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Frequently Asked Questions

COVID-19 FAQs


General

DCRA Virtual Operations FAQs

We understand if you have more questions than usual. We have put together a special set of frequently asked questions to address any outstanding questions you may have. View COVID-19 FAQs.

Consumer Protection

1. What is the Consumer Protection Unit (CPU) and what does it do?

The DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Consumer Protection Unit aggressively pursues unfair and deceptive business practices used against citizens.  Operating under the authority of the DC Consumer Protection Procedures Act (DC Code § 28-3900 – 3913), the agency investigates and resolves consumer complaints, identifies building violations and may take enforcement action, licenses businesses, educates consumers through outreach and classes, and administers programs.

2. What do I do if I have a consumer problem?

Have a complaint about a business? Didn’t get what you paid for? We want to hear from you. To submit a complaint,  fill out this form. Fill out all required fields and be as specific as possible. You may submit a complaint anonymously, however, this may hinder our ability to investigate your complaint without contact information.  Also note, the Consumer Protection Unit can investigate “consumer” complaints only. We are only empowered to investigate cases where the goods or services offered by the business were sought by the complainant for personal use, but has no authority over business-to-business transactions. We also does not have authority over landlord-tenant complaints.

If you have any other questions, please contact us on the DCRA Consumer Protection Hotline by calling (202) 442-4400 and pressing “6” for Consumer Complaints. You may also email us at dcra.consumerprotection@dc.gov

 

3. What does the Consumer Protection Unit do when I file a complaint?

Investigate. We will investigate the complaint, research all relevant facts, and work to identify any potential violations of the law on the part of the respondent.   We can investigate “consumer” complaints only.  We are only authorized to investigate cases where the goods or services sought by the complainant were for personal use. CPU has no authority over business-to-business transactions. Additionally, CPU does not have  authority over landlord-tenant complaints.
 
Mediate and Enforce. Mediation is our primary means of achieving a resolution to a complaint. However, when mediation is unsuccessful, CPU does have authority to take enforcement action against any violations committed by a respondent business, including the Consumer Protection Procedures Act, DC licensing laws, or the DC Construction Codes. In  egregious cases, CPU can coordinate with OAG on possible civil actions against a respondent. This provides CPU with a wealth of enforcement tools to both encourage an amicable resolution to a dispute, and to hold offenders accountable.

Educate. Prevention is the best enforcement. Public outreach is a crucial part of our mission, and  we take it seriously. Keep an eye out for upcoming educational and outreach events in your neighborhood. We conduct and participate in a range of events touching on various consumer issues, including new homebuyer seminars, senior outreach, dealing with home improvement contractors, and many more. Come see us, and let us know what’s important to YOU!

 

4. Was my house/condo recently renovated? How do I find out if it was done properly?

Questions to Ask:

     Q: Did it get the proper permits?

A: You can review a list of permits issued to the property by going to the Property Information Verification System (PIVS). Just enter the property address, and click on the “Permits” tab.

     Q: If so, do the permits cover the actual work done?

A: Compare the work done at your property with the “Description of Work” on each issued permit. If anything isn’t covered, it may have been done illegally.

     Q: Did the work get properly inspected? If so, did it pass?

A: Check for inspection records for the work done, under the Commercial Inspections tab in the PIVS system.
 


5. Who is required to have a license in the District of Columbia?

Anyone doing business in the District of Columbia is required to have a DC business license. Home improvement contractors, electricians, plumbers, interior decorators, and many other professionals hired by District residents every day are all among a number of professions requiring specific licenses to do business.

Not sure about a license?

In order to operate legally in the District of Columbia, all businesses must be licensed. Whether or not a Basic Business License is required depends on the business activity conducted in the District. This website allows you to check if a business entity has active license(s). You can search by license number, address, name or the entire category list by clicking on the tabs.

 

On-Demand Customer Relationship Management (CRM)


What is the On-Demand Customer Relationship Management (CRM)?
We are streamlining the way to get you the answers you need in a timely manner. The On-Demand Customer Relationship Management (CRM) provides you with a single point of contact and assistance with permitting, licensing, inspections, investigations, and enforcement.

What kind of issues can I report through the CRM?
Whether it’s permitting, licensing, inspections, investigations, or enforcement, CRM provides a timely response by the appropriate point of contact based on your issue.

How do I submit an inquiry directly into the system for CRM?
To submit an inquiry or get additional information about CRM, please visitdcra.dc.gov/crm.

Can I still contact Customer Service directly?
Yes. Our Customer Service department is available to answer questions and offer assistance. If your inquiry cannot be resolved within one email or call, Customer Service will include your inquiry into the system for CRM. The advantages of inquiries entered into the system are the updates and resolutions delivered to you by the appropriate division, in one seamless platform.

Do I have to use the CRM form to report an issue?
No. Regardless of how you contact DCRA (web, social media, phone, and email), CRM bundles your inquiries into a single point of contact that allows for efficient customer interactions and assistance.

How long will it take to get a response?
The CRM process is powered by a system that is designed to submit, assign, prioritize, and resolve your inquiries within 3 business days. Once your inquiry is submitted, our Customer Service Team will acknowledge your inquiry and stay in contact until your inquiry has been resolved.
Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs ǀ1100 4th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20024 ǀ202.442.4400 ǀdcra.dc.gov

What does resolution/resolve mean for CRM?
When your inquiry has been resolved it means your inquiry has been answered. This includes, but is not limited to, scheduling an inspection, revising permit applications, providing status updates on vacant property registrations and other actions taken to address your inquiry.

What does the Account Management Team do?
Our new Account Management Team handles escalated customer service issues for strategic accounts. An Account Manager serves as an advisor to the strategic account customer and escalation point for service issues.  In addition, an Account Manager reviews all services (permits, inspections, licenses, enforcement) provided to the customer for consistency, identifies issues and proactively advises customers to minimize noncompliance, ensures customer satisfaction with services, reviews customer’s project pipeline, anticipates needs and channels findings to appropriate managers within DCRA.

What is the difference between Customer Service Representatives and Account Managers?
The Customer Service Representatives service all DCRA customers and the Account Managers focus on escalated issues for strategic accounts.  All Customer Service Representatives and Account Managers ensure customers’ issues are resolved and that they are satisfied with DCRA services.

When do I contact the Customer Service Department versus an Account Manager?
You may contact our Customer Service Department for all issues which will in turn direct any escalated issues to your assigned Account Manager (if one is assigned) when there is a service problem.  For example: a) If you would like to inquire about your application status, our Customer Service Department will be happy to assist.  b) If you have a service problem such as a permit application pending beyond our current Service Level Agreements (SLAs) of 30 business days for an initial review or 15 business days for a re-review, your Account Manager will be happy to check why your project is being delayed and to assist in getting the project reviewed as soon as possible. You can also reference the permit review SLAs listed under the “Job Classification System -DCRA Review Target Timelines by Job Type “on our website.
Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs ǀ1100 4th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20024 ǀ202.442.4400 ǀdcra.dc.gov If you are unsure who to contact, please contact our Customer Service Department and they will resolve your issue or route your inquiries to the appropriate contact.

How are Account Managers assigned?
Account Managers are assigned to our customer categories. Our customers are grouped into –residents, businesses, government and non-government stakeholders.  Account Managers are assigned per Ward for our residents, by high volume business companies for our business customers, government entities, on-profit and other stakeholders.  

My project is not meeting the agency’s required Service Level Agreement (SLA).What should I do?
Please contact your assigned Account Manager if the agency’s SLA was not met so that they can reach out to the appropriate division to determine what transpired with the project and take the necessary steps to ensure that the project is moving forward in a timeframe that will resolve the issue(s).If you do not have an assigned Account Manager, please contact the Customer Service Department to assist you.

How can I check on the status of my project?
If you are the applicant or the applicant’s agent, you will receive a notice via email from ProjectDox whenever the status of a project has changed.  Alternatively, you can check the status via DCRA’s website (eservices.dcra.dc.gov/obpat/default.aspx). The Account Manager focuses on service issues.  Please refer to FAQ #10for an example of a service problem.  

My project is being reviewed by another District agency or entity and I need to get it completed. What can I do?
Contact the District agency or entity directly to determine the status of the review.

Can you assist in getting a meeting setup with the reviewer on my project?
I’ve been unsuccessful in reaching the Reviewer. If the project is still within the agency’s SLA, please contact the specific discipline’s manager (electrical, fire, mechanical, etc.) pertaining to the review in question so that the manager is aware of the problem and so that he/she can coordinate a meeting with the reviewer to get your project back on track. If it is beyond the agency’s SLA, please contact your Account Manager to assist.
Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs ǀ1100 4th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20024 ǀ202.442.4400 ǀdcra.dc.gov

If I have problems getting my project through prescreening, what can I do?
Please contact the Permit Center Manager so that he/she can ensure that our SLA is being met and to provide you with a date in which your project will be prescreened. For information about how to submit projects in ProjectDox, please refer to the following link (https://dcra.dc.gov/service/file-your-permit-drawings-online-projectdox).

Can someone else from my company be added to my account?
Yes.  Please provide the Customer Service Department or your Account Manager (if assigned) with the contact information of the individual(s) to be added to your account profile. For more information, please visit dcra.dc.gov/crm.

 

Illegal Construction

What is neighbor notification?
Neighbor notification  is  a  form  designed  by  the  Department  of  Consumer  and Regulatory  Affairs  (DCRA)  to  ensure  neighbors  are  duly  aware  of  the  scope  of construction  that  may  impact  their  property.    Neighbors are allowed to view only those pages that pertain to structural support or impact of the design.

Why is neighbor notification required prior to starting construction?
According  to  District  law  12  DCMR  3307.2,  neighbor  notification  must  occur,  prior  to beginning    construction,    when    there    is    a    need    to    install   structural    support, underpinning, support adjacent premises and excavation.

How many days in advance should neighbors receive notice?
A 30-day notice is typical in most cases.

When is notification received?
Neighbor   notification should   be received   by   registered or   certified   mail   to   the registered owner (Office of Tax and Revenue Database) or by courier.

What actions do you need to consider taking?
Consult  available  resources  (other  than  the  immediate  builder  or  contractor)  like  the DCRA  website  (dcra.dc.gov)and  learn  about  complaints,  codes,  forms,  guidance and inquiries.  Make an appointment or simply stop by DCRA offices.  Consult with an independent architect or engineer.

What do neighbors need to know?

  • Neighbors need to know about a request for access. The refusal is your right, but you must be prepared to protect your own property.
  • Neighbors  need  to  know  what  permits  have  been  issued  or  are  under  review (i.e. DCRA, Property Information Verification System {PIVS}).
  • Neighbors  need  to  be  notified  of  plans that  mention  or  show  underpinning, vertical additions (pop-up), excavations or party-wall work.

What if you did not receive neighbor notification?

  • You still could check your neighbor’s permits by using PIVS.
  • If  no  permits  have  been  issued,  you  can  contact  DCRA  Illegal  Construction Enforcement (ICE) at 311or (202) 442-STOP (7867).
  • If  no  permits  have  been  issued,  you  can  contact  DCRA’s  Permit  Operations Division (POD) at (202) 442-4589.
  • If construction has started and you did not receive notification, contact 311.

What if you did not receive neighbor notification?

  • You still could check your neighbor’s permits by using PIVS.
  • If  no  permits  have  been  issued,  you  can  contact  DCRA  Illegal  Construction Enforcement (ICE) at 311or (202) 442-STOP (7867).
  • If  no  permits  have  been  issued,  you  can  contact  DCRA’s  Permit  Operations Division (POD) at (202) 442-4589.
  • If construction has started and you did not receive notification, contact 311.

When is neighbor notification not required?
Neighbor notification is not required when the scope of the work occurs entirely in the interior of a building or when the work is pursuant to a postcard permit.

What are the contractor’s responsibilities?

