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The Philadelphia Beverage Tax (PBT) is imposed on the distribution of sweetened beverages intended for resale in Philadelphia.

The information below is meant to help manufacturers, distributors and dealers understand which business transactions and products are taxable.

Business transactions

The Philadelphia Beverage Tax is due when a sweetened beverage is distributed to a Dealer who intends to sell it at retail in Philadelphia.

If you are distributing to a dealer who sells the beverage at their business location outside Philadelphia, the product is not subject to the tax.

Manufacturers

A manufacturer of sweetened beverages does not owe PBT when selling products to a distributor, or directly to a consumer. For example, a manufacturer who sells a sweetened beverage to consumers at a farmer’s market does not file or pay PBT.

Distributor and dealer

If you’re a Dealer who both:

  • Purchases sweetened beverages with the intent to sell them at retail, and
  • Resells them to other dealers,

Notify the distributor what percentage you yourself sell at retail in Philadelphia. Your distributor must file and pay PBT on that portion of the transaction. You must also become a Registered distributor to pay the tax on the inventory you sell to other Dealers in Philadelphia.

Another option is to become a Registered Dealer, if you find that it is easier to manage the payment of the tax on everything you yourself sell at retail, plus what you sell to other Dealers.

If you are a Dealer who both:

  • Uses concentrated sweeteners to make a finished product you sell at retail (subject to the tax), and
  • Makes concentrated sweeteners available to customers to mix in themselves (not subject to the tax),

Notify the distributor at the time of purchase, how much concentrated sweetener will be used for each purpose. If you are a Registered dealer or a Special dealer, file and pay PBT on the taxable transaction only.

Dealers who sell in and outside Philadelphia

If you own a retail store in Philadelphia, but sometimes deliver beverages to retail customers outside the city from that store, the products are still taxable. Those beverages were held for retail sale in Philadelphia, so the tax was due when you acquired them.

If you own retail stores both inside and outside of Philadelphia, the products purchased for sale in the stores outside are excluded only if you segregated them from the rest of your inventory, and informed your Distributor which portion you intended to sell outside Philadelphia.

Online distributors

If you purchase beverages from an online distributor, and then resell them in Philadelphia to retail customers, you must notify the online distributor that the distribution of those sweetened beverages is subject to PBT.

  • If your online distributor becomes a Registered distributor, and files and pays PBT on the products distributed to you, you are in compliance.
  • If your online distributor does not become a Registered distributor, you must become a registered dealer and file and pay PBT on the products yourself. Another option is to find a new vendor who is a Registered distributor.

Giveaways and promotions

Sweetened beverages given away for free are not subject to the tax, as long as they were never intended for retail sale in Philadelphia. Examples are beverages available for free at a school, company, or non-profit’s cafeteria. In this case, the transaction is not taxable.

However, if the products were ever held out for retail sale in Philadelphia, they are subject to the tax. If such products are part of a 2-for-1 special, or other giveaway, the entire volume distributed is taxable.

This also applies to sweetened beverages marketed as part of a meal or larger deal. The tax is calculated on the volume of the beverage distributed.

If a Distributor donates sweetened beverages, and then the products are sold at retail in Philadelphia, the distribution becomes taxable.

Products

New products come on the market every day. Maintaining a complete list of products that are subject to the Philadelphia Beverage Tax would be difficult and impractical. PBT regulations and the information below provide guidance about ingredients and categories of products that are subject to the tax.

Diet and low-sugar drinks

The distribution of products that are marketed as “diet” and “zero calorie” sweetened beverages is taxable. Products labeled “lightly sweetened” or “low-sugar” are also subject to the tax.

The distribution of beverages containing sweeteners with no calories, such as stevia, aspartame, sucralose, neotame, acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), saccharin, and advantame is taxable.

We have a separate webpage about filing caloric and non-caloric beverages.

Dairy and dairy substitutes

Beverages that are 50% dairy milk or more are not subject to the tax. For example, chocolate milk and drinkable yogurts that are 50% dairy milk or more are not covered, even if they have added sweetener.

In addition, the distribution of syrups and other concentrates is not taxable if they are part of a finished beverage that is 50% milk or more.

