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Zoning & Use Permits

Zoning permits authorize a particular use of the building or ground. More than one zoning permit may be required before a building permit can be issued by L&I for construction or demolition, or before a Certificate of Occupancy can be issued to occupy a building.



You need to get zoning approval to install signs. The Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) issues these approvals. The Philadelphia Zoning Code includes rules for: Number of signs - Type - Size - Location - Height - Illumination or lighting.

New Constructions or Additions

You need zoning approval for new buildings and additions. Zoning approval is required to get a Building Permit. If your proposal meets code requirements, you are granted permits as a matter of right. If your proposal does not meet code requirements, you’ll need a special exception or variance from the Zoning Board of Adjustment.


You need zoning approval to demolish an entire building or structure. Zoning approval is required to file for a Complete Demolition Permit. The Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) issues demolition and zoning permits. If the property is in the floodplain, it may require special documents or a review meeting.

Use Changes

You need this permit to change the use of a property or part of a property. This includes: changing a commercial tenant space to a residential unit or new business - starting a daycare center - establishing a retail sales - business office or restaurant - converting a warehouse into artist studios.

Lot Subdivisions & Consolidations

You need a lot adjustment to combine lots - split a lot into multiple new lots - reconfigure the property lines between adjoining lots.

New Business Use

Every business operation (including property rentals), parcel of land, or structure must have its use registered with the City of Philadelphia.  In order to register the use of a building, space, unit, structure, parcel, etc., this means applying for and obtaining a Use Registration Permit. Often this is also referred to as a Zoning Permit.

+ / - In Dwelling Units

Use Registration Permits authorize a particular use of the building or ground. A use registration permit is required for the following situations: Changes in any activity in an existing building - New business use for a property - Increases or decreases in the number of dwelling units - Elimination of an existing use in a property - Billboards and most signs.

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