Are you interested in the Airbnb movement? I mean who doesn’t want some extra cash flow? If you are, that’s great! You are probably also thinking about the licenses and permits you will need in order to get properly up and running. This guide will explain the steps, process, cost, and timeline involved to obtain the proper permits and licenses for your Airbnb rental in Philadelphia. Whether you are renting your home out on VRBO, KYAK, Flip Key, Home Away, etc., you will need to follow this process in order to obtain the proper permits and licenses.
According to the city of Philadelphia:
“If you wish to rent your home for stays of 30 days or less but for more than 180 days per the calendar year, or the property is not your primary residence, you must obtain a use registration permit for a “Visitor Accommodations” use. If you rent for more than 90 days (but 180 days or less) per the calendar year you must obtain a use registration permit as a “Limited Lodging Home”.
Short Term Limited Lodging (rental of 90 days or less per the calendar year) do not require a permit.
In this post, we will discuss what you need if you will be renting the space for MORE than 90 days in the calendar year, because that is when you cross the threshold into requiring additional permits and accounts and licenses. In the case where you will rent for more than 90 days, you will need:
- A Commercial Activity License and BIRT (Philly Tax Account)
- Use Registration Permit: Either for Visitor Accommodations or Limited Lodging
The following outlines the steps involved in the process:
Step 1: Apply For a Commercial Activity License (CAL) and BIRT (Business Income and Receipts Tax) Account
Any business operating in Philadelphia is required to have a Commercial Activity License and Philly tax account. Rentals and visitor rentals are considered businesses. For the steps involved in obtaining your CAL & BIRT accounts, read our blog here.
Note: You DO NOT need to apply for a rental license application!
Step 2: Apply For a Use Registration Permit
After you have obtained your CAL & BIRT, you can apply for a use registration permit. The type of use permit depends on the amount of time the space will be rented, and breaks down as follows:
- Limited lodging: 90-180 days
- Visitor accommodations: Over 180 days
Additional Resources to Assist with this step:
- Here is a link to the Use Registration Permit application.
- We created a guide explaining the process involved in obtaining a Use Permit. You can find that here.
- PRO TIP 1: Under the first two sections labeled TABULATION OF USES and PROPOSED USE OF BUILDING/SPACE in the use permit application, include the unit & floor number(s) that will be visitor accommodation unit(s). If the property has any dwelling unit(s) be sure to add this information as well.
- PRO TIP 2: When filling the application keep in mind the examiner does not know what type of use permit you are applying for. Add your scope of work under the BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF WORK/CHANGE section. Include the type of use permit you are applying for (either a Visitor Accommodation Permit or Limited Lodging permit). Add the unit number(s) and floor number(s) in the description as well.
- Fill out and print your use permit and CAL/BIRT applications.
- Take your completed applications and a check made out to the “City of Philadelphia” to the basement of the Municipal Services Building located at 1401 JFK Blvd.
- Head over to Revenue and obtain your CAL/BIRT accounts
- Head over to Licenses and Inspections and pull an A ticket. One of the city representatives will call your ticket and help you submit and obtain the permit.
The Time Frame:
A visitor accommodation or limited lodging use permit can be obtained on the same day you submit your application; this is considered an over the counter permit. However, it can take a few weeks to properly gather and put together all the required information. And don’t forget you need a CAL/BIRT first!
Visitor Accommodation Permit Cost:
The cost of this application fee is $125. You can pay via check or money order payable to the City of Philadelphia.
How Long is The Visitor Accommodation Permit Valid For?
As long as a permit is acted upon within the prescribed period and the use continues to be active within the building, then it will be valid for as long as the use is active. Meaning: As long as the building or space being rented does not change its use, your permit will be in full effect!