What is a conditional use permit (CUP)?

Find out what conditional use permits are, why businesses want them, and how you can apply for one.

Zoning laws dictate what kind of activity is allowed at a particular area. Sometimes, though, businesses may want to use the property they’re situated on in a way that zoning laws don’t allow. That’s when they apply for a conditional use permit — otherwise known as a CUP.

Here we explore what CUPs are and how you can get one.

What’s a conditional use permit?

A CUP is a type of contract between local government and a business or property owner that enables them to conduct operations that current zoning ordinances don’t typically allow. In simpler terms, it creates an exception to the current land use rules. The permit holder must usually comply with certain conditions — that’s why it’s called “conditional.”

For example, a bar located in a residential zone might apply for a CUP to play music later than zoning laws would allow. The local government may accept this if the bar agrees to keep the music at a certain volume and stops playing it by midnight.

How do I get a CUP?

To acquire a conditional use permit, you must submit an application to the local zoning authority. They’ll then consider any impact your stated operation might have. Due to possible negative consequences for the surrounding area, they’ll also hold a public hearing on the application in most cases.

If they approve your application, the zoning agency will request you to file certain forms and pay the appropriate fees. The process varies between locations, so contact your local zoning authority for more details.

How can I make the application process faster?

Like with any license, you need to sign documents to get a conditional use permit. Electronic signatures are legally binding and much faster to process than manual signatures. With Acrobat Sign, you can easily request signatures, share documents, create e-signatures, and track the process.

Discover more ways Sign can help you get the licenses you need.