Certificate of Occupancy

When is a Certificate of Occupancy Required?

The Certificate of Occupancy issued for a property documents how that specific property is legally allowed to be used and that the use met the Zoning Code, Historic Preservation Code (if applicable), and Building Code regulations administered by the City of Pittsburgh at the time of issuance.

A Certificate of Occupancy, also known as an Occupancy Permit, shall be required for the lawful use or occupancy of all land, structures or premises, including accessory uses such as parking, fences and sheds. A valid Certificate of Occupancy is required to obtain most construction permits, including building, sign, and HVAC permits.

Anytime a change in use occurs, Zoning Review and review by the Department of Permits, Licenses, and Inspections is required. If approved, a new Certificate of Occupancy will be issued.  


How to Obtain a Certificate of Occupancy

  1. Verify whether or not a property has a valid Certificate of Occupancy:  Permits, Licenses and Inspections maintains copies of all Certificates of Occupancy ever issued for all properties in the City of Pittsburgh.
    • Check the online Certificate of Occupancy search maintained by PLI.
    • Be sure to search for any alternate or previous addresses available as some buildings have multiple addresses or the address may have changed over time.
    • The most recent Certificate of Occupancy for any portion of the building or site is the applicable Certificate of Occupancy for that portion.

For example a multi-story mixed-use building at 123 E. Main St. has a Certificate of Occupancy for use of Retail Sales and Services on the 1st floor issued in 1982 and a Certificate of Occupancy for use of Office on the 2nd floor issued in 2008. No other Certificates of Occupancy have been issued since, so these are the current Certificates for this site.

If there is not a Certificate of Occupancy on file that exactly matches the current use of the property or if you do not have a valid Certificate of Occupancy, you must apply for one through the Zoning Division and PLI.

For example: if the property above (123 E. Main St.) currently has a Restaurant on the 1st floor, then there isn’t a valid Certificate of Occupancy for the use and a new one must be requested.

  1. Apply for a Certificate of Occupancy: Follow the requirements for the applicable Zoning Review process.
    • ​​​A stamped and sealed survey or site plan is required for any application that includes parking or new construction of or addition to a primary (or main) structure.
    • A hand-drawn plot plan may be acceptable for other applications. See Survey Requirements website for more information.
    • Please note that some projects may require approval from the Department of Mobility and Infrastructure if they include work in the right-of-way (such as a curb cut for new parking, a sidewalk café, or an entrance ramp encroaching in the right-of-way).
  2. Complete Application at PLI: Once the Zoning Review has been approved, the applicant will submit to PLI for their review and approval.


What is a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy?

A temporary Certificate of Occupancy is required when an applicant wishes to partially occupy a construction project before the final inspection is signed-off or an event is occupying a building or parcel for a short time.  All applications for a temporary occupancy require review and approval by the Division of Zoning and Development Review and PLI.  Applications for a temporary event also require review by the Office of Special Events, email to coordinate that review.

Approval for a temporary occupancy may be granted for up to 6 months. If the applicant wishes to extend the time on a temporary occupancy about to expire, then a new temporary occupancy application is required, subject to all applicable fees.