District of Columbia

Pursuant to title 19, chapter 13 of the DCMR: A special event is a circus, rodeo, carnival, fair, performance, singing, playing of musical or other instruments, dancing or amusement of any kind, preaching, exhorting, or lecturing conducted or operating in a tent or temporary structure of any kind, on vacant land, or in a yard or area appurtenant to any building. A special event license is necessary on public or private space.


Every event, whether public or private, is required to be registered with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA)

  • There are application fees ($70.00) plus Endorsement Fees ($25.00) plus a Category License Fee ($205.00 per day of event if submitted 30 days in advance of event date;  if submitted within less than 30 days prior to event date, there are additional expediting fees).  
  • On the application, if you would like amusement rides or attractions, you will have to make sure the company providing such rides or attractions is 1) registered to do business in the District of Columbia; and 2) has a General Business License or Basic Business License in the District of Columbia.


Specific Category Application Requirements:

Mayor’s Special Events Task Group
For all events taking place on Public Space, the applicant must submit a written request to the (MSETG) Mayor’s Special Events Task Group with a full description and diagram of the event within a minimum of one hundred and twenty (120) business days prior to the proposed scheduled date of the event. If your event is taking place in public space and you are requesting a street closure the event must have the approval of the MSETG. The MSETG is located at 2720 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, SE Phone – (202) 481-3067or via fax (202) 673- 2290.


Special Events Application – Questionnaire
Applicants must fill out a Special Events Questionnaire to obtain a Special Events License before operating a special event, on both, Public Space or private property in the District of Columbia. In order to avoid expediting fees, the completed Special Events License Application and with signatory approval must be submitted at least 30 days prior to the date of the event to the Special Events Coordinator at 1100 4th St SW Washington DC 20012.  Phone – (202) 442-4310 or reference www.dcra.dc.gov.

Permitting – Required Documentation
If the event includes any temporary structures the applicant must submit a Building Permit Application with four copies of the site plan and all supporting documents applicable to submitting a Building Permit application for stages, tents, fencing or bleachers.  Describe (if applicable) any structures, size and materials.  Also submit a letter which describes the location, date(s) and timeline of the event.  Please be sure to include the time and date of Load In and Load Out for the event to complete the event set-up and break down.  On the event date, your site will be inspected, and must be approved by structural, electrical and fire safety inspectors before opening to the public.


License – Signatory Approval                                                                                  

When submitting a completed Special Event Application, organizers must submit a consent list with the signature of 75% of the resident housekeepers and occupants of business establishments within a distance of three hundred (300) feet from the perimeter of the area where the activity will take place.  DCRA will assist in the generation of the blank consent list. The list must contain the name and street address, in numerical order of the residents and business occupants who have consented to the activity by providing their signature on the list. Each petition page of the list shall contain, a detailed explanation of the proposed activity including the event title with dates and hours the activity will take place.  Applicants who do not provide the full 75% signatory approval will not be granted a Special Event License.

For additional information, contact:

Government of the District of Columbia
Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
Business and Professional License Administration
1100 4th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20024
Phone: (202) 442-4310
Fax: (202) 442-4523
Website: http://dcra.dc.gov