Alcoholic beverage

Please see Liquor Licenses on the City Clerk's webpage for more information. 

Animal

All pet animals over the age of four months, and dogs and cats under the age of four months that are no longer nursing from their mother, are required to be licensed or have a City ID tag. To obtain a City license for pets over the age of four months, proof must be presented in the form of a current rabies certificate to the Animal Care and Adoption Center. The owner of a dog or cat less than four months of age which is no longer with its dam but which is too young to be immunized, shall be issued a temporary ID tag. Temporary ID tags will automatically expire five months from the date of birth of the dog or cat. Service animals also require an animal license, but are exempt from fees if the owner is legally disabled and the animal assists them.

Animal license form 

General animal regulations

Urban chicken policy

Urban chicken application

Contact: Animal Control and Adoption Center 

Annexation

Annexation is a process that brings land into the corporate boundaries of the City of Iowa City. To discuss a potential annexation, contact Urban Planning Staff.

Annexation Application Guide 

Contact: Neighborhood and Development Services, 319-356-5230

Banners

Public Right-of-Way (specialty banners on light poles) - A permit is required for display of banners on public right-of-way. The City poles on which banners are mounted are not open for use by the general public. Banners will be selected by the Iowa City Downtown District based on factors that are reasonably related to the governmental functions of the downtown, including the downtown's interest in welcoming visitors and providing information to the community about community activities and events.

Contact: Iowa City Downtown District, 319-354-0863, ext. 500

Banner permit application - Please note, a completed application must be submitted before it is considered for installation. 

Banner Map - Please note, all banners in the downtown area are now 30" x 86" 

Private Property - Other than the specialty banners affixed to downtown light poles for special civic and charitable events, Iowa City businesses are allowed only very specific types of banners in limited situations. A permit is required for display of banners on private property. A business can apply for a "Grand Opening" banner. The permit expires after 30 days and the banner must say "Grand Opening." A new business can have a banner up as a temporary identification sign until their permanent sign is installed. The banner can only have the name of the business; it cannot have any advertising message such as "Now Open."

If a business has a parking area of more than 200 spaces, Identification Banners can be affixed to the light poles at 80 foot intervals. There are very specific regulations pertaining to these types of banners and they do require a permit. The permit can be granted for one year and is renewable if the banner signs are in good condition or are replaced with new banner signs.

Bicycle

A bicycle permit may be obtained by completing an application and submitting it in person to the Iowa City Police Department (410 E. Washington Street). A registration sticker is given to the applicant at that time. There is no fee for this permit.

Contact: Iowa City Police Department 319-356-5275

Bicycle permit application

Birth certificate

Contact: Johnson County Recorder 319-356-6093

Boundary line adjustment

A boundary line adjustment alters the property line between abutting tracts, lots, or parcels. 

Contact: Neighborhood and Development Services, 319-356-5120

Building Permit

  • Residential
  • Commercial

Business license

Iowa City does not require a general business license. However, some businesses are required to obtain a license or permit to operate.

Contact: Economic Development Coordinator, 319-356-5248 

Certificate of Occupancy

A Certificate of Occupancy is required for any new structure or for any change in use. The Certificate of Occupancy certifies that at the time of issuance, the structure was in compliance with various ordinances regulating building construction or use and the City Zoning Ordinance. The Certificate of Occupancy is the conclusion of the building permit process, but may also be necessary even if no building permit has been required if a change of use occurred. 

Contact: Neighborhood and Development Services, 319-356-5120

Chickens

With a permit, residents who live in single-family homes may have up to four chickens in their backyards. Before the City will issue an urban chicken permit, an application must be completed, and all requirements of the Urban Chicken Policy must be met. The application form includes a consent form that must be signed by all neighboring property owners. The application form and the Urban Chicken Policy can be found at the links below. 
 