Milk solids plus water are considered the same as regular milk –and therefore not subject to the tax– if they are mixed in a proportion that is nutritionally equivalent to milk.

The distribution of sweetened coffee creamers is not subject to the tax.

Unsweetened non-dairy milks, such as unsweetened almond milk, soy milk, or rice milk, are not subject to the tax. Non-dairy milks that contain sweetener are subject to the tax.

However, sweetened dairy substitutes deemed to be nutritionally equivalent to dairy milk by the USDA are not subject to the tax. You can find examples listed on the WIC food list at the Pennsylvania WIC website.

Fruit and vegetable drinks

Only 100% juice, or 100% vegetable drinks are exempt from PBT. All juices or vegetable drinks with added sweeteners are subject to the tax.

Even lightly sweetened juices, like a cranberry juice cocktail, are subject to the tax.

Nevertheless, there is an exclusion for “fresh” fruit or vegetable drinks prepared at the point of sale. These drinks must contain at least 50% fruit or vegetable juice.

Medical foods

Medical foods are foods designed to treat or manage a diagnosed medical condition. The federal Orphan Drug Act defines medical foods. Taxpayers may be asked to provide documentation when they claim a medical foods exemption. More information is available in Section 102 of the PBT regulations.

Thickened beverages are not subject to the tax when they are medical foods. Examples include beverages specifically marketed for use by people with dysphagia and/or swallowing dysfunction.

Sweetened meal replacement beverages, weight loss shakes and similar products –which don’t meet the definition of a medical food– are taxed.

Mixes and other products

If a dealer mixes a sweetened concentrate to create a beverage before its retail sale, then distribution of that concentrate is taxable.

As an example, syrups that are added by a coffee shop’s staff as part of a drink recipe, are subject to the tax.

Tax on products with two types of sweetened concentrates should be based on the total ounces of finished product, either by taxing just one of the concentrates or prorating between the two.

Mixes sold at retail (like powdered iced tea, protein shakes, hot cocoa, or lemonade) are not taxable when they are sold in concentrate form to the end customer. An example is a customer who makes lemonade at home. The lemonade powder is not subject to the tax.

Table sugar sold at retail is not taxable.

Similarly, natural sweeteners, such as agave, honey and stevia are not taxable when sold on their own. Grenadine, maple syrup and honey are considered multi-use sweeteners and are also excluded if sold on their own. However, beverages, syrups, and concentrates that contain these sweeteners as ingredients are taxable.

The distribution of non-alcoholic beers is taxable if there is an added sweetener in the beverage.

A cocktail mixer may, or may not be, taxable. If it is sold directly to the end consumer on its own, it is not taxable. However, a cocktail mixer may also be a concentrate used to prepare a sweetened beverage. If that concentrate is sold to a dealer to create a finished beverage, it is subject to PBT.

Calculate the tax based on volume of finished beverage created using the manufacturer’s instructions, but subtract the alcohol from that volume.

If you have a question about a specific product, or want a product to be reviewed for exemption, please email your request to revenuetaxadvisors@phila.gov. Include any documentation that supports your request, such as medical studies or proof of exemption in other jurisdictions.

Learn about deed and mortgage fraud and how to protect yourself.

Service overview

Deed fraud occurs when a person sells a home pretending to be the owner without the permission of the legal owner. The legal owner’s name is removed from the deed without the legal owner’s knowledge or informed consent.

Mortgage fraud occurs when someone signs a mortgage against a property that they do not own to borrow money against the property. The mortgage transactions are completed without the knowledge or informed consent of the legal owner of the property.

You can protect yourself from deed and mortgage fraud by signing up for Deed Fraud Guard. Deed Fraud Guard is a simple way to monitor your land records and warn you of potential property fraud.

Who

Deed Fraud Guard is for any property owner in Philadelphia.

Cost

Deed Fraud Guard is free.

How

Register your name on the Deed Fraud Guard website, and when a document is recorded with your name on it, you will be notified by email. Once you receive the email, you have several options available to access and review the document.

Service overview

The City of Philadelphia has partnered with Bank On to help residents get safe and affordable banking services. By using a Bank On-approved account, residents can avoid costly check-cashing services and unexpected fees. They can also get access to online banking and bill payments.

