BUAR - Permits and Exemption Requirements

Find information on permit types and exemptions under the Massachusetts Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources (BUAR) permit process.

No person may remove, displace, damage, or destroy any underwater archaeological resource except in conformity with permits issued by BUAR. The three types of permits are:

  • Reconnaissance Permits (PDF, 180 KB) - For the non-destructive inspection and identification of underwater archaeological resources (characterized by minimum site disturbance).
  • Excavation Permits (PDF, 211 KB) - To uncover and/or remove underwater archaeological resources through the use of disruptive investigation techniques
  • Special Use Permits (PDF, 107 KB) (restricted to qualified archaeologists) - For environmental review, public planning, and scientific research projects.

Permittees range from individual sport divers to corporate ventures. Permit requirements and standards are outlined in the BUAR Regulations ( 312 CMR 2.0-2.15) (PDF, 188 KB). Permit application fee payments must be by check or money order made payable to the “Commonwealth of Massachusetts.” Under no circumstances may BUAR accept cash payments.

To deal with certain types of artifact discoveries, the BUAR regulations provide an exemption from the permit process for isolated finds and exempted sites. In order to obtain title to an isolated find, an Isolated Find application form (PDF, 228 KB), along with a map indicating the location of the find, must be submitted to BUAR. There is no application fee for an isolated find.

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