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Department of Buildings

In observance of the Emancipation Day holiday, DOB will be closed on Tuesday, April 16, 2024; no construction will be allowed on this day without an after-hours permit. You may report illegal construction by submitting an Illegal Construction Inspection Request Form during normal business hours or by calling 311.

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Certificate of Occupancy

The Department of Buildings (DOB) has introduced Certifi, a user-friendly platform designed to streamline the Certificate of Occupancy (CofO) application process in Washington DC. Certifi aims to enhance efficiency and transparency, aligning with our commitment to responsible growth and construction safety. This platform offers a guided approach, assisting applicants with document requirements and providing essential information, thereby improving the overall application experience for both applicants and DOB reviewers. These enhancements not only increase processing capacity but also contribute to the safety and efficiency of construction activities across the district.

A Certificate of Occupancy (COO or C of O) verifies that the use of a building, structure, or land in Washington, DC complies with the Zoning Regulations (DCMR Title 11), DC Construction Codes, and the Green Building Act, ensuring adherence to legal and safety standards. To begin the application process, please click the button below:

Go To Certifi


Single-Family Home Submissions:

In the District of Columbia, individuals typically need a valid Certificate of Occupancy to use a building, structure, or land, except for single-family residences in zones R-1A, R-1B, R-2, and R-3, which are exempt (NOTE: Townhomes & Condos are considered single-family homes). For those intending to use their property as a rental and needing a business license; you may obtain a renter’s license from the Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection (DLCP).

Required Submission Documents:

Documents Required for the Complete Submission of Your Application

  1. An agent or expeditor completing the application on behalf of the true owner or tenant is referred to as an "agent." This term encompasses anyone acting or submitting the application in place of the true owner or tenant. The letter must be completed by the owner or tenant and signed in the presence of a notary.  Certificate of Occupancy Authorization Form
  2. A signed lease, sublease, deed, management agreement, or letter of permission from the property owner is required to use the property. Please note: HUD documents are no longer accepted.

    - Management companies submitting applications must also provide a copy of the management agreement to be included on the Certificate of Occupancy.

    - Applicants subleasing must present both the original lease agreement and sub-lease agreement, we are obligated to make sure the agreement ties back to the original owner. Alternatively, a signed letter from the property owner on company letterhead may suffice to authorize the applicant to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy for business transfer purposes.

  3. Previous copies of Certificate(s) of Occupancy, which can be found in eRecords. This will allow you to note any specific details about the space in your application.

  4. Tenant Inspection Form
  5. Green: Green review requirements will vary based on the project's designation
    • For Enterprise Green Communities projects, preapproval from enterprise and financial security for Green Building Act compliance are necessary. This includes providing binding pledges, bonds, escrows, cash, or other forms of financial assurance.


Documents Required for Temporary C of O Applications

In addition to previous drop-down:

  1. Building plat depicting all existing and proposed structures
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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:

  1.  Approved wall check
  2.  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
  3.  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.
  4.  Signed GAR Landscape Checklist
  5.  Final Approval Notice (FAN) from the Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE)
  6.  Receipt of final payment of Housing Trust Fund contribution
  7.  Recorded Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) covenant

For Eating Establishments (e.g. fast food restaurant; prepared food shop; and restaurant):

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.


Certificate of Occupancy Types and Definitions

  1. Ownership Change: Ownership change is when property or business ownership transitions between current or new tenants, owners, or proprietors. It does not involve changing the property's size/sq footage/load or how it is used; it is mainly about updating ownership details without the use of a building permit.
  2. Use Change: This refers to the alteration of the intended purpose of a property or space. It occurs when a property transitions from one designated use to another, such as converting residential areas into commercial spaces or transforming retail areas into offices.
  3. Occupant Load Change: This refers to adjusting the capacity of a building or space to accommodate varying numbers of people or amounts of weight safely. This modification occurs during renovations or when repurposing a building for different uses, necessitating changes to its occupancy limits or weight capacities.
  4. Revision: A revision to a Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) typically involves making changes or updates to the information contained within the certificate after its initial issuance. This could include updating details related to the property or its use, or reflecting changes in ownership or occupancy status. Revisions to a C of O are often necessary to ensure that the document remains current and accurately reflects the conditions of the property or premises it covers.
  5. Temporary Occupancy: A Temporary Certificate of Occupancy (TCO) is a short-term permit given by building authorities. It allows people to move into a building or part of it before all the necessary work is fully done. This usually happens when most of the building is ready and safe, but there are still some small things to finish. The TCO gives temporary permission to use the space while the final work is completed, with certain conditions or deadlines to meet. This can also be granted to pop-up shops, farmer's markets, or seasonal or outdoor events.
  6. New Building
    • Conditional: A Conditional Certificate of Occupancy (CCO) is given when a property meets many requirements for a full Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) but still has some other specific conditions to meet. These conditions might involve finishing construction, addressing safety issues, or getting more permits. With a CCO, parts of the building can be used where conditions are met, while the rest is fixed. Once all conditions are fulfilled, the CCO becomes a permanent C of O.
    • Completion of core and shell: A Core and Shell Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) is issued for buildings where only the core and shell construction are complete, meaning the basic structure, exterior walls, and utility systems are finished, but interior spaces and tenant improvements are not yet finalized. This type of C of O allows tenants to begin their interior buildouts or fit-outs while ensuring that the core building systems are operational and safe. Once the interior spaces are completed according to local regulations and codes, tenants can obtain additional C of O approvals for their specific occupancy.
    • New permanent occupancy: A permanent Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) is granted when a building is finished according to building codes and regulations. It confirms that the property is safe for use and meets all required standards. Unlike the temporary or conditional C of O’s, a permanent C of O has no remaining issues or restrictions, allowing full and unrestricted use of the building.

Application Lifecycle

Upon receiving the application, internal teams review and approve it. The issuance team sends a draft C of O to the customer for approval. After approval, the application is invoiced, and the C of O is issued upon payment receipt. Approval typically takes about seven (7) business days. Applicants should regularly check their application for status updates. Reviewers can communicate with applicants via the Certifi platform for any status-related inquiries.

Change of Ownership Application Process

Change of ownership application process

Application Process - All Other Types

All of types application process

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