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Permits, violations & licenses

Get a Building Permit

Service overview

You must get a Building Permit before starting a project that:

  • Constructs a new building.
  • Enlarges or adds to an existing structure.
  • Changes the interior or exterior of an existing structure.
  • Partially or fully demolishes a structure.
  • Changes the occupancy classification of any part of a building.
  • Increases the occupant load in a space.
  • Includes major repairs that aren’t part of regular maintenance.
  • Includes 5,000 sq. ft. or more of earth disturbance.

Some projects are eligible for an EZ Permit, which doesn’t require you to submit plans. Plans are typically not required for mechanical, electrical, and plumbing work in new, residential construction projects.

In most cases, you must get a Zoning Permit before you can apply for a Building Permit.

A combination permit is mandatory for a one-or two-family new construction Residential Permit. In other cases, a combination permit is optional. Refer to the combination permit application information sheet for more detail.

The Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) issues these permits.

Projects that may not need permits

For some projects, you may not even need a Building Permit at all. As long as your property is not on the Philadelphia Historic Registry, you often don’t need a permit for:

  • Repairs related to regular maintenance.
  • Fencing up to six feet in height.
  • Retaining walls up to two feet in height. 
  • Some exterior work
    • Sidewalks, driveways, or projects like these that don’t go into the right-of-way or include parking.
    • Pointing masonry.
  • Replacing doors and windows in one-or-two-family dwellings.
  • Interior finish work
    • Painting, papering, and similar wall and ceiling finishes.
    • Paneling or gypsum wallboard installed over existing wall surfaces and ceiling material applied directly to existing ceilings in one-or-two-family and Group U occupancies.
    • Conventional floor coverings that are not comprised of fibers.
    • Carpeting and similar floor coverings that are not installed in exit access corridors, exit passageways, or vertical exits.
    • Cabinets and countertops.
    • Movable cases, counters, and partitions that are less than 6 ft. tall.
  • Accessory structures and features
    • Detached structures, like sheds, for one-or-two-family dwellings, 200 sq. ft. or less
    • Playground and pet equipment for one-or-two-family dwellings
    • Prefabricated swimming pools or spas, less than 24 in. deep, less than 5,000 gallons.

If the property is in the floodplain

Properties in the floodplain may require special documents or a review meeting.

Who

Any property owner or their authorized agent can apply for this permit. An authorized agent may include:

  • Design professional
  • Attorney
  • Contractor
  • Licensed expediter

Requirements

Permit application

The permit application must include the complete scope of work and current owner information.

  • If the property is NOT owned by a natural person or a publicly-traded company, provide the name and mailing address of one of the following:
    • Each individual with more than 49% interest in ownership of the property
    • The two individuals with the largest interest
  • If the property was recently sold, submit a copy of the settlement sheet or deed with the application.
  • You must apply for all permits under the legal address established by the Office of Property Assessment (OPA).
  • If the application is submitted by a building tenant, provide a copy of the executed lease.
  • No permits will be released for new construction unless the property is current on all City of Philadelphia taxes.

Contractor

A licensed Philadelphia contractor must perform the work, except for projects on an existing one-or-two-family home that don’t require an electrical or plumbing permit. In that case, work may also be performed by:

If your project requires contractors, all contractors must be named before final payment for the permit can be accepted. The contractors must:

  • Have an active license.
  • Be current on all City of Philadelphia taxes.
  • Have current insurance on file with L&I.

Plans

If your application requires plans, they must follow plan requirements.

Forms and other documents:

