Commercial Permits

The Development Services Department accepts and processes many different commercial applications. The links below are provided as a convenience but do not include all instructions or information provided elsewhere on this site. Click here for residential permit applications.

DSD's Permit Application Center (PAC) is located at 161 South Charlotte Street and open to the public on Monday to Friday, 8:30 am - 5:00 pm (closed on public holidays). Customers can also contact or 828-259-5846 with questions about residential permits.

Zoning requirements can impact commercial development. Prior to preparation of plans, obtain information specific to your site or schedule an Early Assistance meeting.

Before beginning an application, please check to confirm that your property is located in the City of Asheville’s permitting jurisdiction.


Building Permits

Zoning and Site Engineering Permits


Checklists & Guides

 Department Documents


Whether you are an Asheville  small business owner starting a new restaurant or a contractor building an office building, your project will need to obtain a permit. The process for obtaining a permit depends on the scope of your project. City of Asheville staff can help you determine the route you will need to take through the development process for your project, but please remember that work requiring a permit cannot begin until the permit holder or his agent posts the permit in a weatherproof, accessible and conspicuous location on the premises.

There are several types of permits/approvals depending on the complexity of your project. A note on Zoning requirements: all projects that require plan review, whether they qualify for Small Project Permit or not, must comply with local zoning regulations.

Lien Agent Designation

Effective for construction projects beginning on or after April 1, 2013, North Carolina law requires appointment of a lien agent.  Contractors and subcontractors can then give notice they are working on the project. Appointments are not required for (1) improvements under $30,000 or (2) to the owner's existing residence or (3) for public building projects.  Our office will require the lien agent designation before a permit will be released for commencement of construction, including stand alone permits.  You may visit the website for additional information and a step-by-step guide to completing the designation process online.

Stand Alone and Multi-Trade Permits

Permits for minor residential installations are referred to as Stand Alone Trade Permits. If an installation requires more than one type of installation, it is referred to as a Multi-Trade permit. Plumbing, electrical or mechanical (HVAC) projects that do not require plans but require a permit, can often be issued the same day they are requested. Projects in this category include installing a new electrical circuit, placing a heating system or adding or replacing a water heater. Licensed contractors are encouraged to use the Development, Permit, & Inspection Portal to apply for these permits. Permits are issued at application when using the portal. Applications may also be emailed to or faxed to (828) 259-5676.

Quick Touch Permits

Some permits do not require extensive review and only require review from Building Safety staff. These can generally be turned around in one to three working days. These include permits for demolition, emergency repairs, like-for-like replacement of finishes and equipment, construction trailers, foster care, and work-after-hours.

Small Project Permits

Seemingly uncomplicated projects may require plan submittal and review from multiple disciplines. Small project permits can often be issued more quickly than other permits; estimate around 10 working days. Examples of small projects include signs, temporary use permits, or tenant up-fits of existing units.

Standard and Large Project Permits

Within "standard" and "large" commercial projects the scale and complexity can vary greatly but they always require technical review by multiple disciplines. The "standard" category covers most low to mid-rise construction. The "large" commercial project category will generally take longer to review due to special detailed requirements based on use and occupancy. High rise construction, covered malls, multi-family buildings over four stories or over 100 units, assemblies of greater than 1,000 occupants, education buildings, institutional buildings, and hazardous uses are considered large commercial projects. The anticipated review times reflect project complexity. Consult the review times matrix to understand how long it will take staff to review your project. 

Occupancy or Tenant Change With No Construction Work Performed

If you are moving into a vacant tenant space with a new business similar to previous tenant and will not be performing any construction work, you need to secure Tenant Occupancy. The life-safety criteria and permit process is defined in the Tenant Change Out Bulletin (found above). Please complete the Tenant Occupancy Application (found above) and bring it to the Permit Application Center. In most cases, the permit can issued at the time of application, and inspections can be performed the next day. If the use you are proposing is classified differently from the previous use, you will be asked to submit plans for review.

Business Licenses

The City of Asheville no longer has the authority to collect a privilege license tax (i.e. business license), with the exception of beer and wine taxes. This is in accordance with North Carolina S.L. 2014-3 Section 12, effective July 1, 2015.

It should be noted that while the Local Privilege License Tax is no longer being collected, the State Privilege License authority is still in place.

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