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.”
In practical terms, devices for which you need a permit include but are not limited to:
- Inflatable amusement devices (moonbounces, bouncy houses, bouncy castles)
- Zip lines
- Bungee jumping equipment
- Artificial climbing walls
- Gravity rides (rides installed on an inclined surface and which convey a passenger in or on a carrier tube, bag, bathing suit or clothes from the top of the incline to the bottom)
A permit is required for such a 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. Contact the Inspection Services Division (ISD) if you are unsure if a permit is required: 703-228-3800.
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 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 Department of Parks and Recreation, all requirements and fees on this page apply.
When to Apply
Submit a permit application to ISD:
- 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 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.
To apply, use the Commercial Building Permit Application and list amusement device type and quantity under the description. You must come to the Arlington County Permit Office in person to apply, although the permit application and review process is anticipated to move online in 2020, as part of Permit Arlington.
In addition to the application, you must provide:
- A layout that indicates device location(s)
- The specification sheets for the device(s)
- Date(s) and time(s) of the event
- The person/company that will operate the device(s)
- The application must indicate that the applicant will hire a third party to inspect the device and must include proof of liability insurance, as required by the Virginia Amusement Device Regulations.
- If Arlington County Inspection Services will perform an inspection of the electrical components or generator that powers the device, please schedule the inspection while in the office obtaining the amusement device permit. If the equipment will not be set up within business hours, schedule an after-hours inspection at least one week in advance of the intended inspection date.
- Unless the permit holder is the contractor licensed in Virginia for the scope of work on the permit OR the permit holder is the property owner and present for all steps of the permitting process, the party that applies for and/or picks up the permit will need to have a Permit Authorization Affidavit.
Arlington County does not inspect amusement devices. The owner or renter of the device must hire a third party to inspect it. The owner or renter must provide proof to the County that the device has been inspected prior to issuance of the amusement device permit.
Arlington County inspectors, however, will inspect the electrical components or generator that powers the device, if the device has a hard-wired connection to a generator. In this case, the device requires an Electrical Permit in addition to the amusement device permit.
Arlington County follows state guidelines on fees for amusement device permits (Virginia Amusement Device Regulations, Part II).