All Bank On-approved accounts have:

  • A minimum opening deposit of $25.
  • Low or no monthly fees.
  • No overdraft fees.
  • Online and mobile banking.
  • Online bill payments.

Who

Anyone who meets the requirements can open a Bank On-approved account, even if they have debt or a low credit score.

If you’ve had a bank account before, but the bank closed it, you can still open a new account.

Requirements

To open an account, you must provide:

  • A valid form of identification, such as a driver’s license, state ID, or Social Security card.
  • Proof of your address.
    • If you are experiencing homelessness, you can ask a local shelter to use their address. You can also use the address of a friend or family member.
  • A phone number.
    • Lifeline, a federal program, may be able to help you get low-cost phone service.

You must also:

  • Make a deposit of $25 or more.
  • Be prepared to pay a small monthly account fee, if needed. All Bank On-approved accounts cost $5 or less per month.

Where and when

In Philadelphia, you can get a Bank On-approved account at:

  • Bank of America (Safe Balance Banking Account).
  • Chase (Secure Banking Account).
  • Key Bank (Hassle-Free Account).
  • Wells Fargo (EasyPay Account).

You can find out more about these accounts online or by visiting the banks in person. You can also get free help by contacting a Financial Empowerment Center at (800) 346-7445.

How

1
Research your options and choose the account that is right for you.

As you make your decision, you might consider:

  • How close is the bank to where I live or work?
  • When is the bank open?
  • What fees are there on the account, if any?
  • Does the bank offer services in my language?
2
Gather your documentation and the money for your deposit.
3
Visit the bank of your choice to open an account.

Before you begin

It helps to know what material your water pipe is made of before making the appointment. Watch this video or read this fact sheet(PDF) for instructions on checking your pipes.

Service overview

The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) will conduct free water quality tests for customers with concerns about lead or water quality in their homes.

Who

If you have lead plumbing in your home or other water quality concerns, you can contact PWD to arrange for a free testing of your water.

Cost

There is no cost for water quality testing.

How

1
Contact the Water Department.

Customers who have lead plumbing or other water quality concerns and would like to have PWD test their water should call (215) 685-6300 to request a test.

2
You will be contacted to schedule an appointment within 10-15 business days.
3
A Water Department representative will test your water.

A representative from our lab will come to your home and take a tap water sample that will be tested for lead and other water quality parameters.

Service overview

Effective September 3, 2019, parking workers in Philadelphia can no longer be discharged without just cause. Discharge without just cause is the illegal practice of terminating an employee without progressive discipline, and without providing a precise reason for the discharge.

Examples of violations under the wrongful discharge from parking law include:

  • Failure to post the wrongful discharge from parking employment poster
  • Failure to keep records for two years
  • Failure to use progressive discipline
  • Wrongful discharge without just cause

Employers can contact the Office of Benefits and Wage Compliance for a sample HR progressive discipline policy template and sample discharge letter that is compliant under this law.

How

If you have been wrongfully terminated or have experienced other violations of this law, you can file a complaint provided that your complaint is filed within two years of the incident.

In order to file a complaint, fill out and sign the Wrongful Discharge From Parking Employment Complaint form.

Forms can be emailed to justcauseparking@phila.gov, or mailed to:

Office of Benefits and Wage Compliance
1515 Arch St., 11th floor
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Service overview

If you suspect you are a victim of deed or mortgage fraud, you should report the fraud to the Department of Records. We will provide you with information and direct you to the appropriate resources. You can also read more about how to report deed fraud on this page.

Deed fraud occurs when a person sells a home pretending to be the owner without the permission of the legal owner. The legal owner’s name is removed from the deed without the legal owner’s knowledge or informed consent.

Mortgage fraud occurs when someone signs a mortgage against a property that they do not own to borrow money against the property. The mortgage transactions are completed without the knowledge or informed consent of the legal owner of the property.

Did you know you can protect yourself from deed and mortgage fraud? Register for a free Fraud Guard account.

Who

Anyone who suspects they may be a victim of deed or mortgage fraud regarding a property located in the City of Philadelphia.

