This permit and process guidance is specific to Fairfax County.
Not sure if your location falls within Fairfax County? Check it on our Zoning District Map. If you are seeking guidance regarding a potential location in the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church, or the towns of Clifton, Herndon and Vienna, please contact those jurisdictions directly.
If you're new to the process or haven't built in Fairfax County before — regardless of whether you're a home owner, business owner, contractor or other kind of builder, the Plan 2 Build Development Process Overview can show you what to expect and what is needed to reach a successful outcome.
Most business locations will need a permit:
either a Home-based Business Permit or a Non-Residential Use Permit.
Choosing a Business Space in Fairfax County
Will your business be registered to your home? Will you lease or purchase commercial space? Will you use a co-working space?
There are two paths to making this decision:
Identifying your location first, which will determine what permits and processes you will need to get into that space, or
Determining where you can open your business most easily (meaning: where the use is permissible without discretionary zoning approvals).
Are you thinking about opening a business in Fairfax County? View this video to learn all the important considerations you need to know when choosing the best space for your small business. Experts from Fairfax County Government discuss the zoning considerations, permit and inspections processes and common pitfalls to avoid when choosing a space.
See the Home-Based Business page to read about the types of businesses that can be operated from a home, the associated limitations, and the application process. If you are unsure whether your proposed business is permissible as a home-based business, contact the Department of Planning & Development's Zoning Permits Section at 703-222-1082.
Every commercial tenant needs a Non-Residential Use/Occupancy Permit before you can occupy your space. If you intend to make physical changes to your space - or if you are changing a tenant space from one type of use to another - building plans and permits may be required.
Before you sign a lease, please be sure that your proposed use is allowed in your proposed location, that the space was constructed to a standard that accommodates your use and that the site has the required number of parking spaces for your use.
If your business is registered to and operates from alternative workspace, such as a business incubator, executive office suite, or co-working location:
You do not need to secure your own Non-Residential Use/Occupancy Permit if the alternative workspace has a valid Non-Residential Use/Occupancy Permit for the entire space and that use matches your proposed use (for example, the entire space is approved for office space and you are proposing to use it as office space).
There are a wide variety of workspace choices available to small business owners, entrepreneurs, and independent workers, such as co-working office spaces, incubators, accelerators, and virtual office spaces. See the EDA’s Alternative Office Space publication to see a list of alternative office spaces in Fairfax County.