  • According to District law 12 DCMR 3307.1, the contractor’s responsibilities include having the adjoining public and private property being protected from damage during construction at the expense of the person causing the work.
  • The contractor’s responsibilities   include   predicting   damage   and   providing safeguards.
  • The contractor’s responsibilities includes securing the party-walls (and blocking water intrusion) and installing chimneys and gas vents (natural draft) in a 3-2-10 rule.
  • The contractor’s responsibilities include having footers (areas of influence) and fences for protection versus restoration.
  • The contractor’s responsibilities finally includes maintaining property lines versus face-on-line wall, a pier foundation or safeguarding from site hazards

What are the additional responsibilities of the contractor?

  • The  contractor  must  cover  the  entire  scope  of  work  in  the  permits  and  that scope must me posted in PIVS.
  • The contractor must only work between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and never on Sundays or holidays. Residents can call 311 if the contractor is out of compliance.
  • The  contractor  must  be  onsite  and  not  work  remotely  while  construction  is ongoing.

How does DCRA suggest you work with your own contractor?

  • Always maintain detailed plans.
  • Exact scope of work and defined materials.
  • Plans and permits are a contractor’s marching orders.
  • Level the playing field for accurate bids.
  • Planned versus spontaneous construction.
  • Simplify neighbor notification.
  • Inspection quality and success.

Furthermore, DCRA suggests that you:

  • Obtain multiple bids.
  • Research the contractor (experience versus scope of work).•License, insurance and bonding (get copies).
  • Bid versus contract versus licensing.
  • Use DCRA’s enforcement leverage.
  • Always  read  the  contract  thoroughly  and  determine who  is  responsible  for acquiring the permits and who is actually contracted to do the work.

Finally, DCRA suggests that you:

  • Remember to check the business transaction and deposits.
  • Remember to check your rights on hiring and firing the contractor.
  • Remember to check for mechanic liens.
  • Remember to check for possession of building materials.
  • Remember to use the permitting system to your advantage.
  • Remember to draw based upon approved DCRA inspections.

What are other things you should know?

  • If there is an issue with trespassing on private property contact 911(Metropolitan Police Department {MPD}).
  • If  there  is  an  issue  with  parking  enforcement  near  the  property,  contact  the Department of Public Works (DPW)or 311.
  • If there is an issue with an alley being blocked, contact the District of Columbia Department of Transportation’s Public Space division.
  • If  there  is  an  issue  with  noise  resulting  from  construction  or  issues  with  permits, contact  DCRA.    

If the construction disturbance occurs after the regular office hours, contact MPD.

 

Online Resources

ProjectDox Update

Will my system access/login be any different?
No, existing user profiles (email address and password) will remain the same. However the URL has changed. There is a redirect but if you have bookmarked the old ProjectDox URL you can delete that and replace it with the new URL, which is https://eplan9x.dcra.dc.gov/projectdox/
 
How do I find a list of my projects?
A new feature on ProjectDox now shows all active projects under the “All Projects” tab.

What is the recommended browser for ProjectDox?
The ProjectDox system is supported and can be accessed by using Edge, Chrome, Firefox and Safari web browsers.Currently this version of ProjectDox only works with Internet Explorer 11 or higher. Internet Explorer has always been the recommended browser for ProjectDox; however, we are working to integrate other browsers in the future.

What’s new?
The new ProjectDox dashboard allows users to easily view projects and tasks with fewer clicks and with our latest enhancements gives you more power to filter infrmation. The result? Making permit submission as simple as 1, 2, 3.

When you log into your account you will notice the interface looks different. A new “All Projects” tab features all active projects – this is where you’ll find a list of your projects. All pending task(s) that you need to complete can be found under the “Tasks (PD)” tab. The applicant task(s) must be completed in order for projects to be submitted for pre-screening and plan review. Also available under the “All Projects” tab, you can search for projects by selecting the search field beneath the “Project” column. Enter the permit number or property address.
 
How do I find pending task(s) that I need to complete?
All pending task(s) can be found under the “Tasks (PD)” tab. The applicant task(s) must be completed in order for projects to be submitted for pre-screening and plan review.
 
How can I search for projects?
Projects are still able to be searched by permit number or property address. After selecting the “All Projects” tab, click on the search field beneath the “Project” column and enter the permit number or property address.

Will there be training?
ProjectDox training is available. Get assistance with uploading plans and get your questions answered about the system. Our team of experts are here to help! Sign up today!

 

Business Licensing

Business Licensing

I want to apply for a Basic Business License. What are the requirements?
Each licensing group/category has different document, inspection and/or investigation requirements. However, there are five basic requirements for ALL licensed business activities which must be satisfied prior to submitting a Basic Business License application:

  • You must have a valid Federal Employee Identification Number (FEIN) or Social Security Number (SSN);
  • You must register your tax number with the Office of Tax and Revenue (My Tax.dc.gov);
  • If your business operates from a location in Washington, DC, you must have a Certificate of Occupancy for a commercial premise address or a Home Occupation Permit if you work out of your home;
  • You must submit a Clean Hands Self-Certification form attesting that you do not owe more than $100.00 to the DC government. If you apply via the DC Business Center, a separate form is not required; and
  • If you are a corporation, partnership or limited liability company (domestic or foreign), you must be registered and in good standing with the Corporations Division. You must also have a Registered Agent.

How do I apply for a Basic Business License?
There are three (3) ways to apply for a Basic Business License (BBL):

Online. You may apply for a BBL and pay with a major credit/debit card via at My DC Business Center (mybusiness.dc.gov) Some categories are available for immediate printing.*  

Via Mail. You may obtain the required forms online, via mail or from the Business License Center. You may mail your complete application and payment in the form of a check or money order. Please submit all requirements including the associated fee in one envelope. Make check or money order payable to “DC Treasurer.” Mail complete application and payment to:

DC Government Wholesale Lockbox 91360
Washington, DC 20090

In-Person. You may apply for a BBL License in-person and pay with cash, check, money order or a major credit/debit card by visiting the DCRA, Business License Center, 1100 4th Street, SW, 2nd Floor, Washington, DC 20024. Forms are available in the Business License Center. No appointments are required. Applications are processed on a first-come, first-served basis.

How do I obtain a copy of my Business License?
In order to get a copy of your Basic Business License (BBL), submit a Duplicate Request Form and the associated $6.60 fee payable to D.C. Treasurer.

How do I learn if a company has a Basic Business License (BBL)?
A Basic Business License (BBL) and associated public license information can be verified by using the Business License Verification tool. Also, a BBL can be verified by calling the Business Licensing Division at (202) 442-4311.

My Basic Business License (BBL) will expire soon and I have not received a renewal notice. What should I do?
All renewals are mailed to the license holder no less 30 days prior to the expiration date. If you have not received your renewal notice, contact the Business Licensing Division at (202) 442-4311 prior to the expiration date to avoid the assessment of late fees/penalties for failure to renew in a timely manner.

If your billing address has changed since your last renewal, please notify to the Department of Consumer and Regulatory by submitting a Notice of Billing Address Change.

I have not received a renewal notice yet and my license has expired. What do I do?
Contact the Business Licensing Division at (202) 442-4311 to obtain your renewal bill. Visit My DC Business Center to renew your license with the details provided on your Renewal Bill.

If a Basic Business License is not renewed within 6 months from the date of expiration, a new application along with supporting documentation must be submitted if you wish to continue to conduct a given business activity in the District. Late fees and penalties are applicable. Upon receipt of your renewal notice, mail or walk-in documents with applicable fees. Licenses that have been expired for more than 6 months from the date of expiration cannot be renewed online.

I sent in my renewal application and payment, but it was returned with a Deficiency Notice. It says I didn't pay, but I have my cancelled check. Now what?
Most likely, the payment submitted was incorrect or insufficient. Please check the total cost of your license, which includes the application, endorsement, license category, and 10% technology fees. The outstanding (balance) amount is detailed on the Deficiency Notice.

To renew your license:

  • make check or money order payable to D.C. Treasurer
  • include a copy of the cancelled check to show proof of previous payment
  • include all contents of your returned renewal application
  • Mail to: Business Licensing Division, 1100 4th Street, SW, 4th Floor, Washington, DC 20024.

If you have questions regarding your Deficiency Notice, contact the Business Licensing Division at (202) 442-4311.

Do I need to re-submit the same forms and documents for my renewal as I did for my initial application?
Please refer to your renewal application instruction sheet as renewal requirements vary according to the category of licensure. Some Basic Business Licenses (BBL) require the same documentation as the initial application; other BBLs require only a Clean Hands Self-Certification and payment.

Detailed instructions along with the renewal bill are mailed to the billing address on record no later than 30 days prior to the date of expiration.

If you need additional assistance contact the Business Licensing Division at (202) 442-4311.

I received a notice to renew my Basic Business License. What do I need to do?
If you received a notice to renew your Basic Business License (BBL), review the Renewal Bill and Instructions and do the following:

  • Complete the required forms detailed on the Renewal Instructions
  • Attach any required supporting documentation (if applicable)
  • Review the Renewal Bill to determine the associated fees
  • Make check or money order payable to "DC Treasurer"
  • Include late fees (if applicable)

If renewing by mail, please submit both the renewal requirements and payment in one envelope. If your license is eligible for Online Renewal, your Renewal Bill will contain a 6-Digit pin number. If so, you may renew online instead of renewing by mail or in-person.  

When will I incur late fees?
Late fees are incurred after a license has expired. A $250.00 late fee is applicable the day following the expiration date. The maximum late fee of $500.00 is applicable 31 days after the expiration date.

Though late fees do not continue to accrue after the maximum $500.00 late fee has been assessed, penalty fees do continue to accrue for every 2-year period a license is not maintained. If you will cease the licensed business activity in the District, please provide written notification:

  • Via Mail: Business Licensing Division, 1100 4th Street, SW, 4th Floor, Washington, DC 20024
  • In-Person: Business License Center, 1100 4th Street, SW, 2nd Floor, Washington, DC 20024


How often are Basic Business Licenses renewed?
All Basic Business Licenses (BBL) are valid for two (2) or four (4) years unless otherwise specified.

I have several businesses; can I apply for just one license?
No. If you are conducting the same business activity, but from different locations in the District of Columbia, a Basic Business License (BBL) is required for each location. Additionally, if multiple business activities are being conducted as the same loction, a BBL may be required for each business activity if they are distinct in nature.

What is the difference between a General Business License and a Basic Business License?
A General Business License is a type of Basic Business License. Typically, a General Business license is issued to such businesses as retail stores, online retail stores, consultants, tutors, tax preparers (no CPAs), and a number of other businesses, that do not fall under an existing licensing category or which are not regulated by an existing national or local board or commission.

I already have a Basic Business License; do I also need to apply for a General Business License?
If you already have a current Basic Business License (BBL) specific to the activities of your business, it is unlikely that additional licensure is required. However, it is recommended that you contact the Business Licensing Division, (202) 442-4311, 1100 4th Street, SW, 2nd Floor, Washington, DC 20024, to determine if additional licensure is required.

I mailed in my application; my check was cashed, but I have not received my license yet. Why?
There could be a number of reasons why your license has not yet been issued. For information about the status of your application/license, please contact the Business Licensing Division at (202) 442-4311. Please have the following information ready:

  • Tax Identification Number
  • Company's Name
  • Premise Address
  • Mailing Date of Application
  • Date Check Cashed

Upon receipt of said information, a review of the Business Licensing Division's records will be conducted and a response with findings will be provided within forty-eight (48) business hours.

I sent in all the information required for my Basic Business License application and received a Deficiency Notice. What does this mean?
If you received a Deficiency Notice in response to your application, it means that the requirements for the category of licensure you applied for were not met. The Deficiency Notice indicates what requirements are outstanding and what actions you need to take in order for your application to be processed.