Contact: Animal Control and Adoption Center 319-356-5295

Urban chicken policy

Urban chicken application

Cigarettes

Any retailer selling cigarettes, tobacco, alternative nicotine or vapor products within city limits must submit a completed permit application to the City Clerk's office. All permits expire June 30.

Cigarette/tobacco/nicotine/vapor permits are issued by the local authority but regulated by the state. More information is available from the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division.

Fee:
  • $100 if issued in July, August or September
  • $75 if issued in October, November or December
  • $50 if issued in January, February or March
  • $25 if issued in April, May or June

A Cigarette Permit is required to sell cigarettes. The application can be printed from State of Iowa Cigarette Permit or at the City Clerk's Office.

Contact: City Clerk's Office 319-356-5042

City Plaza, Use of

A permit MAY BE required for use of City Plaza for activities such as musical performance. No amplified sound may be generated Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Learn more

Comprehensive Plan Amendment

A Comprehensive Plan Amendment is a change in the text, illustration, figures, or maps contained in the Comprehensive or District Plans for the City.  To discuss a potential change, contact Urban Planning Staff.

Comprehensive Plan Amendment Application Guide

Contact: Neighborhood and Development Services, 319-356-5230

Condo Conversion

A permit is required to convert a property from sole ownership of the entire property into individually owned condominium units. 

Contact: Neighborhood and Development Services, 319-356-5120

Construction in the Right-of-Way

Any construction activity that requires construction equipment to occupy the right-of-way should be coordinated with the Public Works Department by obtaining a temporary use of a public right-of-way permit. Excavation within the public right-of-way requires an excavation permit from the Public Works Department. A refundable deposit and certificate of insurance is required to ensure restoration is completed.

Contact: Department of Public Works 319-356-5139 or 319-356-5140

Construction trade

In the City of Iowa City, electrical, plumbing, mechanical, fire sprinkler and fire alarm contractors are required to have State of Iowa license. The City requires proof of license and a Certificate of Liability Insurance that lists the City of Iowa City as “additional Insured” from electrical and plumbing contractors before the issuance of any electrical or plumbing permit. The City of Iowa City also requires and issues licenses for water and sewer installers and sign erectors. These licenses are issued through the Department of Neighborhood and Development Services and are renewed on a yearly basis.

Contact: Neighborhood and Development Services 319-356-5120

Permit Fees

Construction site runoff (CSR)

The Federal National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) stormwater program requires permits for stormwater discharges from construction activities in Iowa City that disturb one or more acres, and discharges from smaller sites that are part of a larger common plan of development or sale. Construction activity refers to actions that result in a disturbance of the land, including clearing, grading, excavating, and other similar activities.  In order to reduce pollutants in stormwater runoff from construction, Iowa City has developed the construction site run off program.

Contact: Neighborhood and Development Services, 319-356-5120

Curb cuts

A permit is required to install a new curb cut for a driveway connection to a public street or to replace or widen an existing curb cut for a driveway connection to a public street.

Contact: Department of Public Works, 319-356-5139 or 319-356-5140

Death certificate

Contact: Johnson County Recorder 319-356-6093

Deeds

Contact: Johnson County Recorder 319-356-6093

Demolition

A demolition permit is required for the demolition of part or all of a structure. At the issuance of the permit, a permit fee will be collected.

Contact: Neighborhood and Development Services 319-356-5120

Demonstration, rally, picket or protest

If the group wishing to demonstrate or protest is larger than 25 people and wants to use the streets and/or City Plaza and/or the sidewalks, a parade/public assembly permit will be needed unless it is a "spontaneous event." The same is true if the group is larger than 100 people in a park.

Learn more

Design review

The City Council may designate that exterior alternations of buildings, areas, and structures within the following areas of the City be subject to design review by staff, City Council or both; Form Based Code Districts, Central Planning District (Non single-family), PRM Zoning District, Towncrest District, Urban Renewal Area Project R-14, City Plaza, Rooftop Service Areas, or as required by Development Agreements.

