Certificate of Occupancy (CO)

Any building used or occupied in Fort Worth must have a Certificate of Occupancy. The Fort Worth Administrative Building Code states that no building or structure shall be used or occupied, and no change in the existing occupancy classification of a building or structure or portion thereof shall be made, until the building official has issued a certificate of occupancy. In Fort Worth, one and two-family dwellings and townhouses are regulated by the International Residential Code and community homes, as defined by the zoning ordinance, are exempted from this requirement and do not receive certificates of occupancy.

Change of Use

If the proposed business is a different type of business than what currently operates in the space, then a new Certificate of Occupancy (CO) is needed to legally operate the business within the City of Fort Worth. A change of use permit can be applied for with or without associated remodeling. Once the permit is issued and all necessary inspections are finalized, a Certificate of Occupancy will be issued.

To initiate this process, submit a Change of Use (CoU) application via our online permitting software, Accela Citizen Access.

  • In Accela Citizen Access, this permit application is under the "Building Permits" drop down and is called an "Occupancy Change of Use.

For additional information on submittal requirements visit the commercial permitting page.

 

CoU permits are reviewed by the building and zoning plan review teams and may require review from other groups depending upon proposed use. Also depending on the scope of work and proposed use inspections may be required from various departments including, but not limited to, building, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire, health etc.

 

No Change of Use

Not all businesses will require a change of use to get a new Certificate of Occupancy (CO).

When a change of ownership or tenant occurs within an existing building or tenant-space, and the type of use remains the same as the existing certificate of occupancy, a new certificate of occupancy can be issued by applying online via Accela Citizen Access, or in-person with Development Support Services (City Hall, Lower Level).

  • In Accela Citizen Access, this permit is under the "Building Permit" drop down tab and is called "Occupancy Existing Ordinance."  If new electrical service needs to be established for the business, an electrical ordinance inspection should be selected with this permit. 

 

**NOTE**

Documentation of the existing use is required to obtain a new CO. The City’s Building Official may accept the following alternative records to establish the existing use including, but not limited to:

  • Certificate of Occupancies (CO) dated after July 2001,

  • Old permits,

  • Tax records, and/or

  • Business records from the last 5 years.  

However, if the documentation is determined to be insufficient, the Building Official may require ordinance inspections in order to determine compliance.

CO for New Building

Newly constructed buildings with a known tenant, will receive a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) when all necessary inspections for the building permit are finalized and any infrastructure work associated with the development has been accepted. Shell buildings will not receive a CO until a separate remodel permit for a Tenant Finish Out is completed.

What is a Change of Use (CoU) Permit?

A Change of Use (CoU) is a change in the purpose or level of activity within a building that involves a change in the application of the requirements of the International Existing Building code, the Fire Code, or the Zoning Ordinance. The definition shall also apply to the usage of the surrounding site and access to and from the building, structure or site, as necessary to achieve the purpose of this code and to obtain compliance with other codes and ordinances, such as the Fire Code and the Zoning Ordinance.

Why is a Change of Use (CoU) Permit Required?

When the use of space changes, the risk factors and neighborhood impacts associated with space can also change. Alterations to the existing building/space may be required to meet the building code requirements for the new use. Alterations to the existing building and site may be required to meet the Zoning Ordinance requirements for the new use. The Change of Use permit process helps identify those requirements.

When will I get my Certificate of Occupancy (CO)?

A certificate of occupancy will be issued following the approval of all final inspections. The CO will be e-mailed to the contact person listed for the permit on the business day following the final approval.  This document provides information about permits leading to a CO.