SCPS FAQ (Frequently-Asked Questions)

    Q: What is the definition of an excavation?
    A: An excavation is an activity that cuts, penetrates, or bores under any portion of the public way which has been improved with a paved surface for street, sidewalk, surface drainage, or related public transportation infrastructure purpose. Cutting, tunneling, jacking and boring, backfilling, restoration and repairing are included.
    Q: What types of excavations are not included in the above definition?
    A: Transportation improvement and utility maintenance or other activities performed within already existing structures, vaults, conduits, or cable ways located beneath streets and where access is provided by a manhole or other previously constructed entrance are not included.
    Q: Why is a Permit needed?
    A: A permit is needed:
  • To control the excavation and restoration of the public way and maintain the structural integrity of infrastructure,
  • To provide a safe and orderly movement of vehicular and/or pedestrian traffic, and
  • To provide a means to notify the public of excavation location and the party responsible for that excavation.
    Q: Who needs a permit?
    A: Anyone doing work on a project that will require excavation in a public way needs a permit except those defined above as not being included.
    Q: Is there a fee to obtain a permit?
    A: Yes, there is a fee for an excavation permit.
    Q: Who is an owner?
    A: The person, including the city, who is the owner of the facility that is installed or is proposed to be installed or maintained in the public way.
    Q: Who is a contractor?
    A: The person authorized by the owner to perform work on owner's behalf.
    Q: Who can apply for a permit?
    A: The owner always is the primary applicant. If the work is going to be performed by a contractor of the owner, then the contractor shall join the owner as an applicant.
    Q: How and where do I file for a permit?
    A: All applications and forms can be submitted online if you are a registered user.
    Q: Who can apply online?
    A: Anyone who has applied for access to the Street Cut Permit System (SCPS) and has been approved
    Q: How can I get a Username and Password?
    A: You can obtain an SCPS username and password by completing the following forms:
      and submitting them via fax, email or by mail to:

City of Houston
Street Cut Permit Section
1002 Washington Ave.
Houston, TX 77002
Telephone No. (832) 394-9101; (832) 394-9106
Fax No. (832) 395-9610
E-Mail Address:

    Q: Can I view street cut excavation information without obtaining a username and password?
    A: Yes, you can view street cut excavation permit information by clicking here.
    Q: Do I have to fill out every field on the application before I can submit it?
    A: Yes, an incomplete application will be returned.
    Q: Once my application is submitted how long will it take to receive a response from the City?
    A: You will be notified of the completeness of your application within two business days. All incomplete applications will be returned with an explanation of deficiencies.
    Q: Am I required to post permit information near the excavation site?
    A: The owner or contractor is required to post notices in the vicinity of excavation. The posted sign must be no less than 36"X36" with minimal 2" black letters on a white high intensity reflective background.
    Q: Will I need a lane closure permit?
    A: The owner or contractor is required to obtain a valid lane or street closure permit when working on a designated major thoroughfare or collector street.
    Q: Where do I get a street/lane closure permit?
    A: You can obtain a street/lane closure permit application by clicking here.
    Q: Do I need any other permits?
    A: Yes, the permittee is required to obtain all other permits (federal, state and city) applicable to the excavation.
    Q: Is a Texas Underground Facility Notification Corporation transmittal number required and when?
    A: Yes, the transmittal number should be provided to the City before excavation begins.
    Q: How much time is allotted for completion of work?
    A: Fourteen (14) calendar days are allotted from the first break of pavement to total completion.
    Q: Is it possible to extend the 14-day time period?
    A: Yes, a request must be submitted online for an extension. There is a $31.32  fee for each Street Cut Permit extension and $62.66  for each Steel Plate extension.
    Q: Who is responsible for pedestrian and vehicular access?
    A: The permit holder will maintain pedestrian and vehicular access to all abutting and affected properties. The excavation shall be performed so it does not obstruct emergency access to any fire hydrant or public water supply valve.
    Q: Will I receive an application number and will it change once my application is approved?
    A: When you apply, you will receive an application/permit number. Upon approval that will become the permit number.
    Q: If the permit number is misplaced, how can I obtain information about my application?
    A: You may print another copy from your registered account.
    Q: Do I need an e-mail address?
    A: Yes, you must provide an e-mail address to apply for the permit.
    Q: Can my application be denied?
    A: Yes, your application can be denied. You will be notified of the grounds for the denial.
    Q: What can I do if my application is denied?
    A: You can appeal the City's decision by submitting a request to online
    Q: Is Inspection of the excavation a requirement?
    A: The inspection shall be performed at the time of restoration and after 11 months for this warranty period.
    Q: Are there any insurance requirements for the owner and contractor and what type of coverage is needed?
    A: Yes, insurance is required for the owner and contractor. The coverage must include a minimum of $150,000 for property damage per occurrence, and $150,000 per person, and $500,000 per occurrence, for bodily injury or death.
    Q: Do I need to provide a Certificate of Insurance?
    A: Yes, the owner and the contractor must provide a copy of the Certificate of Insurance to the city once an application is submitted.
    Q: How long should my insurance be in force?
    A: Your insurance should be in force for a minimum of 74 days after the issuance of a permit.
    Q: Are there any provisions which need to be included in the insurance policy?
    A: The insurance policy must include a provision obligating the insurer to furnish written notice to the City Engineer at least 15 days prior to any cancellation.
    Q: I am self-insured, what financial responsibility is to be provided?
    A: You shall provide appropriate evidence from an agency of the State of Texas that you have an approved self-insurance plan for the applicable insurance coverage.
    Q: Is certification of restoration required?
    A: Yes, for all excavations the permittee must certify that the restoration occurred in conformance with the City of Houston Design and Construction Standards.
    Q: How do I certify the restoration?
    A: By completing and submitting the form "Certificate of Restoration" to the City.
    Q: What is the warranty period after completion of excavation?
    A: Each permittee shall warrant the excavation against all defects in workmanship and materials for a period of two years after final completion.
    Q: Does the City perform inspection of the excavation?
    A: Yes, Within the warranty period if the warranty inspection fails, a City inspector inspects the excavation and will inform the permittee of the findings in writing.
    Q: What should I do if I damage someone else's facility?
    A: You shall immediately notify the City and the owner of the facility, if known, of the damage.
    Q: What is my responsibility for restoration of excavation?
    A: The permittee shall determine the area of restoration by examining and adhering to the City of Houston Design Manual, STANDARD DETAILS. Restoration of the excavation shall be performed in accordance with the permit, the drawings and specifications, rules and regulations, and the construction standards and specifications adopted in or pursuant to Chapter 40, Article V of the Code of Ordinances, Houston, Texas, as amended from time to time. For additional requirements and information refer to that ordinance and the Rules and Regulations promulgated thereunder and City of Houston Standards and Specifications. See the SCPS Resources Page for a list of available resources. In general, the following roughly describes the area of restoration:
  • If the pavement is concrete and less than five (5) years old then the restoration area shall be full panel replacement.
  • All other pavements regardless of age shall require:
    • A minimum length of the area of restoration of 10 linear feet and shall be a multiple of 10 linear feet if longer.
    • That the area of restoration to encompass the full lane width.
    • To have two full lanes replaced if two lanes are affected.
    • That if the cut is within eight (8) feet of an expansion joint or a construction joint, then restoration shall extend to that joint.
    Q: What are my obligations?
    A: Each applicant (owner and/or contractor) on behalf of itself and any contractor acting on its behalf accepts and agrees to comply with all responsibilities, requirements, standards and specifications, warranties, terms and conditions, releases, and indemnification provisions, set forth in City Ordinance No. 2000-1115, 2006-595, and Rules and Regulations for Chapter 40, Article V, Houston City Code.
    Q: What types of permits are available?
    A: There are two types of permits: a detailed explanation of each type of permit can be obtained by clicking on the links below:
      1.     Scheduled Excavation Permit
2.     Emergency Excavation Permit