I already have a Certificate of Authority to operate a business in the District of Columbia; why do I need another license?
If you have already registered your business, the District of Columbia Government acknowledges your organization's intent to operate in the District. In some cases, a business activity requires additional regulation by another District of Columbia Government agency or another division within the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. To learn if your organization requires a Basic Business License, contact the Business Licensing Division, (202) 442-4311, 1100 4th Street, SW, 2nd Floor, Washington, DC 20024.

I have clients in the District, but I don't have an office there. Do I still need to apply for a Basic Business License (BBL)?
If you are conducting business to or from the District, a Basic Business License may be required depending upon the business activity being conducted. Please review the directory to locate the applicable business category, based on the primary business activity conducted, to determine the requirements for licensure. You may contact the Business Licensing Division at (202) 442-4311 to describe your business activity to learn if a license is required.

I am a sub-contractor and am only here for one contract; do I need to get a Basic Business License?
Yes, you are required to obtain a Basic Business License (BBL) (i.e., General Contractor/Construction Manager, Home Improvement Contractor or Home Improvement Salesperson); the licensure of the contractor for whom you are working is not valid for your contracting business.

To learn which category of licensure is required, contact the Business Licensing Division, (202) 442-4311, 1100 4th Street, SW, 2nd Floor, Washington, DC 20024.

I do freelance work on the side of my regular job; do I need a Basic Business License?
Whether or not a person/company requires a Basic Business License depends on the business activity conducted in the District.

Please review the directory to locate the applicable business category, based on the primary business activity conducted, to determine the requirements for licensure. You may contact the Business Licensing Division, (202) 442-4311, to learn if a license is required.

I want to rent my single family home in the District; do I need a license?
Yes, you are required to obtain a Basic Business License for the One Family Rental category.

Is a Basic Business License required for an owner seeking to sell his or her own property?
No, a Basic Business License (BBL) is not required for an owner to sell his or her own property. However, if a real estate broker, etc., assists in the sale of the property, the broker is required to be licensed through the Occupational and Professional Licensing Division, (202) 442-4320, 1100 4th Street, SW, 5th Floor, Washington, DC 20024.

I'm a consultant, not a business. I file my earnings on my personal tax forms, but I was told I still need a Basic Business License. Why?
Yes, you do need a Basic Business License for the General Business category if you are receiving revenue for the services you provide as a Consultant.

What kind of license do I need?
What kind of license you need depends on the business activity conducted in the District.

Contact the Business Licensing Division, (202) 442-4311, 1100 4th Street, SW, 2nd Floor, Washington, DC 20024 to learn what kind of license you need. You may also review the BBL directory to determine the applicable business category, based on the primary business activity conducted in the District.

How do I pay for my Basic Business License (BBL)?
You can pay for your Basic Business License (BBL) with cash, check, money order, or credit card. Please make your check or money order payable to the D.C. Treasurer. If paying by credit card.

How much will my Basic Business License cost?
Basic Business License (BBL) fees vary according to the business activity. The BBL fee includes an application, endorsement, license category and a 10% technology fee.

How do I apply for a refund from the Business Licensing Division?
You may apply for a refund from the Business Licensing Division ONLINE. Please note that application fee and the associated technology fee are non-refundable.

 

 

Business Registration

Corporate Registration FAQs: CorpOnline

What online services are available through CorpOnline Service?

The following services are available to the publicvia CorpOnline:

1. Online formation of all domestic filing entities (limited liability companies, nonprofit and for-profit corporations, limited and limited liability partnerships, general and limited cooperative associations and business trusts);

2. Online registration of all foreign filing entities;

3. Online filing of required biennial reports for all domestic and foreign filing entities;

4. Online domestic name reservations and foreign name registrations;

5. Online trade name registrations for all filing entities and sole proprietors and other non-filing entities;

6. Online good standing certificate and certified copy requests;

7. Online reinstatement filings for domestic and foreign filing entities including back report filing;

8. Online withdrawal application for all foreign entities;

9. Online dissolution filings for domestic LLCs and nonprofit and for-profit corporations;

10. Online amendment filings for domestic LLCs and nonprofit and for-profit corporations;

11. Online amended registration filings for all foreign entities;

12. Online search of all registered entities with expanded entity information including report history, trade name and governor information;

13. Online tracking of submitted filings including filing rejection management and approved services tab for filing evidence.

Please monitor the website as more online services will be available in the near future.

How do I access the CorpOnline website?

To access this service, go to the CorpOnline site at https://corponline.dcra.dc.gov, create a profile, access the online services main page, click on the appropriate link and proceed. Online filers must pay by using a credit card.

What browsers can I use to access the CorpOnline application?

CorpOnline service is compatible with most web browsers (Internet Explorer 11 or higher, latest versions of Chrome and Firefox, etc.).

Why do I need to register to access CorpOnline services?

Online registration via CorpOnline is a simple way to protect the security of users and the system. Registration process should take less than 5 minutes to complete.

I am having issues with registration to access CorpOnline website. What do I do now?

Main issues with registration involve the problems with web browsers or registration information. Please, be mindful that user name must be unique field. You might want to try different user name (ex. try hwilson1999 instead of hwilson). If problem is related to web browser as account has been set up but you still cannot login, ensure that you are using the appropriate web browser.

I have registered for account but still cannot login. Why not?

Your user name and password has to match our files. If you do not remember your password, please, click on “reset password”. If you do not remember your user name, please, contact Corporations Division customer service at 202-442-4432. You can also register anew. If you need to change the password or any other information from the registration page (ex, email address), you can do that after you login into your account and by clicking on “edit account”.

I am on the CorpOnline website, but every time I click on link, nothing happens. Why not?

It is web browser issue in most of the cases. Please review the question above about the compatible web browsers. Firewall and antivirus software may also prevent access to CorpOnline portal.

How do I file for my company using CorpOnline?

When you login, you will land at 'Business Filings' page. That page is divided into domestic filings (for entities formed within the District of Columbia) and foreign entities (entities formed outside of the District of Columbia). You will need to pick appropriate filing and proceed. Please, ensure to read the information page for each web filing to make sure that you are under correct filing.

I have just filed my biennial report. What do I get after the filing?

A confirmation page is your last page that states that report was successfully submitted and gives the summary of the information such as entity name, fee amount, etc. A copy of report is sent to the email address of the user who logged into the system and filed. A copy of the report is also available under “Approved Services” tab by clicking on the “plus” sign.

What are the tabs under my online account?

CorpOnline service is divided into four tabs:

  • Business Filings Tab - all online filings listed and divided into domestic and foreign filings;

  • Service Management Tab - progress of the filing; it has the following three sections:

    • A – “Pending Services”

    • B – “Received Services”

    • C – “Rejected Services”

  • Approved Services Tab - all filings that have been done under any given account and have been approved;

  • Business Filings Search Tab - allows you to search any entity that is registered with Corporations Division

I have used one of the online services and submitted my request. What is the next step?

Your filing has been received by Corporations Division if filing appears under 'Received Services' section of the service management tab. In that case, it will be reviewed within 5 business days unless the expedited option of 1 or 3 days has been selected. You will get approval certificate by email or rejection letter specifying the reasons for rejection.

I have paid for my filing, but my filing still appears under 'Pending Services' section. What do I do now?

If filings appear under “Pending Services” section, the filings have not been fully submitted to Corporations Division. Please, click on “edit” and navigate to last page to click on “submit to back office”. Please, ensure that filing appears under “Received Services” as this is the evidence of successful submission.

My filing has been rejected. I see it under 'Rejected Services' section. What do I need to do to resubmit?

Access the rejection letter and note the reason for deficiency and staff member’s name. Click on “re-file”, correct the deficiency and resubmit for final approval. Please, note that system should not charge you again unless you select to upgrade to expedited service.

If error message is thrown or system is trying to charge you, please, report this problem to Corporations Division’s customer service at (202) 442-4432.

I have paid for filing, but system asks me again for the payment. Why?

Please, ensure that you are accessing the correct workflow. If you have multiple filings under 'Pending Services', you will need to locate the one that has been used for payment and proceed.

I have searched for my company by using 'Business Filings Search' and my information is not correct; how do I correct it?

Please report your issue by contacting Corporations Division’s customer service at 202-442-4432 and provide as many details as possible about the nature of the inaccuracy.

I am using Macintosh (MAC) computer and am having some issues. Do you plan to configure the website to work with Macs?

CorpOnline site is configured to work with the Safari browser. However, some users have reported issues after logging into their account. You can also install Chrome or Firefox for Macs and there should not be any more issues with site navigation.

I have a Work Order ID number. What is it?

A Work Order ID is created when customer opens one of the workflows. Please, check 'Service Management' tab to verify whether the filing is submitted – as shown under 'Received Services' section or if it is still pending – shown under 'Pending Services' section. If filing is still pending, please, click on “edit”; complete the information and “submit to back office” so that filing will appear under “received services”.

I am trying to access the site, but system returns “Server error 404 - File or directory not found.” Is the site down? What should I do?

Some customers experience this issue as the CorpOnline site is up but their web browser forwards them to error site. To fix this issue, you may want to try one of the following:

  • Clear all your browsing data and close all browser windows and connect to the site again;

  • Try a different web browser and type the site address again;

  • Try a different computer and connect to site again.

If CorpOnline site is down, Corporations Division will post the site maintenance page.

I have paid for my filing, but it did not submit. Now, the system asks for the payment again. Why?

You may have completed the filing, but failed to click on 'Submit to Back Office' to complete the workflow. You may want to click on edit option under the filing and try to submit it again. If failed, you will need to contact Corporations Division and provide your payment details to validate your payment. Once this is done, you may be offered the credit for payment and you can submit your filing anew or division will instruct you to reconstruct the filing using the paper form and email it to a particular staff member for final approval and filing.

 

Corporate Registration FAQs: Process

What is this new beneficial ownership collection?
This is the new requirement that went into effect as of 1/1/2020.

Based on this requirement all formation and registration filings as well as biennial reports must include beneficial ownership information.

The law amended two sections of DC Code such as § 29–102.01. & § 29–102.11.

What are the details on beneficial ownership?
For formation, registration and report filings the following information will be collected:

The names, residence and business addresses of each person whose aggregate share of direct or indirect, legal or beneficial ownership of a governance or total distributional interest of the entity:

  1. Exceeds 10 percent; or
  2. Does not exceed 10 percent; provided, that the person:
    • Controls the financial or operational decisions of such entity; or
    • Has the ability to direct the day-to-day operations of such entity.”

Does this requirement affect all entity types, domestic and foreign?

Yes that is correct as requirement is applied to all entity types regardless of state of incorporation.

What happens if my beneficial ownership information changes from the date of formation/registration and/or last report filing?

If there is no report on file then articles of amendment for domestic entities must be filed to reflect new information; for foreign entities amended registration application must be filed.

If there is a report on file then statement of correction must be filed to correct report on file to reflect new changes.

How do I contact the Corporations Division?

The Corporations Division can be contacted by phone, fax, email, US Postal Service or walk-in visit:

  • Phone: (202) 442-4400
  • Fax: (202) 442-4523
  • Mailing Address: DCRA Corporations Division, P.O. Box 92300, Washington, DC 20090
  • Business License Center (Walk-in): 1100 4th Street, SW, Second Floor, Washington, DC 20024
  • Operating Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8:30 am - 4:30 pm; and Thursday from 9:30 am - 4:30 pm.
  • Email: dcra.corp@dc.gov
  • Main Corporate Webpage: https://dcra.dc.gov/page/corporations-division
  • Online Service Site: https://corponline.dcra.dc.gov

What is a series LLC and how can I form such an LLC in the District?

Series Limited Liability Company is the special type of LLC in which the members, managers, or interest holders have separate rights, powers, or duties with respect to specified property or obligations of the limited liability company.

For LLC to become series LLC it is generally a two-step process.

