Test Pit Archaeological Investigations, Port AngelesIn the State of Washington any alteration to an archaeological site requires a permit from DAHP RCW 27.44 and RCW 27.53.  Alterations to a site can include adding fill to an existing archaeological site, building upon an archaeological site, removing trees from a site, using heavy equipment on a site, compacting a site, or other activities that would change the site.

Alterations also include formal archaeological excavation, removal, and collection of archaeological materials, and the excavation and removal of Native American human remains.

Permits are also required to remove or excavate historic archaeological resources that are eligible or listed in the National Register of Historic Places or to recover any submerged historic aircraft or historic shipwrecks, or remove any archaeological object from such sites.

Please Note that any person, agency, landowner, firm, corporation, or any agency or institution of the state or subdivisions of the state who wishes to alter an archaeological site must obtain a permit.  DAHP does not charge a fee to process the permit application or to issue a permit.

The complete permit requirements can be found in the Washington Administrative Code 25-48-060.  In addition to submitting a signed and notarized application, there are 21 potential sections for a complete permit application, depending on the type of resource, nature of your excavation or recovery, and land ownership. Over the years we have noticed that certain items tend to be underreported or are missing from many permit applications. Tracking down these deficiencies slows down the process.  If items are missing from your permit application, your application will be returned to you for completion of the missing items.  Here are some tips:

  1. Review your project or your client's project for any federal permits, funding or licensing. If there are federal permits, licenses, approvals, monies, or agencies involved in or regulating the project, your project must comply with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and its implementing regulations. You will need to contact the lead federal agency regarding site evaluation.  
  2. Once a completed application is received by our office copies will be sent to affected Indian Tribes, the Association of Washington Archaeology, affected local governments, and landowners. To expedite your permit, we recommend you include a list of names and addresses of relevant persons and agencies for your permit review.
  3. There is no longer a need to submit multiple paper copies of permit applications.  You may submit your permit application as a pdf via email.   However, the original, notarized cover sheet is still required to be submitted via traditional mail. 
  4. Take time to answer all information requirements found in WAC 25-48-060. When describing the project activities and impacts, please note DAHP relies on text and maps to understand what work is proposed and what actions will occur.  Even if plans are submitted with your application, all proposed activities must be described in detail in the text of the application. 
  5. Note items (i) and (k). The best way to provide evidence of your financial ability to complete the work, including laboratory and report writing, and your client's concurrence, is to submit a letter from the client stating they agree to finance your project to completion, which includes analysis and report writing.  Another option is to submit a copy of your signed contract with your client with the dollar amounts redacted. If your client is not the landowner, don't forget an additional letter allowing your access onto their property.
  6. Provide clear maps and graphics. Be sure your graphics clearly show a datum and a north arrow.
  7. We strongly encourage you to develop the application cooperatively with the concerned tribes, local government planning office, and local museums.
  8. For your overall project, please remember to plan for the time interval an application has for review and processing.   The general time span for receiving a permit after submittal to our office is approximately 60 calendar days.

Please feel free to call Stephenie Kramer, Assistant State Archaeologist, if you have any questions at (360) 586-3083 or email her at