You need zoning approval for new buildings and additions. Zoning approval is required to get a Building Permit.
If your proposal meets code requirements, you are granted permits as a matter of right. If your proposal does not meet code requirements, you’ll need a special exception or variance from the Zoning Board of Adjustment.
For smaller projects, such as additions to single-family homes, the Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) can review zoning and building code requirements at the same time. To do this, you must also file a Building Permit application.
For larger projects, such as new construction of apartments or mixed-use buildings, you should complete the zoning process before submitting your building permit application. Development Services can also help navigate these projects.
Large projects may also be eligible for various bonuses. Bonus reviews are conducted by:
You can contact these departments to see if you will qualify for a bonus. A list of available bonuses is also provided by the Department of Licenses and Inspections.
If you want to build a shed or similar accessory structure for your existing one-or-two-family dwelling, you may not need zoning approval. You can skip the zoning permit process if the accessory structure:
- Has an area less than 130 sq. ft. & height less than 15 ft.
- Is located in the rear yard.
- Does not store motor vehicles.
If the property is in the floodplain
Properties in the floodplain may require special documents or a review meeting.
Property owners or developers can apply for this permit. This application may also be filed by an authorized agent of the owner such as a:
- Design professional.
- Licensed expediter.
The permit application must include the complete scope of work and current owner information.
- 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 your application requires plans, they must follow plan requirements.
Forms and documents
- Property deed may be requested by L&I
- Flood Protection forms, if located in the floodplain
Where and when
You can apply online using eCLIPSE. Permit and License Center Office hours: 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday Offices close at noon on the last Wednesday of each month.
1401 John F. Kennedy Blvd.
MSB, Public Service Concourse
Philadelphia, PA 19102
You can apply online using eCLIPSE.
Permit and License Center
Office hours: 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday
Offices close at noon on the last Wednesday of each month.
Fee types that may apply
There is a non-refundable filing fee which is applied to the permit fee.
- For one-or-two-family dwellings: $25
- For all other uses: $100
The balance of the permit fee is due upon approval.
The cost of your permit depends on your project. Before applying, review the summary of zoning permit fees to estimate the cost.
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: $1050
- $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
|Online through the eCLIPSE application
(There is a $200,000 limit for online payments.)
|In person at the Permit and License Center in the Municipal Services Building||
|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.)
Checks and money orders
- 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:
- Starter checks without account info.
Returned payment policy
If your check is returned unpaid for insufficient or uncollected funds:
- 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.
- The City of Philadelphia or its agent may re-present your check electronically to your depository institution for payment.
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.
You can apply for this permit in person at the Permit and License Center or online using eCLIPSE.
If requesting Bonus reviews, make sure you contact the relevant department before making application.
Applications that require plans and are for one-or-two-family uses are reviewed within 15 business days. All other applications that require plans are reviewed within 20 business days.
You can accelerate the application for an additional fee. Accelerated applications are reviewed within 5 business days.
Civic Design Review
Some projects may also need a civic design review. L&I will tell you if your project needs this review after you submit your application.
If not approved, you will receive an email stating what is missing or required.
If applying as a licensed professional or contractor, you must first associate your license or registration with your online account.
Applications for one-or-two family uses are reviewed within 15 business days. Applications for other uses are reviewed within 20 business days.
Applications for new construction that include plans are eligible for accelerated review. Accelerated applications are reviewed within 5 business days.
If not approved, the applicant will receive an email stating what is missing or required.
If your application receives a Notice of Refusal or Notice of Referral, you may appeal to the Zoning Board of Adjustment.
Your right to appeal a Notice of Refusal or Referral expires 30 days from the date it was issued. These denials can not be extended. You need to submit a new application and filing fee to get a new refusal or referral.
- Zoning permits that involve building expire in three years if you don’t begin construction at the site.
- A Conditional Zoning Permit is valid for one year after the date it was issued.
Extending a zoning permit
You can apply for a permit extension starting three months before the permit expires. Extended permits are valid for one year from the expiration date of the original permit, regardless of when the extension is issued.
You can apply for an extension online using eCLIPSE or in person. To apply for an extension in person:
- Fill out a Zoning Permit Application. In the project summary, state that you’re applying for a permit extension and include the permit number.
- Attach a letter detailing why you need an extension and the planned construction schedule.
- File the application in person at the L&I Permit and License Center and pay the permit extension fee of $50.