Business & self-employment

Get a Special Assembly Occupancy License

Service overview

A special assembly occupancy license is required for certain restaurants, bars, catering halls, nightclubs, and other gathering places.

You need this license if your business:

  • Offers social entertainment like dancing, live music, or DJs.
  • Has a lawful occupancy of over 50 people.

You don’t need this license if your business:

  • Only uses a strolling musician.
  • Has a dance floor that occupies less than 10 percent of the customer area.
  • Has a theater with fixed seating.

Who

Business owners and their agents can apply for this license.

You can’t get or renew this license if:

  • Your previous license at the location was revoked or deactivated within the last three months.
  • You are behind on filing or paying your City taxes.

Requirements

Other licenses, registrations, certificates

You also need to know the lawful occupancy of the business.

Zoning approval

You must provide proof of zoning approval.

Background check and tax clearance

You must complete a criminal background check through the City or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The business must also be current on all City of Philadelphia taxes.

Once your application has been accepted, the Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) will forward it to:

  • The Philadelphia Police Department for recommendation of approval.
  • L&I’s Code Enforcement Unit for fire safety inspection.

Where and when

Online

Use the eCLIPSE system.

In person

Permit and License Center
1401 John F. Kennedy Blvd.
MSB, Public Service Concourse
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Office hours: 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday

Office closes at noon on the last Wednesday of each month.

Cost

License fee
$220

A non-refundable fee of $20 is applied to the license fee. The balance of the license fee is due once your application is approved.

Renewal fee
$220

How

You can apply for this license online using eCLIPSE or in person at the Permit and License Center.

Online

1
Upload all required documents and pay the application fee.
2
You will receive a Notice of Application from L&I.

You must post this notice on the street-facing side of your building for a minimum of 30 days.

3
If approved by the Permit and License Unit, the application is sent to other departments for further approval.

The Philadelphia Police Department will provide its recommendation. L&I’s Code Enforcement Unit will perform a fire safety inspection.

The total review process can take up to 45 days.

4
Once L&I receives a positive recommendation and passed inspection, you will receive a notice to pay the balance.

In person

1
Visit the Permit and License Center with all required documents and the application fee.
2
You will receive a Notice of Application from L&I.

You must post this notice on the street-facing side of your building for a minimum of 30 days.

3
If approved by the Permit and License Unit, the application is sent to other departments for further approval.

The Philadelphia Police Department will provide its recommendation. L&I’s Code Enforcement Unit will perform a fire safety inspection.

The total review process can take up to 45 days.

4
Once L&I receives a positive recommendation and passed inspection, you will receive a notice to pay the balance.

Renewal requirements

A Special Assembly Occupancy License must be renewed every two years. You can renew online through eCLIPSE or in person at the Permit and License Center.

To renew your license, you must be current on all City of Philadelphia taxes.

When you renew, you will receive a Notice of Renewal from L&I.  You must post this notice on the street-facing side of your building for 30 days. L&I will forward your application to the Philadelphia Police Department for their recommendation of approval.


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