Governor Chris Christie • Lt.Governor Kim Guadagno

NJ Home | Services A to Z | Departments/Agencies | FAQs  

Division of Land Use Regulation
State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

DEP Home | About DEP | Index by Topic | Programs/Units | DEP Online



Division Information
HomeNews & NoticesForms & ChecklistsMaps & GuidanceLaws & RulesContact Land UseSubscribe to E-Newsletter

PermittingCommon Project TypesFreshwater WetlandsStreams & Rivers (FHA)Coastal AreasTidelandsHighlandsMitigationPermit Extension ActElectronic (E) ServicesApplication Status

Related InformationFederal AgenciesPrograms/Commissions

Construction of a Dock or Pier

Dock and/or pier construction within regulated areas requires authorization of some type. If the project is regulated pursuant to the Coastal Zone Management rules at N.J.A.C. 7:7, then no separate Flood Hazard approval is required.  In these instances, the applicant need only submit a report and plans demonstrating compliance with the Flood Hazard Area Control Act Rules as part of the coastal permit application.

Assuming there is no jurisdiction pursuant to the Coastal Zone Management rules, authorization may be granted under a permit-by-rule.  See Subchapter 7 (N.J.A.C. 7:13-7) for all permits-by-rule and their requirements. Activities under a permit-by-rule must comply with the specific requirements in the permit and the requirements of N.J.A.C. 7:13-6.7. The conditions that apply to all permits at N.J.A.C. 7:13-22.2 also apply to permits-by-rule.

Permit-by-rule 17 at N.J.A.C. 7:13-17 authorizes the construction of a fixed or floating dock, pier, or boathouse in tidal regulated waters and certain impounded fluvial regulated waters.  This permit contains several requirements to ensure that floodwaters can pass freely underneath the structure and limits the riparian zone vegetation that may be cleared, cut, or removed to within 10 feet of the structure where necessary to facilitate construction. Additional requirements apply to development under this permit in fluvial areas to limit the area and length of the structure.

Permit-by-rule 19 authorizes the replacement, renovation, or reconstruction of certain water dependent structures, such as docks, piers, wharfs, and bulkheads, or temporary or seasonal structures like floating docks and mooring rafts. Activities under this permit-by-rule must meet the requirements of the Coastal Zone Management Rules at N.J.A.C. 7:7-2.3(d)6 or 7. The timing restrictions set forth at N.J.A.C. 7:13-11.5(d) must be observed to protect aquatic life.

There are no flood hazard area general permits available to permit the construction of docks and piers.

A project that is not eligible for one of the permits-by-rule described above and is not regulated under the Coastal Zone Management Rules may be authorized under a flood hazard area verification and individual permit prior to construction.  The standards for verifications are located at N.J.A.C. 7:13-5 and the standards for individual permits are located at N.J.A.C. 7:13-10, 11, and 12.

Docks and/or piers may be supported on pilings driven into the bottom substrate (fixed), floating on the water surface, or cantilevered over the water.  Dock and/or pier construction, repair, and/or reconstruction within coastal areas generally requires a permit.  These activities may qualify for an exemption, Permit-by-rule, General Permit-by-Certification, or a General Permit.  If the project does not meet the requirements of the aforementioned authorizations, a CAFRA, Coastal Wetlands, and/or Waterfront Development Individual Permit may be required.
The “Jurisdiction” tab of the "Coastal Areas" webpage can help you determine which areas of your site may be regulated.  The availability of certain permits depends on the project’s location.

Potentially applicable Exemptions: 

Per N.J.A.C. 7:7-2.4(d)6, a Waterfront Development Permit shall not be required for the repair, replacement, renovation, or reconstruction, in the same location and size of any dock, wharf, pier legally existing prior to January 1, 1981, that appears on the applicable Tidelands Map or that appears on the applicable coastal wetlands map identified pursuant to N.J.A.C. 7:7-2.3(c) and chapter Appendix D or that received a waterfront development permit subsequent to the date of the Tidelands Map or coastal wetlands map, as applicable, provided that the repair, replacement, renovation, or reconstruction is in the same location  as the preexisting structure, and does not increase the size of the structure and the structure is used solely for residential purposes or for the docking of or servicing of pleasure vessels.  Please note, the size of any dock, wharf, or pier shall be measured in two dimensions, that is, length and width. 

Per N.J.A.C. 7:7-2.4(d)7, a Waterfront Development Permit shall not be required for the repair, replacement, renovation, or reconstruction, in the same location and size, as measured in two dimensions, that is, length and width, of the preexisting structure, of any floating dock, mooring raft, or similar temporary or seasonal improvement or structure, legally existing prior to January 1, 1981, that appears on the applicable Tidelands Map, or that appears on the applicable coastal wetlands map identified pursuant to N.J.A.C. 7:7-2.4(c) and chapter Appendix D, or that received a waterfront development permit subsequent to the date of the Tidelands Map or coastal wetlands map, as applicable, provided that the repair, replacement, renovation, or reconstruction is in the same location and size as the preexisting structure, and does not exceed in length the waterfront frontage of the parcel of real property to which it is attached and is used solely for the docking of servicing of pleasure vessels. 

