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DCRA
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General FAQs

DCRA is located at 1100 4th Street SW. Normal business hours are: Monday through Friday 8:30 am – 4:30 pm except for Thursday, when we are open 9:30 am – 4:30 pm.


Are your offices open and how are they operating?

Unlike in the past, in-person services are often not the fastest way to be served, using our online services is faster and more convenient. We encourage customers to continue using DCRA’s online platforms and tools. Virtual appointments are also encouraged.

For customers who prefer to make the trek, we are happy to welcome you back, but the experience may be different than in the past.

Things To Know

  • Once onsite, you will find us ready to serve you. Enter through security and visit the DCRA Digital Service Assistance Center on the second floor to be assisted by a Customer Service Representative who will guide you during your time at the agency.
  • All customers will be served. Online and in-person requests will be responded to equally, and in the order received. 
  • There are no scanners available. When coming to DCRA, please ensure that all customer-provided documents that may be needed are available to you online and ready to be uploaded from a cloud-based location by you as part of your online transaction.
  • For certain corporate filings, paper applications will be accepted, however, faster service is available online. 
  • Customers may only access the second floor to conduct their business. No unescorted visitors will be permitted on other floors of the building.
  • As with all District government buildings, face masks will also be required to enter and in all customer-facing areas.

 

How do I request to meet with a specific individual about a project?

Please fill out this online form and your inquiry will be directed to the appropriate program area and your appointment will be scheduled.

 

I need assistance. What is the best way to get in touch with DCRA?

Please fill out this online form with a brief description of what you’d like help with or who you would like to get in touch with, and we will direct your inquiry to the appropriate program area. For a faster response, you may also use the live chat feature found on dcra.dc.gov during normal business hours.

 

I have a business/professional/vending license expiring soon. What do I do?

For occupational and professional licensing:

On July 1, DCRA began accepting renewal applications for occupational and professional licenses after being paused during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

  • On July 1, 2021, you may start submitting your renewal application online if your license reflects an expiration date during the COVID-19 pandemic. For licenses that expire October 31, 2021 or later, renewal notices will be sent at a later date.
  • You are strongly encouraged to renew early to ensure that renewal is completed before enforcement begins.
  • All occupational and professional licenses are issued biennially, with the exception of Special Police Officers, whose licenses are issued annually. Licenses that expire October 31, 2021 or later may be renewed as per their usual renewal cycles. Note: if your license reflects an expiration date of 2022, no renewal action is required until 2022 when you may renew beginning 90 days before your current license expires.

To learn more, please visit Professional Licensing on dcra.dc.gov.

For business and other licensing:

Please visit the DC Business Portal any time to apply for or renew a business license. To register a corporation or form an LLC, please visit CorpOnline.

During the public health emergency, renewal applications for business licenses were accepted, but not required in accordance with the Mayor’s Order. As the Mayor’s Order is set to expire on July 25, 2021, barring extension, any business license that expires after this date must be renewed prior to the date of expiration. Failure to renew will result in a $250 fine. Renewal notices for business licenses are issued at 90, 60, 30 and 15 days prior to license expiration by email when a licensee has provided an email address and by regular mail when an email address is not provided. Licensing fees were not suspended under the Mayor’s Order.

 

How do I file a complaint or report illicit activity?

DCRA encourages residents to report fraudulent and illegal behavior in the District. Please visit Consumer Protection and Education on dcra.dc.gov to learn more or to file a complaint. If you want to report illegal construction, please submit this form or call 311.

 

How do I process a permit that used to be "walked through" at DCRA?

DCRA implemented the digital walk-through program that includes a full DCRA plan review of your project in our ePlan review system, ProjectDox. Please view our six-step process from start to finish for details of how the process works. For the digital walk-through, all reviews conducted by DCRA will be completed by the next business day, following acceptance of the plans in ProjectDox. For more information, please visit our digital walk-through process webpage.

 

How do I get the fees invoiced for my permit application to pay online?

If fees have not already been invoiced for your permit application upon approval of the project, please email dcra.permits@dc.gov and include your permit number. We will review and notify you when payment can be made online and if anything additional is needed prior to issuance.

 

How do I submit my application for a new address?

To apply for a new or change of address, please fill out the New or Change of Address Application and submit the completed application to dcra@dc.gov. Allow five to 10 business days for review. Once approved, you can make your payment online. You will receive your new address confirmation letter via email after your payment has been made.

 

How do I get a building plat signed for permitting purposes with the Surveyor’s Office?

To get a digital signature for your plat, please fill out this online form.

 

What zoning forms are available online?

The following zoning-related forms are available online:
  • GAR Landscape Checklist
  • Eating Establishment Questionnaire
  • ZA Modification Form - BZA Orders
  • ZA Modification Form - ZC Orders
  • Declaration of Covenants Document
  • CIZC and Penthouse forms

How do I schedule an appointment with the Office of Zoning Administrator?

To schedule an appointment, fill out this online form and someone will contact you.

 

What zoning-related online programs, resources and databases are available to me?

How do I submit hard copies of documents for zoning review, approval, etc.?

Any document that needs to be reviewed by the Office of the Zoning Administrator should be scanned into a PDF and submitted online. This includes a completed form, draft covenant, zoning certification, raze permit letter, and any documents requested by zoning staff or provided by you in response to a zoning compliance complaint and violation. Please be sure to:
  1. Specify in your request that you need a zoning review.
  2. Provide the property address.
  3. List the type of document/s you submitted.

For documents related to a pending building permit or Certificate of Occupancy application, please email those documents directly to the zoning technician who is reviewing the application.

How do I get DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) parking signs?

Visit DDOT's website to access this information.

 

How is DC Water accepting plan review and payments?

DC Water is establishing an alternate location at the Blue Plains Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) to handle permit applications, payments, and issuance of signed plans. The address below also accepts mail and FedEx. DC Water is encouraging people to respond to review comments via email. DC Water is also working on a web-based drop box for remote plan submissions; however, it is not able to accept online payments. Therefore, DC Water still needs the physical check for payments (credit card payment will not be accepted). The alternate location will be open to the public for drop off and pick up only (operating hours will be from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm, Monday through Friday).

 

Initial submissions/resubmission will be accepted without an invoice and should be accompanied by a check for either $140 or $75 (visit DC Water’s website to determine the exact amount). All other fee payments must accompany an invoice, be made via check and in the exact amount that is on the invoice. For questions, call (202)646-8600.

Mail or FedEx to DC Water to the address below:
DC Water c/o Permit Operations
5000 Overlook Ave. SW
Washington DC 20032

How can we make payments for permits and fees?

Payments can be made online for up to $150,000 for permits/fees by credit card. Fees larger than $150,000 can be made out to the DC Treasurer and submitted in-person to 1101 4th Street SW, W1665. Contact the OCFO for hours and operations of their cashier’s office.

 

 

Topic-Specific 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 SCOUT. 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..
 


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 (https://scout.dcra.dc.gov). 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) by submitting an Illegal Construction Inspection Request Form, or calling (202) 442-STOP (7867) or 311.
  • 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, you can submit an Illegal Construction Inspection Request Form or call 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) by submitting an Illegal Construction Inspection Request Form, or calling (202) 442-STOP (7867) or 311.
  • 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, you can submit an Illegal Construction Inspection Request Form or call 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 submit an Illegal Construction Inspection Request Form or 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 submit an Illegal Construction Inspection Request Form or call 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.