Requirements

You are not required to provide specific documentation to report suspected deed or mortgage fraud. However, we recommend that when you visit the Department of Records, you bring with you as much information as you can gather. The more information you are able to provide, the better we can assist you. The resolution of property fraud requires court action, including a court order issued by a judge.

Where and when

You may visit us in our Reference Room in City Hall, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. We strongly recommend that you schedule an appointment to meet with us in person to report the property fraud. These issues can be very complicated, and we find that a face-to-face meeting is the best way to assist you. You can contact us to make an appointment.

Department of Records
City Hall, Room 154
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 686-2290
records.info@phila.gov

Cost

There is no cost to file a Deed or Mortgage Fraud Report with the Department of Records.

How

If you believe you are the victim of property fraud, we recommend you take the following actions.

1
Speak with the Department of Records

Our staff will interview you in person, if possible, or at least speak to you over the phone to ensure we understand your situation and can direct you to the appropriate resources.

2
File a Deed/Mortgage Fraud Report

File a Deed/Mortgage Fraud Report with the Department of Records. You must come to the Department of Records to file the report, Due to the complexity of deed and mortgage fraud, we do not allow these to be filed online.

3
Get a copy of your deed or mortgage
  • Obtain a certified copy of the deed or mortgage in question from the Department of Records. Be sure to search the records by property address to make sure there are no other fraudulent documents. Department of Records staff will assist you in obtaining a certified copy.
  • If you are not able to visit City Hall, you can request a copy of the of the deed or mortgage in question by mail. Include your name and address, the address of the property in question and a brief description of the problem. Requests should be sent to Attn: Supervisor, at our address.
  • You may also view (not print) an unofficial copy of your deed or mortgage online at no cost. Or you may pay for an online subscription with a credit card to print the deed or mortgage. A 24-hour online subscription costs $15. There also are longer subscription periods and fees listed on our website, if you need them.

Take these additional actions

  • Report the fraud to the Police Department.
  • After filing a police report, notify the District Attorney’s Office at (215) 686-9902
  • Notify the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection at 1-(800) 441-2555.
  • Obtain the services of a real estate lawyer immediately.
Information and resources for vendors doing business with the City.
Ways to report wrongdoing in the workplace, such as wage theft.
Resources that provide guidance and financial assistance for businesses.
Find the information and licenses you need to start a business.

The Philadelphia Beverage Tax (PBT) covers the distribution of both regular sweetened (caloric) beverages and sweetened “diet” (non-caloric) beverages. While PBT includes both types of drinks, they are reported on separate lines on a PBT return.

Distributors, registered dealers and special dealers can refer to the information below if they are unable to report caloric and non-caloric products separately.

Obtain permission

The PBT online return provides fields for reporting the following information:

  • The volume of taxable ounces of non-caloric (diet) beverages supplied.
  • The volume of taxable ounces of caloric (regular) beverages supplied.
  • The volume of taxable finished non-caloric (diet) beverages produced from concentrates and syrups supplied.
  • The volume of taxable, finished caloric (regular) beverages produced from concentrates and syrups supplied.

Fill out all the fields that apply to your business. Some beverages may contain both caloric and non-caloric sweeteners. In that case they should be reported as caloric.

If it’s very difficult to report caloric and non-caloric beverages separately, you may obtain permission to report all sweetened beverages as caloric. Write to revenue@phila.gov to explain your situation and make the request.

PBT is calculated for concentrates and syrups based on the amount of finished beverage intended to be produced, using the manufacturer’s instructions.

  • For example, if the manufacturer says to dilute 1 tablespoon of powdered drink mix with 20 ounces of water, then each tablespoon should be treated as 20 ounces of taxable product. The tax would be 20 ounces times 1.5 cents for a total of 30 cents.
  • If you don’t follow the instructions, mixing the powder into a greater or lesser volume of water, you must continue to treat the tablespoon as 20 ounces.
  • If the manufacturer provides more than one set of instructions, calculate the tax based on the instructions that produce the largest volume of finished beverage.

The online return will calculate the amount of tax due for you automatically. It will also calculate late fees, if necessary.