Potentially applicable Permits-by-rule (PBRs):

PBR 4 - authorizes construction of nonresidential docks, piers, boat ramps, and decks located landward of mean high water line, provided:

  • A Waterfront Development Permit has been obtained for the construction waterward of the mean high water line;
  • The width of the structure landward of the mean high water line does not exceed the width of the structure waterward of the mean high water line; and
  • For docks and piers, the width of the structure over wetlands does not exceed 6’ and the height of the structure shall be a minimum of 4’.

Please be advised, this PBR does not authorize a boat ramp located within wetlands.  Please see N.J.A.C. 7:7-4.4 for the complete rule requirements.

PBR 5 -authorizes construction of a portion of a recreational dock or pier located landward of mean high water line at a residential development, provided:

  • A Waterfront Development Permit has been obtained for the construction waterward of the mean high water line;
  • The width of the structure landward of the mean high water line does not exceed the width of the structure waterward of the mean high water line; and
  • Over wetlands, the width of the structure shall not exceed 6’ and the height of the structure shall be a minimum of 4’.

Please see N.J.A.C. 7:7-4.5 for complete rule requirements.

PBR 14 -authorizes reconfiguration of any legally existing dock, wharf, or pier at a legally existing marina, provided the marina is not located within shellfish habitat, submerged vegetation habitat, or a wetland and provided the proposed reconfiguration:

  • Does not extend outside of the area covered by an existing Tidelands instrument;
  • Does not result in an increase in the number of boat slips;
  • Does not hinder navigation;
  • Does not increase the total linear footage of docks or piers within the marina;
  • Provide a minimum of four feet from all property lines, for docks which are perpendicular to the adjacent bulkhead or shoreline; and
  • Minimizes the water area covered by structures by:
    • Providing a minimum of 8’ of open water between any docks if the combined width of the docks over water exceeds 8’; and
    • For sites which have existing dock or pier structures exceeding 8’ in width over water areas and/or wetlands, which were constructed prior to September 1978 and for which the applicant proposes to relocate, the existing oversized structures must be reduced to a maximum of 8’ in width over water areas and 6’ in width over wetlands and intertidal flats.

Please see N.J.A.C. 7:7-4.14 for complete rule requirements.

Potentially applicable General Permit-by-Certification:

The General Permit-by-Certification 15 at N.J.A.C. 7:7-5.2 of the Coastal Zone Management rules authorizes construction of piers, docks, including jet ski ramps, pilings, and boatlifts in man-made lagoons.

Potentially applicable General Permits (GPs):

GP 1 - authorizes amusement pier expansion

GP 15 - authorizes the construction of piers, docks including jet ski ramps, pilings and boatlifts in man-made lagoons

Please contact the Division’s Technical Support Center at (609) 777-0454 should you require further assistance.

Tidelands, also known as riparian lands, are all those lands now or formerly flowed by the mean high tide of a natural waterway; that is to say any land that is currently or was previously covered by tidal waters.  The State of New Jersey, and therefore the people of New Jersey, owns all Tidelands except for those to which it has already sold its interest in the form of a riparian grant.  

A dock or pier that is proposed in a tidelands area may require a tidelands license if the activities are taking place at or below the mean high water line of a tidal waterway or a tidelands grant if any portion of the activities are taking place in an area that is currently landward of the mean high water line but was, at some point, flowed by the tide. It is important to note that the State generally does not own artificial waterways such as lagoons however, the State does claim those lands within a lagoon that were flowed by the mean high tide of a natural waterway which existed prior to the creation of the lagoon.

A tidelands license is a short term revocable rental document to use tidelands generally for structures such as docks, bulkhead extensions, mooring piles, and other temporary structures as well as for dredging projects. Licenses are project specific and expire after a finite term ranging from one to ten years. Most licenses may be renewed.

A riparian grant, or tidelands grant, is a deed from the State of New Jersey selling its tidelands. Tidelands grants are generally only issued for lands that have already been filled in and are no longer flowed by the tide.

For more information on tidelands instruments, please see the tidelands section of this website.

For information and instruction on how to determine whether you are in an area that may require either a license or a grant, or for information how to apply for Tideland instruments please see the "Before you Build, Before you Buy" webpage.

bottom bar

Division: home | news/notices | laws/rules | forms/checklists | maps/guidance | contact
Department: njdep home | about dep | index by topic | programs/units | dep online
Statewide: njhome | citizen | business | government | services A to Z | departments | search

Copyright © State of New Jersey, 1996-2016
Last Updated: June 20, 2016