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Certificate of Occupancy in DC

Why a Certificate of Occupancy is needed in DC?

The Certificate of Occupancy is needed to ensure that the use of a building, structure or land in the District of Columbia conforms to the following regulations:-

In most cases, no person can use a building, structure or land in the District of Columbia for any purpose other than a single-family dwelling, until a valid Certificate of Occupancy has been issued.

A Washington DC Certificate of Occupancy certifies that any building or structure in the District of Columbia is compliant with DC code. Any individual or entity that is using a building or structure in DC is required to have a Certificate of Occupancy. This rule does not apply to homeowners.

When a Certificate of Occupancy is needed in DC?

There are six types of Certificate of Occupancy applications as seen below:

  1. Ownership Change - If a Certificate of Occupancy is issued to a building, structure or land, and its ownership is changed, then a change of ownership application is required.
  2. Use Change
  3. Occupant Load Change
  4. Revision
  5. Temporary Occupancy
  6. New Building - If the building is new, there are following three Certificate of Occupancy subsets:
    • Conditional
    • Completion of core and shell
    • Establishment of a new occupancy

How to get Certificate of Occupancy in DC?

DCRA currently no longer accept in-person Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) applications (effective since Wednesday, February 26, 2020). Please apply online for a Change of Ownership Certificate of Occupancy application. For all other types of application, please email your Certificate of Occupancy Application and supporting documents to

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