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Permits, violations & licenses

Get a Special Assembly Occupancy License

Service overview

A special assembly occupancy license is required for certain restaurants, bars, catering halls, nightclubs, and other gathering places.

You need this license if your business:

  • Offers social entertainment like dancing, live or recorded music, or DJs.
  • Has a lawful occupancy of 50 or more people.

You don’t need this license if your business:

  • Only uses a strolling musician.
  • Has a theater with fixed seating.
If an outside operator is holding an event, they must be registered as an Event Promoter.


Business owners and their agents can apply for this license.

You can’t get or renew this license if:

  • Your previous license at the location was revoked or deactivated within the last three months.
  • You are behind on filing or paying your City taxes.


Other licenses, registrations, certificates

Proof of posting notice

You must print and post the notice on all street-facing sides of your building and take photos of posting prior to submitting your application.

You must bring/upload the photos of posting with your application.

The posting must remain on site for at least 30 days.

Zoning approval

You must provide proof of zoning approval.

Tax compliance

The business must also be current on all City of Philadelphia taxes.

Background check

You must complete a criminal background check through the City or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Once your application has been accepted, the Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) will forward it to:

  • The Philadelphia Police Department for recommendation of approval.
  • L&I’s Code Enforcement Unit for fire safety inspection.

Where and when


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.


You can apply for this license online using eCLIPSE or in person at the Permit and License Center.

Renewal requirements

A Special Assembly Occupancy License must be renewed every two years. You can renew online through eCLIPSE or in person at the Permit and License Center.

To renew your license, you must be current on all City of Philadelphia taxes.

When you renew, you must post the notice on all street-facing sides of your building for a minimum of 30 days. You must upload or bring photos showing proof of posting on the building to the Permit and License Center.

L&I will forward your application to the Philadelphia Police Department for its recommendation of approval.