Building Occupancy

Under current City, County and State guidelines, some businesses, such as restaurants and retail operations, may resume operations at partial capacity. Building capacity, or occupant load, is based on a number of factors identified on a facility’s Occupant Load.

Temporary Occupant Load Calculation

If the occupant load calculation is of a complexity that exceeds the Online Occupant Load Calculator, the City of Austin Development Services Department can provide a Temporary Occupant Load Calculation. To obtain a Temporary Occupant Load Calculation for your facility, please complete the online Occupant Load Inquiry form.

Disclaimer: The Temporary Occupant Load Calculation is based on a simplified formula, which will remain in effect for the duration of modified operations under mandated occupancy reductions.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I find my occupant load?

Building capacity is defined on a facility’s Certificate of Occupancy or Occupant Load Card. For some properties, this information might be included in the building permits (BP) and plan review (PR) folders, available through a Public Search function, in the Austin Build + Connect (AB+C) portal:

If your business cannot locate its Occupant Load, please utilize the Online Occupant Load Calculator.
If you need additional assistance you may complete the Occupant Load Inquiry form and a City of Austin Development Services staff member will respond to your request.

Am I required to obtain a Temporary Occupant Load Calculation to operate?

No. This is a temporary designation to be used only by businesses that choose to operate and do not know their current occupancy ratings.

If I already have an Occupant Load Card posted at my business, do I need a Temporary Occupant Load Calculation?

No, businesses with a current Occupant Load Card can base their partial operating capacity on that rating.

How does the City determine my building capacity? What if I disagree with the findings?

The City will determine your building capacity utilizing the area, in square feet, of the spaces in the building or suite. With this information, they will apply Section 1004 Occupant Load of the 2015 International Building Code and locally adopted amendments.

Should you disagree with the findings please email If they cannot resolve your concern you may request the next point of escalation.

Is there a fee for this service?

No, the Online Occupant Load Calculator is available free of charge.  For more complicated calculations, the City of Austin will provide Temporary Occupant Load Calculations, or formal Temporary Occupant Load Cards, in the form of a printable email free of charge to any City of Austin businesses that need them based on the information provided in the Occupant Load Inquiry form.

Is my business required to open under the new order?

No, the decision to operate is up to business owners. However, businesses that do resume modified operations can use the Temporary Occupant Load Calculation as the basis for reduced occupancy requirements as they adjust over time.

What if a complaint is filed against my business?

If a complaint regarding occupancy is filed against your business, the Austin Fire Department may contact the business management or be dispatched to the site.  Violations of the City of Austin Mayor’s orders may be sent to the Austin Code Department for enforcement. 

  • If you have a current Occupant Load Card or Certificate of Occupancy including the occupant load, this will be used by the Austin Fire Department to make its determination. 
  • If the Austin Fire Department is not able to determine the Occupant Load on site, the customer will be sent to the Development Services Department to make a determination for issuance of a formal Temporary Occupant Load Card.  
  • The formal Temporary Occupant Load Card provides confirmation that the occupant load has been verified by the Development Services Department. 

The Temporary Occupant Load Card must be displayed at the entrance at all times and will be void when the applicable Mayor, County Judge, or Governor’s Order authorizes 90%, or greater, of the total listed occupancy of the business.

How do I obtain a permanent Occupant Load Card?

Occupant Load Cards are only issued for spaces that are Assembly use, which includes restaurants, bars, movie theaters, museums, libraries, and more as classified by the currently adopted International Building Code and local amendments. Please note that retail is not an Assembly use.

To obtain a new Occupant Load Card, you may visit the Commercial Plan Review webpage for more information under the heading “Occupant Load Cards”.

Does my business have to follow other City of Austin guidelines when I return to operation?

With COVID-19 continuing to spread in our community, the City of Austin strongly encourages all businesses and residents to continue following the health and safety guidelines identified in the City’s Stay Home, Mask, and Otherwise Be Safe Order. Under current Orders, businesses in Austin are required to enforce facial covering requirements for their customers and employees. Failure to comply may result in civil or criminal penalties.