1-customer will answer “yes” to series question on articles of organization form DLC-1 (for LLCs formed after 1/1/12); for LLCs formed prior to 1/1/12 you will need to amend or restate articles of organization forms DLC-2/3 and add series statement such as the one identified below:

‘The company will have one or more series that is treated as a separate entity which limits the debts, obligations, and other liabilities to the assets of a particular series as provided in the operating agreement as authorized by § 29-802.06”

2-To designate the actual series you would file form DLC-4 certificate of series designation;

If I incorporate my business in District of Columbia, is that registration valid in other states?

No. Formation of the entity in the District of Columbia allows for that entity to conduct business in the District only. If domestic filing entity wishes to conduct business outside of the District of Columbia then it shall meet the requirements of each jurisdiction in which it wants to do business. Contact the corporate licensing authority in the appropriate state or province for more information.

If I registered my business outside of the District of Columbia, do I need to register to conduct business in DC?

An organization registered in another state or country that seeks to transact business in the District of Columbia must obtain authority by filing an application for foreign registration.

How do I get certified copies of documents?

You can get a certified copy of any Corporations Division document by walk-in visit or online.

Online

Go to CorpOnline site at https://corp.dcra.dc.gov, create the profile, access the online services main page, click on For-Profit or Non-Profit Certified Copy Request link and proceed. Online customers must pay by using the credit card and certificate will be delivered on the last page and will also be emailed to the address on the profile. Mail-in requests will no longer be accepted for certified copies.

Available certified copies include but are not limited to:

  • Articles of Incorporation
  • Organization Documents
  • Two-Year Annual Reports
  • Articles of Merger/Amendment
  • Certificates of Authority/Registration
  • Qualification Forms for Partnerships

Note for Walk-In Customers:
An $100 expedited fee for one-day service and a $50 expedited fee for three-day service will apply to all walk-in customers.

Walk-In
Business License Center
1100 4th Street, SW, Second Floor
Washington, DC 20024

DCRA Service Hours
  • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday 8:30 am - 4:30 pm
  • Thursday: 9:30 am - 4:30 pm

Call the Corporations Division at (202) 442-4400 to learn more.

How do I get a Certificate of Good Standing?

You can get a Certificate of Good Standing from the Corporations Division by visiting our office or submitting a request online.

Online
Go to CorpOnline site, create the profile, access the online services main page , click on Domestic/Foreign For-Profit or Non-Profit Request link and proceed. Online customers must pay by using the credit card and certificate will be delivered on the last page and will also be emailed to the address on the profile. Mail-in requests will no longer be accepted for good standing certificates.

Note for Walk-In Customers:
An $100 expedited fee for one-day service and a $50 expedited fee for three-day service will apply to all walk-in customers.

Walk-In
Business License Center
1100 4th Street, SW, Second Floor
Washington, DC 20024

DCRA Service Hours

  • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday 8:30 am - 4:30 pm
  • Thursday: 9:30 am - 4:30 pm

What's the penalty for operating in the District of Columbia without getting certificate of foreign registration?

As a part of application process, foreign filing entities (limited liability companies, non-profit and for-profit corporations, limited partnerships, limited liability partnerships, general partnerships, general and limited cooperative association and statutory trusts) must disclose the date when entity commenced its business in the District of Columbia.

Foreign filing entities that commenced business before the registration with Corporations division are liable for the payment of all back fees and all back reports.

The number of reports and the amount of fees depends on the commencement date.

What are the Corporate Registration Fees?

Corporate Registration fees are broken down by entity. For detailed requirements, please, contact Corporations Division at (202) 442-4400.

 

Where can I get a corporate seal?

Corporate seals and other corporate supplies may be obtained at a legal stationery store or corporate supplier.

May I fax a request or my registration documents to the Corporations Division?

No. You may not file your registration documents, nor obtain copies of documents by fax, or request verification documents of a corporate filing by facsimile. Each of these actions requires a payment which must be paid at the time of the request for documents.

What is the average turnaround for corporate filings?

Mail-In Filings
For mail-in filings Corporations division will process within 15 business days from the receipt of the paperwork. All mail-in filings go to our banking agent for payment processing first. Once payment is processed, payment confirmation along with filing will be forwarded to Corporations Division main office in Washington, DC for final processing. The 15 business days turnaround does not start until division receives the paperwork and proof of payment from the bank.
Filings that are sent to the overnight address are subject to the same turnaround guidelines.

Walk-In Filings
For walk-in filings, Corporations division will process and approve or reject filings while you wait.
Expedited fee in the amount of $100 for one day service and $50 for three day service will apply to all walk-in customers.

Online Filings
For online filings, Corporations division will process within 15 business days from the date of submission. Print the confirmation page and record the date of submission.

What are the Registered Agent requirements in the District of Columbia?

The Registered agent (RA) is the individual or the entity that performs the following duties:

  1. Forward to the represented entity at the address most recently supplied to the agent by the entity any process, notice, or demand that is served on the agent;
  2. Provide the notices required by Business Organizations Act Title 29 to the entity at the address most recently supplied to the agent by the entity.

Who can act as a Registered Agent in the District of Columbia?

1-Commercial registered agent; “Commercial registered agent” means a person (an individual or domestic or foreign filing entity) who have filed “Listing of commercial registered agent” filing required under § 29-104.05 with Corporations Division.

2-Noncommercial registered agent; “Noncommercial registered agent” means a person that is not a commercial registered agent and is:

  • (A) An individual or domestic or foreign entity that serves in the District as the agent for service of process of an entity;
  • (B) An individual who holds the office or other position in an entity who is designated as the agent for service of process; or
  • (C) A member in good standing of the District of Columbia Bar who maintains an office in the District of Columbia.

What are address requirements for Registered Agents?

RA's address must be physical street address in the District of Columbia. RA’s address may not be PO Box or address outside the District.

Can Entity act as its own Registered Agent if it has office address in the District of Columbia?

Yes. Domestic or foreign filing entity may appoint an individual within the organization to act as the registered agent in the District.

What Entities should have a Registered Agent?

All domestic and foreign filing entities are required to appoint and maintain the registered agent.

Filing entities include the following:

  • Limited Liability Companies
  • Non-Profit and For-Profit Corporations 
  • Limited Partnerships
  • Limited Liability Partnerships
  • General Partnerships
  • General and Limited Cooperative Association
  • Statutory Trusts

What is the penalty for failure to maintain a Registered Agent?

Entity's status may be revoked if it fails to maintain registered agent.

What is the difference between a Trade Name and a Corporate name?

A corporate, limited liability or partnership name is the name under which the organization is formed, or registered, and must include a distinct qualifier, for example, inc, llc, pllc, llp, lp, pc.

A trade name is the name under which a business operates or does business. The trade name is NOT the true or real name of the business. For example, Verizon Center is the trade name of the DC Arena, LP. It is the name that is most commonly associated with the business.  Go to CorpOnline site at https:/corp.dcra.dc.gov, create the profile, access the online services main page (use Internet Explorer 7 or IE8). Follow the links under "Trade Names" to proceed through the registration process. Online customers must pay by using the credit card.

How can I get refund for my corporate filing?

Submit a Corporations Refund Request Application.

On what legal authority may I submit a refund request?

Pursuant to D.C. Municipal Regulations Title 17, Chapter 708.1, the request for refund shall be made within sixty (60) calendar days from the date of payment; or from the date of DCRA's rejection notification.

Pursuant to D.C. Code § 29–102.13. (d), overpayments and duplicate and erroneous payments shall be refunded. The term “erroneous” is defined as when payment was sent to Corporations division but intended for another recipient (ex. tax or license payments erroneously sent to Corporations division). “Erroneous” payment does not include the case where customers change his/her mind and wants to rescind the filing (remove the filing in order to get refund).

Pursuant to D.C. Code § 29–102.13. (d), a mere change of purpose after the payment of money, as when a party desires to withdraw a filing, shall not entitle a party to a refund.

Pursuant to DC Code Title 29, the following are the instances where refund can be issued:

Does the Corporations Division provide “apostille” (authentication) service for issued documents?

Corporations Division does not provide authentication services. However, you may request this service from the D.C. Office of the Secretary.

To do so, please, follow these steps:

  1.  Locate document or certificate that you need and request a certified copy of that document from Corporations Division.
  2.  Once certified copy of the document or certificate is received from Corporations Division; contact D.C. Office of the Secretary to request document authentication.
  3.  Here is the link for more information  

Another service is being provided for document authentication by U.S. Department of State.
For more information, please, refer to the following link to the Office of Authentication.

 

Corporate Registration FAQs: Definitions

What does "Conducting Business" mean in the District of Columbia?

District law defines a "business" as: “Any trade, profession, or activity which provides, or holds itself out to provide, goods or services to the general public or to any portion of the general public, for hire or compensation in the District of Columbia.”

Generally, foreign filing entities (limited liability companies, non-profit and for-profit corporations, limited partnerships, limited liability partnerships, general partnerships, general and limited cooperative association and statutory trusts) do not have to register with Corporations Division if they are engaging in a single or isolated transaction.

In addition, certain categories of activity have been excluded by the District as constituting “business” for the purposes of determining if an entity must register with the District. These exclusions vary depending on the type of business entity.

For the list of exclusions, please refer to the following statute:
§ 29-105.05. Activities not constituting doing business.

Sample of specific factual scenarios:

Will a Corporation or LLC need to register with Corporations division if it owns real estate in the District? In most of the cases, the answer will be no. However, this entity is required to register if real estate is “income producing”.

To discuss a specific case, you may contact Corporations Division at (202) 442-4400, Option 5. Consult an attorney for legal advice.

What does "Entity status is revoked" mean in the District of Columbia? What is it and how can I put my company back in good standing?
If entity’s status is revoked then articles of incorporation / organization shall be void and all powers conferred upon such entity are declared inoperative, and, in the case of a foreign entity, the certificate of foreign registration shall be revoked and all powers conferred hereunder shall be inoperative.

Penalties for operating after revocation
Civil fines, penalties, and fees may be imposed on any domestic or foreign filing entity that commits an infraction of any provisions of Business Organizations Act specified under § 29-101.06 and fails to comply with any provisions thereof pursuant to Chapter 18 of Title 2 ("Civil Infractions Act").

Reinstatement
Any entity may file an application for reinstatement and pay all back fees and file all back reports at any time. Once this filing is accepted by Corporation’s Division entity’s status will be reinstated. Once petition for reinstatement is approved, such entity shall have such powers, rights, duties, and obligations as it had just prior to the time of the issuance of the administrative dissolution or termination with the same force and effect.

What are professional corporations (PCs) & limited liability companies (PLLCs)?
The term “professional service” means any type of personal service to the public which may be lawfully rendered only pursuant to a license and which by law, custom, standards of professional conduct or practice in the District of Columbia, before December 10, 1971, could not be rendered by a corporation, including without limitation the services performed by certified public accountants, attorneys, architects, practitioners of the healing arts, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists, and professional engineers.

Professional Corporations must have “P.C.” or “Professional Corporation” or “Chartered” as a part of its name.

Professional LLCs must have “PLLC” or “Professional Limited Liability Company” as a part of its name.

What are acceptable purposes for professional corporations or LLCs?
A professional corporation may be organized solely to render professional services through its shareholders, directors, officers, employees, or agents who are themselves duly licensed to render the particular service, and to render service ancillary thereto.

A professional corporation may employ persons, who are not licensed, but such persons shall not perform professional services; and no license shall be required of any person who is employed by a professional corporation to perform services for which no license is otherwise required.

What is the difference between a Trade Name and a Corporate name?
A corporate, limited liability or partnership name is the name under which the organization is formed, or registered, and must include a distinct qualifier, for example, Inc., LLC, PLLC, LLP, LP, or PC.

A trade name is the name under which a business operates or does business. The trade name is NOT the true or real name of the business. For example, Verizon Center is the trade name of the DC Arena, LP. It is the name that is most commonly associated with the business.  Go to CorpOnline, create the profile, access the online services main page (use latest version Google Chrome or Firefox). Follow the links under "Trade Names" to proceed through the registration process. Online customers must pay by using the credit card online.

