MassDEP Permitting Assistance

Guidance and contacts on the MassDEP permitting process.

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If Your Project Requires: Then Contact:
Permits in one region The MassDEP Regional Office for the town or city where the project is located
Permit coordination across multiple MassDEP regions or regulatory review agencies

Permit and Regulatory Ombudsman

Expedited review for projects that meet criteria for Fast Track Permitting? Fast Track Contacts/Regional Directors

For general permitting information or questions, send an E-mail

MassDEP forms

Office of permit & regulatory ombudsman & special projects

Ask the Office of the Permit & Regulatory Ombudsman

The Office serves as a Point of Contact for raising issues about permitting or questions about how law, policy, and regulations are applied across the agency. The Office is now providing issue summaries of certain inquiries and their resolutions.

Issue Summary: Pre-permit Construction for Air Plans

Issue Summary: Dredging Abutter Notification

Transfer of Post-Closure Use Approvals for Photo-Voltaic (PV) Arrays at Closed Landfills

Regulatory Requirement for Exhaust Stacks for Air Emissions

Minimum Stack Height Requirement for Engines and Turbines

Office Overview

Ever mindful of the role it plays in promoting smart and sustainable growth across Massachusetts, the Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) always strives to issue permits at "the speed of business." In fact, MassDEP was the first agency of its kind in the nation nearly two decades ago - and remains one of the few today - to offer applicants the guarantee of a timely decision or their money back.

In most cases, the MassDEP Regional Office that serves the community where you want to build or expand is the best and most efficient starting point for learning about the environmental permits you might need and making personal connections with the people who will be issuing them. By scheduling a pre-application meeting with regional office staff, you might even discover that small changes in your proposal could eliminate the need for some permits entirely.

There may be times, however, when you want or need additional assistance in navigating the MassDEP permitting process or expediting a decision that is business-critical. That is why the agency opened its Office of Permit and Regulatory Ombudsman & Special Projects to provide help when you:

  • Are proposing a large, complex, or cutting-edge facility or project that will require permitting coordination among various local, state and federal agencies, or across multiple MassDEP regions.
  • Want to take advantage of Fast Track Permitting to accelerate review of your facility or project.
  • Need an impartial ombudsman to address questions or concerns you may have about MassDEP permitting procedures, timelines or outcomes.

Additional Information

To learn more about the services provided by the Office of Permit and Regulatory Ombudsman & Special Projects, you may

Ultimately, everyone benefits when you receive the state environmental approval(s) you need in a predictable and timely way: your community and our economy gain new jobs and opportunities; you get a clear road map to environmental compliance and sustainability; and your neighbors continue to enjoy the clean air, clean water and the quality of life that draws so many people to Massachusetts.

Key Actions   for Office of permit & regulatory ombudsman & special projects

Permit application questions & answers

MassDEP strongly encourages you to read this information before applying for a permit, license, plan approval or registration from the agency. This information applies to MassDEP permitting activities described in the 310 CMR 4.00: Timely Action Schedule and Fee Provisions, and in your permit application instructions.

Where I can get assistance in understanding the permit application process?

There are several sources of information available to you. 

How do I apply for a MassDEP permit, license, or plan approval?

You must complete and submit to the agency:

Each Transmittal Form is assigned a unique transmittal number that MassDEP uses to track the application throughout the review process. Note: All applicants - including fee-exempt municipalities, counties, districts, municipal housing authorities, federally recognized Indian tribe housing authorities, as well as state agencies - must submit Transmittal Forms for their applications to be considered administratively complete.

  1. One copy of the Transmittal Form must accompany the application form you submit to the MassDEP Primary Permitting Location specific to the category of permit, license or plan approval you are seeking.
  2. The second copy must accompany the application fee payment, which is sent to a special MassDEP post office box address: 

    Department of Environmental Protection
    P.O. Box 4062
    Boston, MA 02211
  3. Please keep a third copy for your own records.

A Reserve Copy is a photocopy of your complete application, including the Transmittal Form, which is used to more efficiently process your permit review. If a Reserve Copy is required, the answer to Question 5 in the "Permit Fact Sheet" in the application instructions will tell you where to send it. If one is required, please make a photocopy of the Transmittal Form and submit that photocopy to the Reserve Copy Location, along with the application materials.

To ensure proper processing of your application, it is important that you carefully complete the Transmittal Form. Instructions for Completing the Transmittal Form are included in the form. Please consult the Application Completeness Checklist to determine what additional information to submit with your Transmittal and Application Forms.

