Over-the-Counter Permits

Track permits through our 
Online Permit Tracking System

If you need a permit for a small business, you may qualify for expedited review under Proposition H. Visit our Prop H Website for more information.

We are accepting Over-the-Counter permit applications in paper through our limited in-person services daily for the following:

  • OTC without plans
  • OTC with plans


Over-the-Counter (OTC) permits without plans  

If customers are uncertain about whether their project requires plans or not, please send an email to techq@sfgov.org and we will determine if the project will require plans. 

Over-the-Counter permits without plans include:

  • Re-roofing
  • Repairing decks and stairs (less than 50%)
  • Replacement windows (same size and same locations)
  • Replacement garage doors
  • Minor dry rot repairs
  • Exterior siding repairs or replacement
  • In-kind kitchen remodel (no changes to the floor plan or walls)
  • In-kind bathroom remodel (no change to the floor plan or walls)

​Over-the-Counter (OTC) permits with plans include:

  • Kitchen remodel (changing floor plans / walls)
  • Bathroom remodel (changing floor plans / walls)
  • New bathrooms
  • New laundry rooms
  • Residential interior remodel (changing floor plans /walls)
  • New windows and exterior doors
  • Decks less than 20 feet above grade that meet planning setbacks
  • Fire Only permits (starting June 24)
  • Sign permits
  • Commercial tenant improvement projects
  • Office or other B occupancy remodels
  • Power door operators
  • Permits to comply with the Accessible Business Entrance program
  • Voluntary seismic upgrades
  • Disability access barrier removal
  • Projects that do not require Planning Department neighborhood notification
  • Fences taller than 6 feet in side or rear yard
  • Fences taller than 3 feet in front yard

Additional documentation that may be required for Over-the-Counter permits with plans include:

  • Structural calculations
  • Special inspection checklist 
  • Green building forms
  • Disability access checklist
  • Seismic slope and hazard checklist
  • Green halo
  • Owner's agent authorization form
  • Permit applicant and authorized agent disclosure and certification
  • Material cut sheets/details for exterior changes


Applying for a new OTC with plans permit

We offer three options to submit Over-the-Counter with Plans permit applications: register for the same-day drop-in queue, sign up for the waitlist or schedule an appointment.

Available 9:30am – 3:30pm, Monday - Friday


Same Day Drop-in Queue

We have created an Over-the-Counter with Plans same day drop-in queue that opens every day at 8:00 a.m.  Qualified customers can sign up remotely through QLess, and if you receive a confirmation message that you can join the queue for that day, you will visit the San Francisco Permit Center at 12:00 p.m. that afternoon for in-person intake, plan check, and routing. The name and phone number must match the applicant who shows up for the same-day queue.  The queue will close when it reaches capacity. 

Here is the Qless link that opens at 8:00 a.m. every weekday.

Here is a link to the current wait times for city departments in the SF Permit Center.

Sign-up for the Waitlist

DBI is offering a wait list for qualifying Over-the-Counter with Plans customers. Email DBI to join the wait list, and we’ll contact you within three business days with an earlier appointment time if one is available.

Email us to sign up for the wait list here.

Be sure to include the project address and the name, phone and email of the person who will be going to the appointment.


Waitlist and Same Day Drop-in Queue Rules

To keep the waitlist and drop-in queue active and effective, the following restrictions apply:

  • One waitlist or drop-in queue appointment per customer; one new application per appointment.
  • Customers cannot join the same day drop-in queue on the day of their appointment. 
  • The wait list and drop-in queue are available only to applicants with appointments more than seven days out.
  • Customers will have 24 hours to accept a new, earlier appointment via the wait list.
  • Customers who accept the earlier appointment or get an appointment through the drop-in queue will have their existing appointment cancelled.
  • Customers on the wait list who decline the new time will be removed from the wait list, but can sign up again.
  • Appointments not associated with a current, verifiable project will be cancelled.


Schedule an appointment

Go here to schedule a future appointment to submit your permit application.


Emergency Permits Requests

Please contact us here if you need emergency permit assistance to address fire, flood or other serious issues affecting habitability.


Over-the-Counter permits without plans

7:30 to 9:30 a.m. from Monday through Friday – Over-the-Counter without plans permits

Customers can apply for Over-the-Counter permits without plans by dropping in at 49 South Van Ness within this two-hour window. We can accommodate 35 customers on a first-come, first-served basis. Each customer can submit a maximum of 2 permits.

Please remember to bring completed forms and/or supporting documents with you. A DBI plan checker will review your application to ensure it is eligible for permit submission and processing. You will enter the ground floor to complete the permit issuance process and then proceed to the second floor to complete the payment process.

