Request for an Urbanism Certificate to a Local Community

Request for an Urbanism Certificate to a Local Community : who can file it, when, what are its effects especially if there is no answer from the competent Authorities.

The main function of the Urbanism Certificate is to be a reference, giving to the applicant the information about its plot status in respect of the Urban Law in force on the date of the certificate signing. It confers vested interests, in particular the right to build, despite changes in Urban Law.

Two types of Certificates exist : the general information Certificate which just mention the legal regulation of the land, and the pre-operational Certificate stating  whether a specific project is allowed on the plot.

The procedure for issuing Urbanism Certificates is governed by the Urbanism Code (C. urb, art. R410-1 and following). The request may come from the owner but may be made also by a third. It is addressed to the Mayor of the town on which the land is located.

The general information Certificate has to be delivered within one month and the pre-operational Certificate within two months. No notification from the competent Authority within such a period of time means the delivery of a tacit certificate ( art R410-12).

The main effects consist to freeze the planning legislation during the 18 months period of validity of the Urbanism Certificate. By itself, the Certificate does not give any specific authorizations. It is always made subject to the right of  a third. But the planning rules which have intervened  after the delivery of a valid Certificate are not binding on the Builder. It is the case for example of a new classification in a protected wooded area.

It means a warranty on applicable law. However to get benefit  of this, the filing of the application for a building permit must be done within the 18 months from the birth tacit Certificate.

 The pre-operational  Urbanism Certificate with a positive answer from the Authorities, further to information on the building of the land, gives also a kind of pre-approval of the Administration relating to the carrying out of the building process.

Nevertheless, according to the case law from the High administrative Court, an irregular Certificate, including omissions, illegal or wrong mentions,  does not confer acquired rights. In case of illegal mentions, it may lead to withdrawal or compensation under a litigation committing responsibility of the local Authority.


This responsibility may be significant since a lot of real estate transactions are concluded on the basis of a positive pre-operational Certificate. But this administrative responsibility will lead to compensation only in case of injury. For instance, the administrative judge will not conclude to an injury if the plot is finally sold with a gain.

At last, a positive or negative pre-operational Certificate may be appealed for cancellation within 2 months of notification. The possibility of an appeal against a general information Certificate is discussed. It has sometimes been admitted.




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