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Permits, violations & licenses

Get an Excavation Site Permit

Service overview

You need an Excavation Site Permit for any excavation that results in a cut, trench, or depression that is five feet below an adjacent grade.

This does not apply to:

  • Utility trenches or geotechnical exploration that doesn’t require a permit.
  • Demolition work covered under a Complete Demolition Permit.

The Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) issues this license.

Applications submitted on or after January 1, 2023 for construction projects that include an excavation more than five feet below grade will require an Excavation Site Permit.

 

Who

Property owners or their authorized agents can apply for this permit. An authorized agent may include a:

  • Contractor.
  • PA design professional.
  • Attorney.
  • Licensed expeditor.

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).
  • No permit will be released unless the property is current on all City of Philadelphia taxes.

Contractor

A Philadelphia-licensed excavation contractor must perform all excavation work. The excavation contractor 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 the excavation plan requirements.

Forms and other documents

  • Protection of property documentation, including a pre-construction survey, monitoring plan, and adjacent owner acknowledgement, for:
    • Excavation work more than five feet below an adjacent grade and within 10 feet of an adjacent building or structure.
    • Excavation work where a historic structure is within 90 ft. on the same or adjacent parcel.
  • 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
  • Engineering Design Calculations
  • Geotechnical Investigation Report signed and sealed by a professional engineer

Related Permits

  • You will need to get a Zoning Permit for Site Clearing for earth disturbance:
    • In the Steep Slope Protection Area, exceeding 1,400 sq. ft. with slopes greater than 15%.
    • In the Wissahickon Watershed Overlay, exceeding 500 sq. ft., except sites designated as Category 5 on the Impervious Coverage Map.

Required pre-approvals

  • For permanent right-of-way encroachments
  • Temporary excavation encroachments more than three feet with the exception of emergency egress window wells
  • Temporary excavation encroachments more than 12 feet in depth and is located within a distance, from the right-of-way, equal to the depth of excavation
More +

For earth disturbance of 5,000 square feet or more

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

  • Sites of one-or-two family dwellings: $25
  • All other sites: $100

This fee is non-refundable and is applied to the permit fee.

Permit fee

  • $103

Surcharge fees

  • City surcharge: $3 per permit
  • State surcharge: $4.50 per permit

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 license online using eCLIPSE or in person at the Permit and License Center.

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 to a one-or-two-family dwelling: 15 business days
  • Additions to 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.

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. Allow an additional business day for pre-processing.

  • Alterations to a one-or-two-family dwelling: 15 business days
  • Additions to 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.

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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