The Virginia Amusement Device Regulations define an amusement device as “(i) a device or structure open to the public by which persons are conveyed or moved in an unusual manner for diversion, but excluding snow tubing parks and rides, ski terrain parks, ski slopes, and ski trails, and (ii) passenger tramways…‘open to the public’ means that the public has full access to a device or structure at an event, irrespective of whether a fee is charged.”
A permit is required for an amusement device for any event open to the public, irrespective of whether a fee is charged. Examples include but are not limited to:
- Block parties
The use of amusement devices or structures at private events, such as a birthday party, does not require a permit.
In practical terms, devices for which you need a permit include but are not limited to:
Inflatable, Small Mechanical, and Sticky/Climbing Wall Devices
- Inflatable amusement devices (moon bounces, bouncy houses, bouncy castles)
- Sticky walls
- Climbing wall
- Small mechanical rides
- Circular Ride
- Flat Ride (<20 ft. in height)
- Spectacular Ride (between 20-30 ft. in height)
- Coaster (>30 ft. in height)
- Zip Line
- Bumper Boat
- Bungee Jump
- Gravity Ride (a ride installed on an inclined surface and which conveys a passenger in or on a carrier tube, bag, bathing suit, or clothes from the top of the incline to the bottom)
Multiple amusement devices at the same location can all be under one permit. However, for amusement devices at multiple events at different locations, each address should have a unique permit.
In addition to the Amusement Device Permit, you may need an Electrical Permit, depending on how the device is powered.
- If an amusement device has a hard-wired connection to a large generator, an Electrical Permit is required.
- If an amusement device is powered by a plug-in cord, or by a portable generator serving only cord- and plug-connected equipment, an Electrical Permit is not needed.
If you rent an amusement device from the Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation, all requirements and fees on this page apply.
When to Apply
Submit an Amusement Device Permit application:
- At the same time that you apply for a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) (at least 10 business days before the event),
- At the same time that you submit a Special Event application,
- At the same time that you request an after-hours inspection (which must be scheduled at least one (1) week in advance of the intended inspection date), or
- (If a CO or Special Event Permit isn’t required) At least five (5) business days before the date on which you intend to operate the amusement device.
You must complete an Amusement Device Permit application in Permit Arlington. Click “Create” and select “Building Application.”
- Review Permit Arlington online submission guidelines, which include document sizing and layout, recommended file naming conventions, and file type requirements.
- The application requires identification of the types of device(s) and date(s) that use of the device(s) begins and ends, as well as of the applicant, an onsite contact, and the permit holder/responsible party.
- If the device will require an inspection, you must indicate the type of inspection you will pursue:
- Arlington County – within regular hours (Mon.-Fri., 7 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.)
- Arlington County – outside regular hours (after-hours) (extra fees apply)
- Private Inspector/Inspection Service
- If you hire a third party to inspect the amusement device, you must indicate that you are doing so in the online application at Step 2: People > Amusement Device Inspector.
- You must also submit a valid Virginia Amusement Device Inspection Certificate with the application.
- With your application you are required to upload:
- Manufacturer Specifications/Installation Manual for each device
- Certificate of Liability Insurance (minimum $1,000,000.00)
- You may conditionally be required to upload:
- Virginia Amusement Device Inspection Certificate for each device (only required if you are using a private inspector or private inspection service)
- Basic Site Plan Showing Location of Rides (a layout that indicates amusement device location)
- Proof of Valid Inspection Certification Sticker
- Safety Bulletins/Alerts
- Other documents in support of the application
- Register or log in to Permit Arlington to submit an Amusement Device Permit application.
- How-to videos, FAQs, and more are available here.
- Applications will be checked for completeness within two (2) business days.
- You will receive an email with further instructions if your application is incomplete or not compliant with requirements.
- Applicants will receive an email with any review comments.
- View the Permit Revisions webpage to learn how to respond to comments and revise the application or documents.
- After required reviews and revisions are completed, contractor information will be verified and permit fees will be calculated.
- You will receive an email with final processing information within two (2) business days that includes a permit fee balance to pay online.
Approvals and printing
- Once payment is received, you will receive a digital copy of the permit through your Permit Arlington account.
- The applicant is responsible for printing the permit and posting it on site.
The owner or renter of the amusement device must provide proof to the County that the device has been inspected prior to issuance of the Amusement Device Permit, or you must request the inspection after you have obtained the permit. As noted above, the owner or renter may hire a third party to conduct the inspection or schedule an inspection by an Arlington County inspector.
If the amusement device will not be set up during regular County inspection hours (Mon.-Fri., 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m.), you must indicate that on your application and schedule an after-hours inspection at least one (1) week in advance of the intended inspection date. NOTE: After-hours inspections are not guaranteed and may not be possible if requested with less than one–week notice.
To schedule an inspection, you must use the Permit Arlington customer portal.