Certificate of Occupancy

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What is a Certificate of Occupancy?

A Certificate of Occupancy is required to legally use and occupy a building or structure (or portion thereof), except for existing single family dwellings. When a Certificate of Occupancy is issued, it certifies that the building/structure or portion thereof conforms with the Zoning Code and the applicable Building Codes enforced at the time the Certificate is issued.

Occupancy Permit

An Occupancy Permit is required for:

  • New buildings/structures.
  • Additions to existing buildings/structures, this includes vertical additions, or other modifications to the building volume, such as dormers.
  • Existing buildings/structures undergoing a change in use, including partial changes in use.
  • Exterior signs, unless exempted by the Zoning Code.
  • Exterior accessory equipment/structures, such as fences, sheds, condensing units, and generators.
  • Other elements as required by the Zoning Code.

Things to know:

  • Please be aware that a Building Permit may also be required in addition to an Occupancy Permit. Please refer to Work Not Requiring a Building Permit.
  • In instances where no construction is planned, physical changes maybe required in order to comply with applicable Building Codes. Additionally, accessibility upgrades could be required depending on the scope of changes.
  • If a building/structure does not have a Certificate of Occupancy, it is considered an Uncertified Building under the Pennsylvania's Uniform Construction Code
  • In order for the City of Pittsburgh to issue a new Certificate of Occupancy, conformance must be shown per current codes.
  • If a new Certificate of Occupancy is required/desired, an Occupancy Permit must first be obtained before the new Certificate can issued.

PLI's Certificate of Occupancy Search

PLI welcomes everyone to search through all Department of Permits, Licenses and Inspections Certificates of Occupancy by visiting the Certificate of Occupancy Search Web page. Once on the page, you can search by using Certificate of Occupancy Permit Number, Address, Parcel ID, the Ward Number or a combination of the four search keywords.  

Partial Occupancy Applications

Applications for partial occupancy of a structure prior to completion of all work under a construction permit requires submission to the City of Pittsburgh under a new Temporary Occupancy permit application. The procedures for this process can be found in the Partial Occupancy Bulletin.

How To Obtain An Occupancy Permit

The Occupancy Permit application process is two-fold.

  1. The first component is review and approval by the Zoning Department for the land use as regulated by the Zoning Code.
  2. The second component is review and approval by PLI for life safety as regulated by the current Building Codes.

Zoning Review

The property owner, or authorized agent, will need to first apply in person at the Zoning Counter located at 200 Ross Street, 3rd Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15219. After the work is approved by the Zoning Department, the applicant will proceed to the File Room and then then PLI's Engineering Counter, both located on the 3rd floor of 200 Ross St. Please visit the Zoning website to review requirements. Any questions should be directed to zoning@pittsburghpa.gov or by calling 412-255-2246.

PLI Review

For the PLI review, the following will be required:

  • Completed Building Permit Application Form.
  • Two sets of drawings and a building code analysis, prepared and sealed by a Pennsylvania licensed Architect/Engineer to verify compliance with current codes.
  • A check/money order to pay the permit fee, due when permit is issued. We accept credit card payments at the counter. There will be a 2% + $0.25 convienence fee in addition to the permit fee.

The submitted drawings will be logged into our Plan Review Queue. Submissions are reviewed in the order in which they were received. After the Plans Examining Engineer has reviewed the application, they will contact the Architect/Engineer with any revisions or notify the applicant that the permit is ready for pick up.


After the permit has been issued, the applicant or General Contractor must contact the Building Inspector, whom is indicated on the permit, to schedule inspections. 

Certificate of Occupancy Issuance

After all required inspections are completed, including special inspections and thrid party inspections, the building inspector will sign off on the completed permit. Once completed, it may take up to a week to recieve the final Certificate of Occupancy via mail unless the applicant elects to pick it up in person.