Excavation permit Exception s139(4)

The Heritage Management System (HMS) is now live. Register as a user and lodge this application online. See the Frequently Asked Questions below for guidance. 

In some instances, an exception can be granted for archaeological excavation, provided it is for minor works that have minimal impact on relics of heritage significance.

A 'relic' means any deposits, artefact, object or material evidence that:

  • relates to the settlement of the area that comprises New South Wales, not being Aboriginal settlement, and
  • is of local or state significance.

Review the Exceptions gazetted in 2008 to determine whether your project fits into this category.


  • Exception 1 (a) no longer applies due to changes in the definition of a ‘relic’ under the Heritage Act 1977 that occurred in 2009.
  • Exceptions do not apply where there is potential for impact to Aboriginal Cultural Heritage (including Aboriginal Places, objects and/or sites).

An exception from the need for an Excavation Permit may apply if:

  • the site is likely to contain archaeological relics of local significance
  • the site is not listed on the State Heritage Register
  • the excavation works are minor in nature, and will have minimal impact on the heritage significance of the place
  • the works fit the description of one of the ‘Additional Exceptions’ listed in the Schedule of Exceptions
  • the site is identified in a Local Environment Plan.

An exception is not appropriate where State significant archaeology is identified or where there is potential for impact to Aboriginal Cultural Heritage (including Aboriginal Places, objects and/or sites).

If the proposed works do not fit the above, then an archaeological approval will be required under the Heritage Act 1977 (s140 or s60).

Apply for a s139(4) Exception

Launch the HMS to start your online application

An Excavation Permit Exception is granted under section 139(4) of the Heritage Act 1977.

To set up a HMS user account

To view the HMS dashboard in the best possible way, it is recommended to use Google Chrome Version 66.0 or higher.

Other browsers that support it include:

  • Safari
  • Mozilla firefox
  • Microsoft Edge 44.0
  • Internet Explorer 11 (Please note, versions lower than IE11 are not supported by the NSW Heritage Management System. Microsoft are currently rolling out updates to Windows 7 and 10 users to upgrade their browsers).

You can also view it on the following compatible mobile devices:

  • Google Android OS
  • Apple OS
  • Windows OS (Microsoft Edge)

Registration is essential to:

1. Apply online for permits and notifications under the Heritage Act 1977:

  • section 60 works approval
  • s60 fast track approval
  • s65 modifications
  • s139(4) excavation exception notification
  • s140 excavation permit
  • s146 discovery of a relic notification
  • Compliance with Conditions notifications for applications approved in HMS

2. Lodge your contact details with us. The HMS will also be the new contacts database for Heritage NSW (unfortunately due to security reasons we cannot migrate your contact details across automatically).

Registering a user account means you will receive email updates from us on issues such as such as heritage legislation and policy changes, new technical information, updated publications, events and grants opportunities. If you are a heritage consultant or provide conservation products and services, we will continue to publish your contact details on the Heritage NSW website once you have registered as a user in HMS.

Go to:  https://www.hms.heritage.nsw.gov.au/

Click on the Register and complete all of the fields.

You will receive an automated email requesting to verify your account.

The password requirements:

  • Must be at least eight (8) characters long
  • Must have a maximum of sixteen (16) characters
  • It must contain three of the following:
  • One Uppercase letter (A through Z)
  • One Lowercase letter (a through z)
  • One Numbers (0 through 9)
  • One Special character: ~! @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) _ + - = { } [ ] | \ : ; “ ‘ < > ? , . /

When you create a HMS user account, a validation email will be automatically sent to you. This will be sent from email address no-replyheritage@dpc.nsw.gov.au. If it's not in your inbox check your junk or spam email folders.

We are not able to resend the validation email. If it is not received, add the email address no-replyheritage@dpc.nsw.gov.au to your contact list and register once again. 

The verification link in the HMS validation email remains active for 24 hours. If you are unable to validate your account within this period, you can follow the directions in the email to request a new verification link. 


Go to:  https://www.hms.heritage.nsw.gov.au/

Select “Forgotten your password?”

Enter your email address

An email will be sent to this registered address

Click on the reset password link within this email

You will be prompted to enter a new password


To change your account profile details or password click the down arrow at the top right-hand corner of the HMS dashboard screen. 

To do an online application through HMS

Go to: https://www.hms.heritage.nsw.gov.au/

Once you have logged into the HMS, click “Start a new application” at the top right hand corner of the screen.

Select the type of application you wish to submit.

You can pay your fee invoice using a credit or debit card (Mastercard or VISA).

You cannot pay by cheque. 

Once the application check has been completed and processing commences a refund will not be granted should you withdraw your application.

Please contact Heritage NSW if you wish to discuss this policy further.


Once you submit and pay the fee invoice you will receive an automatic email notification with your application ID and payment receipt.

You can login to the HMS at any time to check the status of your application on your dashboard under the heading “My open applications”. Also check if you have been requested to provide further information regarding your application.

Completed applications are listed under the “My completed applications”.

You will receive an email notification when your application has been determined.