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Permit Process

Permit Process

Permit process - application, plan review, permit issuance

Getting a construction permit in the District involves different elements based on the scope of your project. Depending on the project, you may be required to get approvals or services from agencies besides DCRA.


Step 1 – Learn your property restrictions and status

Find out if development restrictions apply to your project. Learn your zoning district and if you are in a zoning overlay. Overlay districts set forth additional zoning regulations that are combined with the underlying zoning district. Additional development restrictions are administered by other agencies, such as Historic Preservation, the National Capital Planning Commission, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts or other preliminary reviewing organizations. For more information and a complete list of overlays, visit the D.C. Office of Zoning website.

Are you in within a historically designated area?
You can learn information and importance points about your property on Scout, our consolidated database system.

Step 2 – Determine your full scope of work

This will determine the type of permits needed and whether additional documents are needed during submission. For any exterior construction, a surveyor’s plat may be needed to detail all existing and proposed structures and must be drawn to scale. A building plat is a scaled drawing of a lot, showing lot lines and record dimensions. Plats that only consist of interior work, such as bathroom remodeling, are not required for jobs.

Step 3 – Permit Application

If you are taking on a one-family or two-family residential project? Please use the DCRA Permit Wizard residential online permit application.

For commercial projects:

  • When you have narrowed down your scope of work, you are ready to submit your permit application.
  • All permit applications must be completed online by creating a DCRA user account. Once you have created your account, you can select Building and Request a Building Permit Shop Drawing Approval, or Surveyor Plat  
  • Schedule an Inspection

screen shot of toolbar, building tab

  • Selecting your permit type.  When submitting your permit application, ensure your scope matches the type permit (for example, a one-story addition – addition, alteration and repair). You can view all permit types and definitions to determine which permit matches your description.
  • Complete all required * fields and confirm that information is accurate.
  • When you have fully submitted your application, you will be notified whether your application has been “Walk-Through Accepted” or “ProjectDox Accepted” before the next steps.

Step 4 - Pre-Screening

When your application is received by DCRA, it will be reviewed to ensure it is complete and that it meets the basic requirements for plan review. Pre-screen review occurs in different phases based on the type of plan review selected for your project.

Step 5 - Plan Review

Digital Walk-Through
For small scale projects that would have previously been reviewed over the counter with paper plans, you must now complete the process completely online. With our Digital Walk-Through, all plans and supporting documents are now accepted through our ePlan review system ProjectDox for a completed review in 1 business day. This is includes simultaneous DCRA plan reviews and digital routing to select sister agencies (Historic Preservation, District Department of Energy and the Environment, and District Department of Transportation) saving you time and a trip to our office. DCRA Plan Reviews Disciplines: Structural, Zoning, Fire, Elevator Mechanical/Plumbing, Electrical, Green and Energy.

ProjectDox Plan Review
ProjectDox is an online platform for electronic plan submission and plan review. This system allows the electronic submission of building plans and supporting documentation. ProjectDox eliminates the need for an applicant to submit multiple paper copies of project plans in conjunction with the DCRA permit application. ProjectDox (ProjectDox Accepted) applications are more complex scopes of work that require more than 1 or 2 business days for review. When your application is ProjectDox Accepted, you will receive a separate email that includes a link for you to create a username and password to upload your plans and supporting documents to begin the review.

  • After plans are uploaded, they are pre-screened for the basic requirements and assigned to necessary plan review disciplines within DCRA and applicable sister agencies. Please refer to the Plan Review section to learn about different plan review assignments and when they are required.

Helpful Resources:

Other agency reviews may be required depending on your scope of work:

  • DC Water- New water connections
  • District Department of Transportation- For impact of the public alleys, sidewalks or streets
  • Historic Preservation Review Board and Commission of Fine Arts- Properties located within a historically designated area or deemed an area commissioned by the fine arts. You can view PIVS to confirm your properties status.
  • Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA)- WMATA must review and approve all construction projects adjacent to WMATA-owned properties in order to ensure that Metro facilities, operations and riders are not negatively impacted in the short or long term.
  • District Department of Health- All new construction and/or major renovations to a food establishment or hygiene facility
  • Department of Energy and the Environment- Projects involving soil disturbance, flood plains and lead abatement

Step 6- Payment and Permit Issuance

Once your plans are approved by all assigned plan review disciplines and applicable review agencies.

  • For Walk-Through applications, you will receive an invoice of the permitting fees by our Issuance Counter to pay at our Cashier’s Office or to make the payment online to have your permit issued.
  • For ProjectDox application, you will receive an email notification that finals fees are ready have been assessed for payment, in which you can make the payment online or you pay in-person at the Cashier's Office at OCFO, located at 1101 4th Street SW, Washington, DC.

**All check payments should be payable to DC Treasurer.


Job Classification System – Review Target Timelines by Job Type