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Permits - Postcard Permit

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The DC Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs wants you to stay away. Well, at least if you're trying to get a building permits for one of the 50 most common home improvement and small construction projects. You can now apply, pay for, and receive building permits from your home or office computer. We’ll even email you a copy so you will never have to worry about losing it.

Our online application makes getting a permit fast and easy without waiting in lines or traveling to the DCRA permit offices. We are excited to offer this service to the residents of the District of Columbia.

NOTE: Not all building permits can be approved online. Please review the allowable scope of work before submitting your permit. For more information on the Building Permit process visit dcra.dc.gov under “building permits”. If you have any questions or comments, please call the Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs Permits Customer Service Center at (202) 442-4589.

Scopes of Work Allowed With Postcard Permit 

Postcard permits are acceptable for scopes of work within the limits of any one of these categories. If the scope of work includes more than one category, you must get a separate postcard permit for each one.

Building Postcard Permit

Any construction done on public space requires a separate public space permit issued by the District Department of Transportation.

A building postcard permit is required for the following work:

  • Repairing a fence up to a height of 7 feet (2.13 meters) above grade, entirely on private property and behind the building restriction line.
  • Interior demolition of non-bearing elements in a space up to 5,000 square feet (464.5 square meters)
  • Application of fire-retardant paint, up to 5 gallons.
  • Installation of 1 temporary construction trailer on private property.
  •  (Any Fireworks Permits issued after June 26, 2009 shall be deemed invalid.)
  • Erection of 1 Christmas tree stand on private property.
  • Renewal of an active building permit.
  • Revision of an active permit for change of ownership or change of address.
  • Repairs of existing fire escape.
  • Repairs of front porch and steps in a single family dwelling.
  • Repairs of rear porch and steps in a single family dwelling.
  • Repairs of up to 4 stories of a single interior stairway.
  • Repairs of guardrails and/or handrails in up to 4 stories of a single interior stairway.
  • Repairs of guardrails of up to 5 balconies.
  • Replacement in kind of guards and guardrails of up to 5 balconies and/or exterior porches on the same building. Replacement in kind, when applied to architectural features, means replacement with a feature of like material that replicates the existing feature in proportion, appearance, texture, design, detail and dimensions.
  • Replacement in kind of up to 5 fire windows. Replacement in kind, when applied to architectural features, means replacement with a feature of like material that replicates the existing feature in proportion, appearance, texture, design, detail and dimensions.
  • Replacement in kind of up to 5 fire doors. Replacement in kind, when applied to architectural features, means replacement with a feature of like material that replicates the existing feature in proportion, appearance, texture, design, detail and dimensions.
  • Replacement in kind of up to 5 fire or smoke dampers. Replacement in kind, when applied to architectural features, means replacement with a feature of like material that replicates the existing feature in proportion, appearance, texture, design, detail and dimensions.
  • Replacement in kind of up to 10 sprinklers, on an existing residential, commercial or industrial system. Replacement in kind, when applied to architectural features, means replacement with a feature of like material that replicates the existing feature in proportion, appearance, texture, design, detail and dimensions.
  • Replacement in kind of rated suspended ceiling tile in an area up to 5,000 square feet (464.5 square meters). Replacement in kind, when applied to architectural features, means replacement with a feature of like material that replicates the existing feature in proportion, appearance, texture, design, detail and dimensions.
  • Replacement in kind of existing fence on private property. Replacement in kind, when applied to architectural features, means replacement with a feature of like material that replicates the existing feature in proportion, appearance, texture, design, detail and dimensions.
  • Replacement in kind of interior wall coverings. Replacement in kind, when applied to architectural features, means replacement with a feature of like material that replicates the existing feature in proportion, appearance, texture, design, detail and dimensions.
  • Replacement in kind of up to 800 square feet (74.3 square meters) of gypsum board. Replacement in kind, when applied to architectural features, means replacement with a feature of like material that replicates the existing feature in proportion, appearance, texture, design, detail and dimensions.
  • Replacement in kind of ductwork of a single system, in non-hazardous exhaust and commercial kitchen exhaust systems. Replacement in kind, when applied to architectural features, means replacement with a feature of like material that replicates the existing feature in proportion, appearance, texture, design, detail and dimensions.
  • Replacement in kind of up to 4 stories of a single interior stairway. Replacement in kind, when applied to architectural features, means replacement with a feature of like material that replicates the existing feature in proportion, appearance, texture, design, detail and dimensions.
  • Replacement in kind of guards, guardrails and/or handrails in up to 4 stories of a single interior stairway. Replacement in kind, when applied to architectural features, means replacement with a feature of like material that replicates the existing feature in proportion, appearance, texture, design, detail and dimensions.

Electrical (General) Postcard Permit

An electrical (general) postcard permit is required for this work:

  • Installation of not more than 10 new outlets and not more than 10 new lighting fixtures for a residential, commercial or industrial project.
  • Replacement or repair of not more than 10 existing outlets and not more than 10 existing lighting fixtures for a residential, commercial or industrial project.
  • Installation of not more than 10 new outlets in a power-limited system for a residential, commercial or industrial project.
  • Installation or replacement of not more than 1 residential electric appliance for a residential project.

Electrical (Heavy-Up) Postcard Permit

The electrical (heavy-up) postcard can be issued only to licensed contractors -- to upgrade 1 existing electrical system to a maximum of 200 Amps. This electrical postcard permit does not authorize the erection of electrical service and/or meter boxes in public space.

Mechanical Postcard Permit

The mechanical postcard permit can be issued only to licensed contractors for.

  • Installation of not more than 1 new air conditioning unit, up to a maximum of 10-tons of equivalent refrigerating effect.
  • Repairs to not more than 1 existing refrigerating or cooling unit, up to a maximum of 10-tons of equivalent refrigerating effect.
  • Conversion of 1 existing refrigerating or cooling unit to adapt it to use an environmentally safe refrigerant in a residential, commercial or industrial facility, not including the installation of rated detection, alarm and ventilation devices.
  • Installation, as required, of gas detection, alarm and ventilation devices related to the use of environmentally safe refrigerants as a result of the conversion of existing refrigerating or cooling equipment, in a single location, inside a residential, commercial or industrial facility.

Plumbing Postcard Permit

The plumbing postcard permit can be issued to licensed contractors only.

  • Installation of not more than 1 new plumbing fixture, on a residential, commercial or industrial project.
  • Repairs to existing plumbing systems, including the installation of not more than 1 new fixture.
  • Minor alterations to existing plumbing systems, including the installation of not more than 1 new fixture. Excludes changing the piping layout serving more than 3 fixtures, including domestic water, sewer or venting systems.
  • Replacement of not more than 1 plumbing fixture, on a residential, commercial or industrial project.
  • Installation of 1 backflow preventer.
  • One sewer or water line cut.
  • Pressure testing of a single water system.

Gas Fitting Postcard Permit

The gas fitting postcard permit can be issued to licensed contractors only.

  • Repairs to existing fuel gas systems, including the connection of not more than 1 new gas appliance.
  • Minor alterations to existing fuel gas systems, including the installation of not more than 1 new gas appliance. Minor alterations shall not include changing the layout of the fuel gas system piping serving more than 2 appliances.
  • Replacement of not more than 1 gas appliance, on a residential, commercial or industrial project.
  • Testing of a single gas line.
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