Certificate of Occupancy

A Certificate of Occupancy is required for all businesses in the City of San Antonio. No building or structure can be used or occupied until our department has issued a Certificate of Occupancy. For buildings with multiple tenants, each tenant space must obtain their own Certificate of Occupancy based on the approved use.

For new construction, a Certificate of Occupancy is issued upon completion of all the required inspections. For renovations of buildings with an existing Certificate of Occupancy, Development Services is happy to update the information on your Certificate if there has been no change in business use or occupancy. If there has been a change in occupancy or business use, you may be required to apply for a new Certificate of Occupancy.

Certain types of businesses will always require a business owner to apply for a new Certificate of Occupancy, even if the proposed use of the space remains the same. These may also require Occupancy Classification Letters:

  • Bed & Breakfasts
  • Boarding Homes
  • Community Homes & Assisted Living Facilities
  • Head Shops
  • Live Entertainment
  • Salvage Yards & Metal Recycling Facilities
  • Transitional Homes

Change of Use (New Certificate)

If the proposed business is a different type of business than what currently operates in the building, then you will need a new Certificate of Occupancy to legally operate the business within the City of San Antonio. For example, if the property was a clothing store and you plan to make it a hair salon, the business will need a new Certificate of Occupancy.

To initiate the process, submit an application form or apply online and our department will schedule the appropriate inspectors to inspect your business. Typical inspections include Building, Electrical, Mechanical, Plumbing, and Fire.  You may also require a Heath Inspection from San Antonio Metropolitan Health Department. After your business successfully passes all required inspections, Development Services will issue your Certificate of Occupancy.

Forms & Applications

No Change of Use (Update Certificate)

Not all business types will require a new Certificate of Occupancy. When a change of ownership or lessee occurs within an existing building or tenant-space, yet the type of use remains basically the same, a new certificate of occupancy is not necessary. All you need to do is fill out an application form to request a name change on the existing certificate of occupancy.

Forms & Applications

Temporary Certificate of Occupancy

A contractor can request a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy at various stages of the building process. This allows for occupancy of certain portions of the building once work is completed and the structure is safe. For example, a restaurant may require a Temporary Certificate so that they can train staff and move in the appliances, equipment, tables and chairs prior to receiving the formal Certificate of Occupancy.

It is the contractor’s responsibility to verify that all required inspections for either a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy and/or a Certificate of Occupancy is issued prior to any business operation.

For the different phases related to Temporary Certificate of Occupancy (TCO) and Full Certificate of Occupancy (CofO) please reference Phases of TCO and CofO (PDF).

Certificate of Completion

For a shell building with multiple suites that is not finished out but is ready for occupancy, Development Services will issue a Certificate of Completion on that shell permit. The department will also issue a Certificate of Completion for construction projects that do not require a new Certificate of Occupancy. In both cases, inspections are still required to be approved in order to obtain the Certificate of Completion.