The following is an overview of the paper submission process for building permits. Building permits can be submitted electronically through Arlington’s ePlan Review portal. Learn more about the electronic plan submission process. The ePlan Review process offers a simultaneous review, online payment, emailed status updates, and other efficiencies not possible with paper submissions.
Building permits are started and issued at the Inspection Services Division (ISD), located on the 10th floor of Courthouse Plaza, 2100 Clarendon Blvd. The office is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.; except for the first Tuesday of the month (9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.) and the third Thursday of the month (8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.).
Bring the following documents and forms:
- A residential building permit application or commercial building permit application. Please note that some residential properties are considered commercial per the Uniform Statewide Building Code and require commercial permits. Find out if your project is considered residential or commercial before proceeding.
- Three (3) copies of the paper plan sets – 11” x 17” minimum size and 1/8” minimum scale. If a Land Disturbing Activity/Stormwater Permit (LDA) or Civil Engineering Plans (CEP) is required, three (3) paper copies of the civil sets submitted must be with the plan sets. If you are unsure if your project requires an LDA/Stormwater or CEP please contact the Department of Environmental Services (DES). Please be aware that LDA/Stormwater and CEPs are separate permits and processes that are available online only*
- For residential projects: please review the required construction documents and supporting information.
- For commercial projects: please review the required construction documents and supporting information.
- If the commercial project is for an establishment that prepares, serves, or sells food or the project includes a water recreation facility (pool, spa, or interactive fountain): then the applicant must pay a fee at the time of building permit application and the applicant must bring the fourth copy to the Department of Human Services for a health review.
- If the permit holder is not a Virginia licensed architect, engineer, contractor, or the property owner: the affidavit of permit authorization will need to be provided with the application.
- The permit holder must be present when the paper application is submitted or the affidavit of permit authorization will be required.
* Please be aware that there may be additional permits and approvals required depending on the project. This includes, but is not limited to, a demolition permit to demolish a structure, health review and approval by the Department of Human Services, Land Disturbing Activity/Stormwater (LDA) or Civil Engineering Plans (CEP) permits, Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB) approval, and Board of Zoning Appeals approval. See a comprehensive list of permits including those not related to building. Please contact the County if you are unsure of the permits and approvals required for your project.
A permit technician will review your application, construction documents, and required forms for completeness.
If incomplete, the permit technician will provide directions on what is missing.
If complete, a filing fee may be required at the time of permit application filing. The filing fee is based on the ISD building permit fee and shall not be refunded, even if a permit is not issued. Please see the fee schedules for ISD, Zoning, and DES for more information. Two (2) copies of the paper plan sets will be routed to ISD for building and trade review.
The applicant shall have a consultation with DES. Consultations are important for exterior work, to determine if there are additional requirements or steps associated with any land disturbance. If the project includes additional bathrooms a consultation can help explain fees and processes associated with adding bathrooms. This is not a DES plan review; the DES plan review will occur after Zoning and ISD approve the building permit (see step 6).
The applicant must bring the third copy of the paper plan set to the Zoning Division to file for their review.
ISD and Zoning review the provided application, construction documents, and required forms for compliance with the Building Code and the Zoning Ordinance. The review times are outlined below, this time starts after the permit is processed and the filing fees paid, if applicable.
|PERMIT TYPE||APPROXIMATE REVIEW TIMES|
|Commercial New Construction||15 business days|
|Commercial Addition||15 business days|
|Commercial Interior Alteration Route Through||10 business days|
|Commercial Interior Alteration Express||2 business days|
|Residential New Construction||10 business days|
|Residential Addition Route Through||10 business days|
|Residential Alteration Route Through||10 business days|
|Residential Addition Express||While you wait service, typically 1 business day|
|Residential Alteration Express||While you wait service, typically 1 business day|
If the plans are rejected, reviewers will post comments within the permitting system. Arlington County does not contact the applicant with status updates for paper plans. Please check the permit status online by entering the permit number and clicking “view comments”.This is updated at 12:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Please see the guidance on revisions for more information on responding to comments and how to revise the plans to address any comments.
Please be aware that revisions to the building permit may also require revisions to other permits and approvals to ensure coordination. This includes but is not limited to health review and approval by the Department of Human Services, Land Disturbing Activity/Stormwater (LDA) or Civil Engineering Plans (CEP) permits, Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB) approval, and Board of Zoning Appeals approval. Please contact the County if you are unsure if you must revise other permits or approvals.
Once the plans are approved by Zoning and ISD reviewers, the applicant must return to the office to bring the paper plans to DES to review.
After all applicable departmental reviews have been approved (including Historic and Health if required), the applicant must return to an ISD Permit Technician to pay for the permit. Once payment is received, the applicant will be provided a copy of the approved plan set, the permit, and the placard.
The placard and permit must be posted at the project site. The approved plan set must also be available on-site prior to any scheduled inspections. Online payment is not available for paper submissions.
Most building permits require additional trade permits (mechanical, electrical, plumbing or fire) to complete construction. Applications for mechanical, plumbing, and electrical permits are submitted separately and issued based on the work shown on the building permit construction documents. Applications for permits can be submitted via email or in person on the 10th floor of 2100 Clarendon Blvd. Online payment is not available for these permits at this time. Depending on the scope of the project, a fixture count may be required prior to permit issuance. Fixture counts typically take 10 business days to complete.
If the scope of work includes fire protection systems, separate permits and plans will be required At this time, fire protection systems permits are applied for and received via a paper process administered by ISD, which is located on the 10th floor of 2100 Clarendon Blvd. Online submission, review, and payment are not available for these permits at this time.
Construction work cannot start until permits have been obtained and posted. Throughout the project, there are required building and trade permit inspections that the applicant or contractor must schedule. Please be aware that other permits or approvals may require additional inspections specific to those permits.
If there are changes to the plans after the permit has been issued, this will require an active revision to the approved plan set. Please see the guidance on revisions.
Depending on the scope of your project, a certificate of occupancy may be required prior to occupancy and use of the building. The certificate of occupancy requires a separate application, process, and fees. The application process must begin at least two (2) weeks before occupancy begins and the process can take longer depending on the scope of work.