1. Scheduled Excavation Permit

    Q: What is a Scheduled Excavation Permit?
    A: A Scheduled Excavation Permit is a permit which is issued to anyone who performs excavations.
    Q: How long is a Scheduled Excavation Permit valid?
    A: A Scheduled Excavation Permit is good for 60 days from the date of issuance.
    Q: Who can apply for a Scheduled Excavation Permit?
    A: The owner always is the primary applicant. If the work is going to be performed by a contractor of the owner then the contractor shall join the owner as an applicant.
    Q: Can a contractor apply for a Scheduled Excavation Permit?
    A: The contractor can apply for a Scheduled Excavation Permit on behalf of the owner, if authorized, and for itself.
    Q: Do I need to submit drawings and specifications?
    A: Drawings and specifications must be submitted for all excavations that meet the following conditions:
  • The excavation will occur in any public way that is less than five (5) years old, and
  • The excavation includes new facilities that are either more than 10 ft. long, or that extend more than one lane.
    Q: Do I need to submit as-built drawings?
    A: If you submitted approved drawing number along with your application, you must submit as-built drawings following the completion of the excavation.
    Q: Do I need to submit as-built drawings for every excavation?
    A: There is no need for an as-built drawing if the work did not require submission of drawings.
    Q: What work is authorized by a Scheduled Excavation Permit?
    A: The permit holder is authorized to excavate only on the site/s specified on the permit.
    Q: How long will it take to receive a Scheduled Excavation Permit?
    A: A maximum of 14 calendar days after receipt of a complete application.
    Q: Will I receive a paper issued permit?
    A: No, but all approved excavations will receive an online approval along with specific permit number and a link to accept and print the permit.
    Q: I have my Scheduled Excavation Permit. What is next?
    A: You must submit the form "24 Hours Advance Notice to Commence Work (based on Scheduled Excavation Permit)" to the City and comply with all requirements prior to commencement of any work.
    Q: What do I do after the completion of work?
    A: You must submit the form "Certificate of Restoration" online.

2. Emergency Excavation Permit

    Q: What is an Emergency Excavation Permit?
    A: An Emergency Excavation Permit is a permit which is issued, to the utility provider such as the City, Gas, Electric and Telephone companies in case of a utility based emergency.
    Q: How do I know if it is an emergency?
    A: An emergency is defined as "an unforeseeable event or occurrence that endangers health, life, or property, or a situation in which public need for uninterrupted utility service requires immediate corrective action to restore services." Please make sure that your situation meets the above criteria.
    Q: What do I do if an emergency has occurred?
    A: Once you establish that the situation is an emergency do the following:
  • Submit "Notice of Emergency Excavation" online and then
  • Begin work.
    Q: What's next?
    A: Within 48 hours from breaking the pavement you must complete and submit the “Emergency Excavation” application (based on “Notice of Emergency Excavation” submitted earlier) to obtain a permit from the City.
    Q: Who can apply for an Emergency Excavation Permit?
    A: Only utility providers and their agents can apply for an emergency excavation permit.
    Q: Can a contractor apply for an Emergency Excavation Permit?
    A: The contractor can apply for an Emergency Excavation Permit on behalf of the utility provider, if authorized by them.
    Q: Do I need to submit drawings and specifications?
    A: Please follow the drawing requirements of the scheduled excavation permit.