 

 

Permitting

Certificate of Occupancy

What is a conditional certificate of occupancy (CCO)? A conditional  certificate  of  occupancy  (CCO)  is  a  mechanism  to  assist  an  owner  to  obtain  limitedoccupancy of a building that is still under construction. A Core and Shell C of O is required to be issuedbefore a CCO is issued.  A Core and Shell C of O does not allow occupancy of the building.

When is a CCO issued? A CCO is issued when the building, structure, or portion thereof may be safely occupied even if the workrequired under the issued permits is not complete. Review the Guidelines for the Issuance of ConditionalCertificates  of  Occupancy  and  related  checklist  for  the  submission  requirements  and  DCRA  review  andapproval process.

What inspections are necessary for CCO issuance? All  inspections  identified  in  question  #13  plus  an  oversight  inspection  may  be  required  prior  to  CCOissuance.  A  zoning  inspection  may  be  required  to  verify  parking  and  loading,  inclusionary  zoning  (IZ)units, and if the development obtained zoning approval from the Zoning Commission or Board of ZoningAdjustment,   an   inspection   to   verify   compliance   with   the   Order   conditions   and/or   additionaldocumentation from the owner will be required prior to the issuance of a CCO.

What are green requirements for a CCO? Green  Building  Act  (GBA)  projects  must  demonstrate  the  building  is  on  track  to  certification.  Privatelyfunded  GBA  projects  must  also  provide  a  financial  security.    Green  Construction  Code  (GCC)  projectsmust have conducted a Rough and Final Green Inspection and provided all applicable documents. GCCinspections  must  be  conducted  by  a  DCRA  building  inspector.  Third  Party  Agencies  are  not  currentlyapproved to conduct Green Building Inspections. DCRA anticipates training the Third Party Agencies tobe  able  to  perform  plan  review  and  inspections  in  spring  2017.  For  detailed  information,  please  visitwww.buildgreendc.org/certificate-of-occupancy.

May multiple CCOs be issued for a single building permit? Yes. For example, if the owner of a multi-family building would like to partially occupy units before theconstruction  is  complete,  the  owner  or  his/her  designated  agent  may  apply  for  a CCO  as  floors  of  thebuilding  are  ready  to  be  occupied.  For  a  development  with  an  inclusionary  zoning  (IZ)  requirement,  a proportion of market and IZ units must be provided and the COO application should specifically list theIZ units by unit number.

What is the maximum number of CCOs which may be issued for a project? An applicant is encouraged to limit the number of CCOs for which they apply; however, there currentlyis no maximum numbers. A final COO that lists all floors, below grade parking, IZ units (if required), andground floor retail (if provided) must be issued prior to the expiration of the last CCO.
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What is the length of a CCO? Typically a  CCO  is  issued  for  30-90  days,  as recommended by the applicant’s Third Party Agency  orDCRA  for  a  property  not  inspected  by  a  Third  Party  Agency.DCRA’s Third  Party  Program  staff  willreview  all  CCO  applications  and  requests  from  Third  Party  Agencies  for  the  duration  of  the  CCO.    TheCCO will bear an expiration date by which time the conditions of the CCO must be met.  If the applicants  unable  to  satisfy  the  conditions  under  which  the  CCO  was  granted,  the  applicant  should  submitanother COO application, with a letter from the Third Party Agency explaining the reasons for which theconditions  could  not  be  met  and  a  date  by  which  they  will  be  resolved.  Advise  DCRA  if  you  have  aspecial circumstance which warrants a CCO of greater than 90 days.

How long after an applicant submits a CCO application is an inspection to be scheduled? If a zoning or oversight inspection is required, it will generally be scheduled within 3-5 business days ofthe submission of a complete application.

When is a Core and Shell C of O required? A Core and Shell C of O is not required unless the applicant will be seeking a CCO for the building. DCRAwill issue a Core and Shell C of O if requested by the owner for financing  or other reasons. A Core andShell  C  of  O  does  NOT  allow  occupancy  of  a  building,  rather,  the  issuance  of  it  signifies  that  the  Coreand Shell have been fully constructed, consistent with the approved building plans and are operational.

My project intends to request a CCO.  When should we come in for a Core and Shell C of O? Once  all  the  Core  and  Shell inspections are complete, reports are submitted to DCRA’s third partyinspections staff and approved.

What steps are necessary if an applicant intends to operate a newly constructed parking garage priorto obtaining a C of O for the building? A Core and Shell C of O is not required to occupy the garage. The applicant shall obtain a CCO to occupythe building while construction of the rest of the building continues.

Is it permissible to start construction on a Tenant Layout (TL) permit prior to issuance of the Core andShell C of O? Yes, once the TL permit has been issued, construction may begin. However, a Core and Shell C of O forthe building must first be issued prior to issuance of a either a conditional or final C of O for the tenantspace.

What inspections are necessary for Core and Shell C of O issuance? Special Inspections, Mechanical Final, Plumbing Final, including fire suppression system hydrostatic inspection, Electrical Final, including fire alarm system test, Fire Final, Have at least one working elevator, Approval of the Wall Check, DCRA Green Rough-in Inspection
Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs ǀ 1100 4th Street SW, Washington, DC 20024 ǀ 202.442.4400 ǀ dcra.dc.govPage 3 of 5Revised 1/17/2017 Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) Stormwater Regulations (Final Approval Notice(FAN) issued to applicant by DOEE) and Green Area Ratio (GAR) compliance (DOEE inspectedand approved Landscape Checklist)Core and Shell building inspection (Last inspection to be completed)

If required, must the green roof be completed prior to the Core and Shell C of O? In certain circumstances, an applicant may not be able to fully complete the installation of a green roofbefore the Core and Shell C of O is ready to be issued.  In those cases, the applicant must contact DOEEand obtain  their  approval  to  delay  the  installation  of  the  green  roof.  For  example,  the  winter  monthsmay not be an appropriate time to install a green roof.  Even if the Core and Shell C of O is issued with apartially installed green roof, the green roof must be fully installed prior to the issuance of the final C ofO for the building.

What is required to obtain final Stormwater and GAR (Green Area Ratio) approval from DOEE andmust it occur prior to the issuance of a Core and Shell C of O or CCO? The operating guidance for I&EB Stormwater Management Plan (SWMP) “sign off” on projects thatrequire SWM Best Management Practices (BMPs) include:1.An approved DOEE final inspection for construction of the approved SWM BMPs and2.An “As-built Plan” is submitted to DOEE for review and is approved.a.The As- built is required to be submitted within 21 days of the Final Inspection.  Uponapproval of the As-built a Final Approval Notice (FAN) is issued to the Stormwater Planowner and their agents. The FAN represents final approval for SWMP compliance.With respect to projects where GAR is required, the completed Landscape Checklist is required to be completed by a certified Landscape Expert and forwarded to DOEE’s GAR Office. The completed Landscape Checklist represent final compliance for GAR required for inspection the I&EB. DOEE does not oppose the issuance of Core and Shell or CCO on projects where SWM is required but not completed; however, the applicant is advised that the final C of O will not be issued until the final SWMP inspection has occurred and the applicant has submitted the as-built plan to DOEE.

When should I consider and plan for phased occupancy? The best time to consider the future phased occupancy of the proposed building is during the designphase. DCRA encourages owners to consult with their design professionals to develop building plansthat will support phased occupancy.  If questions arise during this process, the applicant can request aPreliminary Design Review Meeting (PDRM) to discuss questions with technical staff. To schedule aPDRM please contact: Arlette Howard by email at Arlette.Howard@dc.gov or by phone at (202)442-4558.

What is the process to obtain a C of O for phased occupancy? A project completes work under a Core and Shell building permit and then applies for and obtains aCore and Shell C of O.  This ensures that life safety systems are in place. After the Core and Shell C of Ois issued, a final or conditional certificate of occupancies can be applied for each space in the buildings it is completed under separate building permits.  See examples below:Examples of Phased Occupancy:
Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs ǀ 1100 4th Street SW, Washington, DC 20024 ǀ 202.442.4400 ǀ dcra.dc.gov Page 4 of 5Revised 1/17/2017

  1. A 10 story new spec office building with a grocery store on the first floor and one tenant who secured  plans for occupying the 9th and 10th floors.  Additionally, a 3 story underground parking garage is being built first.  The developer would like to have tenants occupy spaces as they come online. a.Process
  • The parking garage is completed first under a building permit. 
  • The Core and Shell building is completed under a building permit.
    • a.The owner applies for and receives a Core and Shell C of O.  No spaces can be occupied under a Core and Shell C of O, but the owner may apply for a CCO to occupy the building.
    • b.The owner applies and receives a CCO to use the parking garage.  If the owner wants to use the garage before the Core and Shell C of O is complete, they can apply for a CCO for the garage space. 
  • The grocery store is completed under a tenant layout permit. a.The grocery store applies for and receives a C of O to occupy the grocery store. iv.The 9th and 10th floor tenant completes work under a tenant layout permit.
    • a.The tenant applies for and receives a C of O for the 9th and 10th floor only.
    • b.To note, all the certificate of occupancies that are being received, are the final C of Os for those spaces.c.As the 2-8 floors are completed under a series of building permits, each separate tenant will be required to receive a C of O.d.None of the C of O issued for the spaces above are “conditional”. They are the final C of O for those spaces.  If there were conditions, then they would be issued as CCOs that would allow for the spaces to be occupied for a period of time until the conditions can be fulfilled.
  1. A 10 story mixed use multifamily building with three retail spaces and a restaurant/bar on the first floor. Floors 2-10 are all multifamily residential spaces and the owner plans on finishing it one floor at a time.a.Process
  • The Core and Shell building is completed under a building permit.a.The owner applies for and receives a Core and Shell certificate of occupancy.  No portion of the building may be occupied under a Core and Shell C of O.b.After the Core and Shell C of O has been issued, the applicant may apply for a CCO to occupy the leasing office.
  • Build-out of the three retail spaces and the restaurant/bar space is completed under four separate tenant layout permits. a.The operators of each retail and restaurant/bar apply for and receive a C of O to occupy their respective spaces.
  • The owner finishes one residential floor at a time starting with the 2 and 3rd floor under one building permit. a.As each floor is finished, a CCO is applied for and received for each floor.

Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs ǀ 1100 4th Street SW, Washington, DC 20024 ǀ 202.442.4400 ǀ dcra.dc.gov Page 5 of 5Revised 1/17/2017 b.After all of the multifamily floors (2-10) are completed, a final C of O is applied for that covers the 2-10 floors. The final C of O would also note the presence of any IZ units by unit number, the total square footage of the retail/restaurant space, and any below grade parking.  3. New 5 Story Hotel and the owner wants to occupy floors as they are completed. a.Process i.The process will be the same as the multifamily building described.

How do I schedule a meeting to discuss a Third Party Agency-related C of O? If the building inspections have been conducted by a Third Party Agency, please contact DCRA’s Third Party Program staff, Ms. Lori Fowler or Ms. Tamika Jones by email at Lori.Fowler@dc.gov and Tamika.Jones@dc.gov at to schedule a meeting.

Is a C of O required for residential projects? A C of O is required for residential buildings that consist of two or more dwelling units.   A certificate of occupancy is not required for a single family dwelling. In the case of a single family dwelling, an approved building final inspection is required prior to occupancy.  

Is a C of O required for individual office tenants in an office building? If a valid C of O has been issued for office use for the entire building, an individual office tenant is not required to obtain its own C of O.  Occasionally a tenant will want to obtain its own C of O for financing or other reasons.  In those cases, DCRA will issue a C of O after the applicant submits the application, pays the application fee, and provides a copy of its lease or letter from the property owner giving the applicant permission to apply for the C of O.  

An existing office building with a valid C of O is fully renovated.  Is a new C of O required? If only interior renovations occurred, with no change to the layout, the amount of square footage, the use, the occupant load, and the ownership of the building is the same, a new C of O is not required. 