Important Note: MassDEP strongly encourages you to advise us if you are applying for multiple permits related to the same project. The best way to do so is by listing all related permits and anticipated filing dates in the space provided on the Transmittal Form that must accompany each application and fee payment. By providing this information, you will enable your POC to better coordinate MassDEP review of your applications, track their status, and keep you informed.

What types of MassDEP approvals and permits are subject to the Permit Extension Act?

To learn more about approvals / permits subject to the Permit Extension act, please see: MassDEP Q&A on the Permit Extension Act of 2010/2012 

How do I pay my application fee?

Make your payment in the form of a check or money order made payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Do not send cash. Forward a copy of the Transmittal Form with the check or money order to:

Department of Environmental Protection
P.O. Box 4062
Boston, MA 02211

The following entities are exempt from the payment of application fees: cities, towns, counties, districts, municipal housing authorities, and federally recognized Indian tribe housing authorities. State agencies are exempt from payment only when the application fee is $100 or less.

How long will it take MassDEP to act on my application?

MassDEP offers this guarantee: A timely decision or your money back. The agency has category-specific timelines for acting on the applications it receives for permits, licenses, plan approvals, registrations, determinations and other approvals. If MassDEP fails to approve or deny your application before time expires, it is required to refund 100 percent of the application fee. See the timeline for your category in Question 6 (What are the timelines?) of the "Permit Fact Sheet" in the application instructions.

It is in your best interest to submit an accurate and complete application. If your application has administrative or technical deficiencies, a second review period will be required in each case, thereby extending the timeline for a final decision. Timely response to a deficiency statement will ensure a timely response by MassDEP.

If you are seeking a permit with a review timeline of more than 30 days, a specific member of our staff will be assigned to serve as your Point of Contact (POC) to answer any questions you may have about the status of your application and/or our review. Shortly after receiving your application, we will send you a letter of acknowledgement that provides your POC's name and direct telephone number.

Should you have questions or need help before you apply, please contact our nearest regional service center. Find Your Region

Can review of a permit application be expedited?

Yes, projects that qualify for the Fast Track program can negotiate expedited permit reviews.

When does the timeline begin?

The clock starts ticking the day after MassDEP is in receipt of both your payment and your application. The timeline will be suspended if there is a failure of payment (e.g. the check you submitted in payment of the fee is returned for insufficient funds) after that date. Generally, upon receipt of your application and payment, the agency will provide you with timeline information and the name of a contact person in the MassDEP office handling your application.

What if MassDEP cannot meet or beat the timeline?

If the timeline expires before MassDEP acts on your application, the agency will refund your fee and continue the process. Your timeline will not affect MassDEP's decision on your application, nor will your application be approved automatically if the agency fails to meet that timeline. The timeline may be affected by provisions in the regulations including but not limited to failure of payment, actions of other government agencies, and judicial and enforcement proceedings. MassDEP also may be able to finish the application review ahead of schedule if your application is complete. MassDEP's money-back guarantee is intended to demonstrate the agency's good-faith efforts to make it easier for you to play by the rules without making the rules themselves less stringent.

How does the application review process work?

Most application categories follow the steps listed below. However, some do not. Please consult the specific information provided in the permit application to determine if your category is processed in a different way.

First, an Administrative Completeness Review (AC) is conducted to determine whether you have provided all required elements of the application. MassDEP may request additional information from you during this review. Upon completion of the AC Review, MassDEP will either find your application Administratively Complete, or issue you a Statement of Administrative Deficiencies.

If the application is found to be lacking in some way, MassDEP will ask for additional information. (If there is no response to the Statement of Administrative Deficiency, MassDEP will determine the permit application to be withdrawn). Upon receipt of a response, the agency will conduct a second AC Review (of the same number of days allowed for the first). MassDEP then will either find your application Administratively Complete, or deny the application.

Once the agency issues a Determination of Administrative Completeness, it begins a Technical Review (T1) of your application and supporting materials. MassDEP may request additional information from you during T1 without extending the timeline. (If you fail to respond to a Statement of Technical Deficiency within the time allowed by MassDEP, your application will be denied). Upon completion of T1, MassDEP will in most cases approve or deny the application, or issue a draft approval or denial for public comment (if required).

It is possible, however, that MassDEP will find the application to be Technically Deficient, in which case the agency will request that you correct or supplement it. Should that be the case, you have the option of declining and asking MassDEP to make a decision based on the information you have made available to date. But if you choose that option and MassDEP denies your application, the agency will consider your proposal again only if you submit a new application and fee.