The Philadelphia Beverage Tax (PBT) is filed and paid monthly on the Phila. Tax Services website. The information below helps distributors and dealers know how to file in some special situations.

Before filing and paying PBT

To file and pay PBT, distributors and registered dealers must create a user profile and register a PBT tax account on the Phila. Tax Services website.

Partnerships and sole proprietors should register with their Federal EIN numbers. If they don’t have an EIN, they can use a Social Security Number (SSN).

Businesses with an existing Philadelphia tax account number, can use the same EIN/SSN and account number to file PBT.

Distributors who sell to other distributors do not file and pay PBT. The distribution of sweetened beverages to other wholesalers is not subject to the tax.

Dealers with multiple locations in and outside Philadelphia may find it difficult to inform a distributor how much product is intended for retail sale in the city. In this case, a dealer can register to file and pay PBT to the City directly. These businesses are known as Registered dealers.

Amended returns and refunds

PBT is a tax on the distribution of sweetened beverages that are intended for sale in Philadelphia. For that reason, distributors are not entitled to a credit or refund when:

  • Dealers fail to pay them for the products supplied.
  • Products expire and must be destroyed.
  • Products are returned, or given away after sitting on the shelves.

Similarly, they are not allowed to reduce the number of ounces of product reported to the City to deduct for inventory that was damaged or stolen.

Distributors and Registered dealers may nevertheless discover they underpaid or overpaid PBT for a certain month.

In the case of an underpayment, they must file an amended return, and pay what is owed with interest and penalty from the due date.

In the case of an overpayment, they will claim a credit when filing their next return. They can only claim a refund if they are no longer required to file and pay PBT.

A dealer might notify a distributor that more product was held for retail sale in Philadelphia than first thought. In this case, a distributor can allow a dealer to recharacterize the sale as a Philadelphia sale. An amended return must be filed, and an additional payment made.

Dealers who don’t inform distributors they are purchasing sweetened beverages for retail sale in Philadelphia, must become a Registered dealer and pay the tax to the City directly.

If a distributor or Registered dealer overpays, they should contact a customer collections representative to request that a credit be applied to a future tax period. Contact a collections representative by:

There is no alternative tax calculation if the amount of the tax due is equal to, or more than, the retail price of a product. The tax is based on the volume of the beverage distributed and is unrelated to the price.

There is no annual reconciliation form for PBT.

Dealers and distributors of sweetened beverages in Philadelphia help each other remain tax compliant by acknowledging, and keeping records, of their business transactions.

A dealer sends a notification to their sweetened beverage distributor. In turn, the distributor sends a confirmation to the dealer. The distributor pays Philadelphia Beverage Tax (PBT) and remits it to the City electronically. When a PBT investigator makes a field visit, a dealer proves compliance by providing:

  • Their Pennsylvania Sales Tax exemption form (to confirm location)
  • A Dealer notification
  • A Distributor confirmation
  • Invoices

Dealers gather the documents by following the steps described below.

Dealer notifies their distributor

Dealers must notify distributors they are in Philadelphia and that the sweetened beverages distributed to them are covered by the Philadelphia Beverage Tax. The City keeps a list of official registered distributors. To complete this requirement, a dealer must send distributors:

  • Their PA Sale for Resale Sales Tax Exemption form with a Philadelphia address, or
  • A Dealer notification form, provided by the Department of Revenue.

This should be done whenever a new business relationship starts, and at least annually after that.

Dealers with multiple locations in Philadelphia are not required to send separate notices to their distributors for each location –one is enough. However, if some of their locations are outside the City, they should alert the distributor as to which beverages are to be sold in the City and which are not. This way, the distributor avoids taxes on products meant for retail sale outside Philadelphia.

Distributor confirms

Distributors who receive a notification from a dealer of sweetened beverages in Philadelphia, must in turn confirm they are registered to file and pay PBT. Distributors provide this confirmation using the Distributor confirmation form provided by the Department of Revenue.

A PA Sales Tax Exemption Certificate can serve as the required notification. If a distributor has an Exemption Certificate on file for a dealer with a Philadelphia address, the distributor should:

  • Send confirmation to the dealer that they are a registered distributor, and
  • File and pay the tax online.

