What Permits are Required

Before any construction on the shoreline or at the water’s edge begins, permits and other approvals from the respective federal, state or local agencies will most likely be required. The number and type of necessary permits and approvals will vary depending on the type, size, and location of the project. You may obtain permits in your own name. However, it is strongly recommended that the contractor performing the work obtain the permit in their name. Also, make certain that the contractor you choose to help you with your project is licensed to work in the county.

jurisdictional diagram

Figure 1: Consider the diagram above as a guide to help determine which types of permits and other approvals from respective county, state, and federal agencies may be necessary, based on where the project is located.

Tidal Shoreline, Tidal Wetlands and Submerged Lands

Tidal wetlands are lands contiguous to a tidal body of water and lying between mean low water and mean high water subject to flooding by normal tides and wind tides. Projects that are within the Waters of the United States, including tidal wetlands may be subject to approval by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Projects that are below mean low water, within the tidal wetland, sand dunes or beaches, may require review by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. Land disturbances and related construction activities within the tidal wetland often require a wetlands permit in accordance with the Wetlands Zoning Ordinance or the Coastal Primary Sand Dune Zoning Ordinance. To facilitate the review by federal, state and local agencies that have overlapping regulatory jurisdiction, a single “Joint Permit Application” may be prepared and submitted for review.

The following types of land disturbing activities and construction projects will require a Joint Permit Application:

  • Any construction project on, over or adjacent to a body of water.
  • Any project in which fill material is placed in or near wetlands such as riprap.
  • Projects designed to protect property at the water's edge.

Apply for a Joint Permit Application from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.


The floodplain, as defined by Fairfax County, is the land area in and adjacent to streams that have a drainage area greater than 70 acres, and would be inundated by a flood event with a one percent chance of occurrence in any given year (commonly called the 100-year flood). The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has delineated Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs). To view the SFHA boundaries, for properties along the tidal shoreline, use the interactive map.  Please note, however, that the County Floodplain Regulations are more stringent than the federal minimum requirements of the National Flood Insurance Program.

Resource Protection Area (RPA)

RPAs are sensitive land areas that include the tidal shore, tidal wetland, perennial streams, and non-tidal wetlands.  The RPA buffer also includes the major floodplains. To view the maps online, visit Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Maps online.

Other Permits May Be Required

Building and Related Construction Permits:

Land Disturbance Permits:

Stormwater Permits:

The Stormwater Management Ordinance (SWMO), Chapter 124 of the County Code, effective July 1, 2014, was enacted to implement requirements of the Virginia Stormwater Management Act and Regulations

Contact Fairfax County: Phone, Email or Twitter | Main Address: 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035
Technical Questions: Web Administrator

ADA Accessibility | Website Accessibility
Awards | FOIA | Mobile | Using this Site | Web Disclaimer & Privacy Policy | Get Adobe Reader
Official site of the County of Fairfax, Virginia, © Copyright 2015

Website Feedback Website Feedback    Globe with various flags representing Web site language translations   Language Translations

Return to Graphic Version