Permit Application

Are the Contractor and Subcontractor information required for permit application submission?
No, the Contractor and Subcontractor are not required at the time of submitting a permit application. However, please provide this information as soon as possible to avoid any delay in your permit application process, as no permit can be issued without this information.

Are the Design professional and Master Tradesmen information required for permit application submission?
These are not required if you are the homeowner making minor repairs to exterior features or interior renovation to a single-family dwelling or two-family flat with no structural changes. If you are not a homeowner, you will be required to provide the information of either the Architect or Engineer at the time of submitting a permit application.  

Can I edit the Contractor, Subcontractor, and registered design professional information in the permit application anytime while the project is under review?
Yes, the permit application can be edited to include the Contractor, Subcontractor, and registered design professional information before the permit is issued.

Is the Contractor, Subcontractor, Design Professional and Master Tradesmen required to be licensed by District of Columbia?
Yes, the Contractor, Subcontractor, Design Professional and Master Tradesmen must be licensed in the District of Columbia.

What do I do if I am unable to locate my hired professionals or contractors in the application?
The permit application pulls the most up-to-date license information from various systems and databases.  It is possible that your hired professionals or contractors do not hold active licenses with DCRA.  In this case, please ask your hired professionals or contractors to contact DCRA at dcra@dc.gov.  

What do I do if I want to change the design professional or contractors after the application is submitted and before the permit is issued?
You may contact our office at DCRA@dc.gov to make your request with the Permitting Office.

Will all the parties in the permit application be notified when the permit application is submitted and at permit issuance?
Yes, all parties listed in the permit application will receive automatic notifications sent to the email of record.

I am the Permit Expeditor, but did not locate and select myself from the listing in the permit application.  What do I need to do?  
Please register as a Permit Expeditor using the DCRA Permit Expeditor Registration Form.  If you have already registered using the link above and are having trouble locating yourself in the permit application, please email DCRA at dcra@dc.gov.

As the homeowner, can I be listed as the Contractor on my application?
Yes, if you are the homeowner of a single or two-family home, you can self-identify and attest that you are the General Contractor of record on the application. You are no longer required to complete the Contractor’s section of the permit application.

Can I apply for a permit extension and maintain the original permit number for my records?
Yes, if you have not exceeded the maximum of four, six-month extensions. With the latest enhancement, you simply select “Permit Extension” in the application and answer some questions to make your extension request.  Once approved, your original permit number will be maintained with the extension tracking number at the end.  For examples: “B2000000- Ext 01” for the first request and “B2000000- Ext 02” for the second request.

When will I be required to provide the estimated cost of construction?
 The Estimated Cost of Construction is required at the time of application submittal and supporting documentation should be uploaded to the system.

When will I be required to provide the signed construction contract(s)?
Signed construction contract (s) are required before the Permit is issued for validation. No permit will be issued without signed construction contract(s).

How is my fee being assessed for my permit application?
The cost of your permit application is based on the entire cost of your construction project. Please visit permit fee structure on DCRA’s website. The first fee payment is 50% of your fee portion based on the permit fee structure using your estimated cost of construction. The remaining fee balance is based on the cost of your signed construction contract(s).

Can I now submit the Raze Application online?
Yes, the application can now be processed online through the application intake process. Please “select” Raze as the Application Type.

 

Inspections

Resident Inspection Program

Why do we need more inspectors?
The District of Columbia has been growing at record pace and so has the demand for required inspections by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA). Currently, there are 68 inspectors and the forecast for demand is approaching 150,000 inspections per year. DCRA is embracing an alternative solution that will decrease the wait in scheduling an inspection and provide job opportunities for District residents.

Am I eligible to be an inspector?

  • DC Resident Preferred
  • Must be 18 years or older
  • High School Diploma/GED
  • Pass Background Check

I have questions about the background check, who should I contact?
Contact the DC Department of Human Resources (DCHR), 1015 Half St SE, Washington, DC 20003, on the 9th floor during walk-in hours from 10 am to 3 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays only or call (202) 658-9019.

What types of inspection positions are available?

  • Vacant Properties
  • Housing (Property Maintenance)
  • Additional inspection training programs will be available in the future
    o    Illegal Construction (not available through pilot)
    o    Construction (not available through pilot)
    o    Licensing (not available through pilot)

What are the qualifications to become an inspector?

Inspector

Entry Requirements

Training

Cost

Pay Per Qualified Inspection

Vacant Properties

High School Degree/GED

  • Two, 6-hour - Saturday Classes and Field Training
  • Three Supervised Field Inspections
  • DCRA Exam (75% passing score)

Free

$30

Housing Inspections

High School Degree/GED

  • Three, 6-hour - Saturday Classes and Field Training
  • ICC Exam
  • Three Supervised Field Inspections
  • DCRA Exam (75% passing score)

ICC Exam $209

$40

Illegal Construction

High School Degree/GED

  • Five, 6-hour - Saturday Classes
  • Three Supervised Field Inspections
  • DCRA Exam

 

$20 for each qualified inspection with no Stop Work Order and $100 total per qualified inspection if resulted in a Stop Work Order.

Construction Inspections (Training Program currently not available)

High School Degree/GED

ICC Certifications

  • Three, 6-hour - Saturday Classes
  • ICC Exam
  • Three Supervised Field Inspections
  • DCRA Exam

 

Paid by Customer- Rates Vary

Licensing (Training Program currently not available)

High School Degree/GED

  • Three, 6-hour – Saturday Classes
  • DCRA Exam

 

 

* Estimates based off of industry standard rates. DCRA reserves the right to change this payment schedule at any time.

Do I have to be trained to be an inspector?
Training is required and offered through DCRA. Certain inspection types will require additional training and exams at a cost.

How much training is needed to be an inspector?
Training requirements vary depending on the inspection type and complexity of the inspection. You can train to be an inspector in as little as 18 hours and by passing required exams.

Does the training cost anything?
Training is free and provided by DCRA. Costs may include the purchase of a tablet/PC/smartphone and required ICC certifications. Inspections are completed using a tablet/PC/smartphone so one will be required.

How much can I make as an inspector?  
Inspectors will be paid per qualified inspection. Payment varies from $30 to $300 depending on the complexity and type of inspection. Payments will be made through an independent company.

Can I work flexible hours?
Inspectors will be able to create their own schedules.

Do I need insurance to be an inspector?
We are evaluating insurance requirements and options for this program.

Since I will be considered a contractor, will I need a business license?
No

Are resident inspectors eligible to become DCRA inspectors?
Yes, resident inspectors may apply for open DCRA inspector positions.

Will this program certify me to be a professional home inspector?
No, this is not a home inspector training program and does not train individuals to perform home sale related inspections.

How will DCRA monitor inspectors and ensure that they perform quality inspections?
DCRA has had a supplemental inspectors’ program for years. We will ensure that each inspector is trained and approved by DCRA and/or the International Code Council (ICC). Performance of inspectors will be monitored by DCRA. Inspectors will also undergo a background check for certain types of inspections and will be required to comply with ethics and conflict of interest rules.

How will this all work? How will I get notified that an inspection is needed?
Once certified, inspectors can be included in DCRA’s inspector pool. DCRA will connect residents with qualified and certified inspectors in their area through a booking system that will be closely monitored by DCRA to ensure quality assurance. The booking system will assign inspectors to a service request based on availability, location, prior ratings, and other relevant factors.

When will this program start?
Our first cohort began on July 20th and our second began on August 3rd - both met their maximum capacity. Our third cohort will begin in September.

How can I get more information?
Sign up here for more information.

Resident Inspection Program Ethics

Are there any ethical rules that apply to the Resident Inspector program?
Yes, there is an Ethical Conduct and Conflict of Interest Policy for the program. In order to participate in the program, you must sign an attestation affirming that you have reviewed and agree to abide by the Policy and will not engage in certain activities.  The Policy and attestation is available here.

What should I do when I find that I have either a personal or business relationship with someone involved with my inspection?
This would be a conflict of interest, and you are required to immediately disclose the conflict, in writing, to the Program Manager and recuse yourself from performing the inspection upon learning of the conflict.

Am I allowed to own a business interacting in one of DCRA’s regulatory functions, such as being a permit expediter, a code consultant, a construction code inspector or plan reviewer while I am a Resident Inspector?
No.  Under the Ethical Conduct and Conflict of Interest Policy, participants shall not engage in employment or activities, including seeking or negotiating for employment, or hold financial interests that could conflict with the performance of inspections or potentially affect the objectivity or reliability of an inspection report under the Program.

Am I allowed to participate in a business that routinely is a customer of a DCRA regulatory function, such as being a general contractor, trade contractor, design professional, etc. while I am a Resident Inspector?
No.  Under the Ethical Conduct and Conflict of Interest Policy, participants shall not engage in employment or activities, including seeking or negotiating for employment, or hold financial interests that could conflict with the performance of inspections or potentially affect the objectivity or reliability of an inspection report under the Program.

What should I do if a person or entity requests my assistance handling a DCRA regulatory issue with their property?
You may refer the person or entity to the appropriate division or employee within DCRA who may assist them, but you may not provide or advertise services to them. Under the Ethical Conduct and Conflict of Interest Policy, participants shall not take actions creating the appearance that they are violating the law or the ethical standards set forth in the Policy.

As an ANC commissioner, am I allowed to participate in the Resident Inspector program?
Yes.  However, you will not receive payment for your participation.

 

Surveyors

Special Online Instructions

Does the Office of the Surveyor have a Website Page?
Yes. Go to DCRA’s homepage, type in Surveyor’s Office in the Search field and select the link at the top.

The DCRA Cashier’s Office is closed. How do I pay for a receipt?
You may now pay your receipt Online. Please follow the steps included below the FAQ’s under the title “Online Payment of Fees”. If you cannot submit payment through our Online system please contact us at (Contact the D.C. Surveyor).

Does the Office of the Surveyor’s Website have plats I can view or print?
Yes. Within the Office of the Surveyor’s Webpage is a link to a research platform known as “SurDocs” (Abbreviation for Survey Documents). Within this interface you can search for records pertaining to your property if you know what your lot and square is.

Can I pay for services offered by the Surveyor’s Office Online?
Yes. Please visit the DCRA website and go to the ACA Customer Portal and search for our services under the Building section. You may also try searching for your invoice number and paying within the ACA Portal using the instructions below:

What is a Lot?
By definition, a Lot is the land bounded by definite lines that, when occupied to be occupied by a building structure and accessory buildings, includes the open spaces required under DCMR Title 12. A Lot may or may not be the land as recorded in the records of the Office of the Surveyor.

What is a Record Lot?
A Record Lot is a lot recorded on a plat of subdivision in the Office of the Surveyor of the District of Columbia. The plat is also reviewed by zoning, historic preservation and the Office of Tax and Revenue.

What is a Tax Lot?
A Tax Lot is a lot created by the Office of Tax and Revenue for tax billing purposes. This lot is for assessment tax purposes only; it does not affect or change record lots.

What are Square & Lot Numbers?
The city is divided into sections and assigned a Square number. For example in downtown, each city block has a separate Square number. The individual properties within the Square are each assigned a Lot number.

How do you find your Square & Lot Numbers?
The Square & Lot numbers can be found in your deed. The Office of Tax and Revenue can obtain your Square & Lot Number using your address. You can also find this online at (D.C. Tax Payer Service Center).

What is a Building Plat?
A Building Plat is a scaled drawing of a lot, showing lot lines and record dimensions. The plat is certified by the DC Surveyor and is usually used to obtain a building permit. The drawing provided is a depiction of the lot only. Features related to acquiring a building permit will need to be added by a design professional or skilled consumer. A document is available to help explain how to add content to a Building Plat and thus transform it into a Plat for Permit. (Building Plats - Adding Content).

