed Implementation of Continuing Education Units (CEUs)

There will be a delayed implementation of 3 years following May 28, 2021, for the continuing education unit requirement. Once implemented, CEUs will need to be completed every 2 years and must be submitted with license renewals. A list of approved courses will be provided by the Department closer to the implementation date.

Transition to Tiered Licensure

Effective May 28, 2021, all installers currently licensed as a master contractors with the Department will become Tier 3 installers. Installers who are licensed but are not master contractors will become Tier 2 installers. All installers who will become Tier 2 installers and plan to install Standard 610, Specialized Onsite Wastewater Systems, will have a 30-day period starting on May 28, 2021, to obtain their Tier 3 licensure. During this period, they may continue to install engineered systems while working to obtain the requirements necessary to be granted a Tier 3 license. After June 28, 2021, any installer who has not obtained a Tier 3 license will no longer be allowed to install Standard 610, Specialized Onsite Wastewater Systems.

License Fees

The licensure and annual renewal fees for onsite wastewater system installers and pumper/haulers are listed below:

  • Installer:
    • Tier 1 - $100
    • Tier 2 - $100
    • Tier 3 - $200
  • Pumper/Hauler:
    • $100

You must pay these fees each year in order to renew your license. If we don't receive your payment by the due date, a late fee will be charged. Your license to work on septic systems or haul sewage will expire if you fail to pay your renewal fees and late fees within 90 days of the renewal due date.

Exam

The first time you apply for a license to work with septic systems and/or sewage disposal, you must pass an exam that tests your understanding of Regulation 61-56. To pass, you must score 80% or better. If you do not pass this test, you can retake it in 30 days. If you fail to pass a second time, you can wait 60 days and retake the exam a third time. Once you are granted a license, you will not have to retake the test as long as you pay the annual license renewal fees and submit all necessary documentation. If you allow your license to expire, you will have to repeat the new license process from the beginning.

Other License Requirements

  • Vehicle Inspection: DHEC has the right to inspect all vehicles used to pump and haul sewage. You must keep your vehicle inventory list up to date and on file with DHEC.
  • Disposal Facilities List Required: You must submit a list of the sewage disposal facilities you intend to use along with written permission from those facilities.
  • Record of Activities Required: For each vehicle, you must maintain a log (record) of each pumping and disposal load. You must make this record of activities available to DHEC upon request.

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