Application to occupy


Getting Started

An occupancy permit is a permit issued under the Nova Scotia Building Code Act which specifies the authorized use and classification for a building, such as ‘office’ or ‘retail’. The legislation requires that the owner and occupiers of all buildings (except for single dwellings, sheds or pools etc.) obtain occupancy permits before building spaces can be occupied and used. An occupancy permit shall not be issued for any building unless a valid building permit is in effect.

An occupancy permit is required after a change of use or tenant (Except for a change of a residential tenant, like in the selling of a home), including any change in the number of either commercial or residential units.

The permit remains valid for as long as there is no change of operator and the activities practiced on the premises under the same conditions cited in the permit applications. A new permit is required if there is a change of operator, if the floor area of the premises is altered, if the uses are changed, or if new uses are added.

Things to Know

An Occupancy Permit does not expire. The permit is valid as long as there is no change in operator or activities.

Common Related Required Permits:
For Commercial Occupancy, sign permits are frequently required if a new exterior sign is being installed. 

Common Questions

Q. When will I need an Occupancy Only Permit?
A. You will need a stand-alone Occupancy permit if there is a change in operator/ownership or activity practiced on a premises.

Q. Do I need an Occupancy Permit in Addition to my building permit?
A. No, the Occupancy permissions are part of the building permit.

Q. If I am renovating my new space, do I need an occupancy permit?
A. No, you will need a building permit for the renovations and your occupancy permissions will be part of that permit.

Q: I am moving in to a new commercial space, but the same type of business was there previously, do I still require an occupancy permit?
A: Yes, occupancy permits do not transfer from business to business, or between locations (if you relocate addresses). The occupancy permit is for the current business being operated at present. Staff must ensure, the use is still permitted, and the space is still up to code requirements.

Q: I am trying to legalize my basement apartment, do I apply for an occupancy permit?
A: No, you must apply for a building permit, and your occupancy permit will be part of that permit. This is a change of use, there are also other requirements, and may require a water permit as well, and different inspections that are applicable.

Q: I would like to operate a Home-based business, do I need an occupancy permit?
A: If there are no renovations being done, then you must apply for a Development only (DEV – Basic & Land Use)

Q: I’m selling my house, but I haven’t received my occupancy permit?
A: If the building permit has expired for more than one year, and all inspections were conducted. Yes, you should apply for an occupancy permit.  You may also require to submit, final lot grading certificate or final septic installation report, that may have been outstanding from the original building permit.
A: If there are still outstanding inspections on an expired permit, you will require to apply for a building permit, in order to complete and then receive your occupancy permit.

Documents Required

Supporting documents are always required as part of making a permit application.

Floor Plans - Occupancy

  • Residential: Floor plans must include; 
    Interior floor layouts of each level 
    Rooms showing dimensions and labelled as to use
  • Commercial: Commercial applications require a floor plan with the following information;
    Dimensions of the leasehold space with all rooms and adjacent uses identified, 
    Location of exits and signage, including door swing direction.
    Location of Emergency lighting and fire extinguishers
    Location and size of washrooms including Barrier Free Accessibility design where required
    Key Plan indicating the location of the commercial suite within the existing commercial building

Site Plan – Occupancy (Required upon request)
Must include lot dimensions and the footprint of the existing building with any projections such as decks, roof overhangs and doorsteps indicated. In addition, the plan must identify the site access and parking.

Landscape Plan - Occupancy (Required upon request)
The landscape plan, stamped and signed by a landscape architect, shall depict the design of all hard landscaping and soft landscaping in the development. Required upon request.

Document Naming
Automated workflows have been built to expedite the application process when customers use the document naming convention. If these Document names are not used during the application phase, the applicant will be required to manually assign the correct document type to each document so the system will know what document has been submitted.

Inspections Required

There is a mandatory Final Inspection for Application to Occupy Permits.



Home or Business Occupancy, Occupancy only $50.00
Expired Occupancy Renewal  $100.00

For full details of permit fee calculation and a complete list of fee rates, please see the Permit Fees page.

Payment Options
Full payment for the permit must be made at the time of application submission.

Payment can be made online during the application process online using a credit card.

In Person
If you prefer to pay in person you can visit our Planning & Development Counter at:
5251 Duke St, 3rd Floor, Suite 300, Duke Tower, Halifax
8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Monday to Friday, excluding Holidays

Apply Online

Our new online system allows you to apply for permits 24/7 through your personal customer portal account.

To apply for permits online:

1. You need to register for a customer portal account
2. If you are a contractor, you will need to create your contractor profile.
3. Ensure you have all of the information required before you apply for your permit. Refer to the Before You Begin Checklist.
4. Learn how to Navigate the Customer Portal.
5. For additional support, refer to our quick guide on how to Apply for a Permit Online.

Visit the applying for a permit page to view a library of support documents, videos and common questions to help you best use the customer portal. 

Apply Online