  • Application for Accelerated Review (optional)
  • Waste Hauler Form
    • For new construction, addition and alteration projects that require submission of plans.
  • Zoning Permit & Approved Zoning Site Plan
    • Stamped by Licenses and Inspections for respective permit numbers
  • Structural Design Criteria form
    • Structural Design Criteria form is required unless the building is a one-or-two family home.
  • Special Inspections documentation
    • Duties & Responsibilities Agreement signed by all parties
    • Statement of Special Inspections Schedule with categories and frequency selected
    • Name of licensed Special Inspection Agency qualified for all inspection categories
  • Energy Conservation Code compliance documentation
    • Reports or calculations to supplement plans, where applicable
    • Separate plan depicting the full building thermal envelope, insulation, continuous air barrier, and window/door schedule with fenestration rating and areas.
      • Refer to the Energy code compliance sample plan for minimum details.
  • Energy compliance forms
    • All construction
      • Air Barrier and Insulation Installation Checklist (provide to field inspector)
    • Commercial Construction
      • COMcheck Compliance Certificate signed by the design professional (submit with application)
        • Envelope Compliance Certificate (mandatory)
        • Interior/Exterior Lighting and/or Mechanical Compliance Certificate (required if either is selected as an additional efficiency package)
      • Commissioning Compliance Checklist (provide to field inspector)
    • Residential Construction
      • REScheck Compliance Certificate signed by the design professional (submit with application)
        • PA Exemption
        • HVAC Equipment Design Form (one-or-two-family)
        • HVAC Equipment Design Form (multi-family)
      • Duct and Envelope Testing Certificate (provide to field inspector)
  • Geotechnical Investigation Report signed and sealed by a professional engineer
    • Except residential additions under 2,000 sq. ft. with excavation greater than 3 feet from an existing structure.
  • Flood Protection Forms
    • For properties located in Flood Hazard Areas
  • Engineering design calculations
    • For non-prescriptive designs or where requested by the plans examiner
  • Engineering inspection reports for existing structures
    • Required when constructing above an existing building or reusing an existing foundation system
  • Asbestos Inspection Report
    • For buildings constructed prior to January 1, 1981 with costs of work exceeding $50,000, but excluding one-to-three-family dwellings
  • Executed contract or itemized cost estimate
    • For alteration projects using the option for 2 percent permit fee calculation
    • Where requested by plans examiner for existing building accessibility compliance
  • Key plan
    • For properties with multiple buildings or tenant spaces
  • Affidavit of Limited Cooking
    • If cooking equipment is present without a commercial exhaust system
  • Affidavit of Restricted Use
    • For existing levels that will be sealed off and not occupied as part of a decision made by either the Board of Safety and Fire Prevention or the Board of Building Standards.

Related Permits

Required pre-approvals

For all historic properties

More +

For plans with right-of-way encroachments or parking

More +

For all new construction

More +

For all utilities in new construction

More +

For earth disturbance of 5,000 square feet or more.

More +

Where required by zoning review for NCO/NCA overlays

More +

Where required by zoning review for areas with facade or other aesthetic controls on building design

More +

For high-rise buildings 

More +

For projects with on-site sewage disposal (septic) or private wells

More +

For certain healthcare and medical facilities

More +

New construction of three or more adjacent dwellings or larger new construction or addition projects 

More +

Where and when

Online

You can apply online using eCLIPSE.

If you need help filing your application online, you can schedule a virtual appointment.

In person

You need an appointment to visit the Permit and License Center 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

Offices close at noon on the last Wednesday of each month.

Cost

Fee types that may apply

Filing fee

  • For one-or-two-family dwellings: $25
  • For any other occupancy: $100

This fee is nonrefundable and is applied towards the final permit fee.

Permit fee

The cost of your building permit depends on your project size and type.

Before applying, review the summary of building permit fees to estimate the cost.

Surcharge fees

  • City surcharge: $3 per permit
  • State surcharge: $4.50 per permit
  • Development impact tax – tax rate as follows:
    • Fixed values based on construction and use classification for new construction
    • 1% of total improvement costs for alterations and additions

The development impact tax will only apply to all residential, including multi-family, new construction and improvement projects eligible for a real estate tax abatement. For more information on the real estate tax exemptions, refer to sections 202 (c) – (e) of the regulations.

Record retention fee

  • Per page larger than 8.5 in. by 14 in.: $4

Accelerated Plan Review fee (optional)

Applications for new construction that include plans are eligible for expedited review. Accelerated applications are reviewed within 5 business days.

  • Fee: $2000
    • $350 is due when you apply. You must pay the remainder once approved.

To apply, fill out an Accelerated Plan Review request form and submit with your permit application. Accelerated review fees will not be credited toward your final permit fee.

Payment methods and details

Accepted payment methods

Where Accepted payment
Online through the eCLIPSE application

(There is a $200,000 limit for online payments.)

  • Electronic check
  • Credit card (+2.25% surcharge)
In person at the Permit and License Center in the Municipal Services Building
  • Electronic check
  • Credit card (+2.25% surcharge)
In person at the Cashier’s Station in the Municipal Services Building

(Items paid at the Cashier’s Station will be mailed within five business days.)