Where do I Obtain a Building Plat and How Much Does It Cost?
To obtain a Building Plat you must place the order online (Online Building Plats). The only information you will need to place the order is the square and lot number for each property. The cost of a plat is: $60.50 – sent via email within 3-5 business days; and $88.00 – Expedited - sent via email by 2 p.m. (EST) the next business day*.

*Note: Expedited orders must be placed and paid for by no later than 3:00 p.m. (EST) the day prior to pick up. Any orders after that time will take an additional day to process and complete.
Also, detailed steps for ordering Building Plats Online are included below the FAQ’s under the title “Online Building Plat Ordering”.

What is a Plat for Permit?
A Plat for Permit is a Building Plat that has been prepared for submission for a Building Permit. This document will have the lot depicted by the Office of the Surveyor on the official Building Plat and will also contain the necessary design features added by the design professional or customer.

Note: All added content must be to scale.

What is the Approved Plat for Permit?
The Approved Plat for Permit is the Plat for Permit that has been reviewed by DCRA’s Permitting Division and Approved with the Building Permit. This document will have agency certifications on it and will also reference the Building Permit Number.

What is a Subdivision Plat?
Record Lots are created in the Office of the Surveyor by recording a Subdivision Plat if you want to change the configuration of a lot or lots. For example, if you own multiple lots and want to combine them into one lot, or if you own one large lot and want to subdivide it into several smaller lots. You also may need to convert your tax lot to a record lot for permit purposes. You would order a Subdivision and have it recorded in our office.

How can I apply for a Subdivision of land (or conversion of a Tax Lot to a lot(s) of Record)?
We have a newly developed Online process for applying for a Subdivision. Please follow the steps included below the FAQ’s under the title “Application for Subdivision”.

I have a Condominium project. How can I submit the Plat and Plans for review?
We have a newly developed Online process for submitting Condominium Plat and Plans. Please follow the steps included below the FAQ’s under the title “Condominium Plat and Plans Submissions”.

What is a Wall Check?
A wall check is a survey done to locate new construction. Once you obtain a building permit and start constructing, a DCRA Building Inspector may require you to have a wall check to locate exactly where your new construction is on the lot. This is done to make sure your construction meets setback requirements, lot coverage restrictions, and to assure no encroachments exist.

Do you have Surveys of my property showing the location of my house?
Possibly. Within the Office of the Surveyor’s Webpage is a link to a research platform known as “SurDocs” (Abbreviation for Survey Documents). Within this interface you can search for records pertaining to your property if you know what your lot and square is. The Office of the Surveyor does not record or keep any private surveys in its inventory such as Location Drawings or ALTA/NSPS surveys associated with transfers of title.

Note: To access the Office of the Surveyor’s Webpage go to DCRA’s homepage and then select the “Services” drop down menu directly below the tile Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. From the drop down menu you may then select the “Surveyors” link to access the content provided by the Office of the Surveyor.

Do you have interior plans or plans used for the construction of my house?
No. The Office of the Surveyor only has land plats. The Office of Records Management would have plans for your house.

Can the Office of the Surveyor come out to locate my property lines?
No. The Office of the Surveyor does not do field surveys. You will need to hire a licensed survey company to perform a survey. We can provide you with a list of licensed survey companies who are registered with our office that you can use. Work done by a Registered D.C. Surveyor can be filed in the Office of the Surveyor where copies are available to the public.

What is a Site Per Sub Plat?
A Site Per Sub Plat (Site Per Subdivision) is a Building Plat that reflects what the lot(s) of a proposed subdivision will look like once the subdivision is recorded. It would not have a lot number included on the document and it is the same cost as any other building plats. These cannot be ordered expedited.

What is an Approved Plat for Permit?
It is an Official D.C. Building Plat with the site features (existing and proposed) included that is reviewed and approved by the DCRA permitting department.

Who should I contact if I have additional questions?
You may contact the DCRA Office of the Surveyor at (Contact the D.C. Surveyor) They will be happy to assist you.

 

Zoning

Certificate of Occupancy

1. What is a certificate of occupancy (C of O) and when is it required?
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.

2. What are the types of C of O applications?
There are six (6) types of C of O applications: ownership change, use change, occupant load change, revision, temporary occupancy, and new building. For new buildings, there are three (3) C of O subsets: conditional, completion of core and shell, and establishment of a new occupancy.

Ownership Change:
If the operator of a use established by a prior C of O is changing, a change of ownership application is required.  No changes to the use, square footage, or occupant load are proposed.  Please note that a zoning inspection is required for nonconforming uses, apartment buildings, rental units, eating establishments, for any use for which the current C of O was issued greater than 10 years ago, and other uses as determined by the Office of the Zoning Administrator.

New Construction, Use Change, Occupant Load Change:
If a new building or addition is constructed or there is a change of use, a building permit application with plans is required to be approved, constructed and passed inspection prior to the approval of a C of O. A building permit may also be required to change the occupant load, as determined by the Permit Operations Division.

C of O for a new construction and load occupancy change (over 5,000 square feet) will be reviewed by District of Energy and Environment (DOEE) Stormwater Management. Failure to request a final inspection of storm water management facilities, and submittal of as-built plans of the completed storm water facility, may result in the denial of the C of O application.

Completion of Core and Shell: A means to recognize that the core and shell of a building have been substantially and materially completed in accordance with the DC Construction Codes.  It does not allow occupancy of a building.  A core and shell must be obtained prior to a Conditional Certificate of Occupancy for a new building.  

Conditional Occupancy:  A conditional certificate of occupancy may be issued for part of the building before completion of the entire work covered by the building permit. Review the Issuance of Conditional Certificates of Occupancy Guidelines about the application submission, review and approval process. If you have questions about how to apply for a conditional or core and shell C of O, please review the Conditional and Core and Shell Certificate of Occupancy FAQs.

Revision: If a typographical error was made in a previously issued C of O, the applicant should apply for a revision to the issued C of O.  Note that no substantive changes to the use or occupancy are permitted as a revision to an issued C of O.

Temporary: For use of a building or outdoor event on a temporary basis.  Conditions may be imposed as necessary and will include an expiration date.  A building permit may be required prior to the issuance of a temporary C of O.

3. How do I apply for a change of ownership C of O ?
Applicants seeking a change of ownership only may apply online here. For applications that meet the following conditions, a new certificate for change of ownership will be issued the same business day:

  • no change other than ownership
  • the prior C of O was issued less than 10 years ago
  • the use listed on the issued certificate is the same as the proposed use
  • the fees are paid in full

If your change of ownership application does not meet this criteria, it will be reviewed following the process described in Question #4.

4. How do I apply for all other types of certificates of occupancy?
For all other types of C of O applications, the application and supporting documents must be submitted via email to coapp@dc.gov. (Allow 7 business days for the review of your application.)

What is the review process for a C of O application submitted under the guidelines of Question #4?
There is a 5-Step Review Process to review all C of O applications other than change of ownership applications that meet the criteria identified in Question #3:

Email notifications will be sent to the applicant, or to the applicant’s agent, at each step:

  1. The application will be screened and either accepted for review or deemed incomplete and put on hold until the outstanding items have been submitted or completed. Apart from missing supporting documents, DCRA staff will not accept a C of O application for a property that has any outstanding building permits, trade permits, incomplete wall test, or inspections reports.
  2. As soon as the application has been accepted, it will be routed for concurrent review to the required divisions and the Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE), if applicable.  
  3. Following the completion and approval of all reviews, and any required inspections have been passed, the C of O certificate will be ready for issuance.
  4. Invoices will be sent via email to the applicant to pay the fees.
  5. Upon receipt of fees, the certificate will be sent by email to the applicant.

6.   What supporting documents must be submitted with my C of O application?
The following documents are required to be submitted for all C of O applications, regardless of type:

  1. Authorization Form – if a hired agent is completing the application form on behalf of the applicant (insert link)
  2. Lease, deed, letter of permission from property owner to use the property, HUD-1
  3. Building Permit, if applicable
  4. Most recent C of O on record
  5. ALL rough/close-in and Final inspection reports
  6. If performed by a third party agency, reports must be uploaded to Accela Mobile Office (AMO) prior to submission of C of O application
  7.  A Special Inspections Final Statement of Special Inspections - As required
  8. Green - This will all depend on the designation that the project has taken:
  • Green Building Communities:  Update GBC folder 60 days prior to C of O application,
  • LEED:  Financial Security (i.e. Binding Pledge, Bond, Escrow cash etc.) for Green Building Act compliance must be submitted with the C of O application  

Reference the list of C of O supporting documents here. Please note, it is likely that additional documents may be requested during the review process.

7. What is required to be submitted for properties that are subject to a Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) or Zoning Commission (ZC) Order?
For buildings subject to a Zoning Commission (ZC) or Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) approval, the Office of Zoning Administrator will verify the applicant’s compliance with the conditions of the Order prior to the approval of a C of O.  The applicant is required to provide a letter or matrix, with attachments as necessary, from the property owner that documents compliance with the conditions of the Order.   This information must be submitted to DCRA with the C of O application. Be sure to include this information along with the C of O application and other supporting documents when you apply for a C of O or your application will not be deemed complete and will not be accepted by DCRA for review.

8. What information is required to be submitted for properties that have been inspected by a third party agency?
If the applicant used a Third Party Agency to perform inspections, the Third Party Agency must submit inspection reports to DCRA’s Third Party Program staff.

A DCRA zoning and oversight inspection(s) may be required prior to the approval of the C of O.   These inspections, if required, will be identified and will be scheduled during the review process of your C of O application.  DCRA will contact the applicant by email to advise of the inspection requirement and provide a window for the time of the inspection. The applicant or agent for the applicant is responsible for communicating both the date and time of the inspection to anyone who needs to be present during the inspection. The inspection must be passed prior to the issuance of the C of O.

9. When is a Core and Shell C of O required?
A Core and Shell C of O is not required unless the applicant will be seeking a conditional certificate of occupancy (CCO) for the building. DCRA will issue a Core and Shell C of O if requested by the owner for financing or other reasons. A Core and Shell C of O does NOT allow occupancy of a building, rather, the issuance of it signifies that the Core and Shell have been fully constructed, consistent with the approved building plans and are operational.  

10. My project intends to request a conditional certificate of occupancy (CCO.)  When should we come in for a Core and Shell C of O?
Please apply after all the Core and Shell inspections are complete, reports are submitted to DCRA’s third party inspections staff and approved If you have questions about how to apply for a conditional or core and shell C of O, please review the Conditional and Core and Shell Certificate of Occupancy FAQs.

Conditional and Core and Shell Certificate of Occupancy

1. What is a conditional certificate of occupancy (CCO)?
A conditional certificate of occupancy (CCO) is a mechanism to assist an owner to obtain limited occupancy of a building that is still under construction. A Core and Shell C of O is required to be issued before a CCO is issued.  A Core and Shell C of O does not allow occupancy of the building.

2. How do I apply for a CCO?
The application and supporting documents must be submitted via email to COAPP@dc.gov. (Allow 7 business days for the review of your application.)

3. What is the review process for a CCO?
There is a 5 Step Review Process to review all C of O applications other than change of ownership applications that meet the criteria identified in Question #3:

Email notifications will be sent to the applicant, or to the applicant’s agent, at each step:

  1. The application will be screened and either accepted for review or deemed incomplete and put on hold until the outstanding items have been submitted or completed. Apart from missing supporting documents, DCRA staff will not accept a C of O application for a property that has any outstanding building permits, trade permits, incomplete wall test, or inspections reports.
  2. As soon as the application has been accepted, it will be routed for concurrent review to the required divisions and the Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE), if applicable.  
  3. Following the completion and approval of all reviews, and any required inspections have been passed, the C of O certificate will be ready for issuance.
  4. Invoices will be sent via email to the applicant to pay the fees.
  5. Upon receipt of fees, the certificate will be sent by email to the applicant.

