Certificate of Approval

Cartoon doodles showing steps to get a Certificate of Approval

What is a Certificate of Approval

A Certificate of Approval is a written authorization, much like a permit, that must be issued before any changes can be made to the designated feature of a City Landmark, or before changes can be made to the external appearance of any building, structure, or site, including the construction of any new building or structure, within the City's eight historic districts. In certain historic districts, a Certificate of Approval is required before making changes to how a building or space is used, or establishing use in a new building, located within that district.

What are the steps to getting a Certificate of Approval and how long will it take?

General Information and Instructions (includes checklists and important terminology)

1) Submit Application for Certificate of Approval (C of A)

2) Staff Review 

  • Staff respond to applicant within 28 days or less of receipt of application.
  • If more information is needed, city staff will email a correction notice to the applicant; staff will review new information within 14 days of receipt or less.
  • Determination of Completeness triggers Step 3.

3) Board or Commission Review

  • Application will be scheduled for Board/Commission meeting within 30 days of the determination of completeness by staff.
  • Present your proposal at the public Board/Commission meeting (sometimes a committee meeting is also required). Be ready to hear public comments.

4) Seattle Department of Neighborhoods issues a decision

  • A Board/Commission decision or a Directors recommendation/decision will be issued. 
  • Certificate of Approval (or denial) decisions must be issued within 45 days of determination of completeness.


Jenifer Chao, Director
Address: 600 4th Avenue, 4th Floor, Seattle, WA , 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 94649, Seattle, WA, 98124-4649
Phone: (206) 684-0464
Fax: (206) 233-5142

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