top of page

The Essential Checklist for Obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy in Washington D.C.


For any business or property owner in Washington DC, acquiring a Certificate of Occupancy ("COO" or "C of O") is a pivotal step in ensuring your building is safe and compliant with local building codes. This guide provides an essential checklist to streamline the process of obtaining a CO in Washington D.C., helping you navigate through the bureaucratic intricacies with ease.

Understanding the Certificate of Occupancy

A Certificate of Occupancy is a document that certifies a building’s compliance with applicable building codes and other laws, indicating it’s suitable for occupancy. The need for a CO arises in several instances:

  • New construction

  • Change in building use

  • Alterations or renovations

The Essential Checklist

1. Ensure Building Code Compliance

  • Verify that your property meets all DC building codes.

  • Address any building code violations before applying.

2. Complete All Necessary Construction or Renovations

  • Ensure all construction work is finalized.

  • Obtain necessary inspections and approvals for the completed work.

3. Gather Required Documentation

  • Property deed or lease agreement.

  • Approved building plans and permits.

  • Inspection reports and approvals.

4. Apply for the Certificate of Occupancy

  • Applications can be submitted online through the DOB website.

  • Include all necessary supporting documentation with your application.

5. Schedule an Inspection

  • After application submission, schedule a building inspection with the Department of Buildings (DOB) or approved Third-Party Agencies (DOB).

  • Ensure the property is accessible and ready for inspection.

6. Address Any Issues from the Inspection

  • Correct any issues identified during the inspection promptly.

  • Schedule a re-inspection if required.

7. Obtain Your Certificate of Occupancy

  • Once compliant, DOB will issue your CO.

  • The CO will detail the lawful use of the building and the type of occupancy permitted.

Tips for a Smooth Process

  • Stay Informed: Keep updated on the latest building codes and regulations.

  • Be Thorough: Ensure every detail in your application and documentation is accurate.

  • Seek Professional Help: Consider hiring a professional or a firm like A to Z Permits to navigate the process.


Securing a Certificate of Occupancy in Washington D.C. is a critical legal requirement for your property. Following this checklist will help you ensure that your building is compliant, safe, and ready for use.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.


bottom of page