4. What supporting documents must be submitted with my C of O application?
    The following documents are required to be submitted for all C of O applications, regardless of type:

  1. Authorization Form – if a hired agent is completing the application form on behalf of the applicant (insert link)
  2.  Lease, deed, letter of permission from property owner to use the property, HUD-1
  3. Building Permit, if applicable
  4. Most recent C of O on record
  5.  ALL rough/close-in and Final inspection reports
    • If performed by a third party agency, reports must be uploaded to Accela Mobile Office (AMO) prior to submission of C of O application
  6.  A Special Inspections Final Statement of Special Inspections - As required
  7. Green - This will all depend on the designation that the project has taken:
    • Green Building Communities:  Update GBC folder 60 days prior to C of O application
    • LEED:  Financial Security (i.e. Binding Pledge, Bond, Escrow cash etc.) for Green Building Act compliance must be submitted with the C of O application  
    • Reference the list of C of O supporting documents here. Please note, it is likely that additional documents may be requested during the review process.

5. What is required to be submitted for properties that are subject to a Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) or Zoning Commission (ZC) Order?
For buildings subject to a Zoning Commission (ZC) or Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) approval, the Office of Zoning Administrator will verify the applicant’s compliance with the conditions of the Order prior to the approval of a C of O.  The applicant is required to provide a letter or matrix, with attachments as necessary, from the property owner that documents compliance with the conditions of the Order.   This information must be submitted to DCRA with the C of O application. Be sure to include this information along with the C of O application and other supporting documents when you apply for a C of O or your application will not be deemed complete and will not be accepted by DCRA for review.

6. When is a CCO issued?
A CCO is issued when the building, structure, or portion thereof may be safely occupied even if the work required under the issued permits is not complete. Review the Guidelines for the Issuance of Conditional Certificates of Occupancy and related checklist for the submission requirements and DCRA review and approval process.

7. What inspections are necessary for CCO issuance?
All inspections identified in question #13 of this document plus an oversight inspection may be required prior to CCO issuance. A zoning inspection may be required to verify parking and loading, inclusionary zoning (IZ) units, and if the development obtained zoning approval from the Zoning Commission or Board of Zoning Adjustment, an inspection to verify compliance with the Order conditions and/or additional documentation from the owner will be required prior to the issuance of a CCO.

8.  What are green requirements for a CCO?

Green Building Act (GBA) projects must demonstrate the building is on track to certification. Privately funded GBA projects must also provide a financial security.  Green Construction Code (GCC) projects must have conducted a Rough and Final Green and Energy Inspection along with all applicable documents. GCC inspections must be conducted by a DCRA building inspector or an approved Third Party Agency specifically approved for Green and Energy Inspections. For more information please visit Green Building website.

9. May multiple CCOs be issued for a single building permit?
Yes. For example, if the owner of a multi-family building would like to partially occupy units before the construction is complete, the owner or his/her designated agent may apply for a CCO as floors of the building are ready to be occupied. For a development with an inclusionary zoning (IZ) requirement, a proportion of market and IZ units must be provided and the COO application should specifically list the IZ units by unit number.

10. What is the maximum number of CCOs which may be issued for a project?
An applicant is encouraged to limit the number of CCOs for which they apply; however, there currently is no maximum number. A final COO that lists all floors, below grade parking, IZ units (if required), and ground floor retail (if provided) must be issued prior to the expiration of the last CCO.

11. What is the length of a CCO?
Typically a CCO is issued for 30-90 days, as recommended by the applicant’s Third Party Agency or DCRA for a property not inspected by a Third Party Agency.  DCRA’s Third Party Program staff will review all CCO applications and requests from Third Party Agencies for the duration of the CCO.  The CCO will bear an expiration date by which time the conditions of the CCO must be met.  If the applicant is unable to satisfy the conditions under which the CCO was granted, the applicant should submit another COO application, with a letter from the Third Party Agency explaining the reasons for which the conditions could not be met and a date by which they will be resolved. Advise DCRA if you have a special circumstance which warrants a CCO of greater than 90 days.

12. How long after an applicant submits a CCO application is an inspection to be scheduled?
If a zoning or oversight inspection is required, it will generally be scheduled within 3-5 business days of the submission of a complete application.

13. When is a Core and Shell C of O required?
A Core and Shell C of O is not required unless the applicant will be seeking a CCO for the building. DCRA will issue a Core and Shell C of O if requested by the owner for financing or other reasons. A Core and Shell C of O does NOT allow occupancy of a building, rather, the issuance of it signifies that the Core and Shell have been fully constructed, consistent with the approved building plans and are operational.  

14. My project intends to request a CCO.  When should we come in for a Core and Shell C of O?
Once all the Core and Shell inspections are complete, reports are submitted to DCRA’s third party inspections staff and approved.

15. What steps are necessary if an applicant intends to operate a newly constructed parking garage prior to obtaining a C of O for the building?
A Core and Shell C of O is not required to occupy the garage. The applicant shall obtain a CCO to occupy the building while construction of the rest of the building continues.

16. Is it permissible to start construction on a Tenant Layout (TL) permit prior to issuance of the Core and Shell C of O?
Yes, once the TL permit has been issued, construction may begin. However, a Core and Shell C of O for the building must first be issued prior to issuance of a either a conditional or final C of O for the tenant space.

17.  What inspections are necessary for Core and Shell C of O issuance?

  • Special Inspections
  • Mechanical Final
  • Plumbing Final, including fire suppression system hydrostatic inspection
  • Electrical Final, including fire alarm system test
  • Fire Final
  • Have at least one working elevator
  • Approval of the Wall Check
  • DCRA Green Rough-in Inspection
  •  Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) Stormwater Regulations (Final Approval Notice (FAN) issued to applicant by DOEE) and Green Area Ratio (GAR) compliance (DOEE inspected and approved Landscape Checklist)
  • Core and Shell building inspection (Last inspection to be completed)

18. If required, must the green roof be completed prior to the Core and Shell C of O?  
In certain circumstances, an applicant may not be able to fully complete the installation of a green roof before the Core and Shell C of O is ready to be issued.  In those cases, the applicant must contact DOEE and obtain their approval to delay the installation of the green roof. For example, the winter months may not be an appropriate time to install a green roof.  Even if the Core and Shell C of O is issued with a partially installed green roof, the green roof must be fully installed prior to the issuance of the final C of O for the building.  

19. What is required to obtain final Stormwater and GAR (Green Area Ratio) approval from DOEE and must it occur prior to the issuance of a Core and Shell C of O or CCO?
The operating guidance for I&EB Stormwater Management Plan (SWMP) “sign off” on projects that require SWM Best Management Practices (BMPs) include:

  1. An approved DOEE final inspection for construction of the approved SWM BMPs and
  2. An “As-built Plan” is submitted to DOEE for review and is approved.  
    • The As- built is required to be submitted within 21 days of the Final Inspection.  Upon approval of the As-built a Final Approval Notice (FAN) is issued to the Stormwater Plan owner and their agents. The FAN represents final approval for SWMP compliance.  

With respect to projects where GAR is required, the completed Landscape Checklist is required to be completed by a certified Landscape Expert and forwarded to DOEE’s GAR Office. The completed Landscape Checklist represent final compliance for GAR required for inspection the I&EB. DOEE does not oppose the issuance of Core and Shell or CCO on projects where SWM is required but not completed; however, the applicant is advised that the final C of O will not be issued until the final SWMP inspection has occurred and the applicant has submitted the as-built plan to DOEE.

20. When should I consider and plan for phased occupancy?
The best time to consider the future phased occupancy of the proposed building is during the design phase. DCRA encourages owners to consult with their design professionals to develop building plans that will support phased occupancy.  If questions arise during this process, the applicant can request a Preliminary Design Review Meeting (PDRM) to discuss questions with technical staff. To schedule a PDRM please visit DCRA’s website dcra.dc.gov/pdrm.

21. What is the process to obtain a C of O for phased occupancy?
A project completes work under a Core and Shell building permit and then applies for and obtains a Core and Shell C of O.  This ensures that life safety systems are in place. After the Core and Shell C of O is issued, a final or conditional certificate of occupancies can be applied for each space in the building as it is completed under separate building permits.  See examples below:

Examples of Phased Occupancy:

  1. 1. A 10 story new spec office building with a grocery store on the first floor and one tenant who secured  plans for occupying the 9th and 10th floors.  Additionally, a 3 story underground parking garage is being built first.  The developer would like to have tenants occupy spaces as they come online.
    • Process
      • i.    The parking garage is completed first under a building permit.
      • ii.     The Core and Shell building is completed under a building permit.
        • The owner applies for and receives a Core and Shell C of O.  No spaces can be occupied under a Core and Shell C of O, but the owner may apply for a CCO to occupy the building.
        • The owner applies and receives a CCO to use the parking garage.  If the owner wants to use the garage before the Core and Shell C of O is complete, they can apply for a CCO for the garage space.
    • The grocery store is completed under a tenant layout permit.
      • The grocery store applies for and receives a C of O to occupy the grocery store.
    • The 9th and 10th floor tenant completes work under a tenant layout permit.
      • The tenant applies for and receives a C of O for the 9th and 10th floor only.
      • To note, all the certificate of occupancies that are being received, are the final C of Os for those spaces.
      • As the 2-8 floors are completed under a series of building permits, each separate tenant will be required to receive a C of O.
      • None of the C of O issued for the spaces above are “conditional”. They are the final C of O for those spaces.  If there were conditions, then they would be issued as CCOs that would allow for the spaces to be occupied for a period of time until the conditions can be fulfilled.
  2. A 10 story mixed use multifamily building with three retail spaces and a restaurant/bar on the first floor. Floors 2-10 are all multifamily residential spaces and the owner plans on finishing it one floor at a time.
    • Process
      • The Core and Shell building is completed under a building permit.
        • The owner applies for and receives a Core and Shell certificate of occupancy.  No portion of the building may be occupied under a Core and Shell C of O.
        • After the Core and Shell C of O has been issued, the applicant may apply for a CCO to occupy the leasing office.
      •  Build-out of the three retail spaces and the restaurant/bar space is completed under four separate tenant layout permits.
        • The operators of each retail and restaurant/bar apply for and receive a C of O to occupy their respective spaces.
      •  The owner finishes one residential floor at a time starting with the 2 and 3rd floor under one building permit.
        • As each floor is finished, a CCO is applied for and received for each floor.
        • After all of the multifamily floors (2-10) are completed, a final C of O is applied for that covers the 2-10 floors. The final C of O would also note the presence of any IZ units by unit number, the total square footage of the retail/restaurant space, and any below grade parking.
  3. New 5 Story Hotel and the owner wants to occupy floors as they are completed.
    • Process
      • The process will be the same as the multifamily building described.

22.  How do I schedule a meeting to discuss a Third Party Agency-related C of O?
If building inspections have been conducted by a Third Party Agency, please contact DCRA’s Third Party Program staff, Ms. Tamika Jones by email at Tamika.Jones@dc.gov at to schedule a meeting. DCRA suggests that a meeting be held with the Owner, General Contractor, and DCRA to discuss phasing plans and confirm that Conditional Occupancies are possible and that the minimum requirements are being met. This is especially important if you have a Zoning Commission or Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) Order.

23.  Is a C of O required for residential projects?
A C of O is required for residential buildings that consist of two or more dwelling units.   A certificate of occupancy is not required for a single family dwelling. In the case of a single family dwelling, an approved building final inspection is required prior to occupancy.

24. Is a C of O required for individual office tenants in an office building?
If a valid C of O has been issued for office use for the entire building, an individual office tenant is not required to obtain its own C of O.  Occasionally a tenant will want to obtain its own C of O for financing or other reasons.  In those cases, DCRA will issue a C of O after the applicant submits the application, pays the application fee, and provides a copy of its lease or letter from the property owner giving the applicant permission to apply for the C of O.

25.  An existing office building with a valid C of O is fully renovated.  Is a new C of O required?
If only interior renovations occurred, with no change to the layout, the amount of square footage, the use, the occupant load, and the ownership of the building is the same, a new C of O is not required.  

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