Building occupancy permit requirements
A building occupancy permit is used by the City of Winnipeg to help regulate building code requirements and other applicable codes and standards. A building occupancy permit is required for the construction, substantial alteration or change of use of portions of most buildings, with the exception of single family dwellings, two family dwellings and multi-family dwellings without shared exits. Some temporary buildings and events, such as weddings with large tents, also require a building occupancy permit.
A building occupancy permit identifies how a space can be used. Per the Winnipeg Building By-Law No. 4555/87, it is your responsibility to obtain a building occupancy permit prior to occupying a space.
Refer to the following for additional details:
- Building occupancy permits guide
- Defining occupancy information bulletin
- Requirements for building occupancy permits
- Change in occupancy requirements (discontinuation of occupy only permits)
Occupancy permit search
Find out if you have an existing building occupancy permit
View the status of your permits
Permits Online occupancy features
Access building occupancy permit features through Permits Online, which provides a secure, central, online location for occupancy and other permit information.
All registered Permits Online users can:
- view a list of required documents for life safety tests and occupancy
- submit required documents
- track the status of active building occupancy permits (including document review, inspections, and outstanding items of non-compliance)
- pay occupancy fees
- submit requests for occupancy
All customers can:
- view document submission requirements via automated email
- receive automatic email notifications when documents have been rejected
Important document submission requirements
Along with the convenience of online submission and progress tracking, the following document submission requirements are mandatory:
- All documents required for the issuance of interim or final building occupancy permits, including structural shop drawings, test reports and professional certification letters, must be submitted before the building occupancy permit request form. These documents must be deemed acceptable by the City before an interim or final building occupancy permit is issued.
Document submission standards require applicants to coordinate with design professionals prior to submission. This contributes to an efficient process because standards dramatically decrease the chances of receiving a denied occupancy request. Read more about the procedural change to structural shop drawing submission for occupancy permits.
When is a building occupancy permit required?
A building occupancy permit is required when:
- constructing a new building or addition
- vacating an entire building, floor, wing, or unit to accommodate alterations
- expanding a unit within a building
- increasing the occupant load of the occupied space
- establishing a use for which there is not a valid building occupancy permit in place
- undertaking alterations to a space that in the Authority Having Jurisdiction’s view warrant a building occupancy permit
- some examples of spaces that require a building occupancy permit include:
- theatres and restaurants
- places of worship
- healthcare facilities
- personal service businesses, such as hair salons and dental clinics
- retail stores
- industrial and manufacturing facilities
Types of building occupancy permits
- Final building occupancy permits: Shall be issued for any building, provided that the construction work for which the permit had been taken out, including all mechanical and electrical installations associated with said construction work have, to the best of the City of Winnipeg’s knowledge, been completed in all respects in accordance with the requirements of the building bylaw.
- Interim building occupancy permits: Shall be issued for a building or suite pending completion of construction when minor defects are outstanding. An interim building occupancy permit will typically list conditions and/or outstanding defects or work yet to be completed, and will set out a time limit for its validity.
- Partial interim building occupancy permits: Shall be issued for the use of a part of a building (wing, floor or contiguous defined area) pending the completion of construction of the remaining construction area. A partial interim building occupancy permit will typically list conditions and/or outstanding defects or work yet to be completed, and will set out a time limit for its validity. Certain construction and life safety systems must be complete for the entire structure prior to issuance.
- Base building occupancy permits: Shall be issued in cases where all spaces to be occupied have yet to be developed. This building occupancy permit signifies that core building life safety systems have been established, which may be a pre-requisite for the development of interior spaces. However, these units must not be occupied prior to the issuance of individual building occupancy permits.
- Temporary building occupancy permits: Shall be issued for special events permitting occupancy for the dates of the event. If structures, such as stages over two feet in height, bleachers, or tents with cumulative floor area of over 900 sq. ft. are installed, a certification letter from a professional engineer must be submitted. Inspections are required prior to permit issuance.
Note: Tenants, who sub-lease a portion of a tenant space from an occupant who has a valid building occupancy permit for the unit they occupy, may not require a separate building occupancy permit (as long as they operate a business of compatible type with that of the main occupant, who remains in care and control of the entire unit).
Who can apply for a building occupancy permit?
An application for a building occupancy permit can be made by the building owner, or authorized agent. This can be the property manager, the intended occupant/tenant, the general contractor, or a designer (architect, engineer, or interior designer).
Obtaining a building occupancy permit is a two-part process:
- Plan submission and approval
- Progress building and trade inspections / occupancy request
To see a visual representation of the application process, view the Occupancy permit flowchart. For step by step instructions, refer to the plan submission and inspections sections below.
- Submit your application package
- Apply for a building permit
- Determine the information that must be submitted with your application, and the type of application form you need to complete. Required application forms may include:
- Commercial alteration design summary - interior and/or exterior alterations and change of use
- Building design summary - new construction and additions
- Optional professional certificate program (OPCP)
- Submit your application package to the Zoning & Permits Branch, Unit 31-30 Fort Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3C 4L3.
- Fees are payable at the time of application. Application fees cover the cost of plan review, one round of occupancy inspections, and your building occupancy permit. If you do not pass your first round of occupancy inspections, additional fees apply for each re-inspection and/or related documentation processing. Fees must be paid prior to permit issuance. Refer to the fees section for more information on occupancy fees.
