Permitting Process

The St. Paul District uses several types of permits that include general permits, letters of permission (LOP) and standard individual permits.

General permits authorize regulated activities that have been determined to be individually and cumulatively minor.  Projects that are not eligible for general permits may be eligible for authorization under a LOP on a case by case basis depending on the severity of resource impacts, public interest or potential controversy.  A LOP is an individual permit with abbreviated authorization procedures.  Regulated work under either Section 10 or Section 404 that is not covered by a general permit or LOP procedure requires authorization under the Corps' standard individual permit process.

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 General Permits
 Individual Permits  


LOP-06-WI final action for Wisconsin
Section 404 LOP Procedures for WI.
Issued: April 17, 2006

LOP-5 -MN final action for Minnesota
Type: Section 404 Letter of Permission Procedures for MN.
Issued: 31 July 2006

LOP-10-R final action
For use within the exterior boundaries of Indian Reservations in Minnesota and Wisconsin, except The Mole Lake Band of Sokaogon Chippewa and Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Reservations.
Issued: August 30, 2010

LOP-10-FDL final action
Applicable within the exterior boundaries of the Fond du Lac reservation located in Carlton and St. Louis counties, Minnesota
Issued: October 5, 2010

Regulated work under either Section 10 or Section 404 that is not covered by a general permit or LOP procedures requires authorization under the Corps' standard individual permit process. Applications for a standard individual permit entails submitting a complete application for a Department of the Army Permit accompanied by required attachments, such as drawings and maps (see also 33 CFR 325.2(e)(1)) to the St. Paul District Regulatory Division.

Required Application Information

"A complete description of the proposed activity including necessary drawings, sketches, or plans sufficient for public notice (detailed engineering plans and specifications are not required); the location, purpose, and need for the proposed activity; scheduling of the activity; the names and addresses of adjoining property owners; the location and dimensions of adjacent structures; and a list of authorizations required by other federal, interstate, state, or local agencies for the work, including all approvals received or denials already made." (33 CFR 325.1(d)(1))

New requests for action (pre-application consultations, permit applications, requests for Section 408 permissions, requests for delineation concurrences, requests for jurisdictional determinations, and mitigation bank proposals) should be sent directly to the following email addresses for projects in Minnesota and Wisconsin: Minnesota: Wisconsin: Please include the county name in the subject line of the email (e.g. Washington County). Additional information can be found in our public notice located here:

Regulatory Frequently Asked Questions

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 Q. How can I design my project to avoid the need for a Corps' 404 permit?
A. Select a project site or design that can support the project purpose without the need to alter wetland or water areas. If that is not practical, then you should enhance your chances of receiving a favorable interagency review and a permit by designing the project so that water and wetland impacts are avoided, minimized, and then compensated for, in that order and to the maximum extent practical.

Completely avoiding water and wetland areas will eliminate the need for a 404 permit. Minimizing wetland impacts will reduce the amount of wetlands that may need to be created or restored in order to satisfy compensatory mitigation requirements of state or Corps' permits.

 Q. How can I obtain further information about permit requirements?
A. More information about the Corps' regulatory program is available from any Corps' regulatory office and the St. Paul District's regulatory web page. General permits, public notices, staff contact information and links to the Corps' Headquarters and state and other Web pages and wetland brochures can be accessed via the District's regulatory web page at the link below.
 Q. How did the Army Corps of Engineers get in the business of regulating wetlands, ponds, streams and lakes, even on my private land?
A. Corps involvement in regulating more than just the traditionally navigable waters of the nation began in 1972, when Congress passed the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972. This Act was amended in 1977 and became the Clean Water Act. Under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act the Corps regulates all "waters of the U.S." which include jurisdictional wetlands, ponds, streams and lakes, including those on private land.
 Q. How do I get a Corps' permit to work in wetlands or water areas?
A. Your best first step is generally to contact the Corps' project manager for the county the project is in as early as possible in the project planning process. You can find out who to contact by consulting the project manager listings on the St. Paul District's regulatory web page at (link below) or you can call the Corps' regulatory field office nearest your project site at the location and number you can find on the Web page.

 Q. How do I report a violation or find out if somebody working in a wetland or water area has a Corps' permit?
A. Follow the contact information under the "How do I get a Corps' permit," question above.
 Q. I already obtained local and state permits, do I still need a Corps' permit?
A. If the activity is regulated by the Corps under Section 10 or Section 404, the answer is yes. However, the St. Paul District has implemented abbreviated permitting procedures for many activities that also require state permits. But unless the activity is authorized under a Corps' non-reporting general permit, you still need to apply to and receive written authorization from the Corps.

 Q. I am interested in purchasing a property, but I think it might contain wetlands. What should I do?

A. Ask the property owner to show you a letter from the Corps, dated within the preceding five years, about Corps' jurisdiction over the property. If there is no such letter, ask the owner to get one. In any case, you should certainly find out if there are any wetlands on the property before you buy it or commit any substantial irretrievable resources toward its purchase.

