Permits, violations & licenses

Get a Zoning Permit for a temporary use

Service overview

Certain businesses can get a Zoning Permit to change the use of a private lot for a limited time. This permit allows these businesses to extend their operations onto privately-owned outdoor spaces. Eligible uses include:

  • Restaurants
  • Retail
  • Personal Services
    • “Personal Services” are non-medical services for the care of individuals and of personal items. Examples include gyms, salons, dry cleaners, pet grooming, martial arts studios and similar facilities.

You can get a permit for all or part of a lot. The lot does not need to be adjacent to the business. Businesses can get a permit to use a lot they don’t own with permission from the property owner.

This is a temporary permit to support businesses during COVID-19 restrictions. It is valid for up to 180 days, but not after December 31, 2020.

Review the Outdoor Dining Guidelines (PDF) for complete requirements and guidance.

Other outdoor dining options

If you are unable to extend your business using a Zoning Permit for a temporary use, there are other options available. You can register for temporary outdoor dining to extend your business onto:

  • The sidewalk.
  • A curbside parking lane.
  • Adjacent property in the right-of-way.

The Department of Streets is piloting temporary street closures (PDF) for commercial activity.

Who

Property owners and their authorized agents can apply for this permit. Authorized agents may include:

  • Design professionals.
  • Attorneys.
  • Contractors.
  • Licensed expediters.
  • Tenants with the property owner’s permission.

Requirements

Guidelines

Read and the Outdoor Dining Guidelines (PDF) and the Guidelines for Restaurants and Mobile Food Vendors (PDF). Make sure that your business can comply before you apply.

Permit application

The permit application must include the proposed change and current owner information.

  • You must apply for all permits under the legal address established by the Office of Property Assessment (OPA).
  • If you are applying as a tenant, provide your executed lease agreement.

Related permits

  • If your project includes a tent, you will need to get a tent permit after you get zoning approval to change the use.
  • You may need other building permits for your project.

Where and when

Online

Use the eCLIPSE system.

In person

In-person application is not available due to the City building closure. Application by appointment will be available in the future.

Permit and License Center
1401 John F. Kennedy Blvd.
Municipal Services Building, 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

Permit fee
$30

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 (+2.5% surcharge)
In person at the Permit and License Center in the Municipal Services Building
  • Electronic check
  • Credit card (+2.5% 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% 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 authorize the City of Philadelphia or its agent to make a one-time electronic fund transfer from your account to collect a fee of $20.
  2. The City of Philadelphia or its agent may re-present your check electronically to your depository institution for payment.

How

You can apply for this permit online using eCLIPSE.

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.

Refer to the Department of Licenses and Inspection’s (L&I) how-to guide for step-by-step eCLIPSE instructions.

2
The application will be processed and reviewed by L&I.

Applications are processed within three business days.

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

If your proposal doesn’t qualify for a temporary zoning permit, L&I will review your application to see if it qualifies for a standard Zoning Permit for a change of use.

If your proposal doesn’t qualify for a standard permit, L&I will issue a refusal.


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