Send and collect invoices

Distributors must record each transaction of sweetened beverages on their own invoices, or an Invoice Supplement provided by the Department of Revenue. Distributors must record:

  • The volume of taxable beverage distributed; and
  • The amount of tax due.

The information can be presented as a grand total, or by item.

Some dealers have locations both in and outside Philadelphia, but PBT covers only beverages intended for sale in the city. A distributor should ask dealers with multiple locations to clarify how much of their order will be held for retail sale in Philadelphia.

If the dealer fails to clarify, a distributor should assume 100% of the product is taxable. If the distributor receives updated order information after the return is filed, the distributor can file an amended return.

Dealers should keep invoices on file for at least six years.

What if I don’t comply with the notification-confirmation process?

A dealer who cannot provide required documents during an inspection, or present invalid documents, risks legal action. Legal action could include a $1,000 non-compliance fine and suspension of their Commercial Activity License.

Dealers who sell sweetened beverages at retail in Philadelphia and fail to notify their distributors are liable for payment, as well as and any fees and penalties for non-compliance.

Note that a dealer may decide to be a “Registered dealer” or a “Special dealer.”  A Registered dealer agrees to assume all the obligations of a distributor, including filing and paying PBT. A Special dealer is a dealer who is granted a special waiver by the Department of Revenue to purchase a specific sweetened beverage from someone other than a Registered distributor. As a result, the Special dealer assumes responsibility for filing and paying PBT on that specific beverage.

Dealers who disagree with a PBT audit assessment can file an appeal with Tax Review Board.

Service overview

You need an Activity License Number for certain kinds of non-commercial activity in Philadelphia. This includes:

  • Renting three units in a building that you live in.
  • Operating a non-profit.
  • Getting a vacant property license (residential or commercial).

Who

Any person or legal entity can apply for this license.

Requirements

Before you apply, you’ll need:

Tax account numbers

School Income Tax

Property owners that rent 1-3 units in a building they live in must pay the School Income Tax.

Where and when

Online

Use the eCLIPSE system.

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

There is no cost for an Activity License Number.

How

Online

1
You can apply for this license using eCLIPSE.
2
The license is issued automatically.

In person

1
Visit the Permit and License Center.

If you do not already have a City tax account, you can visit the Revenue Department during the same visit.

2
This license is issued while you wait.

Renewal requirements

This license does not need to be renewed.

Service overview

The Philadelphia Zoning Code regulates how property is used and developed in the city.

This page contains information about general zoning permits. For instructions regarding specific zoning permit types, visit the following pages:

You don’t need a zoning permit for:

  • Alterations to an existing structure that do not change the:
    • Area.
    • Height.
    • Floor area.
    • Current legal use.
  • Fences at or below the height allowed by the Zoning Code.
  • Swimming pools installed on the property of a one-or-two-family dwelling.
  • Canopies or awnings (120 sq. ft. or less) for one-or-two-family dwellings.
  • Sheds, playhouses, pergolas, and similar structures (in the rear yard and 120 sq. ft. or less) for one-or-two-family dwellings.
  • Concrete or other hard surface materials, such as driveways and patios.
  • Decks. A deck can’t be more than 12 in. above the ground or over any basement or other story.
  • Equipment like generators or air conditioners (as long as they are not within a required setback from the property line and service the property).

You can get a Conditional Zoning Permit if your project requires Civic Design Review.

You can get an administrative zoning review to make minor changes to an approval. The changes cannot substantially alter the character of the structure as approved. To qualify for an administrative review, the approval had to be granted by the Zoning Board of Adjustments.

Zoning is only one step of the permitting and licensing process. You may require other construction permits and licenses to legally operate or complete your project.

Find your zoning

You can find a property’s current zoning on Atlas.

Use the Zoning Quick Reference Guide to learn more about the zoning regulations for your property.

If the property is in the floodplain

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

Who

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

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

Requirements

Permit application

The permit application must include the complete scope of work 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 an application, provide your executed lease agreement.

Applications that don’t require plans

You do not need to submit plans for signs or changes of use if you apply using the EZ Standard for Zoning Sign Installation.