Contact: Neighborhood and Development Services, 319-356-5120

Division of land

A division of land divides a tract, lot or parcel of land into two (2) portions by conveyance or for tax purposes.

Contact: Neighborhood and Development Services, 319-356-5120

Domestic partner registry

The City Clerk's Office maintains a registry of non-married but committed adult partners who choose to declare themselves as domestic partners. Applications for this registry may be obtained from the City Clerk's Office. Along with the application and application fee, there are certain requirements which must be met before the declaration is issued.

Contact: City Clerk's Office 319-356-5043 

Domestic partnership application

Domestic partnership termination form 

Drivers license

Contact:  Iowa City Drivers' License Station - Iowa DOT 319-338-5294

Easement for use of the sidewalk/public Right-of-Way

In order to better comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the City Council may grant an easement for the use of a sidewalk or public right-of-way to make local businesses accessible to persons with disabilities if physical limitations prevent the necessary accommodations on private property. The Department of Neighborhood and Development Services should be contacted about specifications for accessibility. If an easement for the use of the sidewalk or public right-of-way is the preferred option, a written request with construction drawing must be submitted to the Department of Public Works for City Staff review and City Council approval.

Contact: Neighborhood and Development Services 319-356-5120; Public Works 319-356-5140

Electrical

An electrical permit is required for new branch circuits, extension of branch circuits, or placing additional fixtures or receptacles on an existing circuit. For information on how to apply for a Electrical permit click here.

Contact: Neighborhood and Development Services, 319-356-5120

Fences

A fence permit is required to install or replace a fence taller than six (6) feet in height or walls taller than four (4) feet in height unless the wall is supporting a surcharge or impounding Class I, II or III-A liquids. 

Contact: Neighborhood and Development Services, 319-356-5120

Fire alarm

A fire alarm permit is required for the installation of a new fire alarm system or any alteration, remodel, or repair to an existing system. For more information on how to apply for a Fire alarm permit click here.

Contact: Neighborhood and Development Services, 319-356-5120

Fire sprinkler

A permit is required for new fire sprinkler systems or any alteration, remodel or repair to existing fire sprinkler systems. For more information on how to apply for a Fire sprinkler permit click here.

Contact: Neighborhood and Development Services 319-356-5120

Flood plain

A flood plain permit is required before any structure can be placed on a lot located in a flood plain. 

Contact: Neighborhood and Development Services 319-356-5120

Grading

A grading permit is required before any grading can be done on property with slopes of twenty-five percent (25%) or greater, vertical height exceeding ten (10) feet, flood hazard areas, wetlands as defined in the Code of Federal Regulations, or property traversed by a drainage way as shown in blue line on the U.S. Geological Survey maps.

Contact: Neighborhood and Development Services 319-356-5120

Health

The Johnson County Department of Public Health regularly inspects businesses that affect public health. Construction and remodeling plans for hotels and motels and licensed daycare centers must be approved by the County Health Department. Hotels and motels are inspected regularly and licensed daycare centers are inspected annually. Swimming pools inspected by the County Health Department include: public swimming pools and spas; hotel/motel pools and spas; public schools; and community facilities. An annual inspection fee is required. Approval for swimming pool construction and remodeling is obtained from the State Department of Public Health. Tanning facilities, tattoo establishments, and funeral homes are annually inspected to determine compliance with state regulations. An annual inspection fee is required.

Contact: Johnson County Department of Public Health, 319-356-6040

Historic Review

The Urban Planning office assists in identifying and preserving historically significant landmarks and districts. The Historic Preservation Commission, with the assistance of the preservation planner, reviews requests for exterior changes to properties located within the seven local historic districts and conservation districts, and historic landmarks.  To discuss a potential annexation, contact Urban Planning Staff.

