To obtain the permits you need to sell Christmas trees during the holiday season, please read the following instructions carefully.
You will need these permits and approvals:
- Building Permit – Required to erect a stand or trailer.
- Electrical Permit, obtained by a registered master electrician - Required if temporary lighting is to be installed for night operation. NOTE: All requests involving electrical work will require an electrical permit AND DCRA electrical inspection.
- Existing Certificate of Occupancy if one exists on the site OR a new Certificate of Occupancy if one does not exist on this site.
- Letter from the owner of the existing business -- authorizing use of the space on the proposed site.
- Fire Prevention Approval, (Only if an open flame is present, applicant must obtain a Burn Permit)
You may obtain all applications in the Permit Center, 1100 Fourth Street SW, second floor.
You may pay permit fees by cash, check, or money order to the Cashier located on the second floor of 1100 Fourth Street, SW. Make check payments payable to “DC Treasurer.”
Here’s how to obtain these permits:
1. Visit the DC Surveyor, Room 3174 and request “Field Papers or Unofficial Subdivision Plat”. Draw in the stand or trailer to scale including accessories (i.e. generators), the dimensions of all existing and proposed structure, the distance of the proposed construction from adjacent structures, sidewalks, roadways, etc -- on both copies in ink. There is no cost for Field Papers and/or Unofficial Subdivision Plat to use for Christmas Tree Stand applications.
2. Apply online for your building permit: write “Christmas Tree Lot. Site to be cleared of stand, trees, and all debris by Midnight on January 6, 20___”, in the “Description of Proposed Work”.
Take your FJ number and both plats (or site plans) and four (4) sets of plans showing the stand construction details to the Information Counter for clearance. The Information Counter staff will transfer your application submission to a Plans Review Coordinator (PRC).
3. Upon completing your visit with the PRC, you must visit the appropriate review stations. All the stations are in the Permit Center.
(a) The Zoning Technician will make sure the proposed lot or stand is located in an appropriate zone/location on the lot and give you a Pre-Occupancy Data Sheet to help you request the required inspections. Keep both plats when you leave this counter.
(b) The Department of Transportation (DDOT) representative will provide the street distribution on the plats so you may accurately locate the stand on the lot. (You may not place a temporary Christmas tree stand or lot in Public Space.)
(c) Fire Protection, Electrical and Structural staff will review your application, grant approvals if possible, and transfer your application information to the Permit Issuance station for printing of a payment invoice for your permit fee.
(d) Pay the appropriate permit fees to the Cashier on the second floor.
(e) Return to the Information Counter in the Permit Center to obtain a new Q-Matic ticket, and proceed to Permit Issuance for your permit.
4. Once you have both a building permit from DCRA and permission to sell Christmas trees, you may erect the stand. Remember to call for DCRA building final (code 170) and electrical (code 200) inspections at 202 442-9557 if you have done ANY electrical work.
NOTE: If the stand or trailer will be on a gasoline service station lot, the stand must be at least 50 feet from the building, pumps, vent pipes, and tank fill pipes. You may NOT locate a stand or trailer on an apron or in a driveway.
Certificate of Occupancy (COO) - with a Building Permit
After completing construction, return to DCRA with a copy of the issued building permit, inspection approvals documented in the Department’s computer system.
Certificate of Occupancy – without a Building Permit
Only existing COOs will be accepted, therefore the requested location must have a previous COO for the sale of Christmas trees otherwise a new COO will not be issued without a building permit. In cases where the requested location has not previously hosted a Christmas Tree Stand/Lot operation, you must follow the instructions from the “Building Permit” heading of these instructions. If you have an existing COO reflecting a prior “Christmas Tree Lot” use, and are building a stand or placing a trailer on site follow the instructions below.
If you are not the business owner, you must bring in a Letter of Authorization from the existing business owner on the proposed site.
1. Obtain a COO Application from the Permit Center.
You must present a completed COO application in person along with all attachments to the Permit Center Information Counter.
If the applicant is a corporation, you must attach to your application a Letter of Good Standing from the Corporations Division, 1100 Fourth Street SW, second floor.
If anyone other than the business owner (or corporate officer for a corporate applicant) will present the application, you must attach a completed and notarized Business Agent Authorization form. (You may obtain blank forms from the Permit Center Information counter.)
Write “Christmas Tree Lot. Site to be cleared of stand and all debris by Midnight, January 6, 20___” on Line 10, the “Proposed Use” box on the application.
2. You will be provided with a payment invoice to pay filing fee to the Cashier located on the second floor.
3. After you pay the filing fee, you’ll go through a brief review with a Zoning Technician and possibly a structural reviewer before obtaining approval.
4. If electrical work is required, you will be required to obtain an electrical permit. Remember that electrical inspection and approval from DCRA will be required to proceed.
5. Once the stand has been erected and the electrical work completed, contact the Inspection Scheduling unit at 202 442-9557 to request an electrical inspection.
6. After the inspection results are documented in the Department’s computer system, return to the information counter at DCRA with the original COO application.
7. A PRC will direct you to the Zoning station for final review and approval.
8. Pay the issuance fee at the Cashier’s office on the second floor.
9. Return to the Permit Issuance counter to pick up your issued Certificate of Occupancy.
10. Note: A General Business License is not required to operate a Christmas tree stand/lot.