Applications that require plans

You need to submit a site plan for all new construction, additions, lot line adjustments, parking and signs that do not qualify for an EZ Permit.

  • Plans must be drawn to scale on a sheet that is at least 11 in. by 17 in.
  • Include six copies of plans.
  • Limited to two sheets, along with one sheet of supplementary information if needed.
  • Drawn to one of the following scales:
    • Engineer: 1”=10’, 20’, 30’, 40’, 50’, 60’, 100’
    • Architect:   1/16″, 1/8″, 1/4″, 3/16″=1′
  • Printed in grayscale.

Site plan requirements

All applications (except applications using an EZ standard) must provide a site plan with:

  • Cardinal directions.
  • Existing lot lines and dimensions as recorded in the deed.
  • All structures with exterior dimensions, building heights, and number of stories.
  • Decks, roof decks, access structures, and balconies
  • Dimensions of all yards and other open areas.
  • Curb lines, curb cuts, and right-of-way widths
  • Any streets, alleys, driveways, or easements bordering or located within the property.
  • The location and dimensions of all off-street parking and loading spaces.
  • Location and number of bicycle parking spaces.
  • New landscaping, screening, and street trees.
  • Location of all existing heritage trees. Note if any heritage trees are being removed on the plans.
  • Sign sizes and locations

Elevation or section plan

An elevation or section plan is required for new construction, additions, and signs. The plan must show:

  • Building height
  • Average ground level
  • Roof lines
  • Guards, parapets, and similar architectural features
  • Below grade features for zoning compliance such as parking or trash storage
  • Sign sizes and locations

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

Filing fee

This fee is determined by the scale of your project. To estimate the cost, refer to the list of application fees. If your application is approved, the filing fee will be applied toward the final cost of your permit. This fee is nonrefundable.

Permit fees

The cost of your permit depends on your project. Before applying, review the summary of zoning and use permit fees to estimate the cost.

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: $420.
  • Amount must be paid when you submit your application
  • Amount not be credited toward your final permit fee.
  • If your plans require more than four hours to review, you will be charged an additional fee of $135 per hour.

To apply, download and fill out an Accelerated Plan Review application and submit with your permit application.

Administrative zoning review fee: $200

Conditional Zoning Permit fee: $350

How

1
Get any prerequisite approvals before submitting your application to L&I. 
2
Bring your completed application, application materials, and payment to the Permit and License Center.
  • Applications that don’t require plans are reviewed while you wait. Many can be issued during your visit.
    • If the application is denied or requires further review, it will be processed within 5 business days. You will be notified by email once the review is completed.
  • Applications that require plans and are for Single or Two-Family uses are reviewed within 15 business days. Applications that require plans and are for all other uses are reviewed within 20 business days.
    • 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.

Appeals

If your application receives a Notice of Refusal or Notice of Referral, you may appeal to the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

Your right to appeal a Notice of Refusal or Referral expires 30 days from the date it was issued. These denials can not be extended. You need to submit a new application and filing fee to get a new refusal or referral.

Renewal requirements

  • Zoning permits that involve building expire in three years if you don’t begin construction at the site.
  • Use Permits expire after six months if the activity does not start.
  • A Conditional Zoning Permit is valid for one year after the date it was issued.

Property owners should make sure that contractors have:

  • Proper licenses and registrations
  • A good reputation
  • The required permits before starting work.

The Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) has tools that can help you with this.

Contractor requirements

Licenses and registrations

Property owners should make sure that contractors have required licenses or registrations before hiring them.

Reputation

Property owners should ask contractors for references and do additional research. The Attorney General’s Office makes some recommendations, including:

  • Checking contractors’ references.
  • Getting more than one bid for the job.
  • Checking for complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau.

Permits

Once you hire a contractor, make sure that they have the required permits from L&I and have posted those permits on your property before they begin work.

Tools for finding a contractor

Find a licensed contractor

You can find a licensed contractor using L&I’s online tool.

You can find a registered Pennsylvania Home Improvement Contractor by searching the PA Attorney General’s database or calling 1-888-520-6680.

You can also look up which contractors have had their licenses revoked or suspended.