  • Check
  • Money order
  • Credit card (+2.25% surcharge)
  • Cash

Checks and money orders

Check requirements
  • Make all checks and money orders payable to the “City of Philadelphia.”
  • The individual or company listed on the check must be listed on the application.
  • Personal checks are accepted.
  • Checks and money orders must have issue dates within 12 months of the transaction.
Reasons your check may be rejected

L&I will not accept checks that are missing depository information or are:

  • Unsigned.
  • Expired.
  • Post-dated.
  • Starter checks without account info.

Returned payment policy

If your check is returned unpaid for insufficient or uncollected funds:

  1. You will be charged a $20 fee for collection.
  2. You authorize the City of Philadelphia or its agent to make a one-time electronic fund transfer from your account to collect this fee directly.
  3. The City of Philadelphia or its agent may re-present your check electronically to your depository institution for payment.
  4. If the City is unable to obtain payment, the license, permit, or appeal application will be void.
  5. You cannot take any additional action under a permit until you have paid all fees.
  6. The permit or license will be revoked if the outstanding fees are not paid within 30 days.
  7. You cannot file or obtain additional permits until you resolve the outstanding debt.

Late license payment

If you renew your license more than 60 days after the due date, you will be charged 1.5% of the license fee for each month since the license expired.

How

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

In person

1
Get any required pre-approvals before submitting your application to L&I.
2
Bring your completed application, application materials, and payment to the Permit and License Center.

The time it takes to process an application varies by type:

  • Alterations / Additions to a one-or-two-family dwelling: 15 business days
  • New construction of a one-or-two-family dwelling: 15 business days
  • All others: 20 business days

The applicant can accelerate the application for an additional fee. Accelerated applications are reviewed within 5 business days.

Affordable housing projects

Some affordable housing projects are eligible for a 10-day review. See the related L&I regulation for more information.

To get a 10-day review for a qualified project:

  • Put “affordable housing project” at the beginning of the work description in the permit application.
  • Submit confirmation letter:
    • For projects that are seeking to use the Mixed-Income Housing Bonus pursuant to 14-702(7), submit a letter from the property owner’s agent.
    • For a property receiving funding through the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program, or for a property awarded funds controlled by the City of Philadelphia, submit a letter from the director of the Department of Planning and Development.

If you don’t meet these requirements, your project will be reviewed in the standard time period.

3
If approved, the applicant will receive notice to pay the balance.

If not approved, the applicant will receive an email stating what is missing or required.

Before a permit can be issued, the contractor must be identified.

4
Once approved, schedule required inspections

Contact your local inspection office when the contractor is ready to start work. The contact information and required inspections will be noted on your permit.

A Certificate of Approval will be issued upon successful completion of all required inspections.

Online

1
Log in to your eCLIPSE account and apply for a permit. Upload all required documents and pay the filing fee.

If applying as a licensed professional or contractor, you must first associate your license or registration with your online account.

2
The application will go to L&I and other City departments for review and approval.

The time it takes to process an application varies by type.

  • Alterations / Additions to a one-or-two-family dwelling: 15 business days
  • New construction of a one-or-two-family dwelling: 15 business days
  • All others: 20 business days

The applicant can accelerate the application for an additional fee. Accelerated applications are reviewed within 5 business days.

Affordable housing projects

Some affordable housing projects are eligible for a 10-day review. See the related L&I regulation for more information.

To get a 10-day review for a qualified project:

  • Put “affordable housing project” at the beginning of the work description in the permit application.
  • Submit a confirmation letter:
    • For projects that are seeking to use the Mixed-Income Housing Bonus pursuant to 14-702(7), submit a letter from the property owner’s agent.
    • For a property receiving funding through the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program, or for a property awarded funds controlled by the City of Philadelphia, submit a letter from the director of the Department of Planning and Development.

If you don’t meet these requirements, your project will be reviewed in the standard time period.

3
If the application is approved, you will receive notice to pay the balance.

If the application is not approved, you will receive an email stating what is missing or required.

Before a permit can be issued, the contractor must be identified and confirm their association with the project.

4
Once you are approved, schedule an inspection.

When the contractor is ready to start work, request an inspection through eCLIPSE or by calling (215) 255-4040.

Approval documents will be issued upon successful completion of all required inspections.


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