Permits, Licenses and Reports
Because incorrectly installed septic tanks can harm water quality and make people sick, South Carolina law requires site approvals and permits for all septic systems for new construction. South Carolina also requires septic tank pros to obtain a license before installing, operating or servicing septic tanks or hauling solid waste.
Permit Needed for New Home (or Mobile Home) Septic Tank System
If you are planning to build a home or place a mobile 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 tank. Without this permit, your county will not be able to issue you a building permit.
Application Fee: $150
Permit Expiration and Modifications: Permits 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.
Step 1: Read and fully complete the Onsite Wastewater System Application and then submit to your local DHEC Office. Applications may also be picked up from your local office.
Step 2: A DHEC staff member (or in the three cases mentioned above, a county government employee) will process your application, making sure all the necessary paperwork is included. If everything is in order, the staff member will accept your application fee and you'll be given a sign and instructions for marking off your lot.
Step 3: The inspector will visit your building site to evaluate its suitability for a septic tank. If the inspector approves your site for a traditional septic tank system, he or she will issue you a permit to construct. If the inspector does not approve the permit, he or she will discuss possible alternatives.
Step 4: Once your plan is approved, you must contact a licensed septic tank installer. Request a DHEC list of licensed installers.
Step 5: Once your septic tank has been installed, notify the DHEC inspector. The inspector will revisit your site with one to two business days, this time to inspect the septic tank installation. If he or she approves the installation quality, you’ll be given a permit to operate your septic system.
The fee and permit are authorized by these regulations:
DHEC Approval Needed for Use of Septic Tanks in a Subdivision and Permits Needed for Each Subdivision Lot
Before you can legally sell a single lot for a planned subdivision that will not be served by a public sewer system, you must first get DHEC’s approval for using septic systems as the method of waste disposal for the subdivision. This includes obtaining the required permits to install and operate septic systems for each individual proposed lot.
Application Fee: The application fee is based on the number of lots planned for a subdivision:
- 5-15 lots: $50
- 16-40 lots: $100
- 41 or more: $150
Evaluation Fee: $150 per lot
Step 1: Request a DHEC information packet listing the items you will need to bring with you when you meet with one of our staff to apply for approval to use septic tanks in your subdivision.
Step 2: While you’re waiting for the info packet to arrive in the mail, complete the application for a subdivision septic tank permit (pdf) and print it out to take with you when you meet with a DHEC staff member (or, in some cases, a county official). Also, familiarize yourself with the regulation, below.
Step 3: The information packet should arrive within 5-10 business days. It will tell you what documents you will need to gather for the county where your property is located. Requirements differ from county to county because of local zoning requirements and building codes.
The permit requirements and fees are authorized by this regulation:
Licenses and Reporting Requirements for Septic Tank Professionals
If you install, clean, or repair septic systems or if you haul and dispose of solid waste from septic tanks and portable toilets, you must be licensed by DHEC, and renew your license each year.
Download and complete the application form (pdf) for a septic tank license, then either print it out and mail it to or take it by your local DHEC Environmental Health office.
There are three versions of the license for work on septic tanks and portable toilets:
- License to construct — $100
- License to clean — $100
- License to construct and clean — $150
You must pay these fees each year in order to renew your license. If we don’t receive your payment by the due date, we add late fees.
Your license to work on septic tanks or haul solid waste will expire if you fail to pay your renewal fees, and late fees that may be due, within 90 days of the due date.
The first time you apply for a license to work with septic tanks and/or solid waste disposal, you must pass an exam that tests your understanding of Regulation 61-56.
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 so long as you pay the annual license renewal fees within 30 days of the due date. But 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 transport sewage. You must keep this 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.
These licensing requirements and fees are authorized under License to Construct or Clean OnsiteSewage Treatment and Disposal Systems and Self-Contained Toilets (R. 61-56.1)