Some wetlands can look dry most or all of the year and never have standing water. Other wetlands may appear forested and contain aspen, alder, willows or other trees or shrubs. Such wetlands require identification by experts. If there are wetlands on the property you may need federal and/or state or local permits to implement your plans for the property, and there is no assurance such permits would be issued. Buyers should beware!

Local soil and water, DNR, or Corps offices may be contacted about whether a property contains wetlands and may suggest hiring a professional consultant to delineate any wetlands on the property using the Corps' 1987 Wetland Delineation Manual.

In any event, if there is any doubt whatsoever about the presence of wetlands, a written determination from the Corps concerning federal jurisdiction over the property should be obtained. In some cases, persons have applied for and received Corps' permits concerning property before buying it, or have entered purchase agreements contingent upon receiving a Corps' permit.

 Q. What activities require a Corps' permit?
A. Under Section 10, a Corps' permit is required to do any work in, over or under a Navigable Water of the U.S. (these are generally called the "Section 10 waters") or to do any work that affects the course, location or condition of the waterbody in such a manner as to impact on its navigable capacity. Waterbodies have been designated as Section 10 waters based on their past, present or potential use for transportation for interstate commerce. These waters include many of the larger rivers and lakes, such as the Minnesota, St. Croix, Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers along with Lake Superior, Lake Michigan and the Mississippi headwaters and many other rivers and lakes.

Activities such as dredging and construction of docks, bulkheads and utility lines require review under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 to ensure that they will not cause an obstruction to navigation and are not contrary to the public interest.

Under Section 404, a Corps' permit is required for the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the U.S., which include wetlands. Regulated discharges include filling wetlands for development, grading or pushing material around within a wetland, disturbing wetland soil during land clearing, etc. The general rule is that for an activity to receive a 404 permit it must comply with the EPA's Section 404(b)(1) guidelines.
In general, the guidelines require that the activity be the least environmentally damaging alternative that is feasible, and that adverse impacts are avoided, then minimized, and then compensated for (such as creating or restoring wetlands to replace those that would be filled). Activities also must not be contrary to the public interest, as determined by the Corps.

Certain discharges for some farm, forestry, maintenance and other purposes are exempt from Section 404 regulation. Exempt discharges must be for defined purposes and must satisfy certain conditions. You should obtain confirmation from the Corps to avoid a potential violation of Federal law before conducting any discharge you believe is exempt.

 Q. What kinds of permits and procedures do you have, and how long do they take, and what do they cost?
A. The St. Paul District uses several types of permits:

There is a non-reporting general permit authorization for some minor activities that does not require applying or reporting to the Corps. Persons only need to carefully review the permit to make sure that all terms and conditions of the permit will be met. If requested, the district will confirm whether or not the non-reporting general permit applies to proposed work.

There are other general permits that can apply if the proposed work also requires authorization from the State Department of Natural Resources, or under the Minnesota Wetland's Conservation Act. These generally require submitting a copy of the state application to the Corps, and then receiving both a Corps' letter and a state permit that authorize the project. The district uses the Section 10 and Section 404 nationwide permits in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The district also has implemented abbreviated letter-of-permission authorization procedures for many projects that are not eligible for general permits. These also require applying to and receiving written authorization from the Corps.
Regulated work under either Section 10 or Section 404 that is not covered by general permit or LOP procedures requires authorization under the Corps' standard individual permit process.

Some general permits can be confirmed or issued in a day, while other general permits and LOPs may require a 30-day agency and public review process depending on the nature and location of the project and will take 45 days or more. Standard individual permits typically require a 30-day agency and public review and take 60 to 120 days or more.

There is no fee for general permits or LOPs. For standard individual permits there is a permit issuance fee of $10 for non-commercial projects and $100 for commercial projects. The Corps will request the fee when due. Public entities are exempt from fees.

 Q. What will happen if I do work without getting a permit from the Corps?
A. Performing unauthorized work in waters of the United States is a violation of Federal law with potentially stiff penalties including fines and/or requirements to restore the area and/or imprisonment. Enforcement is an important part of the Corps' regulatory program. Corps' surveillance and monitoring activities are often aided by various agencies, groups, and individuals who report suspected violations.

When in doubt as to whether a permit is needed, contact the nearest Corps' regulatory office. Doing so may save a lot of unnecessary trouble later. Failure to comply with the terms of an issued permit may also carry heavy penalties.

Contact Regulatory

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
St. Paul District - Regulatory

332 Minnesota St., Suite E1500
St. Paul, MN 55101

Tel: (651) 290-5525
800-290-5847 ext. 5525 

Mission and Desired End State


To protect the Nation's aquatic resources and navigation, while allowing reasonable development through fair and balanced permit decisions.

Desired End State

Balanced decisions that are timely, predictable, transparent, consistent, rooted in sound science and compliant with applicable laws.