Historic Review Application Guide

Contact: Neighborhood and Development Services, 319-356-5230

Home occupation

Some occupations and businesses can be conducted within a dwelling by a person residing on the property. As an accessory use, these businesses must be limited in extent, clearly subordinate to the residential use, and not detract from the residential character of the neighborhood.  Businesses where a nonresident employee works at the site or where customers frequent the site on a regular basis, require the operator of the use to obtain a home occupation permit.

Contact: Neighborhood and Development Services, 319-356-5120

Housing moving

A housing moving permit is required before moving any structure from one lot to another over any City street or alley.

Contact: Neighborhood and Development Services 319-356-5120 

Information table, City Plaza only

If your information table will be on the City Plaza, please fill out an information table permit application.

Contact: City Clerk's Office 319-356-5042

Information table application

Marriage license

Contact: Johnson County Recorder 319-356-6093

Mechanical

A mechanical permit is required for installation or a new furnace of air conditioning duct work. For more information on how to apply for a Mechanical permit click here.

Contact: Neighborhood and Development Services, 319-356-5120

Minor modification

The building official may grant small modifications from certain standards specifically listed in the City Code if the proposed development meets certain criteria and continues to meet the intended purpose of those regulations. Minor modification reviews provide flexibility for unusual situations applicable to the property, for which strict application of the regulations is impractical.  

Contact: Neighborhood and Development Services 319-356-5120

Motor vehicle registration

Contact: Johnson County Treasurer 319-356-6091

Outdoor service area

An outdoor service area is an area for the sale of alcohol on private property. This privilege can be applied for electronically at the Alcoholic Beverages Division website. The City has additional requirements which must be met before final approval of the application. A checklist of these requirements can be obtained from the City Clerk’s Office.

Contact: City Clerk's Office 319-356-5042

More information: http://www.iowaabd.com

Oversized loads

A permit is required for oversized vehicles or loads on City streets.

Contact: Department of Public Works, 319-356-5139 or 319-356-5140

Parade

A parade/public assembly permit is required for use of public grounds for events in city streets or events in City Plaza if group has more than 25 people.

Contact: City Clerk's Office 319-356-5042

Learn more

Parks, Use of

Learn more

Piano

A permit is required to place pianos on the right-of-way for use by the public.

Contact: Engineering Division 319-356-5140 

Planting in the right-of-way (area between sidewalk and street)

Tree planting: A permit is required from the City Forester prior to planting a tree in the right-of-way. A primary requirement is the distance between the sidewalk and curb which should be at least six feet. Other requirements are provided on the permit. There is no fee for the permit. City Forestry staff maintain the trees within the right-of-way.

Flowers, shrubs, other plant materials: A permit is not required to plant flowers, shrubs or other plant materials in the right-of-way, provided they do not grow taller than 4 feet above the curb height and are contained 1 foot inside the sidewalk edge and 1 foot inside the street curb edge. For example, if you have a six foot wide grass right-of-way, one foot in on any edge will allow you a four foot wide planting area in the center (City Code: 14-5F). Property owners are responsible for making sure no shrubs or plants interfere with pedestrians or vehicular traffic.

Items planted in the street right-of-way become the property of the City and could be excavated at any time if there is a need. There is no compensation to the property owner for loss of plantings if this occurs.

Contact: City Forester 319-356-5100

Planting permit application

Plumbing

A permit is required for new water lines, extending existing water lines, placing additional fixtures, repairs under floors, and repairs involving changing materials. For more information on how to apply for a Plumbing permit click here.

Contact: Neighborhood and Development Services 319-356-5120

Public grounds and streets, Use of

A parade/public assembly permit is required for use of public grounds for events in city streets or events in City Plaza if group has more than 25 people.

Contact: City Clerk's Office 319-356-5042

Learn more

Rental

All rental property in Iowa City is required to have a rental permit. All rental properties that are within single family homes, duplex structures, and multi-family structures (three or more units) are inspected every two years. Life-safety and fire-safety items, along with general maintenance requirements, constitute the majority of violations cited. All violations cited by an inspector must then be corrected in a timely manner by the landlord or property manager. After all violations have been corrected, the rental permit is again issued.

