Permits, violations & licenses

Get a Lawful Occupancy Sign

Service overview

Lawful Occupancy Signs (LO) show how many people are allowed in a space at a given time. The Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) issues Lawful Occupancy Signs.

You need a Lawful Occupancy Sign if:

  • You own or operate an assembly space where 50 or more people gather.
  • L&I decides it is necessary to post an occupant limit.

If L&I previously approved a Lawful Occupancy Sign for a space in your building, you may be able to get a copy.

New owners or tenants operating a previously approved space with a Lawful Occupancy Sign do not need to reapply.

If you are proposing a change in the number of people who will occupy a space, you must file a new application and plans for review.

Posting

If you are required to have a Lawful Occupancy Sign, you must display it where occupants can easily see it. If you don’t, you may be cited for a violation.

All issued Lawful Occupancy Signs must remain posted as long as the building is in use.

Who

Any property owner or their authorized agent can apply. Authorized agents may include:

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

Requirements

Permit application

The permit 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 a tenant makes the application, include the executed lease agreement.

Plans

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

Contractor

A contractor isn’t required unless the plans examiner determines your building or space needs repairs or improvements before approval. In these cases, a contractor would be required in order for construction permits to be issued.

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

This fee is nonrefundable. It will be applied towards the final permit fee.

Permit fee

  • $150 per space
  • Cost for a replacement sign: $25

If you get a Building Permit or Certificate of Occupancy, Lawful Occupancy Signs are included for free.

Surcharge fees

  • City surcharge: $3 per permit
  • State surcharge: $4.50 per permit

Record retention fee

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

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 for this permit in person at the Permit and License Center. 

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.

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.

Forms & instructions


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