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Permits, violations & licenses

Get a Zoning Permit for site clearing or earth disturbance

Service overview

You need this zoning permit for projects that only involve site clearing and earth disturbance work that meets either of the following criteria:

  • Site clearing on a lot that is 5,000 sq. ft. or more in area
    • Site clearing includes cutting or removing trees, grubbing roots, and removing or filling building foundations.
    • Lots with a principal use of single-family residence, two-family residence, or urban agriculture are excluded.
  • 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.

If your project involves new construction or additions, you may not utilize this site clearing permit application. Landscaping / Tree Preservation plans and associated documents must be included with your Zoning Permit application for the new construction or addition.

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

If the property is in the floodplain

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

Who

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

  • Design professionals.
  • Attorneys.
  • Contractors.
  • Licensed expediters.

Requirements

Permit application

Plans

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

Forms and documents

You may need to provide:

Required pre-approvals

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

More +

For:

  • Site clearing on lots in the Wissahickon Watershed
  • Site clearing on lots in the Steep Slopes Protection Areas
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

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

  • Lot size less than or equal to 30,000 sq. ft.: $232
  • Lot size greater than 30,000 sq. ft.: $580

Record retention fee

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

Accelerated plan review fee (optional)

Applications for site work and earth disturbance 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

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 preapprovals before submitting your application to L&I.
2
Bring your completed application, application materials, and payment to the Permit and License Center.

Applications are processed within 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.

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.

Applications are processed within 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 a notice to pay the balance.

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

Renewal requirements

Expiration

Zoning Permits will expire in three years if you do not get a Site Work and Site Utility Permit and begin work at the site.

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.  Refer to the zoning permit extension information sheet for more information.


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