Department of Planning & Development
Department of Planning & Development

What is a Zoning Certificate? 

Zoning Certificates serve as a record of the initial establishment of a use, or the construction of a structure, which is allowed as a matter of right. A Zoning Certificate is generally issued at the Permit Services Center counter by Land Use Planning (Zoning) staff.  

When is a Zoning Certificate required?

Projects that do not require an Administrative Use Permit or Use Permit in the Zoning Ordinance require Zoning Certificates, which are issued prior to approval of business licenses or building permits.  The Zoning Ordinance specifies which projects require a Zoning Certificate, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Accessory buildings that do not include habitable space and that meet zoning requirements. 
  • Residential additions that conform with all Zoning Ordinance requirements, and that do not exceed 600 square feet in area or more than 15% of the lot area, which ever is less and that meet the Zoning District height requirements. 
  • Commercial uses that are specifically listed as permitted in the Zoning District, such as retail and personal service.
  • Interior remodeling that conforms with all Zoning Ordinance requirements.

How does staff decide whether to approve a Zoning Certificate? 

To approve an Zoning Certificate, staff must find that the project is allowed “by-right” in the Zoning Ordinance. 


How do I apply for a Zoning Certificate? 

Applications must be filed in person at the Permit Service Center .  Building permit and business license applications will be sent to the Zoning Counter for initial review to determine whether a Zoning Certificate can be issued, or whether additional zoning review is required. 


How long does it take? 

Zoning Certificates can generally be approved over-the-counter. 

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Department of Planning & Development, 2120 Milvia St., Berkeley, CA 94704
Questions or comments? Email: Phone: (510) 981-7400
(510) 981-CITY/2489 or 311 from any landline in Berkeley
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