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.
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 frame. 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.
Expediting the Onsite Wastewater Permitting Process: Onsite Wastewater system applications are processed on a first come, first served basis. If you would like more information on how to expedite the permitting process, please see our Onsite Wastewater Expedited Permitting Options poster.
Application Fee: $150
- 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. 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 and you will be given a yellow site location card and a red septic system location card. Both should be placed on your property. You will also be given instructions for preparing and marking your lot for evaluation.
- 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 to install your septic tank system.
- Step 5: Before installation of the septic tank system can occur, the licensed installer must contact DHEC to schedule an installation time. If a DHEC inspector does not arrive within 30 minutes of the scheduled time, the licensed installer may proceed with the installation. Documentation must be provided by the Master Contractor or installer to the Department on the DHEC approved form D-3978, Contractor Approval to Operate.
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.
The fee and permit are authorized by these regulations:
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.
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 Regulation 61-56.1, License to Construct or Clean Onsite Sewage Treatment and Disposal Systems and Self-Contained Toilets.