Use Permit

A healthy and vibrant business community is important to the overall health and vitality of the City. We therefore welcome new businesses and encourage business expansions. If you are considering locating or expanding your business in Irvine, there are helpful links to sites under the Doing Business tab on the main web page, for example, the Irvine Chamber of Commerce Tab may be able to provide guidance and assistance with site selection and issues relating to non-City agencies. The following, however, is provided to assist in understanding City requirements relating to new businesses or expansions of existing businesses.


Uses are regulated by the City of Irvine Zoning Ordinance.  To determine whether a site allows a particular use, please consult with the Planning Counter of the Community Development Department by calling (949)724-6308 or visiting the public Counter located in the Community Development Lobby at City Hall, 1 Civic Center Plaza.

Some uses are not specifically identified in the Zoning Ordinance in which case a Use Determination request may be required. It is a good idea to coordinate such requests with the Planning Division.

If the proposed use is not allowed, please contact the Planning Division to discuss potential solutions.

If the proposed use is allowed, then the Certificate of Occupancy must be considered.

Certificate of Occupancy

Determining the allowable use is only the first step in determining whether a particular use is allowed at a given site. Unless the proposed use is to be conducted completely out of doors and has been determined to be an approved use, the next step is to determine if any building intended to house the use has a Certificate of Occupancy consistent with the use. To check on Certificates of Occupancy a call to Inspection Services at (949) 724-6321 is required. When making such inquiries, be sure to know building specifics such as building address and suite number if applicable.

If the building’s or tenant space’s Certificate of Occupancy is not consistent with the intended use, building permits will be required to change the occupancy. This is true even if no physical modifications are intended. The services of a qualified design professional will be required at this point to advise on feasibility and to develop plans necessary to support a building permit application.

If the building’s or tenant space’s Certificate of Occupancy is consistent with the intended use, the next step depends on whether physical modifications subject to a building permit are proposed.

Building Occupancy

Certificates of Occupancy are issued for new commercial buildings and for those commercial tenant improvement projects in which there is a change of use. A City of Irvine Building Inspector must approve a final inspection on the Inspection Record Card before occupancy is approved. A Certificate of Occupancy will be mailed to the property owner listed on the building permit within a week of the final inspection.

Occupancy and New Buildings:

  • Shell Only. These are buildings that are constructed without interior improvements and are incapable of occupancy.
  • Site Work Substantially Complete. Site improvements are required to be substantially complete before new building occupancy is granted.


Utility Services Contact Information

Business License Requirements