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Quick Guide to Florida Dock Permits

by Duncan Seawall

When you envision your property along Florida's coastlines, it often includes a private dock extending into sunset waters. However, the rules and regulations that preserve your scenic view also create a few hoops to jump through when repairing or building docks in Florida.


Related Blog: How To Choose The Right Marine Contractor


Navigating the complexities of government regulations and permit requirements can be tricky, but this guide is here to simplify the process. Here's everything you need to know about obtaining dock permits in Florida:




Who Is Exempt From Needing a Dock Permit?

In most cases, residential dock projects can be exempt if they fulfill the following criteria:

  • The dock size does not exceed 1,000 square feet.
  • The dock is located outside of protected waters.
  • The dock will be used for non-commercial purposes.

If your planned construction meets these standards, you may be spared the rigorous process of obtaining a permit. If not, continue reading to find out what kind of permit you need.


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The Types of Dock Permits

Florida recognizes two primary categories of dock permits:

  • Individual Permits: When your project doesn't fall under 'minimal impact', you'll need an individual permit. These permits undergo a detailed review to confirm compliance with environmental regulations and safeguard natural resources.
  • General Permits:
    • Activities must have minimal impacts on the environment.
    • Routine maintenance dredging is allowed.
    • Activities should be limited in duration.
    • Application processes should be general or streamlined.


Do You Need a Permit to Repair a Dock?

Dock deterioration is an inevitability when it comes to structures on the water. However, not all repairs require a new permit.


Routine maintenance, including replacing existing components with similar materials, can often be conducted without additional permitting. If the repair scope exceeds these limits, you will need to acquire the appropriate permits for the work.




Do You Need a Permit for a Floating Dock?

Floating docks are a popular choice due to their versatility, ease of use, and low cost. While they offer some flexibility in placement, they don't skip the permit line.


In Florida, floating docks are subject to the same governing body and permitting requirements as traditional fixed docks. Ensure you secure the green light from the Department of Environmental Protection before floating any dock plans into the realm of reality.


What You Should Know Before Starting Your Permit Application

The key to successfully obtaining a dock permit lies in preparation and an understanding of the process. Here's your checklist to ensure a solid start:

  • Know Your Riparian Rights: As a waterfront property owner, Riparian Rights allow you to build a dock right by the water next to your property. If your dock design plans are pretty complex, it's a good idea to look into these rights so you can make the permit process a little easier.
  • Research Your Local Ordinances: Although construction on marine land falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the rules and regulations vary by town or city. Contact your local Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) or city planning to review your local regulations before taking action.
  • Starting the Paperwork and Application: Applying for a dock permit isn't usually a simple, one-size-fits-all process, and incomplete applications can significantly delay permit approvals. Find out what paperwork you need for your project, this might include environmental site assessments or impact studies, and make sure it's complete before you apply.
  • Investigate and Reduce Environmental Impact: Your permit application needs to cover the environmental impacts of the dock project, including impacts on submerged lands, marine life, coastal erosion, and water quality. Be proactive in your assessment and incorporate suitable mitigation into your project plans from the outset.
  • Where to Get Your Dock Permit: You'll be able to find your dock permit application, seek help from officials, and submit your paperwork at The Florida Department of Environmental Protection. To prevent issues and speed up the permit process, ask your local officials for guidance with your application and environmental impact assessment.

Navigating dock permitting in Florida can be a lengthy and complicated process, but it's designed to protect the state's unique natural environment. When selecting a dock builder, look for a marine contractor who is well-versed in the permit process in your local area.

At Duncan Seawall, we don't just offer advice, we guide you through the entire process. After 40 years of building docks and constructing seawalls all over Sarasota and the surrounding counties, we can ensure your dock permitting process is as simple as possible. Download our complete guide to permits to take the first step towards building your dream dock today!


Complete Permits Guide

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