Home-Based Businesses: Home Occupations and Home Professional Offices

zMOD - Zoning Modernization

Fairfax County is currently working on the zMOD project to modernize the zoning ordinance. These provisions may change in 2020. Read "More about zMOD" for timeline and information on the proposed revisions.

Allowable Home Occupations, Application Form and Process

Many businesses can be established with the administrative approval of a Home Occupation Permit. See the Department of Planning & Development’s webpage for Home Occupation Permits for a list of permitted home occupations, limitations, the application form and processing information.

Home Occupation Permits are granted by the Zoning Administration Division, Zoning Permit Review Branch located at 12055 Government Center Parkway, Suite 250, Fairfax, VA  22035. 

Permits can be filed by mail or in person. If you apply in person, in most cases, a Home Occupation Permit will be granted while you wait. If you apply by mail, please allow two weeks for processing time.

Home Professional Offices

Certain businesses, called Home Professional Offices, require a Special Permit application, public hearing and decision by the Board of Zoning Appeals.

Home Professional Offices are defined in the Zoning Ordinance as:

The offices, studios or occupational rooms which are located within the single family detached residence of a duly licensed or certified physician practicing human medicine, chiropractor, osteopath, physical therapist or massage therapist, duly licensed practitioner of behavioral sciences, attorney, civil or professional engineer, accountant, architect, real estate appraiser or broker, insurance agent, or similar professional person.

In general, it helps to think of a home professional office as a business which depends on customers/clients coming to the office of a registered professional, when the office is located in the home of that professional. Because these offices may have more of an impact on the neighborhood, Home Professional Offices are a special class of application called a Special Permit. 

 

If your proposed business does not qualify for a Home Occupation Permit contact the Department of Planning & Development at 703-324-1290 to determine if a Home Professional Office is an appropriate path to establish your business.

If you are unsure whether your proposed business meets the definition of either a Home Occupation Permit or a Home Professional Office contact the Zoning Administration Division at 703-324-1314.

  • Sometimes the uniqueness of a business concept may not fit clearly within an existing use definition, and you will be asked to submit a Use Determination Request to the Zoning Administrator.
  • Based on the description of your use, the Zoning Administrator will determine what zoning designation matches your use and whether it can be permitted as a home-based business.

Some Businesses are Not Permissible as Home Occupations or Home Professional Offices

Some businesses are not permitted to operate from a home. They include:

  1. Antique shops
  2. Barbershops or beauty parlors*
  3. Restaurants
  4. Gift shops
  5. Repair service or personal service establishments, except those which are identified as permissible on the as may be permitted by Sect. 302. of Article 10 of the Zoning Ordinance
  6. Kennels
  7. Veterinary hospitals
* use may be permitted in certain locations, under certain circumstances. If you are interested in one of these uses, contact the Zoning Permit Review Branch for information.

FAQs About Home Occupation Permits and Home Professional Offices

There are two types of home-based businesses, Home Occupation Permits and Home Professional Offices. Many businesses can be established in a home with the administrative approval of a Home Occupation Permit. See the Home Occupation Permits webpage for a list of permitted home occupations, limitations, the application form and processing information.

How do I get a Home Occupation Permit?

Home Occupation Permits are granted by the Zoning Administration Division, Zoning Permit Review Branch located at 12055 Government Center Parkway, Suite 250, Fairfax, VA  22035.  Permits can be filed by mail or in person. If you apply in person, in most cases, a Home Occupation Permit will be granted while you wait. If you apply by mail, please allow two weeks for processing time.

What is the difference between a Home Occupation Permit and a Home Professional Office?

Some home-based businesses are classified as Home Professional Offices, which is defined in the Zoning Ordinance as:

The offices, studios or occupational rooms which are located within the single family detached residence of a duly licensed or certified physician practicing human medicine, chiropractor, osteopath, physical therapist or massage therapist, duly licensed practitioner of behavioral sciences, attorney, civil or professional engineer, accountant, architect, real estate appraiser or broker, insurance agent, or similar professional person.

In general, it helps to think of a home professional office as a business which depends of customers/clients coming to the office of a registered professional, when the office is located in the home of that professional. Because these offices may have more of an impact on the neighborhood, Home Professional Offices are a special class of application called a Special Permit.

I work from home. Do I need a Home Occupation Permit?

If you have a business that operates out of your home, you need a Home Occupation Permit or a Home Professional Office Special Permit. If you have a commercial business location, or if your business is registered to a different location and you telework, a Home Occupation Permit is not required.

I don’t have any customers/clients coming to my home, do I need a Home Occupation Permit?

Yes. In fact, for most business types which are allowable by Home Occupation Permits, clients and customers are not permitted to come to your home.

I have a virtual office location. Do I also need a Home Occupation Permit?

If your business is registered in the Circuit Court records or the State Corporation Commission, to a virtual office address, you are not required to have a Home Occupation Permit, but you do need a Non-Residential Use/Occupancy Permit for your virtual space.

Do I need to provide demonstrated support from my Homeowner’s Association or Condominium Association to file for a Home Occupation Permit or Home Professional Office?

Before starting a business in your home, you should check with your Homeowner’s Association or Condominium Owner’s Association to determine if they have regulations governing home-based businesses.

The County does not regulate or enforce private covenants such as Homeowners’ Association or Condominium Association regulations, so you do not need to demonstrate that your community has approved a business in your home to apply. However, if you file a Special Permit for a Home Professional Office, you will be sending public notice of your application to your association and to your surrounding neighbors.

I am renting my home. Does my landlord need to sign my application?

No. It is not necessary to have your landlord’s consent to file an application for a Home Occupation Pemit. If you are filing a Special Permit application for a Home Professional Office, applicants who are not the owner of a property will need to demonstrate the right to use the property as proposed.

I am moving from my home, how do I cancel my Home Occupation Permit?

If you move out of your home, the permit will automatically become void.  You will need to obtain a new Home Occupation Permit if you establish the use at another location.

Does my Home Occupation Permit need to be renewed?

No. A home occupation permit is valid for as long as you live in your home and operate the business in accordance with the approval.

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