- Permits Online is your one-stop-shop to manage your permit applications. Login or register at: winnipeg.ca/permitsonline
- The extent of your plan review is dependent on project complexity and scope of work. Complex projects may require up to 13 internal and/or external reviews and approvals prior to permit issuance.
- During plan review, determination is made if a Life safety test is required. See the Life safety test checklist for more information.
- You will be contacted if additional information is required and your permit review will be put on hold until the information is received.
- If you submitted a building permit application, you will receive your building permit via email once any outstanding fees have been paid.
Note: Prior to occupying, which includes moving of stock or goods, inventory or personal belongings into the premises, you must obtain a building occupancy permit.
Building and trade inspections
- Schedule your inspection by completing the Commercial inspection request form.
- Multiple progress inspections may be required at each mandatory inspection stage based on the size and progress of the project. Progress inspections are mandatory prior to requesting occupancy.
- Request occupancy
- Requests for occupancy should be made prior to moving into a space, and upon completion of all required work and submission of all required professional certification letters, test reports and shop drawings (if applicable). It is important to submit shop drawings for review as soon as they are available. These documents must be deemed acceptable by the City before an interim or final building occupancy permit is issued. Early submission will reduce the risk of receiving a denied building occupancy permit request.
- Once you submit your building occupancy permit request form you will receive an email from the occupancy office with information related to your occupancy request.
- A scheduler from each inspections discipline will coordinate your occupancy request and contact you to confirm the inspection date.
- An occupancy request will result in either:
- a final inspection, or
- an administrative process, depending on the status of the building and trade inspections
- Each required discipline (building, mechanical, electrical, and fire prevention in some cases) will submit a report to the occupancy office.
- If mechanical, electrical, or plumbing trades are involved, the licensed contractor must be on-site for the respective inspections
- Inspectors make every effort to complete inspections or administrative work within three working days from the desired inspection start date. If site access is not granted during these three days, the occupancy request will be denied and additional fees will apply.
- Requests for occupancy made less than three working days prior to the desired occupancy date are considered rush requests. These requests will be subject to double the applicable occupancy fees, if the requests can be accommodated.
- The occupancy office will contact you with one of the following inspection results:
- Final occupancy is approved. You will receive your permit via email once any outstanding fees (if applicable) have been paid.
- Interim occupancy is approved. Interim fees are owed to cover the next round of inspections. Once fees are paid, you will receive a deficiency letter via email and an interim building occupancy permit with an expiry date.
- Occupancy is denied. Denial fees are owed to cover the next round of inspections. You will receive a deficiency letter and be required to rectify the deficiencies and call for re-inspections. Occupancy is prohibited.
- To apply for a re-inspection for occupancy, complete the Commercial inspection request form and select the discipline (mechanical, building, electrical) that you require for a re-inspection. You will require your building occupancy permit number.
- This is required for interim extensions (no added area) or where a denial has been received and a re-inspect is required.
Note: Prior to requesting a re-inspection, ensure your design professional certification(s) and updated documents, if required, have been submitted. Please refer to Permits Online to confirm.
What happens if you occupy without a building occupancy permit?
- It is a violation of the Winnipeg Building By-Law to occupy without a permit, which may result in enforcement action.
- Legally, both the occupant and the building owner need to ensure that a building occupancy permit is obtained prior to occupying a space. Other people, such as the permit applicant and anyone responsible for building construction, may also be subject to enforcement action.
- Professional certifications must be submitted prior to submitting your building occupancy permit request form if design professionals were involved in the project.
- All fees must be paid before your building occupancy permit will be issued.
- Occupancy inspection fees overview
- Planning, Development, and Building Fees and Charges
- occupancy permits (Section 2.5)
- life safety test fees (Section 2.6)
Special types of building occupancy permits
Permits Online occupancy features - frequently asked questions
- What projects have access to the occupancy features on Permits Online?
Any building permit requiring a building occupancy permit that was issued after January 1, 2015, that has not submitted the building occupancy permit request form to initiate an occupancy request.
- How do I access Permits Online?
You can login or register at winnipeg.ca/permitsonline.
- Who is responsible for submitting documents required for the issuance of a building occupancy permit?
The permit applicant. Although, anyone identified on the permit application can submit documentation.
- Can I submit occupancy documentation via paper copy or email?
We do not accept occupancy documentation via paper copy or email. Electronic submission of documentation via Permits Online ensures it can be tracked and managed in an online central location.
- How will I be notified of occupancy document requirements?
For any new applications, you will receive an email at building permit issuance with a list of required documentation. The list of documentation is also available on Permits Online by selecting "Active Permits" and then the "Progress" tab.
- Can trade documentation required for the issuance of building occupancy permits be submitted via Permits Online?
Yes. All documentation required for the issuance of building occupancy permits can be submitted via Permits Online. The submitter must be linked to the building occupancy permit in order to access the permit online. If you are a trade contractor not linked to the building occupancy permit, you can submit your certifications, test reports, etc. to your general contractor for upload into Permits Online. Alternatively, the permit applicant can submit a request to add you to the permit by providing your complete contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Why can’t I see a permit on Permits Online?
You must be linked to the permit to view it online, which typically occurs during the application process. If you are not linked to the permit, the permit applicant must submit a request to email@example.com with complete contact information of the person they want to add to the permit.
Please contact us.