Zoning, planning & development

Get a Zoning Permit

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.

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