Check for permits

You can check if a contractor has obtained the required permits using L&I’s permit lookup tool.

You can also find information on the permits and violations associated with an address using the City’s Atlas tool.

Service overview

You can rent your home or a room in it for short periods. This short-term renting is considered limited lodging.

You can rent property as limited lodging for fewer than 30 days at a time and up to 180 days in a calendar year. You also need to meet certain requirements and limitations.

Who

Property owners and their agents can apply.

Where and when

Online

Use the eCLIPSE system.

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.

How

Commercial Activity License

You need a Commercial Activity License to rent your home as limited lodging. You do not need a Rental License.

Permits

You don’t need a permit to rent your property for 90 days or fewer per calendar year.

You need a Zoning Permit for a Limited Lodging Home to rent your home between 90 and 180 days per calendar year.

You need a Zoning Permit for Visitor Accommodation:

  • To rent your home for stays of 30 days or fewer but for more than 180 days per calendar year.
  • If the property is not your primary residence.

Housing requirements

  • Smoke alarms must be installed:
    • In each bedroom.
    • In the hallway in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms.
    • On each floor of the home, including basements.
  • Carbon monoxide alarms must be installed:
    • Within 15 ft. of the entrance to every bedroom or within 15 ft. of a bed in sleeping areas if there isn’t an enclosed bedroom.
    • Centrally on a wall or the ceiling, but not directly in front of a door to a bathroom or within 5 ft. of a cooking appliance.
    • Under the installation requirements for smoke alarms if they are combination smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
  • You can’t post signs for lodging on your home.
  • The home can’t be occupied by more than three people (including the owner and renters) who aren’t related by blood, marriage, life partnership, adoption, or foster-child status.
  • You cannot change your house so that it no longer resembles a private residence.

Information you must provide your renters

  • Renters are only allowed to have guests between the hours of 8 a.m. and midnight.
  • You must tell renters the trash and recycling collection days and any trash disposal rules and regulations. You must provide proper trash containers for renters.
  • Excessive noise is prohibited and violators are subject to fines and penalties.
  • The owner or their designee must provide contact information to the renters. The contact person must handle any complaints from the renters.

Record-keeping

Residents conducting short-term rentals must keep records for at least one year that show:

  • That the home remained their primary residence.
  • The dates the home was rented.
  • The number of renters.

City Hotel Tax

The host or operator must pay the City of Philadelphia Hotel Tax monthly. The tax is 8.5 percent of the amount received through renting.

Service overview

You can apply for licenses online.

The Electronic Commercial Licensing, Inspection and Permitting Services Enterprise (eCLIPSE) allows users to:

  • Apply for business licenses.
  • Apply for trade licenses.
  • Pay for licenses.
  • Link licenses to an online user profile.
  • Download, save, and print licenses.

Who

Anyone can use eCLIPSE to apply for certain licenses and certificates.

How

Register for an account in eCLIPSE

You must use an active email address to register for an account in eCLIPSE before you can use the system to apply or renew.

You will receive an email asking you to confirm registration before using your account.

Business licenses

Associate your Commercial Activity License or Activity License Number with your account. If you don’t have one, apply for it first. This will allow you to:

  • See all business license activity associated with the license.
  • Link existing business licenses with your account.
  • Apply for new business licenses.

To associate an existing activity license, you need the following information:

  • Philadelphia Tax Account ID
    • If you need help finding this number, call the Department of Revenue at (215) 686-6600 or email revenue@phila.gov.
    • If you are exempt from Commercial Activity License requirements, the invoice will instead include an Online Identification Number (which can also be retrieved by contacting License Issuance).
  • Commercial Activity License (previously known as a Business Privilege License) or Activity License Number.
    • This must be entered in a six-digit format. If your license contains only five digits, enter a ‘0’ at the beginning.
  • Social Security Number or Employer Identification Number associated with your Department of Revenue tax account.

To associate an existing trade license, you need the following information:

  • License number
  • Online Identification Number listed on your renewal invoice.

Payment

If you apply on eCLIPSE, you must make all payments with a credit card.

Renewal requirements

Once you have an account, you can use eCLIPSE to renew licenses online.

You must be current on all City taxes.


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