Applying for and considering an exemption

Owners of earthquake-prone buildings (EPBs) should supply supporting evidence with their application for exemption. The territorial authority must consider this promptly and grant an exemption if the building has all the required characteristics. If so, the authority must also issue an EPB exemption notice and update the EPB Register.

Building owners can apply for exemption from completing seismic work

If you own an earthquake-prone building or part, you can ask your territorial authority for an exemption from having to complete the required seismic work (ie strengthening or removing it so it is no longer earthquake prone).

It is up to you to give the territorial authority enough information to decide whether your building has all the required characteristics. Submit your application in writing and attach any supporting evidence.

Examples of suitable evidence could include:

  • information about the building’s current and expected use – tenancy or lease agreements, meeting and maintenance schedules may include some relevant details
  • details of the building’s location and of any adjoining or nearby properties
  • a description of nearby foot and vehicle traffic
  • a recent engineering assessment if you have one (eg if you provided an assessment to the territorial authority before it determined your building was earthquake prone).

Buildings must have all the required characteristics has further information.

Key point: The territorial authority has already considered various aspects of your building when determining it to be earthquake prone (this could include an engineering assessment, details of its current and possible occupancy, and the proximity of any neighbouring buildings). You could talk to your territorial authority to find out what it has on file, and make sure you provide the most up-to-date information.

The territorial authority must consider your application promptly and then let you know what it decides.

If you are granted an exemption you will receive a new notice to display on your building (an EPB exemption notice) explaining its status. As your building is still earthquake prone it will remain on the national EPB Register, although the Register will record the exemption. 

If your application is unsuccessful and you want to reapply, talk to your territorial authority. If it gave reasons for refusing to grant an exemption you could use these as your starting point for assembling more evidence, if this is appropriate. If you are unhappy with the territorial authority’s decision you can apply to MBIE for a determination.

There are no time limits for exemptions but the territorial authority may review them at any time. It will revoke an exemption if it is not satisfied that your building still has all the required characteristics (eg if its use changes and significantly more people are inside or nearby).

For more information, see:

Territorial authorities must consider applications for exemptions promptly

If you are a territorial authority you must consider a building owner’s application for an exemption promptly. To grant an exemption you must be satisfied the earthquake-prone building or part has all the characteristics set out in the regulation – ie it is not enough for it to have one or two.

If you are satisfied that it does then you must grant an exemption, issue an EPB exemption notice, and update the EPB Register.

If you decide not to grant an exemption, you must advise the building owner in writing. MBIE recommends including your reasons for refusal.

Your decision can only be made on a case-by-case basis, based on information the owner provides. You will need to consider the likely consequences of building failure for life safety and property damage.

You can review this decision at any time to make sure that the building still has all the required characteristics. If you are no longer satisfied of this you must revoke the exemption, issue an EPB notice to replace the exemption notice, and update the EPB Register accordingly.

Buildings must have all the required characteristics has further information about what to consider.

A template letter is available on the EPB Register to help you let owners know your decision.

If your territorial authority does not yet have access to the EPB Register to access this template, please contact the Register Administrator on

EPB exemption notices

EPB exemption notices must include the territorial authority’s reasons for an exemption.

These notices identify the building or part of the building that is earthquake prone, and state that the owner is exempt from the requirement to carry out seismic work.

There is no prescribed format for EPB exemption notices, but MBIE encourages territorial authorities to issue notices with orange and white striped borders. This helps buildings with exemptions to be recognised easily across the country. It also helps distinguish them from other earthquake-prone buildings.

Territorial authorities must attach, or require owners to attach, EPB exemption notices in a prominent place on or adjacent to the building.

A template EPB exemption notice is available for territorial authorities on the EPB Register.

Earthquake-prone building resources has information sheets on EPB notices and exemption notices.

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This information is published by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Chief Executive. It is a general guide only and, if used, does not relieve any person of the obligation to consider any matter to which the information relates according to the circumstances of the particular case. Expert advice may be required in specific circumstances. Where this information relates to assisting people: