Permits, violations & licenses

Get a Zoning Permit for new construction or additions

Service overview

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.

Small projects

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.

Large projects

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.

Accessory structures

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 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.

Who

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.
  • Attorney.
  • Contractor.
  • Licensed expediter.

Requirements

Permit application

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

Plans

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

Required pre-approvals

For any new or modified:

  • Off-street parking
  • Off-street loading
  • Curb cuts
  • Right-of-way encroachments
More +

For:

  • Determining the front of a property that is bounded by two or more streets (such as a corner)
  • Lot line adjustments proposed in conjunction with new construction or additions
  • Construction on lots in Wissahickon Watershed
  • Construction on lots in Steep Slopes Protection Areas
  • Landscaping and screening for parking lots
  • Wireless service screening
  • Off-street parking with three or more spaces
More +

For:

  • Parking garages with 250 or more spaces on lots in or adjacent to a residential or commercial district.
  • Any parking garage in RMX-3, CMX-3, CMX-4, and CMX-5.
More +

For CMX-4 or CMX-5 buildings using sky plane controls (option A).

More +

For Planning Overlays, which may include:

  • Facades in NCA Ridge Avenue overlay
  • CAO City Avenue Overlay
  • Any property in a Neighborhood Conservation Overlay district
    • Queen Village
    • Overbrook Farms
    • Central Roxborough
    • Ridge Park Roxborough
    • Powelton Village
    • Wissahickon
More +

For facades in CTR overlay

More +

For Special Purpose Districts:

  • SP-ENT
  • SP-INS
  • SP-STA
  • SP-PO
  • SP-AIR
More +

For earth disturbance of 5,000 sq. ft. or more.

More +

Where and when

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

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.

Permit fee

The cost of your permit depends on your project. Before applying, review the summary of zoning and use permit fees(PDF) 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 5–10 business days.

  • Fee: $540
  • If your plans require more than four hours to review, you will be charged an additional fee of $135 per hour.

To apply, fill out an Accelerated Plan Review application and submit with your permit application. Amount must be paid when you submit your application and will not be credited toward your final permit fee.

Payment methods and details

Accepted payment methods

Where Accepted payment
Online through the eCLIPSE application
  • 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 in person at the Permit and License Center.

In person

1
Get any required pre-approvals and bonus approvals before submitting your application to L&I.

If requesting Bonus reviews, make sure you contact the relevant department before making application.

2
Bring your completed application, application materials, and payment to the Permit and License Center.

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 5-10 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.

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

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


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