At this point in the process, your project may be completed, or you may be at the final inspections. Acquiring a Certificate of Occupancy is required for a new residential building or any commercial building that is new, altered, or has had a change in occupancy, location, ownership, or use of any land or building. The Certificate of Occupancy (CO) ensures that your proposed use of the building/land complies with all regulations of Arlington County, including laws and ordinances.
Obtaining the Certificate of Occupancy is a final and crucial step (no occupancy can take place until a CO is issued).
STEP 1: Apply Two Weeks Ahead
The application process should begin at least two weeks before occupancy begins. The two-week window between CO application and occupancy allows for final inspections to be completed. CO applications should be submitted no later than Thursday, 4:30 p.m., two weeks prior to the scheduled occupancy date.
An optional pre-occupancy meeting, particularly for large commercial projects, can be arranged with Inspection Services 30 days prior to occupancy.
STEP 2: Fees
There are several types of CO’s, although generally only one certificate is required for each project or tenant. Certain projects, like large commercial or multi-family buildings, may require more than one. The cost for a CO depends on the type of project. For additional information about fees, see the Zoning Fee Schedule.
STEP 3: Check Requirements
Refer to the Certificate of Occupancy submission checklist to see if there are any requirements specific to your CO application.
STEP 4: Schedule Inspection
A Zoning site inspector will contact the customer to schedule an inspection. The customer is responsible for completing any requested changes to comply with all building codes and zoning ordinances. If a reinspection is required, there will be additional inspection fees.
STEP 5: Sign Off
After the inspections are signed off, check with the Inspection Services Division (ISD) regarding the status of your CO application and find out if there are any outstanding approvals. If there are outstanding approvals, you will need to contact the agency that is responsible and work with them to comply. If there are no outstanding issues, ISD will approve the CO and send the application to Zoning for issuance.
STEP 6: Issuance
If there are no outstanding Zoning concerns, the CO will be issued and mailed. You can also pick up the CO at the Zoning Administration offices, although that must be indicated on the initial application.