Contact: Housing Inspection Services 319-356-5130

Restaurant, food or vending machine

A permit is required for any kind of food-related business, including grocery stores, restaurants, food carts, catering, certain home-based products, and vending machines. Building and equipment plans must be received and approved by the Johnson County Department of Public Health before construction or remodeling occurs. Food operation licenses are nontransferable; therefore, a new permit must be obtained if a change in ownership and/or change of location occurs. After a permit has been issued, the County Health Department conducts annual inspections. An annual license renewal fee is required.

Contact: Johnson County Department of Public Health 319-356-6040

Rezoning

A rezoning is a process that changes the zoning district designation of a property or group of properties to allow for different uses to occur and is reflected on the City’s zoning map.  The City's decision to grant a rezoning will be based on the comprehensive plan, compatibility of the proposed zone with nearby zones; the adequacy of the city infrastructure and services in the area; and public input. To discuss a potential rezoning, contact Urban Planning Staff.

County Rezoning Application Guide

Planned Development Overlay Rezoning Application Guide

Rezoning Application Guide

Zoning Code Amendment (Rezoning) Application Guide

Contact: Neighborhood & Development Services, 319-356-5230

Right of Way, Temporary Use of

A permit is required for the use of public right-of-way.  If work will impact vehicular traffic in any manner, the permit application must be submitted at least 72 hours prior to commencement. 

Contact: Department of Public Works, 319-356-5139 or 319-356-5140

Learn more

Sign installer's license

Any company installing signs in Iowa City is required to obtain a sign installer’s license. In order to issue a license, we need a completed application, a Certificate of Liability Insurance that shows the City of Iowa City as Additional Insured (minimum $500,000) and the $50 fee.

Contact: Building Inspection Services 319-356-5120

Sidewalk cafe

A sidewalk cafe is an area for the sale of alcohol, food or beverages on City-owned property. A number of requirements must be met before the application and application fee can be processed by the Public Works Department.

Contact: Public Works Department 319-356-5139

Sidewalk retailing (2018)

Ordinance No. 18-4771 provides that a Sidewalk Retailing Permit may be issued to individual retailers allowing placement of merchandise on the sidewalk. This permit will be in effect from March 1 through October 31, from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm. Under this provision, a permit may be issued to any individual retailer who completes the application, provides proof of liability insurance naming the City as an additional insured, and abides by the rules for sidewalk retailing established by the City Manager.

Learn more

Sidewalk, Temporary use of (e.g. sidewalk sales)

A temporary use of sidewalk permit is required if you want to use the sidewalk for commercial purposes, such as sidewalk days.

Contact: City Clerk's Office 319-356-5042

Learn more

Site plan

A site plan permit is required before any development activity on a lot except for a single family or duplex.

Contact: Neighborhood and Development Services 319-356-5120

Sign

Most commercial and industrial signs visible to the public from a street or public right-of-way require a sign permit. A sign permit is required for any new signs or any change in the face or structure of an existing sign. At the issuance of the permit, a permit fee will be collected. Certain types of signs, such as roof signs and swinging signs, are prohibited. A few types of signs do not require a permit, although the size and placement of the size may be regulated.

Contact: Neighborhood and Development Services, 319-356-5120

Small wireless facility

A permit is required to install small wireless facility.

Contact: Department of Public Works, 319-356-5139 or 319-356-5140

Sound

Amplified sound permits are required for those wishing to produce amplified sound in the City Plaza. Amplified sound is defined as a sound that is increased in intensity by electrical, electronic, mechanical and other non-human means. 

