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Streets, sidewalks & alleys

Get a Sidewalk Cafe License

Service overview

You need a Sidewalk Café License to place seating on the public sidewalk outside a bar or restaurant.

A sidewalk cafe must be located in an authorized area of the city in accordance with the Philadelphia Code Section 9-208 or you must have an ordinance from City Council.


Business owners or their agents can apply for this license.



Before you apply for a Sidewalk Café License, you will need approval from the Department of Streets Right-of-Way Unit.

Submit the following documents to the Right-of-Way Unit online using eCLIPSE or by emailing or

  • A copy of an accepted plot plan.
    • The minimum required scale for plot plans is ¼ inch=1 inch.
    • All café equipment must fit within café encroachment boundaries.
    • The plot plan must include the official sidewalk and roadway widths. You can access legal cards through the online Legal Card Application. If you have any questions, contact the Department of Streets City Plans Unit at (215) 686-5565.
  • A copy of three photos of the proposed café area showing the entire sidewalk. The three photos should show a perpendicular, left horizontal, and right horizontal view.
  • Completed and signed Streets Right-of-Way Sidewalk Café form, typewritten or printed.

Other licenses and registrations


Liability insurance: $1,000,000 comprehensive general liability insurance including contractual liability insurance.

Tax compliance

You must be current on all City taxes.

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.


License fee

There is a non-refundable application fee of $20, which is applied toward the balance of license fee. You must pay the balance once your application has been approved.

Renewal fee

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.

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.


Once you’ve recieved pre-approval from the Right of Way Unit and gathered all other required materials, you can apply for this license online or in person.


Log in to your eCLIPSE account and apply for the license.

Upload all required documents to eCLIPSE. Applications are reviewed within five business days.

If the application is approved, you will receive a notice to pay the balance.

If the application isn’t approved, you will receive an email describing what is missing or required.

In person

Bring all required documents to the Permit and License Center.

L&I can review most applications while you wait.

L&I will either issue your license or request more information.

Renewal requirements

This license must be renewed annually

Required for renewal:

  • Current on all City of Philadelphia taxes.
  • A current certificate of Liability insurance ($1,000,000 comprehensive general liability insurance including contractual liability insurance).
  • A valid email address.

Forms & instructions