When MassDEP asks you to submit additional technical information and you do so, the agency begins a Supplemental Technical Review (T2) of the amended or modified permit application and supporting materials. The agency will require a T2 if it would otherwise deny an application or place substantial restrictions on your project based on the available information. MassDEP may request additional information during T2 without extending the timeline. After finishing T2, MassDEP will approve or deny the application, or issue a draft approval or denial for public comment (if applicable).

MassDEP's decision to approve or deny an application following either T1 or T2 is subject to appeal in accordance with existing procedures.

If public comment is required by statute or program regulation, a Public Comment Review Period (PC) is conducted to allow MassDEP to consider public comment before making a final determination on a proposed application approval or denial. MassDEP may ask you for additional information during the PC Review. Upon completion of this review, the agency will either approve or deny your application.

Note: In most cases, a public comment period is not required. Please see Question 6 of the "Permit Fact Sheet" in the application instructions for the timelines that apply to the category of permit, license or plan approval.

A decision to approve or deny an application following PC Review may be subject to appeal in accordance with existing procedures.

What if I withdraw or change my application?

If you withdraw your application before MassDEP's technical review begins, 50 percent of the application fee you paid will be refunded. If you withdraw at any time after the technical review begins, none of the fee will be refunded. If during an application review, you subsequently provide the agency with new information that significantly changes the scope and/or environmental or public health impacts and/or permit category of the project for which you are seeking approval, you will be required to submit a new application. In such an instance, you will receive full credit for the application fee you have paid already.

What are the MassDEP permit categories, application fees and timelines?

Please see our fees section on this page for lists of permit application fees and timelines.

How can I find out the status of my permit application?

Consult the permit assistance contact at the regional office where you filed the application. Find Your Region

What is the purpose of the Timely Action Schedule and Fees Program?

Massachusetts offers a guarantee that few other states are willing to match: a timely decision on your environmental permit or your money back. If the Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) fails to act within the required time frames, your application fee is refunded in full.

Can MassDEP assist me in the local permitting process?

The regional office for the community where the project will be located may be able to provide assistance.

Can MassDEP assist me with permits from other state or federal agencies?

Yes, the Permit Assistance and Management Office can assist in coordinating permit reviews. See more information below.

Is there a guide to help me identify the environmental regulations that apply to my manufacturing facility?

Please download our Index of Selected Environmental Regulations for Manufacturing Facilities: A Guide for Massachusetts Businesses by Massachusetts Businesses 

Who can I contact if I feel there are problems with how the review of my permit application is proceeding?

You should contact the Regional Director at the regional office where the permit application was filed or the Permit Ombudsman in the Permit Assistance and Management Office

How do I request confidentiality of trade secret information?

Please see our information on confidentiality for trade secret information:

Guidance on Requests to Maintain Trade Secret Information Confidential

Request to Maintain Information Confidential Form

What is the purpose of an annual compliance assurance fee?

Without the presence of a strong compliance and enforcement effort, there will always be a few companies that willfully violate environmental laws, placing public health at risk and those who are doing their best to comply at an unfair competitive disadvantage.

Compliance assurance fees, paid annually by the holders of certain MassDEP permits, ensure adequate resources for the agency's inspection and monitoring programs, thus a level playing field for everyone MassDEP regulates. It is important to note that not all permit holders are subject to these fees. Details can be found in the "Permit Fact Sheet" in the application instructions. No annual compliance assurance fee is assessed for a permit for the fiscal year during which that permit was issued.

The following entities are exempt from the payment of annual compliance assurance fees: cities, towns, counties, districts, municipal housing authorities, federally recognized Indian tribe housing authorities, and state agencies.

For answers to questions of a technical or project-specific nature, please call the appropriate MassDEP Regional Service Center

What is MassDEP doing to streamline permitting?

Latest Permit Efficiency Initiative

In November 2011, MassDEP established the Permitting Assistance and Management Office to provide additional assistance in navigating the MassDEP permitting process or expediting a decision that is business-critical.

Previous Permit Efficiency Initiatives (2007-2010)

March 2007 marked the start of the Regulation at the Speed of Business Initiative. For MassDEP, this initiative meant implementing a number of activities to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of environmental regulation in Massachusetts. 

On-Going Permitting Efficiencies

These initiatives complement several efforts already targeted at streamlining MassDEP's permitting efforts, such as:

MassDEP Fast Track Permitting

Appeals pre-screening

eDEP Online Filing

Additional Resources   for Permit application questions & answers

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