In addition to prior notification regarding the lease, purchase or sale of new property, proposals for the alteration, addition or change in use, of existing properties are also considered acquisitions under the Act and must be submitted to the Office of Foreign Missions for review. "Alteration" is defined as any type of construction, repair, installation or other work on foreign mission premises that requires issuance of a permit from the relevant local governmental authority. In this regard, mission are reminded that, in nearly all cases, diplomatic and consular premises, whether office or residential, are not exempt from the requirement of obtaining zoning and/or building permits with respect to any property-related activity in which they may engage.
Depending on the scope of the project, the expansion or alteration of an existing chancery property may also be subject to review and approval by the Foreign Missions Board of Zoning Adjustment. Missions are required to obtain all appropriate building permits and to substantially comply with all local building codes and regulations.
Permits normally will not be issued by the Government of the District of Columbia without the written concurrence of the Office of Foreign Missions. Based on reciprocity, the Office of Foreign Missions may ask the District Government to issue the permit without fee. Private contractors should be informed that applications for building and construction permits in the District of Columbia should be submitted to the Office of Foreign Missions for review and transmittal to the appropriate local authority.
Consular properties are subject to the building and land-use laws and regulations of the local jurisdiction, including permit requirements. It is the responsibility of the mission and their consular posts to be informed and in compliance with the regulations of the jurisdiction in which they are located. Inasmuch as failure to comply with local laws could results in legal and financial complications for a consular post, missions are encouraged to notify the Department, and consult with the Office of Foreign Missions, regarding a particular project at the earliest possible date.