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Planning & Permitting

Planning and Permitting in Arlington

We recognize that the planning and permitting process can be lengthy, time consuming, and at times, a confusing process to navigate. Whether you are starting a new business, investing in an existing business or anywhere in between, Arlington Economic Development is here to help. We provide guidance to businesses as they navigate permitting processes to help alleviate any challenges and prevent any unnecessary delays and increased expenses.

Permits for New Businesses

Opening a New Business in Arlington County

If you are opening a new business in Arlington County, or making changes to an existing Arlington business, like adding an additional location, there are several permits you may need. Most new businesses located in Arlington need to file a request for a Certificate of Occupancy or Home Occupation Permit and a Business License.

New businesses or a new location for an existing Arlington business may require a Public Health Division license. While not an exhaustive list, some of the establishments that require a Public Health license include restaurants, nightclubs/bars, grocery stores, convenience stores and drug stores.

More information on permitting related to opening a new business can be found on the Arlington County Commissioner of Revenue website. More information on how to start a business in Arlington County is available right here.

Building & Construction Permits

Guidance for New Construction and Interior Alterations

The Building Permit approval process can take 4–6 weeks and sometimes longer if multiple reviews are required. To facilitate reduced review time, it is often helpful to request a Code Consultation with the Inspection Services Division.

Small businesses and projects with representatives who are not familiar with the Arlington County permitting, review and inspection process are highly encouraged to take advantage of this option. Schedule a Code Consultation today.

Information and checklists about new construction and interior alterations are available online. More information about Commercial Building Permits is also available on the County site.

Sign Permits

Commercial Signage Permits

The Zoning Ordinance regulates signs; however, certain buildings have Comprehensive Sign Plans, i.e. pre-approved plans that specify types, locations and sizes of signs permitted. Therefore, the types, size, number and location of signs allowed will vary by location.

If you are a new business or tenant, the first step in installing a commercial sign is to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) for the business from the Zoning Office. Once a CO is in place, complete the Sign Application form. If you meet these requirements and your sign complies with the Zoning Ordinance or relevant Comprehensive Sign Plan, your Sign Permit will be approved within five business days.

It is important to note that any sign attached to a building, sidewalk, ground or plaza, or that has a footer or attachments also requires a separate building permit in addition to the sign permit. Additionally, any sign with electricity also requires a separate electrical permit in addition to the sign permit.

For detailed information on a particular location, contact the Zoning Office at (703) 228-3883. For more information on the signage permit process, visit the County’s Sign Permit webpage.

Marc McCauley

Director, Real Estate Development

As Director of AED's Real Estate Development department, Marc has the experience and expertise to provide technical assistance to commercial developers, property owners and retailers on issues related to permitting, zoning and commercial policies.

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