When Do I Need An Electrical Permit?

An electrical permit is needed when an individual wants to make changes or run new wire in a commercial or residential building. This includes changing out or adding fixtures and outlets and will likely need approval from the local government before beginning construction. Additionally, even if work is being completed by a professional electrician, electrical permits will still need to be acquired.

When Do I Need An Electrical Permit?

Technician at work

An electrical permit is required for all new installations, alterations and repairs to a service, feeder(s), branch circuit(s) or appliance(s) that have an electrical rating of more than 50 volts. This includes new construction projects as well as additions or modifications to existing structures.

The requirement to have a permit depends on the work being done in relation to the electrical system in a building. Some things might not require a permit, while others might. The following types of installations typically require permits:

  • Additions or modifications to an existing structure that affect the electrical service entrance conductors or where the service disconnect is located;
  • Building structures that affect the electrical system, like adding additional walls;
  • Electrical wiring outside of buildings (ex: swimming pool lighting);
  • Grounding electrodes;
  • Major electrical equipment replacement or repairs; and
  • One or more branch circuits.

In most cases, permits are not needed for many homeowner projects, such as replacing a wall switch. It is always a good idea to check with your local permitting authority before you begin a project just to be sure that no permit is required.

If there is going to be an inspection mostly by electrical companies of the work you are doing, then it’s very likely that an electrical permit will be required. Even if the work doesn’t require a permit designed by the local permitting authority, it might still be required to obtain an electrical permit from your utility company if it is installing power lines or changing voltage.

How do I apply for an electrical permit?

If you are doing the work yourself, you typically only need to contact your local building department and provide them with basic information about what changes are being made. Your contractor will likely have access to this information already, but if they are not working in your area, they will need to know what regulations are present, so no hurdles are created later on. Even if you plan on working with electrical companies, electrical permits should still be acquired.

Where can I get an electrical permit?

You can acquire an electrical permit by visiting the building department of your local county or city, for example, the Office of Building & Safety in Los Angeles. Once you have contacted this office and determined what exactly needs to be submitted, you will need to also contact your local permitting agency. This office is typically different from the county or city where construction is taking place.

Do I need an electrical permit if someone else is doing the work?

Yes, even if you are hiring a professional electrician to do the work for you, electrical permits will still need to be acquired before any construction can start. This is typically only an issue in residential buildings when someone wants to run electricity throughout their home or replace old wiring with new. In this case, it is the homeowner’s responsibility to contact their local building department and acquire an electrical permit. If it is a commercial property, you will need to work with your contractor or hire an electrician to take care of this requirement for you.

How long do I need an electrical permit?

Electrical permits usually only last for a year, which means you will need to acquire one before construction begins and then again (if necessary) at the end of the job. For example, if you are doing extensive work in your home, it may be necessary to acquire multiple permits. If you are doing electrical work in a commercial space, your contractors or electrical companies can advise you about the specific requirements of your location.

How do I find out more about acquiring an electrical permit?

For more information regarding local regulations and how to acquire an electrical permit in your area, contact your local building department. They should be able to provide you with more information on the process, fees and what is needed, as well as who to contact for your electrical permit if it is a commercial property.