Contact: City Clerk's office 319-356-5042

Sound permit 

Special exceptions

Each zoning district contains a list of permitted and provisional land uses that may be established on a property if the zoning requirements, such as building height and parking spaces, are adhered to. Each zoning district also contains a list of special exceptions. Special exceptions are not permitted by right in a zone, but after review by the Board of Adjustment, they may be allowed if there are no negative impacts on nearby properties or if any negative impacts may be reduced. To discuss a potential special exception, contact Urban Planning Staff.

APL-Appeal Application Guide

Special Exception Application Guide

Contact: Neighborhood and Development Services 319-356-5230

Streets and public grounds, Use of

A parade/public assembly permit is required for use of public grounds by a group of more than 25 persons for events such as parades and runs on public streets or events in City Plaza.

Contact: City Clerk's Office 319-356-5042

Subdivision

A subdivision is the division of a tract, lot or parcel of land into three (3) or more lots. A plat is the graphical representation of a subdivision of land, prepared by a registered land surveyor, having a number or letter designation for each lot within the plat and a succinct name or title that is unique for the county where the land is located.  No subdivision may be created, nor any plat recorded with the Recorder’s Office until both a preliminary and final plat have been submitted and approved in accordance with City requirements.  To discuss a potential subdivison, contact Urban Planning Staff.

County Sub-Combined Preliminary/Final Plat Application Guide

County Sub-Final Plat Application Guide

County Sub-Preliminary Plat Application Guide

Sub-Combined Preliminary / Final Plat Application Guide

Sub-Final Plat Application Guide

Sub-Preliminary Plat Application Guide

Contact: Neighborhood and Development Services, 319-356-5230

Taxicabs

A permit is required to own and/or operate a motorized vehicle furnished with a driver and carrying passengers. Includes taxicab, pedicab and horse-drawn vehicles. A number of requirements must be met before the application and application fee can be processed by the City Clerk.

Visit www.icgov.org/taxi for more information. 

Contact: City Clerk's Office 319-356-5040

Temporary use

Temporary use regulations allow short term and minor deviations from the allowed uses of private property in a zoning district for uses which are truly temporary in nature, will not adversely impact the surrounding area and land uses, and which can be terminated and removed immediately.

Contact: Neighborhood and Development Services 319-356-5120

Vacation

A vacation of public right-of-way is a process of the City releasing its right to an area of public travel, such as a street or alley. This is typically paired with a purchase offer from the applicant.  To discuss a potential annexation, contact Urban Planning Staff.

Vacation Application Guide

Contact: Neighborhood and Development Services 319-356-5230

Learn more

Variance

A variance grants a legal right to an owner to develop property in a manner that is not otherwise allowed by the Municipal Code or the Special Exception process. Property owners must demonstrate that a strict application of the Zoning Code would cause unnecessary hardship, making the property unusable, or would deprive the applicant of rights enjoyed by other properties in the zoning district. To discuss a potential annexation, contact Urban Planning Staff.

Contact: Neighborhood and Development Services 319-356-5230

Vending

  • Ambulatory vendor 

An ambulatory vendor permit is required if you want to sell food or other goods while moving about the City Plaza in downtown Iowa City.

Contact: City Clerk's Office 319-356-5042

Learn more

  • Mobile Downtown food cart vendor

If you are interested in setting up a food cart on the plaza downtown, you will need a mobile food cart vendor permit.

Contact: Neighborhood and Development Services 319-356-5120 

Mobile Downtown food cart vendor administrative rules

  • Mobile food truck vendor

If you are interested in operating a mobile food truck in Iowa City, you will need a mobile food truck vendor permit.

Contact: Building Inspection Services 319-356-5123

Mobile food truck vendor administrative rules

Zoning

The City of Iowa City has designated various areas throughout the city as appropriate for industrial and commercial uses. When looking for a business location, it is suggested that these areas be considered first. The Department of Neighborhood and Development Services supplies general information on zoning and allowable land uses in various zoning categories. Most information is available over the phone or in person free of charge.

Contact: Neighborhood and Development Services 319-356-5120