The purpose of a Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) is to ensure that the use of a building, structure or land in the District of Columbia conforms to the Zoning Regulations (DCMR Title 11) provisions of the DC Construction Codes, and the Green Building Act. In most cases, no person can use a building, structure or land in the District of Columbia for any purpose other than a single family dwelling, until a valid C of O has been issued. There are six types of C of O applications as seen below.
Effective October 23, 2023, to apply for a C of O, please complete a C of O Application via Certifi, our comprehensive platform for the application, tracking, and downloading of approved C of Os.
Documents Required for the Complete Submission of Your Application
- Certificate of Occupancy Authorization Form – if a hired agent is completing the application form on behalf of the applicant
- Lease, deed, letter of permission from property owner to use the property, HUD-1
- Floodplain Elevation certificate
- Green - This will all depend on the designation that the project has taken:
- Enterprise Green Communities: PreBuild approval (from Enterprise), Financial Security (i.e, binding pledge, bond, escrow, cash, etc.) for Green Building Act compliance.
Documents Required for Temporary C of O Applications
- Building plat depicting all existing and proposed structures
- Evacuation plan (floorplans and/or site plans, as applicable) showing the proposed areas to be occupied/used, how the unoccupied areas will be isolated & secured from the occupied areas, and egress.
- Structural plan drawings and details for tents and other structures (tie down and other support element details) - drawings must be sealed and signed by a Design Professional who is licensed to practice in DC.
- A letter from the property owner stating the reason why a temporary C of O is needed. The letter shall identify the floor number, unit number, number of units, and/or areas to be included in the temporary C of O (e.g., number of parking spaces)
For New Construction, including alteration and repair:
- Approved wall check
- If the property is subject to a Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) and Zoning Commission Order – The applicant must submit a letter from the property owner with a matrix and documentation, as necessary, to demonstrate compliance with the conditions of the Order
- Note if there are any outstanding conditions not completed at the time of the submission of the C of O application and provide a timeline with the date for completion.
- Signed GAR Landscape Checklist
- Final Approval Notice (FAN) from the Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE)
- Receipt of final payment of Housing Trust Fund contribution
- Recorded Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) covenant
For Eating Establishments (e.g. fast food restaurant; prepared food shop; and restaurant):
- Completed Eating Establishment Questionnaire
For Sexually-Oriented Business Establishments:
For Automobile Sales:
- DC Surveyor’s Plat showing any existing and proposed buildings and the location of the automobiles to be sold
- Completed Auto Dealer Questionnaire
For Operating a Mobile Cart on Private Property:
- · Submit the following information for review and approval by the Office of Zoning Administrator and the Structural Division of the Permitting Division:
- The application must include an authorized letter from the property owner allowing the cart/vehicle on the property
- Submit a scaled site plan or Surveyor’s Plat clearly identifying the location of all structures on the property, all required parking spaces, and the proposed mobile/vehicle cart. All structures and parking spaces should be clearly dimensioned and labeled. No required off-street parking spaces may be occupied.
For Core and Shell Applications
- Submit proof of final elevator inspections
For Conditional Certificate of Occupancy (CCO) Applications
- Letter from third party inspection agency (if they performed the inspections) identifying all conditions, areas to be occupied, a list of deficiencies, and a recommended duration
- Letter from the property owner explaining the basis for the CCO request and a requested duration
- Fire evacuation plan to show separation between occupied and non-occupied spaces
For Structural/Fire Plan Review (new construction, alteration/repairs
- Copy of approved building permit and/or copy of existing certificate of occupancy.
- If in Floodplain, Certificate of Flood Design Elevation approved by Flood Plan Administrator.
For Change of Use or Occupancy Classification
- Copy of latest prior Certificate of occupancy
- Building Permit to allow the change of Occupant Classification based on the requirement of Existing Building Code.
For Ownership Change
- No Structural/Fire Review is required if the application is for ownership change only.
- If ownership change is accompanied by alteration and repair or change of occupancy classification – the requirements for change of occupancy classification and/or new construction apply.
- In the Detailed Description box, it is highly important to clearly indicate where the scope is for “Ownership change with alteration” or “Ownership change with no new work.”
For Load Change
- Prior and latest approved Certificate of occupancy
- Approved Building Permit to allow the Load Change.
- Verify and ensure that all fields in the application are accurately completed.
- Avoid discrepancies between lease agreements and your Application (Property Address/Use/Occupied Floor Area/ square footage)
- Avoid discrepancies between application and prior C of O, Permits (scope in permit and applicable Permit number)
- Verify accurate information regarding Load is provided.
- Verify CO application does not contradict the details of the approved permit and drawings.
- Please note that conversion of a Single Dwelling Unit to two-family flats requires an approved permit.
- For multi-family buildings, make sure to state the number of dwelling units. For multi-family buildings with more than 10 dwelling units, state the number of IZ and Type A units. For Assembly spaces, provide a breakdown of occupant load into the number of seats, standing, staff, and total. For Daycare uses, please make sure to state the occupant load, age limits, and location of the space in the building.
- The nomenclature for Building Use and Zoning use may differ. Therefore, when completing the application ensure the correct nomenclature for the specific use is employed.