Go here for more information on Over-the-Counter Permits. 


Trades & Street Space Permits

Trades permits can be filed online by licensed contractors for electrical, plumbing, and mechanical or boiler-to-operate permits.

Go here for more information on trades permits.

The Department of Public Works is processing all Street Space permits online.

Go here to apply for your Street Space permit.


Fire-Only Permits

Starting June 24, fire-only permits can be filed through the OTC with plans application process outlined above – customers can sign up for same-day drop in, join the waitlist or schedule an appointment.

Fire-only plan review scope of work includes:

  1. Sprinkler system (including standpipe & underground work)
  2. Fire alarm and/or smoke detection system
  3. Dedicated Function FA system (elevator recall, HVAC shut-down, sprinkler monitoring)
  4. Any fire suppression system (Pre-action, Clean Agent, etc.)
  5. Emergency evacuation signage
  6. Emergency Responder Radio Coverage System (ERRCS)
  7. Elevators (FSAE & OEE)
  8. Air replenishment systems

For more information about Fire Department plan view, please visit https://sf-fire.org/plan-check.

Applicants for fire-only permits submitted before June 24 can contact (650) 652-3472 for further direction.


What to Bring for Your Permit Submission

You will need to complete permit application Form 3/8 to file an OTC permit. Select and print the Building Form 3/8 using legal 8.5 X 14" paper size and print two copies of the application on both sides. Visit here for a list of the forms required by DBI and other permitting departments.


What to Expect When Onsite

Upon arriving at 49SVN for your OTC with plans appointment at the San Francisco Permit Center, you will be entered into the QLess queuing system and summoned to the appropriate plan review department when it is your turn. You will then be directed to the DBI plan checker counter to confirm that your filing qualifies as OTC with plans. You will route your plans in person for review and processing.

To complete the permit issuance process, payment is required. 


Directions to the 49 SVN Building Entrance:

Customers can enter 49 South Van Ness Avenue from Van Ness Avenue via the paseo in the above photo. Customers should form a line using the social distance markers to wait their turn to enter the building through the doors pictured above.

Revision Drop-Off for Hardcopy Building Permits Requested by Planning Department 

If you have an existing Form 1, 2 or 3 Building Permit Application that was originally submitted in hardcopy, you may submit revised plans directly to the Planning Department without an appointment. Customers should come to the 49 South Van Ness Main Entrance to drop-off the plans at the 2nd Floor (Stations No. 39, 43 or 47) between 7:30 am and 3:30 pm.

Here are instructions for dropping off your revised plans:

• Provide two sets of revised plans
• Write the Building Permit Application Number along the side edge of each set of plans
• Date the plans with the resubmittal date

Revised plans will be routed to the Planning Department within two days of drop-off, and your assigned Planner will review the plans within approximately one week of the plans being routed to Planning. If you choose to proceed with Planning Department review of your revisions in hardcopy, you will be removed from the electronic plan review queue. 

If you have an existing Form 8 Building Permit Application that requires revisions, you may continue review of this permit with assigned staff on the 2nd Floor Permit Center, unless your permit has been identified for intake (due to required neighborhood notification, entitlement or pending enforcement).

In all instances, Permit Center staff will require you to sign-in through the Permit Center’s queue management system.


In-Person Over-the-Counter Plan Recheck Instructions

OTC building permit applicants who have made all necessary corrections to their submitted plans and just need a recheck for code compliance should follow the instructions below.

These customers have already submitted a building permit application, received initial review and required revisions from a DBI plan checker, and have updated their plans to meet code as directed.

Recheck Instructions

  1. Plan to continue to work with the plan checker who did the first review.
  1. When you have completed the necessary revisions, contact your plan checker in advance to check their availability for a time and day when you can return so they can conduct a recheck at the counter.
  1. On that day, go to the Permit Center at 49 South Van Ness with your application form, plans and revised sheets (if needed).
    1. Customers will be allowed to queue for a recheck as early as 8:00 AM for a plan reviewer's morning shift, and 11:30 AM for a plan checker's afternoon shift.
    2. To ensure staff availability, just two customers are allowed to queue for a plan checker at any one time. If two people are already in line ahead of you, you will need to wait onsite to get into the queue or return at a later date.

Please note that supervisors conducting Over-the-Counter without Plans reviews at the Permit Center in the morning are not available for rechecks. Please coordinate with your original plan checker for them to conduct your recheck.

Related pages:

Updated: June 18, 2021