Permits, violations & licenses

Get a Certificate of Occupancy

Service overview

A Certificate of Occupancy (CO) shows that a building is safe to be occupied. You need a CO for:

  • New construction.
  • Additions.
  • Alterations that impact exits or fire ratings.
  • Projects that change the use or occupancy of a building.

A CO is not required:

  • For existing one-or-two-family homes.
  • If the owner, tenant, or residents have changed but the building use remains the same.

A CO is issued upon completion of some Building Permits. There is no separate application or extra charge for a CO connected to a Building Permit.

To get a CO without a Building Permit you must apply and pay the fee.

Building owners and tenants can request copies of a previously issued, available Certificate of Occupancy.

Who

Any property owner, their authorized agent, or tenant. Authorized agents may include:

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

Requirements

Application

Application must include a description of use 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 you are a tenant making application, include the executed lease agreement.

Plans

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

Contractor

You don’t need a contractor to get a CO unless the plans examiner determines that your building or space needs repairs or improvements. In those cases, you need a contractor for all associated construction or repair permits. That work must be completed before the CO is issued.

Forms and documents

You may need one of the following forms. If so, it must be notarized.

  • Affidavit of Limited Cooking: Required if there are permanent cooking appliances in a space but not a commercial kitchen exhaust system.
  • Affidavit of Restricted Use: Required for parts of a building that may not meet code and will not be occupied.

Related permits

If you need a CO because of change of use, make sure you get a Zoning Permit for any Change of Use before applying for a CO.

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

Office closes at Noon on the last Wednesday of each month.

Cost

Fee types that may apply

Filing fee

$100, Non-refundable and is applied towards the final permit fee

Permit fee

$200 per building or space that requires its own Certificate of Occupancy

Surcharge fees

City surcharge: $3 per permit

State surcharge: $4.50 per permit

Record retention fee

$4 per page larger than 8.5 in.  x 14 in.

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

In person

1
Bring your completed application, application materials, and payment to the Permit and License Center.
  • Applications are processed within 20 business days.
2
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.

Once approved, you must have an inspection before your CO is issued.

Inspections

Contact your assigned inspector to arrange the inspections noted on your your Administrative Permit. You need to have an inspection for each new Certificate of Occupancy. Inspections are not needed for replacement certificates.

A Certificate of Occupancy will be issued upon successful completion of the inspection.


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