The traditional practice to assess accuracy in lidar data involves calculating RMSEz (root mean square error of the vertical component). Accuracy assessment of lidar point clouds in full 3D (three dimension) is not routinely performed. The main challenge in assessing accuracy in full 3D is how to identify a conjugate point of a ground-surveyed checkpoint in the lidar point cloud with the smallest possible uncertainty value. Relatively coarse point-spacing in airborne lidar data makes it challenging to determine a conjugate point accurately. As a result, a substantial unwanted error is added to the inherent positional uncertainty of the lidar data. Unless we keep this additional error small enough, the 3D accuracy assessment result will not properly represent the inherent uncertainty. We call this added error “external uncertainty,” which is associated with conjugate point identification. This research developed a general external uncertainty model using three-plane intersections and accounts for several factors (sensor precision, feature dimension, and point density). This method can be used for lidar point cloud data from a wide range of sensor qualities, point densities, and sizes of the features of interest. The external uncertainty model was derived as a semi-analytical function that takes the number of points on a plane as an input. It is a normalized general function that can be scaled by smooth surface precision (SSP) of a lidar system. This general uncertainty model provides a quantitative guideline on the required conditions for the conjugate point based on the geometric features. Applications of the external uncertainty model were demonstrated using various lidar point cloud data from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) library to determine the valid conditions for a conjugate point from three-plane modeling.