Certificate of Appropriateness

A certificate of appropriateness (CoA) is required for all proposed exterior alterations, new construction and demolition within a local historic district, with the exception of routine maintenance, repairs and replacements using the same materials, interior alterations and paint colors. The CoA process involves public meetings with two advisory groups:

  • The Design Review Committee (DRC) is comprised of the architects and designers who serve on the Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB). The committee offers free technical and design advice to applicants and their contractors to fine-tune and finalize CoA requests. The DRC does not vote on applications; it only informs the HALRB as to whether the applications are appropriate for the historic district. Depending on the scope of the project, some applications may need multiple visits to the DRC. The DRC determines whether an application is ready to be submitted to the full HALRB.
  • The Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB) reviews and renders decisions to approve or deny the CoA application.

This flowchart shows how an application for a CoA progresses through review by these two groups.

Many CoA applications are approved in one review cycle, though some may require additional DRC meetings to resolve complex design issues. One of the primary goals of the HALRB is to work closely with property owners and their design teams to achieve suitable designs that meet their current needs while respecting the building’s historic character. Historic Preservation Program staff and HALRB members strive to help applicants achieve an appropriate design solution. However, as stated in the Zoning Ordinance, owners do have the right to appeal an HALRB denial to the County Board.

Submission Requirements

CoA applications must be submitted online.

  • You must complete a Certificate of Appropriateness (CoA) Application in Permit Arlington.
  • CoA applications must be submitted by 5 p.m. on each month’s due date. The due date is usually the penultimate Wednesday of the month, but there are exceptions. Make sure to check the filing schedule below. Completed applications will be reviewed the following month.
  • Submission requirements vary: view project-specific details.
  • The Permit Arlington system will prompt you to upload your application materials when you fill out your CoA application.
    • Upload your documentation under the “Plans and Drawings” banner.
    • All documentation must be sized 24 in. by  36 in. or smaller. After you submit your application, staff will resize the documentation onto an 11 in. x 17 in. template frame or a 24 in. x 36 in. template frame. Documentation larger than 24 in. x 36 in. will be rejected.
    • Consult detailed instructions for submitting Plans and Drawings.
  • Trees over 15" DBH must be included on site plans when they are affected by construction or if you are applying to remove them as part of the construction process. The County Forester needs to review the condition of the tree and provide that information to staff and the HALRB during the Certificate of Appropriateness review process.
  • Once the CoA has been approved and you are ready to begin work, please alert the Historic Preservation Inspector at 703-228-3838 or mtawney@arlingtonva.us about scheduling an inspection.

Filing Schedule 2024